The Barner
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Trading under the name Spice Island, this paradise off Tanzania's north coast has lured travellers for centuries, some in search of cloves, some in search of plunder and still others in search of an idyllic home. The island got engaged to Tanzania relatively recently, after a string of torrid affairs with the Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and English. But it was the Shirazi Persians and the Omani Arabs who stayed to settle and rule - and it's their influence which lingers most strongly on the island.

The old Stone Town of Zanzibar is one of the most fascinating places on the east coast. It's a chaotic, labyrinthine cluster of winding streets lined with whitewashed coral-rag houses with magnificently carved (but fast vanishing) brass-studded doors. There are endless little shops, bazaars, mosques, courtyards and fortresses, two former sultans' palaces, two huge cathedrals, faded colonial mansions, a disused Persian-style public bathhouse and a quite bizarre collection of foreign consulates. Dotted around the island are historical sites such as the ruined Maruhhubi Palace, built in 1882 by Sultan Barghash to house his harem. To take it all in, a 'Spice Tour' is recommended. Plenty of guides are on offer for such tours, which include several palace ruins, the Mangapwani Slave Cave, and the various spice and fruit plantations at the island's heart. There's also Jozani Forest, 24km (15mi) south-east of Zanzibar town, a sanctuary for the rare red colobus monkey and the Zanzibar duiker (small antelope).


Wildlife Photography by Jay Parmar

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