8 Days
  • 195 metres
  • Eco-Tour
  • Easy to Moderate


Ornate wooden doors lead you into traditional coral houses, and Persian and Omani designs meet with rich Swahili culture. Spice plantations tantalize the nostrils while slaving history provides poignant stories. Zanzibar is Africa’s most culturally diverse destination, an island with a myriad of influences and artistic obsessions. From its earliest trading days to the day-to-day life of today, this handcrafted tour offers an intimate journey into all the history and culture that Zanzibar can offer.


  • Immerse yourself in Stone Town, where exotic influences create one of the world’s most vibrant cultural atmospheres
  • Ride a traditional wooden dhow to Prison Island, where history meets with a white beach and a tortoise colony
  • Follow the storyline through Zanzibar’s slave-trading history, from Tippu Tip’s House to the Mangapwani Slave Chamber
  • Discover traditional village life with a day at a small community near Jambiani
  • Meet with artisans and explore their crafts, notably the tradition of highly ornate wooden doors
  • Spend a full day lounging on the beach at Jambiani, feeling the island’s sense of escapism
  • Inhale the scents of spice plantations and track Zanzibar’s iconic spice trading history
  • Take intimate walking tours through Stone Town, connecting many periods of history while embracing the lively culture of today
  • Cruise towards the sunset on a wooden dhow, a historical vessel for traversing the oceans
  • Learn Zanzibari cuisine on an intimate cooking class, using spices plucked straight from a plantation


Sounds will guide you from the rooftop, suggesting what is happening in Stone Town's labyrinthine streets. A little later there are church bells, and every so often there will be the tinkling of a bicycle bell or the gossiped laughter of chatting locals. At street level, you will be guided by delectable fragrances: cardamom, cloves, incense, burning charcoal, and sizzling seafood. So much will be happening, and it will be an entirely sensual experience. You will walk through lanes of coral houses, admire the thick wooden doors, and get lost in the maze.

This first day will be about making your own impressions of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of houses constructed from coral. Over a thousand years of history can be found here, and the stories can go long into the night. You will need time to appreciate how unique this place is, and how the mix of influence has constructed something with a foot in many continents and cultures. After the ten-minute airport transfer, you will check into the hotel, and a guide will provide a brief orientation, so you know how to recognize the way back to the hotel. You will appreciate the atmosphere from the rooftop terrace and then head out to explore with Darajani Market being a superb first immersion into the conflicting sounds and smells of Zanzibar.

Vanilla will impress your nose when you get close, cloves and pepper will send their aromas far into the air, and cinnamon and nutmeg will be quick to entice. Many people are surprised at how these spices look. Oftentimes, people have only encountered these spices in their final form and never on the actual plant. For many centuries Zanzibar traded these spices. Traders brought them from far and wide, finding the tropical island climate ideal for their cultivation. While the Dutch brought spices to Europe from the South Pacific, the Persians and Omanis were getting their spices from much closer. You will visit a plantation and tour with one of the head growers through fields of spice and great swathes of fruit. You will then head out to a processing facility so you can see how the spices are harvested.

As you can imagine, such a pantry of fresh spices gave rise to a very fragrant local cuisine. Taking fresh spices into the kitchen, you will cook with a Zanzibari host. Pilaf, which is a highly fragrant rice dish, will be the mainstay. Other dishes use all types of seafood, chicken, fruits, and vegetables, resulting in a somewhat intoxicating mix of flavors that you may find hard to categorize. It will have the rich fruitiness of Persian, the hearty appeal of East African cuisine, spices from across the world, and seafood that will be fresh from the ocean that morning. As your chef guide will tell you, it is actual Swahili cooking.

You will walk off this slightly indulgent lunch on your way back to Stone Town, where the guide will show you some of the grandest examples of architecture. The House of Wonders will impress with calligraphic patterns. The People’s Palace Museum continues a tale of Zanzibar’s eclectic history, while the Old Fort will make you think of the medieval age. As you walk around Stone Town, there will be a new story on every corner and that is why it is so important to have an excellent guide. Late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, was born in Stone Town, and three houses claim to be his childhood home.

