For a millennia, Tanzania has played an essential part in the life of African continent. The great wildebeest migration alone comprises the largest movement of land animals on the planet. With over 25% of the country’s total landmass dedicated to wildlife parks and conservation areas. Tanzania remains wholeheartedly committed to the preservation of Africa’s great wilderness and incredible range of animal species.
The United Republic of Tanzania is one of Africa’s most peaceful countries. Home to a flourishing democracy and prospering economy, the country is known for its peace and stability. A well- maintained infrastructure and three international airports connect its bustling commercial centres and ensures easy transportation, whether by road or by air. Tanzania’s people are a diverse mix of traditional people, village farmers and cosmopolitan professionals united by a common language, Swahili, and a strong sense of national community. Serengeti National Park, one of the most well – known of all wildlife areas, attracts thousands of visitors each year for the annual wildebeest migration, and Ngorongoro Crater, often called the 8th Natural Wonder of the world – is a must- see for its sheer beauty. Deep within the ancient caldera, herds of gazelle roam beside sated lions, and endangered black rhino and elusive cheetah can be spotted through the early morning mist. Still, the big- name parks are not all the country has to offer. The elephants of Tarangire National Park and the tree- climbing lions of Lake Manyara also reward the discerning traveler. The Saadani National Park, famed for its views of elephants playing in the Indian Ocean surf, is just one of many lesser- known National Parks that offer equally rewarding experiences for guests willing to wander off the beaten track. But the magic of safari is not all this great country has to offer. Tropical beaches, coral reefs and Swahili culture along the Indian Ocean Coast are also a major attraction for visitors who want to end their experience of Africa’s natural wonders with some well – earned relaxation. For the more intrepid adventures, a climb to the rooftop of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, is the highlight of a Safari itinerary. Longer treks through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, through the magical Gol Mountains, up the active volcano of Oldonyo Lengai or down Lake Tanganyika are a fantastic way to experience less – visited parts of the country in a new way. Tanzania has a wealth of diverse groups that make up its national community. Hunter- gatherer groups and Maasai herders coexist in the Northern wilderness, and lesser known communities like Wandorobo and the Iraq/Mbulu also make up the college of community. Cultural tourism has become a popular choice for many visitors to Tanzania, with different programmes and itinerancies on offer around the country. From day – hikes on the slopes of Mt. Meru to honey collecting in the Usambaras, discovering local culture is a highlight for any visitor to Africa. So welcome to Tanzania – experience the warmth of our people, the magic of our wilderness, and the splendor of our wildlife. Karibu Tanzania – the heart of Africa and the world at large.
An island with a rich of history
Zanzibar islands is a national treasure of paradise. Despite its tiny size and obscure location, Zanzibar holds an almost legendary status among travelers as an exotic island paradise blessed with palm fringed shores, timeless fishing villages and lush spice plantations. Although a more stone’s throw from the mainland, Zanzibar – has an identity all of its own, shaped by a turbulent history which abounds with a colorful cast of characters, from slave traders and sultans, to pirates and princesses. Zanzibar’s history stretches back to when the first dhows from Arabia and India discovered its natural harbour. Using the island as a stopover point for caravans that journeyed deep into the African interior, permanent settlement soon created the beginnings of what became Stone Town. Merchants from Oman, Gujarat and around the Indian Ocean moved their families from across the Ocean to start a life in Zanzibar, some building great fortunes with which they built the highstone houses so indicative of Stone Town today. Although Swahili civilization in the area of Kilwa Kisiwani further south peaked in the 14th century, Zanzibar prosperity – came much later, with the arrival of Omani sultans in the 18th century. From this tiny island, slaves relinquished their last hopes of freedom, mighty empires were built, battles were waged, and merchants amassed vast fortunes on the strength of the fragrant clove bud. Today, life in Zanzibar has settled down to a more sedate pace, but the legacy of its tumultuous past remains. Remnants of the heyday of Swahili civilization in Zanzibar still remain, vestiges of a vanished past that people still look to with a sense of pride. In Stone Town, the house of wonders greets visitors arriving by sea, a grand building once used by the sultan for his administrative duties. His town stands adjacent to it, the walkways that connected the two buildings still in dilapidated existence. Nearby, The Portuguese Fort recalls the brief occupation of the island by foreign rule, while the nearby Anglican Cathedral built over the site of the old slave market