Archipelago Restaurant: a restaurant with a view in Stone Town

6 Apr

Since its establishment in 2004, Archipelago has become a busy restaurant in Zanzibar. Sunday brunch, lunch with friends, afternoon tea, all is good at Archipelago Restaurant: they take the freshest ingredients, and present them simply and thereby let the flavours speak for themselves.



Choose to sit with the view – it will keep you entertained and watching the dhow boat repair of beached ferry unloading



The service is quick and friendly and the restaurant has a nice relaxed atmosphere overlooking the sea and the western gate to Forodhani Gardens. It’s open to the breezes but has a roof to keep off the sun and rain.



Kizimkazi, South-West of Zanzibar: dolphins, coconuts and dagaa…

31 Mar

Set in the remote southwest corner of Zanzibar, the village of Kizimkazi is an apparently insignificant little fishing village which happens to be of great historical importance, being one of the first places that the Shirazi people from Persia settled along this coast.

The coastline here is very different from the classic palm-backed lagoon of the east coast. Here a coral rag cliff elevates the waterfront above the ocean and the beaches take the form of small coves rather than broad expanses of sand.

For decades now Kizimkazi has been best known as a location to ‘swim with dolphins’.  In this area inhabit two species of dolphins: the bottlenose and the Humpback. The Bottlenose are very friendly and they accept the human approach. The Humpback are more shy and they feel scared if you dive in to the water. For past years tourists visiting Kizimkazi for dolphin safaris have created some impacts, in particular a negative one is that the families get stressed to see too many boats and many people jumping into the water at the same intervals.

The Kizimkazi Mosque is a mosque situated on the southern tip of the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania and is one of the oldest Islamic buildings on the East African coast. Despite its name, it is located in Dimbani, not Kizimkazi, which is three miles away (this is because the official names of these two joined villages are Kizimkazi Dimbani and Kizimkazi Mtendeni). According to a preserved kufic inscription, it was built in 1107 by settlers from Shiraz. Although the inscription and certain coral-carved decorative elements date from the period of construction, the majority of the present structure was rebuilt in the 18th century.

Karamba Resort is set in the fisherman’s village of Kizimkazi, on the South West coast of Zanzibar. In the Menai Bay Conservation area. The village women, sit on the beach, and weave ropes from coconut pods. The sea front restaurant offers local and international cuisine, with an emphasis on Mediterranean dishes and fish, seafood, sushi and sashimi, vegetarian and yogic sattvic meals.

It was Austrian night yesterday in Matemwe: Guten Appetit!

28 Mar


Serban Peterfy, with the already impressive experience: Restaurant Bad Saag run by Hubert Wallner, Lake Wörth in Carinthia –  2 Gault Millau toques / 16 points, Burg Vital Hotel, Lech am Arlberg –  3 Gault Millau toques / 18 points, Loibnerhof run by the Knoll family –  1 Gault Millau toques /13 points made a point to offer the best of the traditionnal dishes from Austria and Hungary at Green & Blue Lodge last night in Matemwe.



For last night only he forgot how to combine the salt and freshness of the sea with exotic fruit and the flavours of the spice Island to create the ultimate taste experience and remembered his grand-mother’s recipes and advice.



Austrian music gave rhythm to the night in between each dishes and glasses of Austrian white wines…



Enjoy the otherwise fresh products of the island and spend a few nights in the Green & Blue lodge which has been decorated in the authentic style of Zanzibar and encompasses the exotic nature of the South Seas. Everything there revolves around pampering and enjoyment…




Tower Top Restaurant: bird’s eye view over Stone Town

24 Mar


Open since 1993, the Tower Top Restaurant lies high amongst the ornate minarets, temple towers, and church spires of ancient Stone Town. Located on the roof of 236 Hurumzi, guests feel as if they’re on top of the world as they sip exotic cocktails, watching the sun disappear into the Indian Ocean. The Muslim call to prayer accents the setting of Arab-style pillows and small tables and the Hindu Temple chimes remind the guests that they are far away from the stress they left at home.



Open to all, they serve a lunch menu with a full a la carte selection of appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.



The Tower Top Restaurant is the best location to enjoy a leisurely lunch with spectacular views of the roof tops of Zanzibar Stone Town and the beautiful Indian Ocean. Truly a birds’ eye view with flavorful Swahili-Arabic cuisine and dependable friendly service, 81 stairs above the streets of Stone Town.


