Exploring Stone Town

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It is usually possible to take a day trip from any of the beach resorts that you may be staying at in order to explore the World Heritage Site that is Stonetown, but a much better way is to spend a night or two here in a charmingly converted old merchant's house, or small hotel.

The truth is, though, that guided tours can vary hugely in quality, and you might get a much richer experience from doing a little bit of research first, maybe borrowing a map and guidebook from where you are staying, followed by just exploring the narrow winding streets on your own.

In addition to the 'classic' tourist sights listed below, you should also aim to spend time just wandering around Stone Town's vibrant markets and shops, where, if you wish, you will be able to buy tropical fruits and spices.

The range of architecture to be found here is immense, its most famous features being the tall wooden wonderfully carved doors, and covered balconies. Many of the doors are heavily brass-studded: originally these were spike covers, placed there to prevent elephant raids during the wars in India.  [cont.]

The history of Stone Town is, of course, inextricably linked with that of the Slave Trade, and the starting point for many tours is the Anglican Church of Christ built by Bishop Steers in 1874 on the site of old slave market. Here you will see the tiny and dingy room where slaves were kept (The Slave Chambers) before reaching the auction table in the Old Slave Market.

The church’s high altar stands in the exact location of the Weeping Post, to which slaves were tied to determine their sale value. If they cried and squirmed this meant that they were less strong, and hence their value was lower.

Then the National Museum (The House of Wonders) contains many interesting relics from the time of the Sultans and the early explorers. In the Forodhani Gardens you will see the Old British Consulate (where Dr David Livingstone’s body was kept, before being transported back to Britain).

Nearby you will find the Old Arab Fort, the Palace Museum (the old Sultan’s residence), the High Court building, the old German Consulate, the former English Club (now the Africa House Hotel, which we feature elsewhere), the traditionally Arab house occupied by the notorious slave trader, Tippu Tip, and the Old Harbour area.

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Image of Africa House Hotelview


Stone Town ($65 pppn)

A medium sized hotel situated on Stone Town's waterfront. Think of a Colonial Club, back in Edwardian times - but with all mod cons.

Image of Beyt al Chaiview


Stone Town ($150 pppn)

Beyt al Chai is a small boutique hotel situated right in the centre of Stone Town, and regarded by many as their number one choice of where to stay.

Image of Flame Tree Cottagesview


Zanzibar North ($75 pppn)

An inexpensive family-run beach hotel, situated only a short walk from most of Nungwi's activities.

Image of Fumba Beach Lodgeview


Zanzibar West ($100 pppn)

Not far from Stonetown, Fumba offers a wide range of activities and a great beach.

Image of Mbweni Ruinsview


Stone Town ($120 pppn)

Included in this 'Stone Town' section, Mbweni Ruins is actually located about 6 km out of town, giving the benefit of a beach location.

Image of Serena Innview


Stone Town ($150 pppn)

A larger luxury hotel, as would be expected from its being part of the renowned Serena Hotel Group, which is owned by the Aga Khan.

Image of The Swahili Houseview


Stone Town ($94 pppn)

A medium-sized hotel located in the heart of Stone Town, which still retains its historic Swahili style, but adjusted to Western standards.

Image of Unguja Lodgeview


Zanzibar West ($250 pppn)

Sister lodge to Fumba Beach Lodge, Unguja Lodge is the second such that we feature on this, Zanzibar's West coast.

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