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The enchanting East African Zanzibar Archipelago, nestled in the mesmerising Indian Ocean just 15 miles off the Tanzanian coast, is an enchanting haven that offers a perfect escape from the world’s hustle and bustle. Comprising several islands, the main gems are Unguja, also known as Zanzibar Island, and Pemba. Our project revolves around the allure of Unguja, the heart of Zanzibar.
Undoubtedly, Unguja is a paradise of unparalleled beauty, boasting pristine white sandy beaches, shallow sandbars, and turquoise waters that beckon visitors to immerse themselves in its splendour. With an array of activities to choose from, snorkelling takes the spotlight as a highlight for us. The island’s warm waters make it an ideal spot to explore the vibrant underwater world teeming with marine life. And for those seeking an adrenaline rush, kitesurfing is an immensely popular and thrilling option, especially along the western coast near the captivating city of Paje.
Zanzibar’s economy revolves around three main industries: spices, raffia, and tourism. The islands are renowned for producing cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, which have earned them the fitting nickname of “the spice islands.” While exploring Zanzibar, be sure to visit the famous spice market, Darajani Market, and take a delightful tour of the spice farms (shambas), where the aromatic scents of spices fill the air and offer an immersive cultural experience. The spice tours provide insight into the traditional cultivation methods and the historical significance of these exotic flavours.
As we wander through this magical island, we encounter the vibrant lives of the local people, who actively engage in fishing, farming, and the collection of seaweed for processing. Their daily routines seamlessly blend with the island’s enchanting surroundings, and you may have the chance to witness their authentic way of life.
Zanzibar, with its allure of natural wonders and cultural richness, promises a captivating and rejuvenating escape. A land where time slows down, allowing you to savour every moment and embrace the true essence of this island paradise. Whether you seek relaxation on its stunning beaches, excitement in its aquatic playground, or cultural immersion in its spice-scented charm, Zanzibar is a destination that will forever hold a special place in your heart.
Zanzibar is primarily inhabited by a warm and friendly Muslim population. Despite facing significant poverty, especially in smaller villages lacking access to basic necessities like electricity and water, the island’s people radiate resilience and hospitality that leave a lasting impression on visitors.
One fascinating aspect of Zanzibar’s cultural tapestry is the presence of Masai males, employed by many resorts for security purposes. Their distinctive presence adds an extra layer of richness to the island’s already vibrant and diverse cultures and colours.
Beyond its cultural treasures, Zanzibar is also a sanctuary for endangered wildlife. Among our favourite primate species found here is the critically endangered Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey. Sharing the island with them is the elusive Zanzibar Servaline Genet, Aders’s Duiker, Tree Hyrax, Zanzibar Galagos (Bushbaby), chameleons and other reptiles including even sea turtles, prolific birdlife and over 40 species of butterflies. For an incredible opportunity to observe the Red Colobus monkeys up close and other animals and birds, we recommend embarking on a hike through the breathtaking Jozani Nature Reserve, guided by a knowledgeable local expert.
Zanzibar’s natural wonders, fascinating wildlife, and vibrant cultures blend harmoniously to create an unforgettable experience for every traveler. Embrace the hospitality of its people, marvel at the island’s unique wildlife, and immerse yourself in the colourful tapestry of its traditions. Your journey to Zanzibar promises to be a heartwarming and eye-opening adventure that will leave you with cherished memories for a lifetime.
Stone Town, the old quarter of Zanzibar City, is a treasure trove waiting to be explored, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical significance. As you venture into this captivating labyrinth of narrow alleys, immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry and architectural wonders, but take care not to get lost in its enchanting maze.
An unmissable highlight in July is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries. This extraordinary event showcases the best of the Swahili Coast arts scene, including Zanzibar’s beloved music, taarab. It’s a celebration of creativity and a testament to the island’s vibrant cultural heritage.
Zanzibar is a culinary delight, especially for those with a passion for food. Treat yourself to a tantalising array of fresh exotic fruits, and if you’re a seafood enthusiast, savour the delightful lobsters and the traditional coconut octopus curry, fondly known as “Pweza wa nazi.” The curries, often enjoyed with rotis, are a perfect blend of creaminess and flavours without overwhelming heat, making them enjoyable even for less adventurous palates. Don’t miss out on trying Zanzibar pizza, an unexpected culinary delight that stands apart from its Italian namesake. And while you’re here, indulge in the exotic spiced coffees and chai masala teas, which add a delightful twist to your coffee and tea-drinking experience.
For an evening filled with fun and flavours, head to the Forodhani Gardens night market in Stone Town. Savour the delectable treats and enjoy a refreshing drink at Mercury’s Restaurant, with a splendid view overlooking the seaport.
While volunteering in Zanzibar, make the most of your spare time by taking part in cultural tours. Visit the nearby Prison Island to marvel at the Aldabra Giant tortoises or head to Nungwi in the north to witness the heartwarming turtle sanctuary. Alternatively, relish a day off by basking in the sun on one of the many beautiful beaches that adorn the island, feeling like you’ve truly found paradise.
Zanzibar’s allure lies not only in its captivating history and vibrant culture but also in its delightful culinary delights and the abundance of breathtaking scenery, making it a destination that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of all who visit.