soothes the wounds of the sobering past. Today, Stone Town is as much of an attraction for visitors as Zanzibar’s beaches, world – renowned for their idyllic seascapes and island charm. Guests have their pick of beaches famed for their tropical climate and soothing crystal clear waters. Swahili fishing villages, snorkeling, diving, or just beachcombing offer perfect choices of relaxing itineraries. For cultural connoisseurs, it is best to time a visit around one of Zanzibar’s many festivals. Vibrant occasions occur throughout the year, days of celebration when the island and its people truly come alive. The annual Zanzibar International Film Festival, or the Festival of the Dhow countries (as it is also known), and the Sauti Za Busara (Voice of Wisdom) music festival are the main attractions, with the Swahili Festival of Mwaka Kogwa not to be missed. Yet there is more to Zanzibar than the main island of Unguja. To the north, Pemba Island offers world – class diving in pristine surroundings. Accommodation ranges from the most basic to the utmost in barefoot luxury and visitors agree that a visit to Pemba is well worth the effort. To the south is the little known Mafia Island, its reefs affording perfect diving in tranquil settings. Covered in coconut palms and abandoned fruit groves left by Arab merchants, centuries before. Mafia’s charm is unique to the Swahili coast, it shores untouched by development. Other smaller islands surround Unguja, the main island in the archipelago, and make pleasant day trips for visitors from Stone Town. Come to Zanzibar and you will experience the hospitality of the Swahili people, the beauty of the island, and the lasting mystique of its regal history. Visit Zanzibar, and you will understand why century after century, travelers have come to its shores in search of magic and romance.
ZANZIBAR AT A GLANCE (PLACES TO SEE/VISIT)
- Stone Town is the living quarters of many well – off business people and a center of gastronomy and handcrafts. In the narrow alleys, local traders offer an array of native handicrafts as well as everything a tourist could desire. Along with the standard exploratory tour through the narrow alleyways of the old city there are a few other interesting buildings to see which have significantly influenced the history of the island:
THE ARAB fort
- The Arab Fort is found directly behind the Forodhwani Gardens, the shopping street of Stone Town. The large walls of the arena cannot be overlooked. Its function has changed many times over the years as it has been used as a prison, a market place and even a tennis court. Since 1994, it is an amphitheater which serves as a site for larger events with the most well – known being the annual Busara Music Festival in February, in which music groups from all over Africa perform.
THE HOUSE OF WONDERS (Beit al- Ajaib)
- The House of Wonders (Beit al- Ajaib) is the national museum of Zanzibar. The building was renovated and served from 1913-1990, firstly as the seat of the British colonial government and later, as the seats of the Zanzibar and Tanzanian governments. Newly renovated, the palace was officially opened in 2002 as the museum for the history of Zanzibar and Swahili Colonial History. Together with the old city of Stone Town, the building was declared a world cultural heritage site in 2000.
THE SULTAN’S PALACE
- Today, the “Palace Museum” is found immediately adjacent to the House of Wonders. It served each of the ruling sultans from 1834 to 1964. The museum has an impressive exhibit about the life of the sultans with magnificent rooms. There is also an interesting documented life history of Princess Salme, daughter of sultan Seyyid Said. From the top floor of the palace there is an excellent view over the harbor of Stone Town. A visit is worthwhile.
THE OLD DISPENSARY
- The currently “Stone Town Cultural Center ” was created and built in 1887 by the Indian businessman and advisor to the Sultans Sir Tharia Thopan. The building was used until 1964 as a clinic and pharmacy. Before it completely collapsed, it was rescued and renovated by the Foundation of the millionaire Karim Aga Khan in 1997 as the Stone Town Cultural Center. It serves today as a museum of Zanzibari culture.
THE ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL
- The Anglican Cathedral of Zanzibar is located on the site of the former slave market. The church was built in the years 1873-1880 by the “Universities Mission” of the famed David Livingstone and the British bishop Edward Steere. The bishop’s grave is in the church just in front of the altar. When David Livingstone arrived in Zanzibar in 1856 he was horrified at the way people here were traded and sold. His initial complaints with the British government were later reinforced by John Kirk, the British General counsel in Zanzibar. The General counsel pushed Sultan Barghash bin Said with political pressure to finally end the slave trade, which was concluded on June 6, 1873. The cornerstone of the church was immediately laid. It is said that where the altar now stands, this was the site of the tree back then to which the slaves were chained and auctioned. In front of the church is a memorial which depicts carved stone imitations of slaves on a real chain actually used in the slave trade. In the cellars nearby one can see the rooms where slaves were once kept.