Beyt al Chai: fine dining in Stone Town

17 Mar

Beyt al Chai is located in the famous Kelele Square at the heart of Zanzibar’s renowned Stone Town.

The location has an interesting history. A wealthy Arab merchant originally built this fabulous old building. In the years that followed, its square became a favourite haunt of the European residents of the town. Folklore has it that the square was christened, Kelele – Swahili for noise – because of the noisy dogs that the Europeans brought with them.

For those who want to experience the charm of a classic African setting with a touch of ancient Arabian mystique, this is the place. This is 5-room boutique hotel within a traditional Zanzibar house, built on 3 floors on what was once a tea house.

To dining at the Beyt al Chai is to experience Zanzibar. The restaurant, simply called the Beyt al Chai Restaurant, opened only in May 2007 but is already considered the finest dining establishment within Zanzibar’s Stone Town. The Restaurant is unobtrusively located on the ground floor, away from the rooms.

 The cuisine is a fusion of Zanzibar and Europe. Lunch is between 1200 hrs & 1530 hrs and provides a choice of Zanzibari and European cuisine. Begin your lunch with Fresh Crab Meat layered with Crispy Eggplant and Green Mango then select the pan-fryed snapper. Complete your meal with the chocolate chocolate chocolate or the passion fruit cheesecake.

Prison Island: Heaven for the giant tortoises and snorkeling

9 Mar

Changuu Island (Prison Island) is about 30 minutes by boat from Forodhani in Stone Town area lay Changu, also known as Prison Island.

The island was once used by an Arab slave trader to contain the disobedient slaves brought from the African mainland. To prevent their escape before shipping them to the Arabian purchasers, or for auctioning in Zanzibar’s slave market, the slaves were dumped on Changuu, from where they were unlikely to attempt escape.

After the abolition of slavery, in 1873, the island was bought by general Lloyd Mathews, commander of the sultan’s army, who built a house here. In 1893 a prison was built on the island, but it was used instead as a quarantine station for the whole east African region. In the 1920s passengers arriving from India had to spend between one and two weeks on Changuu before proceeding to Zanzibar Town.

You can still see the quarantine station, and the house built by General Mathews which is now used as a restaurant. A path leads right round the island (about an hour’s easy stroll, for residents of the lodge only), also passing some old pits where coral has been dug out to make building stone. Some of these pits fill with water at high tide, and in colonial days they were kept clean and used as swimming pools.

The Giant Tortoises (Geochelone gigantea) are Changuu Islands most famous inhabitants, and are to be found nowhere else in East Africa. Four tortoises were brought from the island of Aldabra in the Seychelles in the 18th century, as a gift from the Seychelles governor to his opposite number in Zanzibar. They started to breed, and by 1955 there were 200, but after independence the numbers began to drop, partly because people started to steal them to sell abroad, either as exotic pets, or as food for ‘exotic restaurants’. The numbers dropped to 100 in 1988, then 50 in 1990, until by late 1996 there were only seven left. In the same year a group of 80 hatchlings were moved to Zanzibar for protection – and 40 of them disappeared. Today the tortoises are protected in a large sanctuary compound provided by the Zanzibar government with help from the World Society for the Protection of Animals. In 2000 there were 17 adults, 50 juveniles and 90 hatchlings, all individually identified and protected by microchips injected under the skin. Since then, many more have been brought in, mostly juveniles.

Giant tortoises face dangers at every stage of their biological growth. Apart from poachers who want them alive, other hunters kill them to use the shells and claws for medicine or saleable souvenirs. Eggs and hatchlings face constant danger from crabs, birds and other predators. Tortoises have been living in the Indian Ocean islands, and probably Aldabra, for over 100 million years but their numbers have fallen to such critically low levels that they are now classified as endangered. The adult tortoises of Prison Island are already producing the next generations.


The Forodhani Gardens: 100% Zanzibar relax and eat in Stone Town

1 Mar



The Forodhani Gardens  are a small park of the historical city of Stone Town. The gardens are located along the main sea walk of Stone Town, just in front of the most famous buildings of Stone Town: the House of Wonders and the Old Fort. Previously the port’s customs shack, the gardens are now ideal for an evening walk and offer a good opportunity to try some of the local delicacies.



