Zanzibar Island photography guide
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Zanzibar island lies just off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa. The archipelago consists of two main islands, Unguja and Pemba and a number of smaller islands around these two.
The archipelago enjoys a tropical climate and features beautiful sandy beaches, coral reefs, remnants of rainforest, spice farms and the historical Stone Town. The Swahili culture is predominant here and there are many historical reminders of a turbulent history. Arabian, African, Indian, Parsi and Colonial (Portuguese and English) cultures mix here into a unique mix that shows in language, food, architecture and people.
The main exports of Zanzibar were historically spices such as cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg. Later the slave trade became more lucrative and Stone Town became a base for exploration of East Africa and the search for the source of the Nile.
Two world-famous people closely connected with Zanzibar were the Scottish explorer David Livingstone and later the one and only Farrokh Bulsara - better known as Freddie Mercury.
Nowadays Zanzibar island (Unguja) is a popular tourist destination for Europeans who often like to combine an East African safari adventure with a relaxed vacation at one of luxury resorts of Zanzibar.
The island is very diverse and has a lot to offer to photographers as well.
Most popular Zanzibar Island photo spots
Zanzibar's airport, located near Stone Town is well connected with Dar El Salam (a 20 minute flight in a light aircraft) and Nairobi (a longer flight with a view of Kilimanjaro if seated on the right side). It is also possible to take the ferry from Dar El Salam if budget is limited.
In an ideal world, split your stay at the island into two parts; plan a stay in Stone Town - a good base to explore the city and its landmarks and make short trips to Spice farms, dolphin watching, Prison island and Jozani forest.
Next, head to one of the seaside resorts on the East coast of the island. Once at a resort it is less convenient to make the trips mentioned above (hotels do organise this but at higher price and with less flexibility.) The east coast is great to photograph sunrises and the beaches are usually full of life - local villagers going about their daily business, kids playing with improvised toys, Maasai warriors posing for tourists, souvenir sellers, local fishermen offering sunset cruises on traditional dhows and more.
When selecting which resort to stay at, our recommendation is to go with smaller, boutique places that give back to local community. Some larger resorts literally lock themselves away from the world and give very little back to the impoverished local community.
Book day trips with reliable local companies rather than through the hotels. This way your money will be spent on supporting local families instead of pouring out of the country.
Trips to spice farms, the butterfly centre, ZALA park and Jozani forest are a good examples of how to help local communities and the environment.
Spend at least five nights on the island; there is much more to do here than sipping mojitos or coconuts from the shade of a palm tree - although that is pretty nice too after a shoot!
Luka Esenko Admin
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