The main island of the Zanzibar archipelago,
also known as Unguja, has been at the prow of Indian
Ocean trade for over a millennium. Vasco de Gama arrived
here only to find a prospering society attaining sufficient
status for the Omani sultans to relocate their court
there, bringing traditions and languages that were to
fuse the African and Arabic cultures into the unique
civilization of modern Zanzibar.
The buildings that tumble throughout
the Stone Town today date back to this period, each
an emblem of a rich and tumultuous history depicted
through Arabian-Nights palaces, melancholic Slave markets,
aromatic Spice bazaars and two ornate cathedrals. Amidst
the working dhows, ornate carved doors, labyrinthine
alleyways and minaret-toothed skylines, there lies a
familiarity borne of myth and legend, that feeling of
intimacy and wonder that is Zanzibar's enticing allure.
Elsewhere, the coastline is one extended
stretch of idyllic beach - fine, white sands, azure
lagoons, coral reefs and coconut palm fringes, home
to traditional Swahili fishing cultures and a range
of small beach lodges and resorts. Zanzibar's inviting
waters offer world class scuba diving and deep sea fishing
amongst many other pursuits.