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Zanzibar’s Exotic East Coast

The short trip from Tanzania treats travelers to seclusion and unique diversions

Flights to Zanzibar leave airstrips in the Serengeti every day (typically before noon), landing in Zanzibar well before dusk.
Though it seems worlds away, Zanzibar is only 30 nautical miles off the East African coast and only an hour away from the major airports in Tanzania and Nairobi. Several small islands and two big ones, Unguja and Pemba, make up this archipelago that served as a global trade route for hundreds of years. The Persians, Arabs, Indians, and Portuguese who regularly passed through left their mark on everything from Zanzibar’s cuisine to the ornately carved wooden doors of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town. Zanzibar also represents the center of East Africa’s Swahili culture.

For a sense of solitude, venture to the eastern sides of the islands where the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lap the powder-white shores, and the trade winds’ cooling breezes tickle your neck. Once you’re ready to unbury your feet from the sand, there’s plenty of aquatic fun to be had. Swimming, snorkeling, and sailing on the traditional lateen-rigged dhow ships remain long held favorites, while kiteboarding is gaining a fast following.

A visit to Jozani Forest, near the village of Jambiani, affords a rare glimpse at the endangered red colobus monkey that, similar to the lemurs of Madagascar, evolved in isolation on Zanzibar.

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