Zany, zesty Zanzibar

“Watch this…” our guide shouted as he scaled a very tall palm tree and then bounced in his homemade harness back down the tree to present us with fresh coconuts.

So began our idyllic trip to the exotic island of Zanzibar, 25 kms off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean.

Our four children were enchanted with this coconut-securing performance, which was part of our Spice Tour- a must do event when you visit Zanzibar. Soon we were all kitted out in various palm-frond fashioned glasses, baskets, handbags and necklaces. Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper are just some of the spices that have been traded from Zanzibar for centuries, and they were all on offer during this enlightening tour.

The history of Zanzibar is fascinating (even if you aren’t a history buff!) and it helps explain the African, Omani and Asian influences that are part of Zanzibar’s culture.

As we wandered down the cobblestone streets of the UNESCO-heritage site of Stone Town, we awed at the beautifully carved Omani doors, interspersed with Asian floor tiles and African drums in the nearby hallways. It was a true melting pot of cultures. Thank goodness it was so picturesque, as we got hopelessly lost in the labyrinthian maze of Stone Town’s streets!

Another highlight of the trip included drinking fresh sugar cane juice made from a primitive juicer at the night market in the main square. Friendly vendors beckoned us to sample their wares- which included fresh fruits carved in artistic shapes and seafood delicacies fresh from the ocean.

Did you know that Freddie Mercury (of “Queen” fame) was born in Zanzibar? A trip to his house in Stone Town is worth a quick visit just to take a selfie with all the memorabilia on display.

The beaches of Zanzibar- both in the northern and eastern parts of the island -are another major drawcard. The pristine turquoise waters lured us in for an afternoon of snorkelling, followed by a sunset cruise on a traditional dhow. Expert tip: If you’re a keen scuba diver then Mnemba Island in the north would be a good option for unspoilt reefs and exotic marine life.

Our trip to Zanzibar was one of our family’s favourite holidays. It’s a destination that combines history, glorious beaches, delicious seafood and curries, fascinating culture and friendly people. What’s not to love?

Get in touch with Pulse Africa now and we’ll have you donning Zanzibari palm-frond accoutrements before you can say, “Holy coconuts!”