Zanzibar and the senses

2015-03-12T14:22:25+00:0012 March 2015|Idle musings, Islands, Zanzibar|

Wandering around Zanzibar as I arrived, fresh from the Dar ferry on a tropical March afternoon, my first thought – and my last when I left a week later, as it turned out – was that this enchanted African island speaks to all our five senses. Here’s what I mean:


: the sun setting over the cerulean Indian Ocean, endless white sand beaches, kids practicing martial arts along the seafront, the colours of the foliage, of clambering vines and of tall, willowy palms against an impossibly blue sky, the unique heavy wooden doors with metal spikes, the Old Fort of the Omani Arabs, the Sultan’s Palace, the mystical House of Wonders, remnants of another era, long gone.





: the sounds of singing in the street, the muezzin calling to prayer, the hum of crickets, the laughter of my tree-climbing friend picking fruits for me to taste, the sound of waves lapping gently in the background as I laze in a hammock reading a mystery – set in Zanzibar, of course.




: touching the velvety petals of frangipani flowers, stroking the soft fur of Zanzibar’s feline friends, the cold, rough stone sculptures of the kumbukumbu ya historia ya watumwa, the slave memorial.





: the island’s succulent shellfish, the sweet fruits, the spices, the flavourful rice, the cocktails at Africa House at sunset, where the mojitos taste better than anywhere else.




: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could capture scents with our cameras? If so, I would reproduce the fragrance of Zanzibar – of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, of incense, of the aromatic cooking in Forodhani Park at dusk, of Jasmine trees wafting through my window as the air ripples past my face while I slumber behind flimsy white mosquito nets. Most of all, Zanzibar is about scents.


The scents of Zanzibar



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  1. Agata 12 March 2015 at 1526 - Reply

    Wonderful, wonderful post! Very suggestive! I would love to go there one day.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2015 at 2357 - Reply

      Thanks, Agata 🙂

  2. Leigh 12 March 2015 at 2341 - Reply

    My daughter has been to Zanzibar and came back talking about many of the things you mentioned. She loved the place – just not the flight there in a dust storm.
    You continue to amaze me with your travels.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2015 at 2359 - Reply

      Oh you must visit, Leigh. Zanzibar is like nowhere else.

  3. Corinne 13 March 2015 at 0933 - Reply

    Wonderfully written Sophie…oh how I want to go to Zanzibar!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2015 at 2359 - Reply

      Thank you, Corinne 🙂

  4. Megan 13 March 2015 at 1156 - Reply

    you had me at the smell of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. i have been on an african cuisine cooking frenzy lately (mostly western, but sometimes eastern) and this makes me crave something of the sorts for dinner 🙂 hope to see zanzibar one day!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0000 - Reply

      You will, I’m sure, Megan. Sooner rather than later 🙂

  5. Muza-chan 13 March 2015 at 1157 - Reply


    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0000 - Reply


  6. Marcia 15 March 2015 at 1331 - Reply

    Zanzibar, don’t you just love the sound of that word? Intoxicating and exotic, Zanzibar’s been on my list for far too long. Thanks for reminding me of its allure.

    You might be on to something there, Sophie – a “peel and sniff” plugin like what we get in magazines to capture the beautiful scents of Zanzibar.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0001 - Reply

      I know what you mean – some names just sound so wonderfully attractive and Zanzibar is definitely one of them. Samarkand is another. And Bagdad.

  7. Abi 17 March 2015 at 0247 - Reply

    Oh, thank you for bringing back so many memories! I travelled there years ago as a medical student and your words just made everything flow back. Thanks 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0001 - Reply

      Happy to 🙂

  8. Mary @ Green Global Travel 17 March 2015 at 0332 - Reply

    The most memorable visits speak to all five senses – it’s neat to see you document that! Hope you had an amazing time in Zanzibar 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0002 - Reply

      The best time 🙂

  9. Adam 19 March 2015 at 2105 - Reply

    Zanzibar just exudes exoticism … this post makes me want to buy a plane ticket for Tanzania!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0002 - Reply

      You wouldn’t regret it. 🙂

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