Zanzibar is more than just a beach destination. It is a diverse archipelago just waiting to be discovered, with an incredible history, rich cultural heritage and the oldest functioning Swahili city in the world complementing a variety of pristine beaches and stunning coral reefs.¬† This section of Zanzibar.NET provides a travelogue showcase off the beaten track, saying far more than “I came, I lay on the beach, I went home”!

If you have visited Zanzibar and have an interesting story to tell, this is the place to share it. From amazing dives to unforgettable cultural experiences in Stone Town, first-hand travelogues can be far more compelling than a destination guide. Visitors’ insights provide an individual and unique angle on what has to be one of the world’s finest island destinations.

We are currently featuring three stories by Gemma Pitcher, a freelance travel writer originally from the UK, who has had feature articles published in a number of print and online magazines, and spent two years in Zanzibar, writing a number of books on luxury hotels, interior design and architecture in mainland Tanzania as well as Zanzibar. One of these,’Zanzibar Style’, was selected as one of the Times ‘Top 20 travel books for Christmas’ 2001. Her latest assignment was a three month research trip for Lonely Planet publications, writing the Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya chapters of their cult title ‘Africa on a Shoestring’.

However, don’t be put off by Gemma’s impressive credentials. We are interested in hearing from anyone who has visited Zanzibar and has a story to share. Please submit your¬†travelogue to travelogues@zanzibar.net.

Gemma Pitcher writes: The radio, wired up to a car battery, crackles into life in the near darkness outside the first house of Kizimbani village, where a small crowd has gathered to listen for the moon. Above us the sky is pitch black, with not even a star visible. The new moon, if it puts in an appearance tonight, will mean the end of a long hard month of fasting for Zanzibar’s predominantly Muslim population. During daylight hours in the lunar month of Ramadan the faithful may not eat, drink, smoke – or have sex. Only the sick, young children and travellers are exempt. In temperatures that rise to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the wavy heat of the afternoons, giving up food and water is no token gesture. From tonight, though, an exhausting twenty-eight days of abstinence is up and the party can begin. Or can it…?Read More…

Gemma Pitcher writes: Towards the end of the hydrofoil crossing to Zanzibar Island from Dar-es-Salaam, feeling slightly queasy, I stepped out onto the deck for a brief moment, and was momentarily blinded by the brilliance of the turquoise Indian Ocean throwing the rays of the mid-afternoon sun back in my face. Blinking, I saw an island rising out of the waters to starboard, a dazzlingly white lighthouse and a huge palm-thatch roof towering above rocky cliffs and a dark green tangle of forest. It looked like Sydney Opera House on Robinson Crusoe’s island…Read More…

The bulldozers have been beaten and the legendary Nungwi peninsular on the north coast of Zanzibar Island can breathe a salty sigh of relief. Gemma Pitcher visits Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, living proof that low impact and luxury are a match made in heaven. It’s the colour of the water that makes first-time visitors laugh out loud with exhilaration and disbelief. The sea at Ras Nungwi is ridiculous, picture-postcard, chocolate-box, Bounty-ad, front-of-brochure turquoise. Of course, it’s bath-warm too, with a perfect sandy bottom shelving away at exactly the right angle for swimming. And don’t forget the miles of fine, flat sand of perfect whiteness that stretch in a graceful arc towards the horizon…Read More…