On your way from Stone Town toward the northern part of the island you will pass a small village called Bububu. It got its name from the sound of the steam locomotion: bububu – bububu – bububu. Seriously. Zanzibar was the first country in East Africa to introduce the steam locomotive. Firstly, Sultan Bargash bin Said had a seven mile railway constructed from his palace at Stone Town to Chukwani (close to Stone Town airport) in 1879. The railway stayed in service until the Sultan died in 1888 when the track and locomotive were scrapped.
In 1905 an American company built a seven mile line from Zanzibar Town to a village – yes, you guessed right, which was then given the name Bububu. It was notorious for its ability to set fire to property and the surrounding country side but it ran for twenty-five years until it was closed in 1930, when roads improved and motor vehicles on the island increased.
After that, with the improvement of the port the railway was used for the haulage of stone which was used to reclaim the seafront. Today much of the old track bed has been built on however train enthusiasts can still see the remains of the railway’s bridges and embankments close to the main road to Bububu.
About 15 km north of Stone Town are the spice plantations of Zanzibar. A visit is highly recommended! Although designed for tourists, you see spices grown on the islands of Zanzibar like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, lemon grass and all kinds of natural flavors and scents that everyone adores! You must try out the lipstick fruit, see below.
Highly recommended: Carrying on toward north, look out for the turnoff to Mangapwani. Creative Solutions is a wonderful project of Alice Aida Ayers. She is “presently obsessed with recycling glass, wine and beer bottles…. to make funky art projects”. She is helping the environment by teaching local children and grown-ups to make beautiful art products using recycled materials. Grab some refreshment, relax and enjoy the sculptures and murals on their beautiful grounds, then visit their shop and purchase handmade, upcycled arts and crafts to take home! 11h00 – 16h00, Monday –Thursday. US$ 5/person, 1 hr
Environmental Arts Tour
Make a day of it! Call and set an appointment at least 24 hours before and spend the day with them. Learn to make handmade paper, create mosaic, and cut wine bottles to make upcycled art! Let them know in advance and their chef will prepare a delicious and satisfying lunch for you. 11h00 – 15h00, Monday –Thursday. US$25/person. $30 with lunch.
Weekend Art Retreat
Call them about arranging an art filled weekend retreat for your group of up to 10. Visit the village of Mangapwani and get away from it all. Choose from a variety of local, offsite activities such as a hike to the beautiful beach or a dip in spring pool, deep in a cave full of history. All of your meals will be taken care of and you will enjoy a fabulous BBQ Saturday night. Choose from a variety of art workshops offered (no artistic experience required). Everyone takes home their own creation as a memento from the weekend. Friday 16h00 – Sunday 11h00 US$100/person
You might want to spend some time at Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond, Nungwi http://www.facebook.com/turtleconservation
Hawksbill turtles have traditionally been hunted around Zanzibar for their attractive shells, and green turtles for their meat. 20 years ago, Mnarani Natural Aquarium was created by a group of dedicated marine biologists, the local community and with the assistance from various conservation bodies.
The aquarium was created around a large, natural, tidal pool in the coral rock behind the beach. Originally set up to rehabilitate and study turtles that had been caught in fishing nets, the aquarium project expanded to ensure that local baby turtles were also protected. Turtles frequently nest on Nungwi Beach, and village volunteers now mark and monitor new nests. The resulting hatchlings are carried to small plastic basins and small concrete tanks at the aquarium where they remain for ten months until they have grown to ten inches and their chances of survival at sea are dramatically increased. All except one of these turtles are released into the sea, along with the largest turtle from the aquarium pool. The one remaining baby turtle is then added to the pool ensuring a static population of 17 turtles. It is fascinating to see the turtles at close quarters. Furthermore, the money raised secures the project’s future, and goes towards local community schemes – in a bid to demonstrate the tangible value of turtle conservation to the local population. With luck, this will lessen the trade in souvenir shell products and ensure the species’ survival.
Open daily from 09h00 – 18h00.
The Lighthouse at Ras Nungwi is still in operation, although it is not open to visitors. As it is a designated strategic point, photographing the lighthouse is officially not allowed either, as the marines on guard may point out.
Tazari Natural Caves, Nungwi
If you’re looking for some adventure, Tazari caves is a must visit. These underground caves are said to be the biggest and most extensive caves in Zanzibar and among the largest limestone caves in Tanzania. The caves are believed to have been formed many centuries ago. The heights of the cave vary from 5ft to 30ft. The magnificent caves are located a few miles from the ocean shores; you can have a beautiful view of the ocean coastline from the peak of the caves.The Tazari caves have magnificent carbonate and sulfate rocks – limestone and dolomite with decorative dripstones (speleotherms) that are believed to have taken thousands of years to form! Also, the caves are believed to have been used as hiding places for slaves during the Sultan regime in pre-colonial Zanzibar era of the Arab slave trade. Evidence of broken chains are believed to be hundreds of years old.
The caves interior is composed of large cone-shaped stalactites (that hang down from the ceiling) and stalagmites (that grow upward from the floor of the cave) as a result of water dripping from the stalactites. The cave passages are composed of sand, clay and stratified gravel.
The caves are home to huge African bats. You can watch them at sunset flying out of the cave entrance.
Location: Nungwi, Tazari village. 300m from the main road at the corner before reaching the Fire Brigade Offices on your way from Stone Town – make a right turn at Kwa Juma Rama, you’ll see their signpost by the roadside.