Best of Zanzibar Tour: Two Weeks of Island Paradise

A 14 day trip to Tanzania 
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Lagoons glisten blue as they lap against white, expansive beaches. Wooden dhows sail on the wind, taking you to deserted islands. Exotic aromas and sounds will guide you through the labyrinthine alleys of Stone Town. Culture and history meet with tropical beach promise as you settle into your ultimate vacation in Zanzibar. Spanning two weeks and all the archipelago’s highlights, this is both an experiential and escapist vacation with all the best beaches and special, local highlights.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Zanzibar Town, Kendwa, Stone Town, Jozani, Paje, Pemba

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Zanzibar Town to Kendwa – Indulgence on the Northern Beaches

If you were to dream of Zanzibar, then it would look much like Kendwa. It would have a long white beach with sand that is so soft that it will squeak beneath your feet, scatterings of forest along with palms that rise above the houses, and coral cliffs of translucent color and shape. It is to the North of the island where you will find the most famous beaches, which are the postcard settings that have helped put Zanzibar on the visitor map. It will be an hour’s transfer north from the airport to Kendwa, which is where you will check into your beachside bungalow and begin the indulgence. From your bungalow, you can walk straight out onto the sand, and then to Nungwe should you wish.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Days 2 – 4: Kendwa – Classic Zanzibar: Beaches, Snorkeling, Seafood, and Tranquility

Nungwe is Zanzibar’s most famous and popular beach resort. It stands on the island’s northern tip and arcs eastwards, with a string of resorts and wooden beachside restaurants. This is the only place where hotels and resorts are also found away from the coast. Nungwe can be lively if you want it to be, and there will be an excellent selection of places to dine, including seafood shacks where you eat with your feet in the sand.

Kendwa is located to the west of Nungwe and is separated by a two-mile stretch of mostly open, coral-fringed beach. Your resort will be located on Kendwa’s western edge, beyond where most tourists travel. Although the beach is not private, it will be extremely rare that you will see more than a couple of people on it. If you are to see someone on the beach, they are usually local fishermen that are heading out to their dhows. By staying here, you will enjoy the iconic northern beaches and activities, with seclusion and tranquility that will be more in keeping with the island’s overall atmosphere.

Coral reefs will stud the bays, and the snorkeling around here is superb. You will head out on a boat tour to small reefs, jumping in to snorkel with rays, reef sharks, and turtles. From tiny black and purple striped fish to languid groupers, it will be around the northern tip of Zanzibar that you will experience the greatest diversity of marine life. Many dive operators are based here as well, with the best sites mostly off the northern and northwestern coastline. Nothing will be planned for these three days, so you will have these days to do whatever you please on your getaway in Zanzibar.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Stone Town – Historical Walking Tour Through a Maze of Coral Houses

Traveling through lush plantations, you will head back south to Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site that is made up of tightly-packed coral houses. Donkey carts will squeeze through the alleys here, carrying fish and vegetables. Aromas will mingle with exotic sounds as you find mosques, temples, and churches near each other. The atmosphere will intensify in Darajani Bazaar, where spices will spill from stalls, and traders will wear highly colorful garments. Then, it will turn gloomy at the Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church that was built upon the Old Slave Market. Plus, you will also visit Tippu Tip’s House, which is the old home of the famous slave trader and probably the second most famous Zanzibari resident behind Queen frontman, late Freddy Mercury.

You will continue on a walking tour of the town that will connect nearly a millennium of history. The Hamamni Baths are Persian in design, with stunning geometric patterns across domed ceilings. In the Old Dispensary, you can connect cultures, while at waterfront palaces you can appreciate the nuance of Zanzibari building style. You will end the day in Forodhani Gardens, where locals and visitors come to relax along the water and eat from the fresh barbecue stalls.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Stone Town – Full-Day Traditional Dhow Sailing Cruise

Sandbanks will shimmer white to the west of Stone Town, and deserted islands will appear to be fables from a Robinson Crusoe story. Coral outcrops will poke above the water at low tide. Today, you will be cruising on a traditional wooden dhow with the wind in the sail as you head out towards mainland Africa. You may jump off to the boat at your leisure to snorkel the reefs. You can catch some sun as you pass sandbanks, stop at Prison Island for a barbecue lunch, and relax on the island’s beach. Here, you may also encounter tortoises, some of which will be over 150 years old and can weigh nearly 500 pounds. This will be a full-day dhow cruise, and you will return to Stone Town late in the afternoon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Stone Town – Exploring the Spice Plantations

