For all its widely perceived appeal as a party destination, Zanzibar has another face that reveals itself to travellers in their 30's and 40's only when one actually arrives here, a face that evokes a sense of fervid cultural microcosm gleaned from its past which saw travellers – Arabs, Persians, Portuguese and Indians – charting the land over centuries and leaving behind their own distinctive influences whether it be in their traditions, cultures, buildings or cuisine. With these varied influences Zanzibar throws its own Swahili culture in the hat and it is precisely from this amalgam that the country earns its charms. Life here, in these cluster of islands, trundles out at a lazy pace affording its visitors an opportunity to kick back and recharge amidst the backdrop of clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean nibbling lazily at powdery white beaches in palm fringed locations. Coral reefs occasionally sprouts out in a burst of colours as a host of marine life explore its reaches. On land, the endangered but now recovering Red Colobus Monkeys swing across the branches at Jozani Forest Reserve and if culture is what is sought, the historic Stone Town with all its stories of colonial ambitions, Omani palaces and Swahili designs stamped recognizably in some of its houses satisfies that yen. Angling, snorkeling, spice farm visits, island hopping, the inevitable Swahili souvenir hunting and many more experiences keep ones stay a protracted one here as it unravels to show other facets of itself.
Best time to visit: is during the archipelago's dry season, from July to September, which is a very popular time to travel. However, it's worthwhile travelling at most times of year, with balmy temperatures between 28°C and 34°C and sunshine the norm.
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
Weather and Average temperature: The period from May to August, when the southeast trade winds predominate, is cooler, with highs around 29 °C (84 °F).
National Language: Swahili, English, Arabic
Top Dishes to try: Mishkaki –meat marinated in a blend of spices and sauce and then grilled to charred perfection, somewhat like an Indian style and Middle Eastern style kebab skewers.