Pretty much all the ingredients of the average kitchen spice rack are represented - cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, chillies, black pepper, nutmeg and vanilla - the list goes on and on. Local children follow you all the way round, making baskets of palm leaves and filling them with flowers to give to you. At lunchtime, you'll stop in a local house for a meal of spiced pilau rice and curry, followed by sweet Arabic coffee and lemongrass cake. Many spice tours include a visit to the Persian baths built by Sultan Said for his harem, and stop at Fuji beach just outside Stone Town for a swim on the way back. The average price for a group spice tour is $15, including lunch.
Jozani Forest, about 20 minutes drive outside Stone Town on the main road towards the east coast, is a conservation project aimed at preserving some of the last indigenous forest on the island. The forest is home to a unique species of monkey, Kirk's Red Colobus, as well as the rare forest antelope, Ader's Duiker and many species of birds. A guided walk through the mangrove trees that form part of the forest takes about an hour. The entrance fee for visiting the forest reserve is $8.
Jozani do's and don'ts
- Do not touch the monkeys or approach them too closely. They are wild animals and susceptible to human diseases such as colds or flu.
- Do not feed the monkeys.
- Only walk in the forest when accompanied by an official guide.
- Drive slowly on the road through Jozani - monkey occasionally cross the road.
Zanzibar has many offshore islands, many of which provide a stunning location for a day trip or a longer stay. Boats to any of the islands off Zanzibar or Pemba can be hired easily from local fishermen - in Stone Town, ask at the 'big tree' opposite Mercury's restaurant on the seafront, or arrange a day trip with one of the tour companies listed in this guide.
Prison Island is one of the nearest islands to Stone Town - just fifteen minutes or so by boat. It is also known as Changuu, and its original use was as a prison for renegade slaves punished by their master, an Arab landowner. Later it was taken over as a quarantine station by the British army, and another prison was built but never used. The large house on the island was built by British general Lloyd Mathews, commander of the army of Sultan Bargash.
Today prison island is a pleasant, if somewhat unexciting, destination for a day trip, with a nature trail that runs around its circumference, a small beach and giant land tortoises, some of which are reputedly over a hundred years old, in a pen. The island has some excellent coral formations just offshore, providing a good opportunity for snorkelling, and the restaurant in Lloyd Mathews' old house sells snacks and drinks. There is an entrance fee of $4, payable only in US dollars.