Tuesday 13 April 2021
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Zanzibar: Touring the Island of Spices

Zanzibar: Touring the Island of Spices


‘Island of Spices’ is Zanzibar’s nickname. From this nickname, one can get an idea of what to expect when you get to this wonderful nation of Zanzibar, loads, and loads of spices.

Zanzibar’s flirtations with spices, herbs, and tropical fruits date back centuries since the first settlement of the Arabs around 1650.

Soon after landing in Zanzibar, the Arabs established spice plantations and by early 1700s, Zanzibar soon became the world’s biggest exporter of spices and herbs. Zanzibar has seen a decrease in spice exports quantities over the years but production still remains relatively very high.

A holiday to Zanzibar would be incomplete without a tour of the treasure trove of spices. Spice farm tours are one of the most popular excursions in Zanzibar.

The spice tours are not just a form of leisure activity but they are a part of the history and culture of Zanzibar.

World Class Accomodation

Normally, spice tours take half a day.

Once you arrive at the spice plantations, you should get a knowledgeable guide (a dozen or so guides are always available any day anytime) to walk you through the farm while teaching you about the history of the place, spices grown there, how they are grown, how they are prepared and what they are used for.

The farms will be full of workers each doing a specific task just like in an orchestra.

As you walk through the spice farms, you will get to see and smell the dozens of spices, herbs, and fruits Zanzibar has to offer. These spices, herbs, and fruits each have a different use and we are going to detail a good number of Zanzibar’s spice uses below:

Food Flavoring

When we talk of spices, the first thing which comes to mind is food. This is because the most common use of spices is in food flavoring. There are tonnes of spices for food flavoring grown in Zanzibar each having its own distinct taste and smell.

Spiced Lamb Burger

Some popular food flavoring spices grown in Zanzibar include Cayenne pepper, Cinnamon, Vanilla, peppercorns, coffee beans, lemongrass, Carambola nutmeg, lychee, rambutan, and cloves.

Medicinal Purposes

There is a host of spices and herbs from Zanzibar that will work wonders for your health. For starters, there is an abundance of Aloe Vera which is known globally for its many medicinal uses.

Cinnamon is a great cure for colds, all you have to do is just sniff it. It also works for those with breathing and digestive problems. The ginger plant is a great decongestant with aphrodisiacal properties.

It also helps with blood circulation. A drop of ginger sap will heal wounds and scratches.

Fabrics Coloring

Not many people are in the know, but there are some spices which are used in fabrics coloring.

One such type of spice grown in Zanzibar is the lipstick plant. Seeds from the lipstick plant are pounded and used in dyeing fabrics.


Before the L’Oréal’s and Avon’s, and Maybelline’s among many others came to the fore, traditional women used to use natural spices and herbs as cosmetics.

These natural spices and herbs are there for you to explore and try out if you so wish. The most popular herb used as a cosmetic in Zanzibar is the lipstick plant.

This is used to lend a red color to women’s lips. Another beauty product is the henna plant which is used in temporarily beautifying women through painting their faces, hands or feet.

Tooth care Products

People of the past cared for their teeth using cloves. Cloves were known to be great for whitening and strengthening teeth.

To this day, many from Zanziba, prefer cloves to toothpaste. Not only are cloves great for teeth, they also help in neutralizing bad breath.


After a tour of the spice farm, your last port of call will be the traditional Swahili huts where you will taste all the spices in eclectic traditional Zanzibarian cuisine.

A whole host of dishes will be served including spiced bread, spiced rice, chapatti and different sauces.

Make sure you buy yourself a good souvenir before you leave from spice made products like purses and hats together with other palm crafted items.