Two gloomy caves will make for grim stories on the journey to Zanzibar’s spice plantations. Both the Mangapwani Slave Chamber and Mangapwani Coral Cave are where slaves were kept before being exported to the Middle East and Asia. This practice continued through the 19th century, and it will seem as if stories are being whispered from the cave walls. After this, the rich smells and luscious greenery will appear even more vibrant when you arrive at the spice plantations. They will change the narrative, immersing you in fragrance and tropical scenes. You will explore a farm with a head grower, where you will learn about cloves, cardamom, vanilla, and a dozen other spices. You will also explore large fruit plantations and taste some fruit straight from the tree. After lunch at the plantation, you will return to Stone Town where the afternoon will be at your leisure.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Stone Town – Zanzibari Artisans and Cooking

Artisans continue to craft ornate doors in Stone Town. They continue to use a mix of Swahili and Arabian art, forging a style that has evolved over the centuries. By now you will have admired and photographed many of the Stone Town doors. An artisan will show you how they are made and what each element signifies. Gastronomy is another aspect of the culture that will consolidate different influences together. Having so many fresh spices and seafood to cook with also helps to create great, local cuisine. After the plantation, you will head into a restaurant kitchen for a fun workshop, where you will concoct some classic dishes such as pilaf. You will feast on the creations before another leisurely afternoon in Africa’s most culturally inspiring town.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Jozani to Paje – Monkeys in the Forest and the Empty Eastern Coast

Heading east you will find forests in Zanzibar’s heart, where endangered colobus monkeys will sit elegantly in the treetops. Looking out with their black faces and white beards they will seem like a symbol of tranquility. Shimmering red fur lines their backs and adds to the elegant appearance. Duiker, which is a species of antelope that also roam Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, along with a superb collection of birds. You will spend two hours on a forest walk, getting intimate with the monkeys and encountering some of the less than 1000 red colobus still found in the wild. Then, you will continue another 20 minutes by road to Paje, where your resort will be waiting peacefully on the empty eastern coast.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Paje – Swimming with Dolphins and Lounging on the Beach

Dolphins come to Kizimkazi Bay every morning. In the dawn hours, they come here to eat fish, and by about 9 a.m. they will be back out in open ocean waters. So, you will need an early start today. From Paje, it is around a 40-minute drive to Kizimkazi. You will arrive just before sunrise as large dolphin pods play around the shallows, frolicking and somersaulting after their meal. These are wild dolphins, and you can jump in the water with them, following their effortless turns and listening to their underwater tweets and squeaks. It may be an early start, but you will have the rest of the day in paradise where you can doze off besides the beach.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Paje – Another Day in Paradise

Zanzibar’s southeastern coastline is low-rise and low-key. The beach stretches uninterrupted for some 20 miles, and you can walk it all at low tide. Other than high tide the ocean becomes a lagoon where you can wade out at knee depth to see marine life without needing to go snorkeling. Even at high tide, these will be safe and inviting waters that will be perfect for laying back and watching the sky. Paje has become popular with kite surfers while neighboring Jambiani also has a selection of accommodations.

Further up the coast, there is only a handful of resorts. Spacious and serene, the beaches here will be a complete escape from the everyday world, and with three days, you can truly settle into the rhythm. This afternoon you may consider visiting The Rock, which is one of Africa’s most celebrated restaurants and is situated on an isolated coral outcrop that is just off the shore.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Zanzibar Town to Pemba – Scenic Flight and Underwater Suite

Turquoise colors will extend beneath the wingtips as you fly above the archipelago, which is a scenic flight that will take you from Zanzibar Town to the sister island of Pemba. You will land on an island of endless bliss and indulge in the scenery with thick forests that tumble down towards the beach. You will then check into your underwater suite and indulge in the inimitability. Lying back on the bed will be like going scuba diving, just without having to get wet. You will be in a dome, surrounded by a natural aquarium with sharks and turtles among those who roam past. Even after dark, the show will continue, with lights that will cast the ocean in a mystical glow, as well as attracting all manner of marine creatures.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 13: Pemba – Sleeping in a Natural Aquarium

Today is another day in paradise for you to walk barefoot across the beaches and into the lagoon-like waters. You can rest in the shade that palms create, or go for a snorkel above your suite. Every so often you will want to return to the room and watch nature’s show, which is the aquarium that extends above your head. Fresh seafood will be on the menu every evening, usually tuna and marlin. There will be tropical fruit galore, and the atmosphere suggests you should forget about any notions of time. Zanzibar is relaxed, and Pemba is even more so, primarily because it receives very few tourists. It will be an idyllic way to round off two weeks in the archipelago. Twenty years from now there may be articles that write about the next great tropical island you have just visited. They will be talking about Pemba. For now, it is a hidden gem in the realm of secluded and serene getaways.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 14: Pemba to Zanzibar Town – Departure

You will wake up to sharks, and fly over the archipelago. Then, you will board your international flight. Two weeks have come to an end, but they will certainly never be forgotten.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

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