Zanzibar. Its name alone inspires romantic visions of mythical seafaring tales and indigo ocean vistas. Spend the day taking in the local Swahili culture and enjoying the beach – whether swimming, snorkeling, diving, or simply relaxing at the resort. The reefs and coral offer exquisite views, including an immense diversity of vibrant aquatic life: butterfly fish, emperor angel fish, dolphins, lion fish, green turtles, and manta ray are a few of these amazing creatures. Along the beach, you might also see Zanzibari fishermen and sea merchants carving or readying their dhows: these are old Arab-African sailing vessels that have been used to navigate between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula for centuries. Once a hub for the vast Indian Ocean trading network, Zanzibar became a home for Africans, Arabs, Persians, and Indians alike. The island was the main slave market of the East African Coast and an important center for ivory trade, as well as a home to many clove and spice plantations. Today, fishing and trade by sea remain the backbone of Zanzibar’s economy, along with tourism.
This morning, we will hop on a plane for a quick flight to Zanzibar, our home for the next four days. Once on Zanzibar, we will visit lush spice farms and their dedicated farmers to discover the unique cinnamon, clove and nutmeg grown on the island. We will then head to our resort hotel for an afternoon and evening of relaxation. Take in the views of fishermen on the horizon sailing in their distinctive, hand-crafted dhows. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a dip in the crystal-clear waters or even go on a snorkeling adventure. A massage at the hotel is never a bad idea.
Each evening, we will meet up at the bar before dinner for a drink and casual talk by our academic host Adam Tooze who will paint the historical backdrop of this island—from the Age of Exploration when the Portuguese Empire was the first European power to gain control of Zanzibar to the country falling into the hands of the Sultanate of Oman, to the Arab slave trade, to the British Empire, to the Zanzibar Revolution all the way to today. Adam’s talks will inform our understanding of the culture and architecture all around us.
We will tuck into dinner as a group after our first beachside history lesson. Once at Zuri, all meals will be served at the hotel and included in the trip. You’ll have no reason to want to venture elsewhere: the ingredients from the local garden make each dish a delicacy.
ZURI ZANZIBAR HOTEL & RESORT (B, L, D)