Getting lost in Stone Town

February 19, 2018

Stone Town is a UNESCO heritage site located on the tropical island of Zanzibar.  The old historic quarter will encapsulate you, and you can easily spend hours meandering through a maze of narrow streets, loosing yourself in centuries of history.  This East African town has an abundance of Arabic influence buried deep into the roots and you will probably fall in love with this vibrant infusion of culture and want to return time after time.

 

 

My Journal

 

Stone Town was initially planned as an alternative to spending an entire day on the beach, but it totally deserves to be a destination in its own right and I just had to come back for a second visit.

 

The first trip was a short morning visit from Milele Beach Resort on the south eastern coast of Zanzibar by car (there is a car park opposite Darajani Market) and this journal entry roughly describes the activities of the first visit.

 

The second trip, about a week later on Tuesday 27th February involved arriving by ferry from Dar es Salaam and spending the night in Stone Town.  You can skip directly to part two, but I do recommend reading through the rest of my Tanzanian adventures first.

 

Aimlessly wander the maze of narrow alleyways…

 

If you’ve ever visited Venice, you’ll know what I mean when I say a map is a waste of time.  It’s the same in Stone Town but on a much smaller scale meaning that you should deliberately just get lost and stroll around the maze of narrow alleyways without any type of plan in mind.  In my humble opinion its actually one the best things you can do and you never know what hidden treasures you might find around a corner or perhaps behind one of the famous wooden carved Zanzibar doors. 

 

 

 

The friendly locals…

 

The town’s historic charm will captivate you and as you wander around in circles (probably completely lost) the locals will greet you with a cheery “mambo” and the giggling and inquisitive school children will give you a wave on their way home. 

 

 

 

But don’t forget to occasionally look up…

 

With the hive of activity at ground level, you may forget to once in a while glance upwards at the crumbling and faded colonial buildings.  If you time it right (which isn't difficult as most of the time, it is the 'right' time), you will discover grand architecture, lattice balconies and stained glass windows dating back to the nineteenth century.  Admittedly it is in various stages of deterioration but it just adds to the charm and pulls you deeper into the town’s time warp.

 

 

 

Jaws Corner…

 

When you come across a shark mural, you have found Jaws Corner.  It is a hub of social activity in the heart of the historic quarter.  It’s worth just sitting down for a while and soaking up the atmosphere and watching the town's residents go about their daily business - be it playing cards, chatting or selling local  produce. 

 

 

The famous Zanzibar doors…

 

The streets of Stone Town are full of astonishingly detailed and elaborately carved wooden doors, probably hiding century’s worth of secrets just behind them.  There are two basic types – the Indian door and the Arab door but the simplest way of describing them is that the door represents a story of the homeowner’s place of origin, profession and economic status.

 

 

 

If you can handle the smell… check out Darajani Market…

 

The Darajani Market is on the edge of Stone Town selling everything from raw meat and spices, to local produce and kitchen utensils.  It has a vibrant atmosphere, full of noise, colour and smells (some wonderful, some not so wonderful). 

 

 

 

And finally...

 

At one end of the bazaar you will find a little local secret that is highly popular with the locals.  In fact it is so popular that expect to wait a few minutes to get your hands on the most refreshing sugar cane juice you will have ever tasted. 

 

 

 

 

Photo Journal

 

There are always more photos to be shared, but sharing them all on this journal page will just make it look cluttered – so if you want to see more photos for inspiration, check out my Flickr 2018 - Tanzania album.

 

Previous: The Rock – Sunday 18th February…

Next: Mto wa Mbu – Tuesday 20th February…

 

or back to Tanzania & Thailand Travel Journal

 

 

 

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