Red Monkey

Sustainable experiences in Zanzibar

Sailing on a traditional dhow and watch marine wildlife

White sandy beaches and the triangular sails used by fishermen make the most popular pictures of Zanzibar. But there is more to these pictures that can be told about the island’s cultural origins.

Sailing the dhows – Historic trade and cultural development: 

Traditional dhow sailing boats can be considered as a symbol of the historic development of Zanzibar. These boats were in effect used by the first traders to sail from the Arabian region along the East African coast, as well as across the Indian Ocean

During the winter season traders were sailing South to Zanzibar, carrying pearls, fish, dates and other goods. And after 6 months they were sailing back up North to the Arabian peninsula, transporting timber, gold and ivory

This was thanks to the Monsoon winds that blow from the North in the winter, and from the opposite direction during the summer. In the meantime, traders would be staying in Zanzibar, making the island also a cross-cultural exchange hub. In effect these dhows were also transporting passengers who carried their ideas, religions, and customs.

The traditional triangular sails are still used by fishermen locally. These boats can now also be hired for excursions on sand banks and snorkelling tours.

Traditional dhows in Jambiani, Zanzibar
Race of traditional dhows


Watching Marine Wildlife and Fishing:

Traditional dhows being mostly used by fishermen, it makes sense to book a fishing trip with them and experience the real use of these fascinating boats.

More popular are snorkeling tours organized daily and privately, which include stops on spots with tropical fish. Dolphins and whales can be seen in deeper sea as well.

Dolphins Zanzibar


the jambiani spot

A fishermen village that has slowly been developing in the last years thanks to a growing kitesurfing community. There are several schools that offer courses in Jambiani, one of the safest and easiest spots to learn the sport. Winds are light and constant, and the huge lagoon secures flat, shallow and warm water

Jambiani is the second spot that has developed in Zanzibar after the most known Paje. More schools can be found there, but learning conditions can result quite stressful from being more crowded with kitesurfers in the water. Nevertheless, located at only at 7km from Jambiani, it has a vibrant nightlife for those who enjoy it. 

People who live in Jambiani prefer the quiet village lifestyle, and following the rythms of nature. It is being debated on how to try to keep this pleasant level of genuine village life despite the continuous development (avoiding overtourism).

Kitesurfing in Jambiani
Kitesurfing in the Jambiani lagoon

The extreme ranges of the tides have made Jambiani a perfect area for the farming of seaweed. During low tide it is possible to watch the farming ladies cultivating seaweed.  These are used to make personal care products such as soap and cream for the skin, that can be found in local shops. 

Jambiani low tide
Low tide in Jambiani

visiting stone town and smelling the rich history of the island.

In Swahili called the ‘Old Town’ it represents the historic part of Zanzibar City (the current capital of the island).  The name Stone Town derives from the coral and lime stone used as the main contruction material. It is the former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate. A flourishing center during the spices and slave trade in the 19th century, it kept its importance during the British protectorate period. Its architecture reflecting the mix of influences of the Arabic, Persian, Indian and European cultures, it was granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage site.  

Mosque in Stone Town
Mosque in Stone Town

The anglican cathedral / old slave market

The most popular historic attraction in Stone Town is the once infamous slave market that then turned into an anglican cathedral. Short guided tours take you through the rooms where slaves were kept before going to be auctioned, in the current position of the altar. 

Anglican Cathedral Stone Town
Anglican Cathedral / Old Slave Market

Darajani Bazaar

Also known as the Estella Market, and Marikiti Kuu in Swahili, meaning ‘the main market’ of Stone Town. From local fruits and spices, fresh fish and meat, to live chicken can be bought in this center. The surrounding area is characterized with vibrant activity.

visiting the national park of jozani forest

Natural Heritage of the UNESCO

The only National Park of the Zanzibar archipelago, the Jozani Forest presents a diverse flora and fauna. In particular, the Mangrove trees are interesting for their characteristics for the protection of the coast of the island. Local specialized guides take you through the lagoon of the Jozani Forest National Park Mangrove Walk and explain the specifics.

Red Colobus Monkeys

The Jozani Forest is home to the Red monkeys, an endemic species of Zanzibar. They are considered endangered and are therefore protected animals. It is worth visiting this National Park that takes special care of these primates. 

Red Monkeys
Red Monkeys family in Zanzibar

Jozani Sea Turtle and Tortoise Sanctuary

This environmental conservation organization is a community initiative started by Jozani farm owners. Apart from the preserved animals, it is possible to see the greenhouse farming of spices and vegetables. 
Local expert guides take you through the various animals that are kept for short periods for a preservation program. From giant tortoise imported from the Seychelles in the 19th century, to sea turtles, python and lizards, there is a variety of species that can be unique and normally difficult to find. The below giant tortoise is 55 years old and weighs over 90kg.
Giant Tortoise
Giant Tortoise

Thank you for reading this article, and let’s get ready for your next experiential and sustainable trip!

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