Introducing Zanzibar Archipelago
Zanzibar’s allure is legendary. One of East Africa’s great trading centres, the archipelago has been for centuries a crossroads of culture, a melting pot of influences where Africa, India and Arabia meet, a complete change of pace from the mainland, a place where life’s rhythms are set by the monsoon winds and the cycles of the moon.
While Zanzibar gets most of the attention, the archipelago is also made up of Pemba to the north, plus numerous smaller islands and islets. Each of the main islands has its own distinct character. Zanzibar’s major attraction is Stone Town, with its whitewashed, coral-rag houses, quaint shops, bazaars, mosques, courtyards and squares. Another draw card is its spectacular sea, edged by fine, white-sand beaches. Although many places have become very developed, there are still some quiet spots left.
Verdant Pemba, in contrast, is hilly, densely vegetated and seldom visited. Voodoo flourishes amid its hilly terrain, winding creeks lace the shoreline, and the mangrove-lined coast opens occasionally onto hidden, pristine coves and bays the colour of emerald.
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For much of its history, Pemba has been overshadowed by Zanzibar, its larger, more visible and more politically powerful neighbour to the south.