SPICE TOUR ZANZIBAR - The best farms, tours and shops
Often called Spice Island or the Island of Cloves, Zanzibar has been famous for its cloves since the 19th century. European explorers discovered these African spices and took them home, thus creating a big demand for more. Later on, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla were introduced, and one of the biggest spice trades in the world was born. Nowadays the island has been surpassed by countries like Indonesia and Madagascar when it comes to the production of these spices, but a spice tour in Zanzibar will take you back in time – and delight your senses in the process!
THE BEST SPICE TOUR, ZANZIBAR
There’s more spice farms on Zanzibar than I can mention here, but Kidichi spice farm , Kizimbani spice farm and Tangawizi spice farm are probably the most well-known. Located close to Stone Town – or should we say spice town – they’re famous for a reason. All these farms offer in-depth tours, with lots of explanations about the different spices. Where they come from, how they can be used for cooking, what are their medical benefits, what was the impact of these spices in colonial times, how are they grown today, … All this is explained in detail, and you’ll get numerous chances to smell and taste, too.
To enjoy one of these tours, you have several options. Either contact a spice farm directly or just show up during opening hours, either book a tour through your hotel or a recognized tour operator (be careful with ‘tour operators’ that approach you on the street, these are often scams, overpriced or low-quality tours), or book in advance. This 3-hour Zanzibar spice tour is available in different languages and very reasonably priced.
Both farms – and most others on the island – offer the possibility to taste a delicious meal after your visit, prepared with fresh products from the island and lots of Zanzibar spice. But if just tasting isn’t enough for you, there’s also options including a cooking class. These tours give an introduction about the spices, although sometimes less thorough than the tours mentioned above, but on top of that they take you to the spice market and teach you how to prepare your own Swahili food. This 3-hour Zanzibar spice tour with cooking class and this ‘Zesty Zanzibar’ tour, which offers a 4-hour experience, are excellent options.
For those who want to combine a visit to a spice farm with learning about Stone Town’s history and the island’s culture, many options are available as well. If you have the time, I strongly recommend spending at least 2 days in Stone Town and taking your time to visit each place separately, but if you’re short on time, this tour offers a perfect introduction to everything Zanzibar has to offer.
WHERE TO BUY ZANZIBAR SPICES
Obviously you can buy some during your spice tour, but there’s plenty of other options as well. Darajani market is a good place to go if you’re not looking for fancy stuff. You’ll find some Zanzibar or Tanzania shaped spice mix packages, but that’s about as fancy as it gets. This is also where you’re most likely to find interesting prices, or at least you can bargain. And you probably should, as vendors dare to ask 2, 3 or more times the price at which they’ll eventually accept to sell.
For nicely packed souvenirs and a shop that’s an experience in itself, head to the House of Spices in Stone Town. Slightly higher prices, but you’ll definitely not be disappointed. On top of their shop, they have a bar and a restaurant, and even some rooms.