Dhows are the traditional mode of travel along Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline and the Arabian Peninsula. These vessels are slow, sturdy, rounded, wooden sailboats that are ideal for taking large quantities of cargo and tackling ocean currents. You will set off in a traditional dhow this morning, sailing on the wind to islets and sandbanks along Zanzibar’s western coast. You can jump out and snorkel at a vibrant reef, take a walk on the deserted white sand, and feel the wind breeze through your hair as the ocean sparkles azure and emerald.

The first half of today will be spent cruising, and the afternoon will be spent on Prison Island. You will disembark your dhow and find the shade of a languid palm. A guide will cook up a barbecue as you rest in the sun. You can walk across the island to the prison ruins, hearing tales of when it was a place of quarantine for the sick along with who was held prisoner there. The ruins are surprisingly photogenic as they wait beneath palm trees. Later, the beach will provide a leisurely afternoon in the sun. It is not often that you get to spend half a day on a near-deserted island. You will return to Stone Town as the African sun makes its daily descent into the ocean, and golden tones reflect up off the water.

Stone Town grew wealthy from trading ivory for silk, tortoises for gold, and slaves for silver. They controlled nearly all of the eastward routes between Africa and Asia. In a Catholic cathedral, you will stand upon the old slave market, gaining a background of what took place. You will be able to see where slaves were measured and sold, and a little further through the maze, you will see the doors and houses of wealthy slave traders. Tippu Tip was the most famous and you will visit his home.

Less than 30 minutes outside Stone Town lie a series of ruins that are connected to the slave trade. Maruhubi and Mtoni are palaces that were never completed. Khole and Mbweni help to show how many different cultures once had authority here. As you descend steep steps, you will enter the gloom of the Mangapwani Slave Chamber. The Mangapwani Coral Cave is larger, and its entrance faces out to the ocean. After all these stories Stone Town’s ambiance changes. From afternoon to evening, it becomes very lively on the streets. You may consider an evening at Forodhani Gardens where small barbecue stalls are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

By now, you will have come to love the artistic details that make Stone Town special. After four days you will know your way around and the subtleties of Stone Town’s design. In such a tightly-packed town where it is impossible to look up and see beyond ground level, doors were an ostentatious status of wealth and power, and they still are.

You will meet with an artisan and explore the history and beauty of these doors, seeing how they are constructed and what the different flourishes mean. Traditionally, they have two iron knockers. These each make different sounds, so people inside would know if men or women were at the door. You will enter two other homes to see more of the Zanzibari interior. You will have also been enjoying this at your hotel: it will be handpicked for its preservation of the traditional style. After lunch, there will be a complete change in the landscape. You will head to the beach, swapping the crowded, narrow alleys for the openness of white sand and the Indian Ocean.

This day will be left free. You can take a walk along the sand from Jambiani to Paje, passing the odd fishing boats and a series of small, low-lying hotels. It will be tranquil here, even with the chatter of local women that are harvesting shells and seaweed at low tide. Around a mile from shore, a long, coral barrier turns ocean waters into a lagoon, making it a wonderfully warm and safe place to take a swim. There will not be that much to do here, and that is part of the appeal: simply strolling on the beach, finding a shaded spot to lay around, and ordering drinks or food on a wooden promenade above the Indian Ocean.

Zanzibari village life is completely different from that of Stone Town, which is a town that has always had wealth and power. Out in the villages, life is simple, yet filled with energy and laughter. You will meet a local guide and tour a village today, seeing how the houses are constructed on sand. You will also pay a visit to a local school where the children are always ecstatic to have visitors.

You will discover the local fishing methods and explore how things work out here, far from the extravagance of Stone Town. You will find a warm and welcoming culture that is often different when compared to the preconceptions visitors have about tribal Africa. It will be a relaxed half-day tour, and you will be invited to have lunch with a family as well. The afternoon will be free, giving you more time to enjoy the beach. This evening you will sail, heading out on a dhow for a final Zanzibari experience.

From Jambiani it’s a 45-minute transfer back to Zanzibar Town and the airport.

Zanzibar Map

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