The Gardens are especially crowded after sunset, when tourists and local alike gather in a popular food street market in the main square, to have dinner eating Swahili and Zanzibari cuisine delicacies such as grilled seafood, samoosas, cassava and sweet potatoes, goat meat, grilled octopus.



The Forodhani Gardens is the place to find some of the least expensive food on Zanzibar Island. Every night as the sun sets, the food vendors in the Forodhani Gardens fire up their grills to cook the fresh seafood caught during the day.

John Da Silva: leading archivist and historian will give a presentation on Zanzibar’s history on Saturday 25 February

25 Feb

Don’t miss the presentation on Zanzibar’s history

Saturday: 25 Feb      

Time: 19:00      

Where: Matemwe Beach Village     

Entrance: Tsh 10,000      

John Da Silva remains one of the most prolific and acclaimed artists of Zanzibar and Tanzania in general. John Da Silva was born in Goa and found his love for art when he fell in love with Stone Town. Later he said “I never went to an art class but I just wanted to keep the memory of Zanzibar forever”. Starting with painting and re- the Catholic Cathedral in Zanzibar, he moved on to sketching, drawing and painting the one love of his life- Stone Town. He has immortalized Stone Town through making art lovers encounter the present and the past in his furtive water colours. He sketches, draws and paints post cards, stamps and even dabs at photography, in his effort at conserving memories found in multicultural Stone Town.

John Baptist da Silva will tell you a lot about Zanzibar and Stone Town history, especially if you have the chance to have him as you tour guide. He will tell that the Omani sultans derived their love of concubines and carved doors from India. He also tells that the Indian crows brought to the island as scavengers in the 1900s are going to be exterminated because they have made many indigenous species extinct.


Swahili House: at the top of Stone Town, it’s a kind of magic…

17 Feb


Located in the bustling heart of Stone Town the building was originally set up and used as an Indian Merchant House in the 19th century. In the 125 years that were to come the building was home to one of the many Sultan families and then became a hotel some years ago.



The Swahili House has 5 floors that are all built around an inner court yard – an ideal spot to enjoy a quiet moment away from busy Stone Town life. The floors are all accessible via traditional Zanzibari steep staircases. The Swahili House would definitely not be the same without the rooftop terrace, a long way up but very rewarding views!.



The rooftop terrace houses the bar, restaurant and a very relaxing Jacuzzi overlooking the Indian Ocean. Enjoy a cocktail, lunch or dinner while indulging in stunning views of Stone Town and the Swahili Coastal area! The á la carte menu is a combination of Eastern and Western influences, spices and flavors and includes a wide variety of freshly caught fish and seafood.



Bi Kidude: Queen of Sauti za Busara 2012!

11 Feb

Fatuma binti Baraka (aka Bi.Kidude) is a Zanzibari Taarab singer. She is considered the undisputed queen of Taarab and Unyago music. Bi Kidude was born in the village of Mfagimaringo, she was the daughter of a coconut seller in colonial Zanzibar. Bi Kidude’s exact date of birth is unknown, much of her life story is uncorroborated, giving her an almost mythical status.

As a child, she was singled out for her fine voice and, in the 1920s, sang locally with popular cultural troupes, combining an understanding of music with an equally important initiation into traditional medicine. At age 13, after a forced marriage she fled Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania. Bi Kidude toured mainland East Africa with a taarab ensemble, visiting the major coastal towns and inland as far west as Lake Victoria and Tanganyika. She walked the length and the breadth of the country barefoot in the early 1930s fleeing another unhappy marriage. In the 1930s she ended up in Dar es Salaam where she sang with Egyptian Taarab group for many years. In the 1940s she returned to Zanzibar where she acquired a small house to be her home. She is known for her role in the Unyago movement which prepares young Swahili women for their transition through puberty. She is one of the experts of this ancient ritual, performed only to teenage girls, which uses traditional rhythms to teach women to pleasure their husbands, while lecturing against the dangers of sexual abuse and oppression.

Bi Kidude is both a repository and a leading exponent of modern Swahili culture. The recordings (Berlin 1988, Zanzibar 1993 and 1995, the UK 1995 and Finland 1996) bring together for the first time Bi Kidude’s full range and versatility as she performs everything from cultural drumming, through classic Zanzibari taarab to modern Tanzanian ‘dansi’ jazz.

