“Apart from velvety, white beaches, pellucid seas and crumbling palaces, Zanzibar also offers some incredible fauna and flora.“
General Manager of Hotel Verde Zanzibar – Azam Luxury Resort & Spa (referred to as Zanzibar’s greenest hotel), Sunny Haroon, shares his favourite things to do in Zanzibar.
“Zanzibar is more than just a beach holiday destination; it is also green and verdant and full of nature’s wonders,” he says.
“One experience not to be missed is a tour through Jozani Forest – best done in the morning when nature is at its most lively.
“Located in the centre of the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, a short trip from Stone Town, this ancient, hardwood forest is home to many indigenous varieties of fauna, flora and mangrove swamps, a turtle sanctuary, and the delightful Zanzibari Red Colobus Monkey,” says Haroon.
Visitors might also catch a glimpse of other animals like bush pigs, elephant shrews, chameleons in addition to birds and butterflies.
Another favourite is the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre where visitors can go on a guided tour of the interactive exhibit, housed beneath a netted tropical garden flapping with hundreds of brilliantly-coloured butterflies. Did you know that some butterflies only live for one day?
The background of the project and the butterfly life-cycle and ecology is explained to visitors as they walk around and observe the elegant manoeuvres of this fragile species.
Close to Haroon’s heart is the Masingini Forest. Its sustainability efforts benefit not only the environment, but also the community. The forest was established in the 1950s for the purpose of conserving water sources and soil. ‘Masingini’ means ‘gullies’ and, indeed, the forest has more than 35 gorges which form an essential water supply for Zanzibar town.
What’s different about Masingini Forest is that it has deep soil, rich in nutrients that create an ideal living environment for over 179 endemic and rare plant and animal species. The herbs and shrubs that grow there are also used in traditional medicine. You’ll want to get your hands on some Mimosa that can be used to boost memory or Mabola Palm that treats a fever.
And of course, there’s also the ocean
The ocean, too, holds many of the world’s natural wonders and a particular favourite, are the dolphins.
“Swimming with dolphins is a must. It’s a bit of a drive but well worth the two to three hours of frolicking with these gentle, elegant creatures. Schools of bottle-nose and humpback dolphins flick flack around and if you are lucky, you can actually hear the dolphins as they swim past you. The younger ones swim beneath the older because they’re the ones who keep an eye on things,” he explains.
The attraction of Zanzibar for divers is its extensive coral reefs. These coral gardens are alive with colour and tropical fish – you might even catch a glance of a barracuda, some turtles or a whale. One can also experience wreck dives and night dives.
Last but not least, the best time of the day is sunset. This is the time to really become one with nature and there isn’t a sunset in the world quite like a sunset in Zanzibar.
“Find a quiet spot on the beach, perhaps with your toes in the surf, take a few deep breaths, and take some time to reflect on a day well spent, life itself, those closest to you, or make a wish as you watch the colours unfold and fade away – nature at its best!”
With its year-round warm, tropical climate, plenty to see and do, affordability and an array of resorts to stay at, Zanzibar needs to be on your bucket list!