Zanzibar is the collective name for the islands of Unguja, Pemba as well as many other small atolls and islets. Located in the Indian Ocean, about 32 Km east of the Tanzanian mainland and 6 degree south of the equator, Unguja is better known as Zanzibar Island. Zanzibar island is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of the stone town area.
Once the thoroughfare of the slave trade, Zanzibar has an incredibly rich history centuries old. Its array of spice plantations historical buildings and unique blend of cultures and color to her turbulent past. Zanzibar’s stone town connections with the Arabian countries of old has left a legacy of well preserved eastern architecture, distinctly evident in the House of Wonders and Sultans palace. Its local people are incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, united under one tradition – their warm island hospitality.
People of Zanzibar
The people of Zanzibar are known as Zanzibaris and their native language is Kiswahili, commonly known internationally as Swahili. Zanzibar used to be the world’s largest producer of cloves, and its history is heavily influenced by this commerce. Zanzibar ’s inhabitants are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, due to their colorful history. The population is currently though to stand at around 1,000,000. It seems that all races and religions exist in harmony in this little part of Africa. Zanzibar town (stone town as the historic quarter) is the capital city of Zanzibar. Other large villages include chuini, Mkokotoni, Nungwi and Makunduchi.
On Pemba island, Chake Chake is the largest town and capital of the island. Mkokotoni the most important local fish-market, in the north of the island. Nungwi is the traditionally dhow building industry with one of the nicest beaches on the islandZanzibar ’s most famous event is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries. Every July, this event showcases the best of Swahili coast arts scene, including Zanzibar’s favorite music Taarab. Although other festival like Sounds of wisdoms due exist.
The climate of Zanzibar is hot and sometime humid. From December to March when the north-east monsoon blows, it is hot and comparatively dry. In April and May heavy rains occur. June to October is the coolest and driest period. The lesser rain fall in November. The means minimum temperature is 29.8 degree centigrade and means maximum is 32.9 degrees centigrade. The annual rainfall is 18.3 cm. Because of its size, a tour of Zanzibar is never tiring and leaves the visitor with plenty of time to relax. Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May which are seasonally subject to the long rains. Short rains can occur in November but are characterized by short showers which do not last long.
The heat of summer is seasonally often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particular on North and East coasts. Being near to the equator, the islands are warm all year round, but officially summer and winter peak in December and June respectively and this period is really good for bird watchers.
|Mikumi National Park|
|Swirls of opaque mist hide the advancing dawn. The first shafts of sun colour the fluffy grass heads rippling across the plain in a russet halo. A herd of zebras, confident in their camouflage at this predatory hour, pose like ballerinas, heads aligned and stripes merging in flowing motion. Mikumi National Park abuts the northern border of Africa’s biggest game reserve – the Selous – and is transected by the surfaced road between Dar es Salaam and Iringa. It is thus the most accessible part of a 75,000 square kilometre (47,000 square mile) tract of wilderness that stretches east almost as far as the Indian Ocean.|
|Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park|
|Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don’t even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa. Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).|
|Selous Game Reserve|
|The game reserve gets its name from the hunter-explorer Frederick Courtney Selous, whose books about his exploits were best sellers in Victorian England. Selous was killed by an Elephant in early 1900’s during the First World War. The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife area in Africa. Only in the Serengeti will visitors see a greater concentration of wildlife. Yet Selous boasts Tanzania’s largest population of elephant as well as large numbers of buffalo, hippo and wild dog. The remaining African Black Rhinos are also dominating the reserve. Other species commonly seen are sable antelope, bushbuck, impala, giraffe, lion, eland, baboon, zebra, crocodiles, leopard and greater kudu.|
|Arusha National Park|
|The closest national park to Arusha town – northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours. The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colourful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.|
|Ruaha National Park|
|The game viewing starts the moment the plane touches down. A giraffe races beside the airstrip, all legs and neck, yet oddly elegant in its awkwardness. A line of zebras parades across the runway in the giraffe’s wake. In the distance, beneath a bulbous baobab tree, a few representatives of Ruaha’s 10,000 elephants – the largest population of any East African national park, form a protective huddle around their young. Second only to Katavi in its aura of untrammelled wilderness, but far more accessible, Ruaha protects a vast tract of the rugged, semi-arid bush country that characterises central Tanzania. Its lifeblood is the Great Ruaha River, which courses along the eastern boundary in a flooded torrent during the height of the rains, but dwindling thereafter to a scattering of precious pools surrounded by a blinding sweep of sand and rock.|
|Ngorongoro Conservation Area|
|Known as “Africa’s Eden,” the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the greatest density of wildlife found on any Tanzanian safari, It features the world’s largest unbroken caldera — a crater formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano. The Ngorongoro Crater spans 102 square miles encompassing grasslands, swamps, forests and lakes, and contains approximately 25,000 large animals. Safari participants descend nearly 2,000 feet into the crater to observe large herds of zebra, wildebeest, gazelle and their predators. You may even see rare black rhinos grazing by the lakes. The area also contains the Olduvai Gorge, where famed archaeologists and anthropologists Mary and Louis Leakey discovered nearly two-million-year-old bones and tools from what some believe were the earliest humans.|
|Lake Manyara National Park|
|Stretching for 50km along the base of the rusty-gold 600-metre high Rift Valley escarpment, Lake Manyara is a scenic gem, with a setting extolled by Ernest Hemingway as “the loveliest I had seen in Africa”. The compact game-viewing circuit through Manyara offers a virtual microcosm of the Tanzanian safari experience. From the entrance gate, the road winds through an expanse of lush jungle-like groundwater forest where hundred-strong baboon troops lounge nonchalantly along the roadside, blue monkeys scamper nimbly between the ancient mahogany trees, dainty bushbuck tread warily through the shadows, and outsized forest hornbills honk cacophonously in the high canopy.|
|Serengeti National Park|
|An essential destination on Tanzania safaris is Serengeti National Park, the country’s largest and most famous reserve. With 5,700 square miles of plains stretching as far as the eye can see, the Serengeti is home to one of the most diverse wild animal populations on Earth. The park is also one of the best places on the continent to view lion prides. Safari guests traverse the Serengeti in four-wheel-drive vehicles to spot buffaloes, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos and more. For breathtaking sights of the game as they stir at dawn, an early morning hot-air balloon ride over the plains.|
|Tarangire National Park|
|Tarangire National Park lies 120 km south of Arusha, along The Great North Road highway, and is very popular for day trips from the town. Tarangire offers a wide variety of wildlife in its area of 2,600 sq. km. As in all ecosystems, the vegetation and the types of animals you find are closely correlated. The principal features of the park are the flood plains and the grassland, mainly comprising of various types of acacia trees, and a few scattered baobabs, tamarind and the sausage trees. The Tarangire River, after which the park is named, provides the only permanent water for wildlife in the area. When the Maasai Steppes dry up with the end of the long rains in June, migratory animals return to the Tarangire River, making Tarangire National Park second only to Ngorongoro in the concentration of wildlife. This period stretches between June and November and it is the best season for game viewing in Tarangire.|