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Introducing Zanzibar Archipelago

Step off the boat or plane onto the Zanzibar Archipelago, and you’ll be transported through the miles and the centuries – to ancient Persia, to Oman’s caliphs and sultans, to India, with its heavily laden scents.

On Zanzibar, Stone Town’s alleyways wind past Arabic-style houses with brass-studded wooden doors. Elderly men play bao (traditional board game) while women in their flowing bui-bui (black cover-alls) pause to chat. Along the coast, local life moves to the rhythm of the tides and the winds of the monsoon.

Across the deep waters of the Pemba channel lies hilly, verdant Pemba, the archipelago’s seldom visited ‘other’ island. Coastal mangrove swamps open onto stunning white-sand coves, and neat farm plots cover the hillsides.

Yet, there is another side to life on the archipelago. Zanzibar, especially, has changed massively in recent years. Overdevelopment is suffocating the coast and mass tourism makes the archipelago’s allure ever more elusive. While the magic remains, you’ll have to work much harder to find it.