The very name Zanzibar evokes fragrant spices, Sinbad-the-Sailor look-alikes manning dhows with sun-bleached sails across one of the world’s most historic water-fronts, sultans with harems of voluptuous women Old British and American Consulates
Situated by the sea in Shangani and once the temporary homes for various explorers (Stanley stayed at the American Consulate, now part of the Tembo Hotel). Livingstone’s body once rested in a room, now an office, in the old British Consulate.
Tippu Tip’s House
Also in Shangani, this old Arab-style mansion was the home of one of the best-known, most-feared Swahili slave-traders, a man who was often ruthless but also an adventurous and courageous traveller. Henry Morton Stanley among others had a grudging respect for Tippu Tip, and Livingstone himself was often supported by the very slave traders whose practices he loathed. The house itself is in poor shape but has a fine “Zanzibar” doorway.
John Sinclair’s Architecture
Several buildings in Stone Town were designed by the British architect John Sinclair, who was enamoured of the Islamic style. Among his buildings are the State House, the High Courts, the Amani Peace Museum, the Old Post Office and the Bharmal Building.
Ruins of Sultan Barghash’s harem, just north of Stone Town. Barghash died before he could enjoy the delights of this harem and in any case it burned down soon afterwards. It must have been a most pleasant place by the sea, in attractive grounds shaded by mangoes and palms. Little is left but some old stone columns and a lily-covered pool where the women would perhaps have bathed, but there is a nostalgic, romantic and gently rural air about the place.
These ruins are in the grounds of the very pleasant Protea Mbweni Ruins Hotel, a little way south of Stone Town. They include the ruins of an old nineteenth century private Arab house, which was bought, transformed and extended to create a school for freed slave girls. Around them is a beautiful botanic garden.
Small island a short boat ride from Mbweni Ruins Hotel, lovely secluded place to spend a night or two. There is an old lighthouse on Chumbe but its main attraction nowadays is its award-winning lodge and the superb coral shelves which provide excellent snorkeling. Glass-bottomed boat also available for coral reef viewing. Rare and very large coconut crabs can be seen on the island.
A short boat ride from the Zanzibar waterfront, this small, wooded island was formerly known as Prison Island, though the prison, now in ruins, was never used. Pleasant little beach and nearby café. There are giant tortoises on Changu, brought from Aldabra, and in the woods tiny suni antelopes and several species of birds.
Beyond Stone Town
Places of interest in Unguja outside the town include Mangapwani Beach and Caves, a pleasant area north of Stone Town; Mtoni Palace, once the out-of-town home of Sultan Said but now in ruins; Dunga Palace; small ruined home of a local sheikh; Jozani Forest and Kizimkazi (both described in main Zanzibar introduction), and of course a huge number of wonderful beaches, mainly along the “Sunrise Coast” in the east.