Experience Easter in East Africa
Put all your Easter eggs in one basket and make a break for Zanzibar!
Beautiful white, pristine beaches with gracefully arcing palm trees, are the hallmark of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Archipelago is in the Indian Ocean, 35 km off the coast of east-central mainland Africa. It consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja and Pemba Island, with the main island —Unguja in Swahili — informally known as Zanzibar. It is here that the capital, Zanzibar City, is located.
In 1964 Zanzibar, together with Pemba Island and some other smaller islands, joined with Tanganyika on the mainland to form the United Republic of Tanzania, comprising an area of 1,554 square kilometres. As a prolific producer of all manner of spices, from cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, the Zanzibar Archipelago is sometimes referred to locally as the ‘Spice Islands’ (a term borrowed from the Maluku Islands of Indonesia). This jewel in the Indian Ocean is an idyllic location for a relaxing break away from the rush of city life and work commitments. This is a paradise for foodies, adventurers, leisure seekers, sportspeople, and shoppers alike, and the perfect place for an Easter break.
Where to hide those Easter eggs?
Families will find every type of activity to keep occupied and when the busy day is done, there is a selection of 3 to 5-star accommodation across a variety of locations on the various islands. Zanzibar has you luxuriously catered for, every need met and every view a panorama of visual delight!
Zanzibar Island has a lot to offer, whether you are recovering from climbing Kilimanjaro or you want to relax on one of the beautiful beaches. Activities include kitesurfing, boat trips, snorkelling, taking a spice tour, visiting Stone Town, trying some local ethnic fare or visiting the Jozani forest. If you are really curious, you can even visit the Prison Island! The opportunities for a divers Easter egg hunt are numerous, and could become an adventure of its own!
This collection of beautiful islands is brim-full with history as a trading outpost and a colony, from the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, to the Arabs, who have had the deepest influence, because the island’s position made it perfect for oceangoing commerce — and slave trading. For those with a slightly morbid leaning, you can visit the Slave Museum, and tour chambers where they kept slaves before they were sold. Then you can lighten the mood by visiting a rooftop restaurant, and enjoy the spectacular view over the city and reminisce how it must have looked when Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen lived there as a child… Yes, he was born right in the city centre!
This archipelago has also set the scene for many a wedding proposal as its natural beauty lends itself to romance and nostalgia, while its historic centre, Stone Town — once a fishing village that changed into a trading centre — is now a World Heritage Site.
Where history and shopping meet
The locals advise that the best way to get a feel for Stone Town is to stroll around the narrow network of quaint streets and just expect to be surprised by the diversity of cultures and colourful bazaars and markets. For the shopper, this is a paradise of its own as the meeting hub for African and Arabic cultures crash and merge. There is an abundance of mementos and souvenirs for every taste and you will not ever go away empty handed. Bright beads and printed cotton sarongs, to hand woven baskets, wooden masks and handmade leather sandals; they are all here.
Once you have satisfied your treasure shopping there is also an Old Fort to visit. Built by the Omani Arabs in 1699, it is one of the oldest buildings in town. The fort also has an open-air amphitheatre where you can watch local shows or other events. And then, try some local dish, whether it be mishkaki, a meat kabob where the meat is marinated in spices and then grilled, or urojo, flour-based mango soup with a tang of lemon, or try one of the two favourite rice dishes, pilau, where everything is cooked together in the same pot, giving the rice an incredible flavour, or biryani, where the rice is cooked separately from the meat and sauce. And that’s just for starters!
When nature calls
The island is bedecked with its famous coconut palms and other verdant, tropical vegetation, which for the nature and animal lover, is home to a variety of wildlife, including the endangered red colobos monkey and the endangered Pemba flying fox, considered the largest bat species in the world. Other animals in the island are the vervet monkeys, Mozambique cobras, tortoises, bush crabs, red eyed doves, mangrove king fishers and a variety of other birds. So too, you’ll find the hyrax (known as the dassie in South Africa), the Pemba blue duiker, feral pigs (introduced by the Portuguese), the Javan civet cat (introduced by southeast Asian traders for the production of musk) and marsh mongoose, an endemic carnivore.
Zanzibar has many marine parks, which are protected for their biodiversity, as well as a variety of nature reserves. For the adventure seeker, there are also coral caves to explore, where stalactites and stalagmite formations can be seen.
What to pack for your Easter break
Located so close to the Equator ensures that a strongly tropical climate prevails, characterising high temperatures all year round with daytime values above 29°C, and balmy nights that never fall below 18°C during the year. The warm current flowing up the East coast of Africa ensures that swimming in the Indian Ocean is possible all year round with water temperatures between 25°C in August and 30°C in March.
First up to go into that travel bag is Sunscreen, nothing under SPF 50 — this is Africa, people! Also, when you pack for this holiday consider bringing along Aloe Vera gel to protect you against the harsh African sun. It’s a soothing and effective balm against sunburn, and rest assured, you will get sunburnt!
A really basic first aid kit will also be useful, for those little incidentals such as a scrape or insect bite. Nothing excessive, but include band-aids, antiseptic ointment, gauze, camomile lotion for insect bites and itching, and something for pain relief such as a headache. Also pack a mozzie repellent. So too, a change in diet could cause nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, so pack something to prevent any of those. You may also need to take a malaria prophylactic as Zanzibar may have malaria. When in doubt, ask your chemist or tour operator for advice.
A pair of flip-flops are handy because generally, they will help protect your feet against possible infections that could come from getting a minor scratch or scrape from the rocks and/or sharp objects from walking on the beach barefoot. And while you are out in the sun walking, consider packing a waterproof bag to keep your belongings dry and big enough to carry about 2-liters of water, snacks, sunscreen and your phone. You must ensure you stay hydrated in this part of the world!
For the more physical activities like trekking through the forest or walking extensively, a good pair of sneakers or walking shoes will also be advisable and, along with a wide-brimmed hat, wear lightweight fabrics such as bamboo, cotton, linen and rayon because they breathe and don’t cling in the humidity. In respect of the local culture, it’s advised to wear knee-length, shorts, skirts or dresses and for men and women alike, if you are going into public or on a tour, be sure to pack a few tops which cover your shoulders, as the main faith is Islam.
With two distinct rainy and dry seasons, for good measure, if you’re visiting Zanzibar during the rainy seasons (March – May; November – December), be sure to pack a light raincoat.
Bring along a snorkelling mask for taking in the unbelievable sea life, abounding in tropical fish, colourful sea urchins, and jewel-like coral reefs and, while sunglasses not only reduce the glare — Polarised are best — and besides looking cool, they also protect your eyes from dirt, sand and saltwater.
While away from home, there is nothing worse than not being able to recharge your phone or plug in that laptop., so ensure you pack a universal adapter. Good time to invest in one now.
And last, remember to pack those Easter eggs!
Whether you opt for the elegance and luxury of the Swahili themed Neptune Pwani Beach or the more traditional feel of Zanzibar at Sea Cliff Resort it’s time to book that Zanzibar break…