“Seeing is different than being told.”
Promptly as arranged, Abdul picked us up in his vehicle for the spice tour and we drove the short distance to the spice farm about 30min out of town. There are many of these in the area. These are in fact tourist farms and have on them the full variety of tropical spices and fruits with a comfortable shady walking trail. A proper commercial farm is not suitable as a tour as they will have vast tracts of a single variety and would not have all the varieties. It is as well to set out reasonably early as it does become slightly crowded later. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour and found that seeing all the spice plants and trees and seeing the spices and tropical fruits in their natural state, totally fascinating. The local guide was a young lad who basically provided the fetch and carry, climbing trees where needed to pluck the produce. The tour is turned into a bit of a guessing game with the relevant fruit, seeds, leaves or roots being harvested from the tree or plant and we being required to try and guess which it is from the taste, odour or appearance. We did quite well, mainly on the taste and smell front, some of the raw spices/leaves had no resemblance to what is seen on the shelves. Abdul was full of relevant facts. He revealed that although Zanzibar is known as the “Spice Island”, Pemba in fact produces better yields. Many of the spice plants were originally brought by the Arabs from Madagascar. A tasting of various tropical fruits was done, jackfruit being the only one we were not familiar with, having a sticky, almost sickly sweet, tropical taste. The tour ended with a simple but tasty lunch of fish, rice and Swahili-style coconut curry sauce. I will attempt to use the photographs to explain some of what we saw. This tour is great fun and we feel is a must-do in Zanzibar.
It was very hot and sultry and Abdul dropped us at the hotel to rest a little and joined us at the very sensible hour of 16H00 for the guided tour on foot of the many historical tour of Stone Town. His partner drove the 3 of us to the outskirts of Stone Town to save us walking all the way there and the tour began at the historic Anglican Church built by Bishop Steere on the site of the last functioning slave market in the world. More interesting than the beautifully restored church are the nearby slave chambers, a set of dungeon like rooms into which the slaves were squashed and chained in the most appalling conditions. Some of the original slave chains are still present, chilling indeed. The nearby slave memorial consists of a group of slave statues chained together. The main altar of the church is built directly over the slave whipping post. On the wall of one section of the church hangs a small wooden cross carved from the wood of the tree where Livingstone’s heart was buried near Lake Bangweulu, a site we had visited when we visited Zambia about 6 months earlier on the trip. We had thus neatly completed the circle of Dr Livingstone’s explorations and ultimate death.
Next we proceeded down Creek Road to the covered market, where fresh produce, fish, meat and other goods are traded. For some sections you need a strong stomach. We proceeded down the multiple narrow alleyways, without Abdul we would undoubtably have lost our way. This tour gives one a fascinating insight into an area that has changed only a little since the time of Arabic and colonial rule. We again visited the Forodhani Gardens, passing the House of Wonders (closed for renovation) and exploring the old Arab Fort. We visited the old British Consulate, known now as Livingstone House and referred to elsewhere. We ended up on the west-facing balcony of Africa House on the shore, to have sundowners from this marvelous view. Africa House was formerly the English Club. If not already knowing your way around Stone Town, a tour like this will certainly set you up for further exploration.
That evening we had dinner at the highly rated Silk Road restaurant near to our hotel. I have eaten Indian cuisine wherever I have travelled and this was very good food. Food is not cheap here in Zanzibar for us, especially with our rapidly depreciating South African Rand. We were on something of a splurge and did not allow this to inhibit us too much.
Main. The alleyways in Stone Town.
1. The spice farm tour.
3 and 4. Pepper and the pepper creeper.
5. Lemon grass.
7. Cocoa pod.
10. Cardoman, grows from special roots of the plant.
11. Tumeric, obtained from the roots of this plant.
13. Vanilla pods, still green.
14 and 15. The slave market site at the Anglican Church.
16 and 17. The dungeon and chains where the slaves were held prior to sale.
18 and 19. The slave memorial.
20 and 21. The wooden cross from the tree under which David Livingstone’s heart was buried.
22. The covered market, not for the faint of heart.
23 – 27. A selection of the famed studded and carved wooden doors of Zanzibar.
28. Typical wooden balconies.
29. The House of Wonders, in its time the highest building in East Africa and the first with an elevator.
30 and 31. The Arab Fort.
32. The plaque on Livingstone House.
33. The balcony at Africa House.
34 and 35. The sunset from Africa House.
36 and 37. Beach scenes from in front of the hotel.