The Insider’s Guide to Zanzibar Island
A combination of culture, ancient history, tons of activities, interesting food choices and gorgeous beaches, Zanzibar is a popular choice with so many travellers. If you’ve been here many times, you’d know about the many attractions the country has. Here are some only an insider would know of.
Darajani Market – if you want to know what the locals are doing, head to this market in the popular Stone Town. This is shopping that is a far cry from the impersonal kind we are often used to. All your senses come alive in Darajani Market. If you get there really early in the day, you can witness the energetic bidding at the fish auction. If not, you can admire the sheer range of the things being sold- fresh food, like bread and fruit, spices, utensils, clothes, plastic items and mobile phones are just some of the many things. You’ll need energy for this one and luckily the good old samosa is at hand. Tuck into it or some chapatti as you make your way through Darajani. You’d be tempted to take some photographs, so please check with the people if you can, before you do.
Staying with shopping, Stone Town has some fabulous little shops where you can buy the traditional Kitenge dress and fancily packed spices. Apart from this, bracelets from the Maasai tribe, other jewellery, wooden carvings and so on can also be purchased here. It’s okay to bargain, sometimes it’s necessary, but if you’re buying something handmade, try not to buy for too low. Lot of effort goes into it and you can’t put a price on stuff like that.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you should head to the beach in Stone Town and admire the display of the martial arts form, Capoeira, and some cool gymnastics. The boys who put on the display are fabulously talented and friendly. Talk to them about their passion for the activity and you’ll be happy that you did.
If you’re a festival enthusiast, Zanzibar is the country for you. There are 3 main festivals that take place each year. The most famous is The Zanzibar International Film Festival. This is East Africa’s biggest film, arts and music festival. For all you water babies, the community run Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival is exactly what you need. Apart from water sports, there’s music and some great food stalls. Head to Jambiani around September to be part of this. If you’re in the mood for music, then look no further than Sauti za Busara. The title translates into ‘The Sounds of Wisdom,’ and you can enjoy music from every part of the continent. Be in Zanzibar in February for this fun experience.
If you’re an insider, you’ve surely taken the ride of a lifetime in a Dala Dala. Essentially a mini-bus, the dala-dala is normally packed to the hilt, not too comfortable and not too safe. And yet, if you want to experience the local life, this is the way to do it. In fact, take one from Stone Town and you can get to wherever you want to go in the island quickly and inexpensively.