Have you ever heard about stone town? It is located in Zanzibar-Tanzania and it’s the capital city of Zanzibar - the main archipelago. This town is known as the old town in Zanzibar hence the term ‘’Mji Mkongwe’’ in Swahili.
The name stone town was derived from the use of large coral stones to construct buildings; these houses are former palaces for the ancient sultans, churches, mosques and institutional buildings
This town is well known for the spices and slave trade in the early 19th century introduced by the Arabs. And since then, it retained its image as the biggest city in Zanzibar during the colonial and present times.
In East Africa, Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
It is also a major tourist attraction because of its rich culture and heritage and tourism is a major revenue earner in Zanzibar because of the numerous activities and resorts available on this island.
WHAT TO DO IN AND AROUND STONE TOWN?
There are very many activities that you can participate in and enjoy on your safari to this town, but among others include;
A guided walk around Stone town.
This enables you to interact with the local people and also discover the architectural buildings in town. Visit the local markets, check out the memorials of the slave trade, monuments and visit different mosques.
Spice plantation tours.
Here you will visit the spice gardens and learn more about the history of where and how the nickname of Spice Island came about. Different spices grown here are ginger, thyme, masala, garlic, black paper, nutmeg among others.
Visit Jozani Forest Reserve.
Walk through this lush forest where you will spot beautiful bird species and animals including the rare Zanzibar red colobus which is endemic to this island, among many other primates.
Indulge in different beach activities, such as swimming, boat rides, playing with dolphins, sunbathing among others.
Visit the Prison Island.
This prison was used by Arabs around the 1800s as temporary shelter for rebellious slaves and those who suffered from yellow fever as a quarantine area. Recently it was modified into a luxurious resort and about four big Aldabra tortoises were introduced.
Taking a quad bike from the island to the interior is the best way to go as you visit the stone town. This can be through the rice fields, pineapples and sugarcanes and coconut plantations.
Visit the Cheetah’s rock.
In case you are interested in wildlife, this is the best way to explore the mammals like lions, zebras, cheetahs, and many others. This will reward you with the best experience as you visit Zanzibar.
Here you will learn about the Swahili culture, taste their traditional meals, learn their language and even their traditional dances.
BEST TIME TO VISIT STONE TOWN.
It is true that stone town can be visited all year round but to have the best experience, you are advised to visit during the dry season when all activities are more enjoyable. There are two dry seasons in the year and these are June to October and December to February.