The music was ‘dumbak’, based on an African drum rhythm, and early forms of taarab, the ubiquitous music of the Swahili Coast which combines the violins, ouds and ganoons of the Arabic tradition with the drums and flutes of Africa. The messages were provocative, often referring to men’s sexual behaviour and sometimes decrying the abuse of women.

‘I learned all my songs from Siti Binti Saad, the first woman singer in Zanzibar,’ She recalls. ‘We both had to cover our faces with a fine cloth. Then she passed away but her voice was still in the air. She had a very powerful voice, like mine. There was no difference. So people, some of the highest in the land, said you must do something to show who you are. . . and so I raised the veil.’

‘Zanzibar’, her first solo album, demonstrates Bi Kidude at the peak of her performing power. The first two tracks, recorded in Zanzibar, typify classic small-band taarab. Tracks 4, 5 and 6 were recorded during a tour of Finland with a similar line-up. Tracks 3 and 6 exemplify the Unyago drumming style, and are Bi Kidude’s first commercial recordings of this important social music. The latter track, however, is ‘culturally incorrect’ as she is accompanied by men in what is an exclusive women’s format. Track 7 was recorded with an ‘All Star’ band during a tour of Germany.

During the mid-1990s Bi Kidude joined forces with the Dar es Salaam band Shikamoo Jazz, whose musicians of Zanzibar origin – Ali Rashid, sax and Madar Mselem, trumpet – provided a solid base for her exploration of taarab/jazz fusion. Track 8, an experimental recording which combines two orchestras, is followed by two tracks recorded at Womad in 1995, during the ‘East African Legends’ tour of Britain.

Other countries were represented:

Hanitra is a singer and guitarist from the “red Island” Madagascar. Underpinning her tunes with the charming essence of the island’s rhythms, with hints of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian percussion, she draws on traditional songs to dynamically represent the new Malagasy generation. Her voice, both deep and sensual, leads the way to authentic roots and her interpretation of the ballad “Maninona” has for the past 20 years been considered a sort of national anthem in Madagascar.

Hanitra began singing and playing the guitar at the age of seven. In 1979, she took part in a national competition in which her talent was recognised, and joined with the band Lolo Sy Ny Tariny. She left Madagascar and recorded the first album in France. In 1997 she returned to the Madagascan for a sensational come-back. Hanitra currently lives in Reunion Island and is enthusiastically celebrated by fans all around the Indian Ocean.

Ogoya Nengo is a legendary Kenyan folk artist who has had an immense career spanning decades as a professional dodo singer. Her music is characterised by her powerful, passionate and compelling voice, backed by traditional drums and percussions, the one stringed orutu and the oporo horn.

Utamaduni is Swahili for “culture” and the group Utamaduni JKU presents Swahili culture at its best. They are performing a rich variety of traditional dances from all over Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar Island including msewe, gonga, kyaso, uringe, pungwa, kibati, bomu, kunguwia, boso, kibunguu, ngokwa, sindimba and lizombe. Each of these dances has its own specific cultural reference. For example ngokwa is a dance style played by the Mahiwa, a Makonde community from the southern part of Tanzania. It is performed in celebration after the killing of a dangerous animal, which has harmed the community by damaging crops or attacking people.

The group was founded in Zanzibar, their permanent base, in the year 1983. They are known for their powerful performances and have played all over the island and beyond. Their 30 members present an ambitious performance with a contemporary edge.

Kozman Ti Dalon is a group of 6 young performers from Ile de la Reunion who live for their culture and their music. All were born in the Reunion city of Saint Louis. They draw inspiration from the maloya kabaré that the late Granmoun Bébé Manet proudly pioneered. Their first album in 2005 entitled Gras a ou pépé was a tribute to him.

Kozman Ti Dalon represent the new generation of maloya musicians honouring their heritage and wanting to share it with rest of the world. Their music is heavily percussive, traditionally played with a variety of drums, kayamb and bamboo piké rattles. The tempo can vary from slow and reflective to fast-paced and charged.

The group is led by vocalist Jonathan Camillot, grandchild of Gramoun Bébé Manet. Passionate about maloya from a young age, Jonathan rallied with his cousins and formed the group during the 1990s. Since then Kozman Ti Dalon continues to reconfirm their commitment to the promotion of maloya music wherever they go, performing to huge festival audiences at home in Reunion, in Canada, France, and other Indian Ocean islands.