Stone town – Zanzibar

20 June 2022

During my stay on Unguja in Zanzibar, I had the opportunity to go twice to Stone Town. Clearly if you want to immerse yourself in local life you have to stop there! Some will say that there is nothing interesting but on the contrary I find that it is culturally interesting.

  • Stone Town History

Stone Town has a very rich history and it is so special that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It preserves architecturally Portuguese, British, Indian and Omani influences in particular. It was a major hub for the sale of slaves too (unfortunately).

Note that the majority of the population is Muslim (which is not the case for the rest of Tanzania) but you can also find a church there for example (the guide I had insisted on the fact that everyone got along well).

  • Bottoms up

The first night I spent in Stone Town (before going to Chumbe) was at Bottoms up. Very cheap hotel in the heart of the old town with a great terrace to watch the sunset. Please note that it’s in a part of the city accessible only by foot. The room was okay, but the toilets were blah… And above all, you can hear the calls to prayer very well (at 4:30 a.m. it’s a bit complicated 😴).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But this afternoon and night spent in Stone Town allowed me to get my bearings in the city and I couldn’t resist going to the Freddy Mercury museum (born here).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Balcony house

For my second stay in Stone Town, I chose to stay at Balcony House. Hotel a bit more upscale (with kitchen). Nice room with air conditioning, nice common areas, sanitary ok but on the other hand close to the road so quite noisy. I had also asked them to book me the tours I wanted to do: city tour and day in Jozani.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Stone Town tour

The private tour cost $20. The guide picked me up at the hotel to start the tour. We started with the Old fort (Portuguese influence) where you give what you want for entry (I gave 10000 TZS). Then visit the place of food trucks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The guide then showed me the different doors that can be found and the different influences of architecture.

Walking on the streets he explained to me that for example they have had a sewage system for quite a short time (which comes from Europe) which has allowed the city to better manage the heavy rains and be less flooded. The city is also completely under video surveillance and you will be able to see cables everywhere 😅.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also went to the market, he helped me negotiate to buy tea and spices. He also showed me the poultry part where in the morning the buyers choose “alive” the chicken they want to eat. I was able to see the meat preparation room but luckily there was nothing going on (I admit that was the hardest part for me).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then we went near the slavery museum but he advised me not to pay to go there (it’s not worth it according to him). He just explained the historical part to me.

During the tour, we can clearly see that he has his favorite souvenir shops. It’s part of the trick to have to stop at several stores. I completely understand, tourism is their livelihood, but it’s not always pleasant to feel pressured! The advantage is that with a guide you get a little less fooled, for example thanks to him I knew how much a bottle of fresh water was worth from street vendors, I was able to buy the rest of my stay!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Jozani forest

The second tour that I had planned is to go to the forest of Jozani where there is a kind of endemic sign of the island. Taxi included, I got it for $60. We start with a quick mangrove tour.

Then we go in search of monkeys. I was lucky because my guide found them first so I had some time alone to admire them. And there were quite a few babies! On the other hand, be careful not to stay too far below, you risk getting pissed on 😂.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And if you go there, even if they come down from the tree, please don’t touch them!! They are wild animals that have no real interactions with humans. Our contact could disrupt this in addition to transmitting diseases/parasites to them.

We then returned through the quiet forest. On the other hand, I had put on pants that caught all the weeds, big fail😂. Then my driver took me back to Stone Town.

  • Restaurants

On Stone town, there are several restaurants “for tourists” with roof top. I liked 6 degrees south for example! But avoid the Sunset bar, I didn’t find it terrible and very expensive. I had the opportunity to have my breakfast at the Stone Town café which is very nice. I also went several times to the Travelers cafe which is very nice, quiet with a superb view!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Mentions légales/Legal

Politique de confidentialité/Privacy policy

Politique de cookie/Cookie policy