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Travel Tips for Pemba in Tanzania

Pemba Island is the second biggest island of the Zanzibar Archipelago in Tanzania. Home to a diverse range of flora and fauna such as a fruit bat called Pemba flying fox, malachite kingfisher, green pigeon, African goshawk, deep sea turtles, crowned hornbill, Pemba Vervet monkeys, miniature antelopes, palm nut vulture, manta rays, owls, violet breasted sunbirds, and colorful coral reefs, this island is a spectacular tourist destination. This stunning location is remote, and is never crowded, so tourists can come here to relax and enjoy some peace, tranquility, and serenity. The lush isle is greener than other islands, and is extraordinary as it offers breathtaking views, exciting experiences such as diving, and mouth watering food! Pemba Island should be on every traveller’s wish list. Here are some tips for visiting this beautiful island!

1.      SAFETY

As Pemba is a remote island, it is fairly safe and secure, and locals are friendly and easygoing. Worst case scenario, tourists might overpay for something, but this event can be avoided by negotiating and knowing market values.


2.      LOCALS

The local population is relaxed, helpful, and easygoing. Interacting with locals is a good idea during any trip, as it allows the visitor to understand the culture of the region. Tourists should respect the norms of the area and should not offend the friendly locals in any way.


3.      FOOD

The delicious local cuisine has Indian, Portugese, African, Arabic, and Swahili influences. Most eateries and lodges offer Swahili food such as rice, biryani, date nut bread, soup, spiced potatoes, kebabs, curry, chapati, grilled meat, and fresh seafood such as lobster, shellfish, calamari, tuna, octopus, and prawns. Fresh fruits such as mango and passionfruit are also readily available. Tourists may also tour a spice farm, where they can observe, smell, and taste spices such as ginger, cloves, cumin, cardamom, vanilla, turmeric, nutmeg, fennel, lemongrass, and pepper.


4.      LANGUAGE

Locals tend to speak the native Swahili language so visitors are encouraged to learn a few basic words and phrases, or carry a phrasebook with important vocabulary. Few people might be able to speak some English. The locals use the religious greetings of Islam i.e. Assalamu Alaikum and Waalaikum Salam which mean “peace be upon you”, so visitors may learn and use these as well.


5.      TRAVEL

Pemba Airport (PMA) or Katume Airport, 7km away from Chake Chake, is accessible through flights from Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam. Alternatively, the island can be reached by taking a ferry from Stone Town, Mkoani, and Tanga. Travel within the city is done by public minibuses called dala dalas, which are a cheap way to get around. Tourists can also get taxis but these are comparatively more expensive. They may also rent a bicycle to explore the island!


6.      WHERE TO GO

a.       The Ras Mkubmuu Ruins date from the 13th and 14th Century and include an 11th century mosque, the old chief’s house and several elaborate graves.

b.       The lush green 3600 acre Ngezi Forest Reserve has several biomes, including tropical forest, riverine forest, and maquis shrubland. Here, tourists can enjoy the vegetation and greenery. This  tranquil reserve is home to many animals, such as Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey, pigeons, owls, Pemba white-eye, and many others.

c.       Kigomasha Peninsula is a top rated tourist spot as it offers excellent diving and swimming opportunities, and visitors can explore the lighthouse built in 1904!

d.       The heavenly Vumawimbi Beach is an untouched stretch of white sand where tourists can enjoy the sweet smelling air and a cooling swim in the crystalline waters. The remote area is peaceful, private, and serene.

e.       Misali Island is one of the best diving areas in East Africa, and is the most beautiful tourist spot in Pemba because of its clear water, stunning coral reefs, and nesting sea turtles. Tourists can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, or visiting the inland caves which are believed to be inhabited by the spirits of ancestors.