Stone Town is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, each structure steeped in history and significance. Among the prominent landmarks are the Livingstone House, The Old Dispensary of Zanzibar, the iconic Guliani Bridge, the imposing Ngome Kongwe (the Old Fort of Zanzibar), and the majestic House of Wonders. These architectural marvels offer a glimpse into the island’s rich past and cultural heritage, leaving visitors in awe of their beauty and grandeur.
Notably, Stone Town holds a special place in music history as the birthplace of the legendary singer of the rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury. His enduring legacy is celebrated throughout the town, adding an extra layer of cultural significance to this already vibrant destination.
In the town of Kidichi, history unfolds with the Hamamni Persian Baths, a fascinating creation built by immigrants from Shiraz, Iran, during the reign of Barghash bin Said. These baths are a testament to the island’s cultural diversity and the blending of various influences throughout its storied past.
Zanzibar is a place of beauty, both in its architectural treasures and its warm-hearted people. As you immerse yourself in this marvellous island, you’ll be captivated by the charm and warmth of its inhabitants, ensuring that your experience will be as unforgettable and cherished as ours. Prepare to be enchanted by the allure of Zanzibar, a destination that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of all who have the pleasure of visiting.
Facts about Zanzibar
Population: the population of Unguja aka Zanzibar Island is estimated at 1.6 million people
Capitals: Zanzibar City
Languages: English, Swahili, Arabic, and a smattering of European languages like French and Italian. The locals are brilliant with languages and often can converse in quite a few
Climate: Zanzibar boasts an ideal holiday climate throughout most of the year, making it a perfect destination for volunteers seeking pleasant weather. During summer, the island experiences some heat, but the windy conditions create delightful sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts, ensuring a refreshing and comfortable environment for visitors. As the islands are situated near the equator, they enjoy warm temperatures year-round. The official peak seasons are December for summer and June for winter, each offering its unique charm.
With an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily, Zanzibar is a sun-seeker’s paradise. Whether you’re strolling along the captivating beaches or exploring the island’s cultural treasures, the warm rays of the sun provide the perfect backdrop to your adventures.
While short rains may occur in November, they are characterised by brief showers that pass quickly, leaving ample time for you to continue your exploration without significant interruptions. The long rains typically take place in April and May, which some refer to as the ‘Green Season.’ However, it’s essential to note that even during this period, the rain does not fall every day, offering plenty of opportunities to savour the island’s wonders without hindrance and after the rain the sun comes out.
Regardless of the time of year, Zanzibar welcomes you with open arms and promises a delightful and enriching experience. With its inviting climate, captivating scenery, and warm-hearted people, every moment spent on this enchanting island will be filled with cherished memories that linger long after your departure.
Currency: Tanzania Shilling and the USA dollar
Animal Welfare and Veterinary Medicine project
Volunteer with animal rescuers and veterinary staff on the beautiful spice island of Zanzibar assisting with the care and medical treatment of cows, goats, donkeys, dogs, cats and even the occasional monkey, rabbit and bird while educating the community on animal husbandry!
Why volunteer in Zanzibar
Volunteering in Zanzibar, like volunteering in any part of the world, can be a rewarding and meaningful experience for individuals who want to make a positive impact while immersing themselves in a new culture. Here are several reasons why you might consider volunteering in Zanzibar:
Contribute to Positive Change
Zanzibar faces various social, environmental, and economic challenges. By volunteering, you can actively contribute to efforts aimed at addressing these challenges and making a positive impact on the local community.
Volunteering allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with community members, and gain a deeper understanding of Zanzibar’s rich heritage and traditions.
Volunteering can be a transformative experience. It challenges you to step out of your comfort zone, develop new skills, and learn about global issues firsthand. It can lead to personal growth, increased self-awareness, and a broader perspective on the world.
Volunteering often involves working closely with local people and other volunteers. You can form lasting friendships, create professional networks, and build relationships that transcend borders.
Depending on the type of volunteer work you engage in, you may acquire new skills or enhance existing ones. These skills can be valuable for your personal and professional development.
Support Sustainable Development
Many volunteer programs in Zanzibar focus on sustainable development, environmental conservation, and community empowerment. By participating, you contribute to long-term solutions that benefit both the environment and local residents.
Travel and Adventure
Zanzibar is a beautiful destination with stunning beaches, historic sites, and vibrant markets. Volunteering allows you to explore the island while giving back to the local community.
Volunteering in a foreign country like Zanzibar promotes a sense of global citizenship. It helps you understand the interconnectedness of global issues and encourages responsible and ethical travel.
Education and Awareness
By volunteering, you can raise awareness about important issues such as education, healthcare, conservation, and social justice. This can inspire others to get involved and make a difference.
Leave a Lasting Legacy
Your volunteer work can leave a lasting legacy in the community. Whether it’s building infrastructure, teaching skills, or supporting healthcare or veterinary medicine initiatives, your contributions can continue to benefit the local population even after you’ve returned home.
When considering volunteering in Zanzibar or any other destination, it’s essential to research projects carefully, ensure they align with your values and skills, and be prepared for the responsibilities and challenges that come with volunteering abroad. Responsible and ethical volunteering can have a meaningful impact on both the volunteers and the communities they serve.