Andy and I just spent the last two glorious weeks in Zanzibar – not a bad way to ring in the New Year! We oscillated between Stone Town, where we wandered endlessly down narrow alleyways taking in the historic architecture and bustling crowds, to picturesque beaches along the North and East Coasts.


Zanzibar itself is simply beautiful, granted as a mainstream tourist destination (especially among Italians) the island is definitely fraught with all the struggles of development – how does an island maintain its culture and natural beauty while trying to cater to foreigners? The coastlines are littered with construction projects, one resort being built after another; the streets are filled with hustlers – each one accosting you to sell you their wares; and food and accommodations are exorbitantly priced. Yet, despite its growing pains, we had a wonderful time.

From the moment we arrived, I noticed a striking contrast between Zanzibar and Malawi. Unlike Malawi, which is quite subdued, Zanzibar’s vibrancy instantly inundates your senses.

The city feels alive, with families picnicking along the waterfront buying fresh seafood from the many vendors at Forodhani Gardens:


Its ornate architecture, consisting of a hybrid mixture of Arabic, Indian, European and African characteristics, including intricately carved wooden doors is fascinating. Historically, the door was the first part of the home that was built and served as a symbol of wealth and status.


At night, we’d admire the fishermen on their dhows returning from sea.

And my personal favorites, the many beautiful faces of Zanzibar!

An older woman:

A young girl:

A fisherman at the port:

A woman in the back alley:

Girls at school:

A child in Jambiani:

The Masaai:

Along the beach in Stone Town:

Walking in Stone Town:

Girl in Stone Town:

Produce Market:

After several days of exploring the many facets of Stone Town, including the local markets, the Old Fort (Beit el Ajaib), the Anglican Cathedral and Old Slave Market and the many Mosques scattered throughout the town, we headed East to Paje and Jambiani. But first, we went on the notorious spice tour.

The following fruit is used for lipstick and other make-up:


And no spice tour is complete without the touristy banana leaf hat and sunglasses (sorry Andy)!:


The beaches in Paje and Jambiani were stunning, yet subject to large tidal fluctuations. We’d have to hike a good mile just to reach the water during low tide.


We spent four days hiking between the two small villages, and then returned to Stone Town to celebrate New Year’s. On New Year’s Eve, Andy and I were strolling down one of the many streets in Stone Town when we heard Reggae Music emanating out of an alleyway. We stumbled upon a local bar, complete with a DJ, sound system and Rastas dancing the night away! We couldn’t have found a better-suited place to ring in 2008!


The following images are from Paje and Jambiani:

A beautiful girl on the beach in Jambiani:

Andy and I on a Dhow snorkeling trip:

A young fisherman:

Collecting seaweed:

Mother and child:

After celebrating New Year’s in Stone Town, we headed North to Nungwi and Kendwa – here we found the quintessential Indian Ocean, where the waters are green, turquoise and all shades of blue!

The Mnemba Atoll:

Hiking between Nungwi and Kendwa:

In between Nungwi and Kendwa:

The Masaai:

Another snorkeling trip:

Kendwa Beach

Andy on Nungwi Beach

Finally, our last little soiree was to the slave caves of Mangapwani. After the legal slave trade was abolished, the sultans maintained slavery and hid their slaves in these caves. Andy and I spent most of our time walking around the small village of Mangapwani itself, who receives very little tourists. As a result, the people were so incredibly friendly…definitely one of my favorite stops on our whole trip.

Village of Mangapwani:

One good sign, both Andy and I were actually excited about returning to Malawi! Lilongwe is finally starting to feel like home.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy New Year.

Much love,
Amy & Andy


3 comments to ZANZIBAR!!!

  • Signe

    Hi Amy, I am a friend of Brandy’s. She has been forwarding your emails to me for the last year or so and I always enjoy reading about your life in Africa and especially looking at your photos. You are a really exceptionally good photographer and your photos have helped me understand better what the people and life are like in the countries you have visited. Thanks for sharing your experiences! Signe (See’ na)

  • Cousin Lisa

    Hi Amy,

    Those are incredible photos. Your mom sent me your web site and what an adventure you must be having. I gave your website to several friends; one who is in Kenya right now on vacation from her teaching job in Kabul, Afgan., and the other friend, who is headed to Ghana in a few weeks to see a friend. All you world travellers! And me, home with a bad back but getting better every day.

    The last time I saw you as at Aunt Florence’s 90th b-day in St. Louis. I called her the other day and she asked me if I would come in for her 100th b-day. She has a great attitude and I hope I’m that remarkable at 80!

    I have a small therapy practice and work with kids, teens and families. I left my school counseling position several years back as it got too hard to do. I hope that you take good care of yourself while you are in Africa. How long do you stay there?

    Well, best wishes to you.
    Take care.
    Lisa Malcy
    Portland, Oregon

  • Hi Amy, I love your photos and this year the RPCV International Calendar would like to use one of your Morocco photos, in the market with an alligator, as a small photo. You will get 5 calendars for having a small photo. However what I would really like is for you to do is submit some for our next contest. I have spent hours looking at your photos and can’t tell you what one I love the most. Your first photo on the Zanzibar blog, man in the shade, would be one I would love to look at for all of Feb. when we are snowed in, yep 80 inches and 10 more coming this weekend. However it is you who gets to decide what ones to submit. We only allow 5 per photographer, but perhaps Andy could submit some as well.
    If you could send me an ok to use the Morocco photo I would appreicate it.
    Our website is pretty disgusting, but we have hired a new designer and hope to get it up and running in a few months, however at this time you can go to the old site and check out the rules and submission guidelines. Many people have family Stateside submit them if they are living overseas.

    Good luck to you and your work in Africa.

    Most Sincerely,
    Jo Thomson
    Photo Coordinator
    RPCV International Calendar

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