Learn Zanzibar’s Finest Spices at Spice Island

Picture of local women harvesting plants in a farm at the spice island
Zanzibar is full of beauty, life, and history; and its famous capital, Stone Town isn’t just any town either. As such, visitors can expect to be treated to a sensory experience that is simply hard to find anywhere else in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once a flourishing trading hub that saw Africans, Arabs, Indians, and even Europeans coming together to exchange not just goods and services, but also their unique cultures. Today, there are several tours and activities around Stone Town with two of their most prominent being the Jozani Forest and Spice tours at the Spice Island. Here’s what you need to know about them:

Jozani Forest Tour


This is usually a half day guided tour walking through a conservation area that was established in the 1960s in the core of Zanzibar Island. The Jozani Forest is quite large, covering an area of 50 square kilometers and includes a section of the Jozani Chwaka National Park. While there are lots to see and do during the tour, one of the main highlights is coming across the Red Colobus Monkey, a beautiful and rare primate that spend most their lives in the trees and bushes. This species cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. In fact, the Jozani Chwaka National Park was set to preserve this rare and endangered species, where they have managed to thrive in spite of deforestation and other tourism development projects on the island.

A major part of the revenue earned from the park’s entrance fees is used for a wide range of preservation initiatives, such as replanting trees and educating communities about the importance of conservation. So during your tour, you should do your bit in preserving this unique and fragile ecosystem and practice sustainable travel.

Tour Details

The Jozani Forest tour usually starts by visiting the natural forest where the smaller trees and bushes make several sub-canopies under the highest canopy. The vast diversity in this incredible woodland landscape is truly incredible. You will get to see the Mama Mtondoo, an intriguing mahogany tree that is believed to be over 200 years old. There’s also the fascinating twins — two separate tree species (one strangler fig and the other sycamore) growing together. You could also catch a glimpse of the massive raffia fern tree that boasts the distinction of having the largest leaves in the world.

As you progress further into this lush forest, you might come across its other residents — large butterfly species, millipedes, lizards, amphibians, and brilliantly colored sunbirds as they flit among the elegant tropical flowers. The forest trails also lead to sightings of other wildlife, such as Sykes monkey, shrew, galago, chameleon, and the shy Ader’s duiker or Suni antelope. There is an on-site turtle sanctuary initiated by the local community while further towards the bay, you will be able to view distinct varieties of colorful fish in the water along with mollusks and crabs.

Zanzibar Spice Tour

spice island

(c) AFKTravel

The Spice Tour is one of the most popular excursions in Stone Town. It is a unique opportunity to breathe in Zanzibar’s scents and spices on a 4 – 6-hour walking excursion to see some of the world’s most exotic spices. Back in the day, the Arabs started large spice plantations, which made Zanzibar the world’s biggest exporter of cloves at the time and earned the nickname, the spice island. Today, Zanzibar is still renowned for its clove, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, chili, and black pepper.

Tour Details

The Spice Tour is a unique opportunity to see and buy these spices at the source. You will get to the spice farms (shamba) deep in the countryside, where you will see how the spices, herbs, and fruits are cultivated and processed. You get to meet the farmers and learn about African farming methods and even perform some techniques yourself. The tour guide describes how best to use these crops while you can go all out, smelling and tasting spices, herbs and tropical fruits like coconuts, papaya, cassava, and oranges. Many of the lands were created specifically for showing crops/spices to tourists.

After the tour, you can enjoy a traditional Swahili lunch at the farm, which is when can really taste the different ways these spices are used. You could also join in a short cooking lesson in the farm’s outdoor kitchen. The tour ends with a stop at stalls that sell fresh packaged spices, fruits, and even essential oils and perfumes, so make sure to bring some cash with you before you head out for the day. In most cases, the tour price will already include tips for the farm workers, so you don’t need to worry about it, but if you still feel like tipping them, you are very welcome to do so.

The Jozani Forest and Spice tours showcase the diversity and unique natural beauty of Zanzibar in a whole new way. It gives you a deeper understanding as to what makes the famous island tick and a greater appreciation of all it has to offer. Many tour operators can handle both tours in a single day, but so you don’t feel rushed at either location, perhaps it’s best to go to each on a separate day and combine it with other interesting activities like a visit to Old Slave Chambers or snorkeling and kitesurfing at the beach.

Check out these Zanzibar tours you might like!

3-Day Zanzibar Stone Town Experience

5 Days Explore Zanzibar Luxury Beach Holiday

Written by: Branded Africa