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CULTURAL TOURS PROGRAMS

ZANZIBAR CULTURAL

Day 1 – A SPICY BEGINNING FOR OUR TOUR…
Although Zanzibar's agricultural reputation is based principally on the production of cloves, the islands also produce a prodigious variety of spices, both for domestic consumption and to a limited extent for export. In centuries gone by, spices were big business and one of the main reasons for the pioneering of world trade. In the times before modern refrigeration, foodstuffs such as meat and fish which could not be eaten fresh were stored sun-dried, oven-dried or salted. Spices greatly improved the flavor of these cured goods and were much in demand in the Middle East and Europe, commanding very high prices.

Almost all of the spices that we know today originate from the East Indies and Southern China and for many centuries it was the merchants who plied their trade on the Silk Road from China, across Asia to Europe who monopolized this trade. Then, in the early 18th century, along with cloves, spices were brought to Zanzibar by the Arabs in an attempt to start production and thus eliminate the Far Eastern monopoly. Although most of the new crops adapted well to Zanzibar's tropical climate, the other spices never flourished in quite the same way as the clove industry, but instead remained a low-key affair, supplying ingredients for local consumption and for limited trade in the Indian Ocean.

Spice farms on Zanzibar are not generally commercial growing operations, with single species cultivation, but are more like gardens, with trees, shrubs and grasses all grown together in the shade of mango and jackfruit trees. It can be quite surprising to see the range of different plants from which spices are obtained an the different methods by which they are extracted...

08:00 hrs: Departure from Stone Town by Minibus
We will visit a Spice Farm and do a Spice Tour there, in order to become Acquainted with the way different spices grow and what they are used for.

10:30 hrs: After having gathered some spices on the Spice Farm, learned about their use, tasted some tea and fruit, we depart for Uroa by minibus

12:00 hrs: Arrival and welcome at Hotel in Uroa. After a short refreshment break and depositing our luggage we will take a guided tour to enter Uroa Village.

13:00 hrs: On the way to the fish auction we will visit a typical village house A young man will receive the clients with Zanzibari coffee (Kahawa) in a typical Zanzibari jug and pour it into small cups for the clients. The clients will drink their coffee while visiting the house. After that our clients will choose the fish they would like to have cooked for themselves / cook for themselves and bargain for it at the auction.

15:00 hrs: We return to Hotel and start to prepare our lunch. Juices / tea / local sweets / fruit will be served while cooking.

We will enjoy our lunch, spend the rest of the afternoon at our own leisure. Take a nice walk at the beach, enjoy a cold drink at Hotel Restaurant, have a cool swim…

In the evening we invite you for a candle light dinner at Hotel Restaurant, after which you will enjoy a show of local fire drummers.

Please enjoy the simple, but magic atmosphere at this little hotel just next to Uroa Village, which is located at one of the most amazing sand beaches at the Eastern Coast!

Day 2 – IN THE FOOTPRINTS OF ANCIENT SPIRITS
A cave like Kichongwe Cave can only be described as a place where the energy that flows through and forms the universe is present in such high density that the spirits of the ancestors become nearly as vivid a reality as the tall trees growing from the deepest inside of this cave straight toward the sun; as the tiny insects and crabs living in the pool in the center of the cave; as the bizarre stone formations hanging down from the cave walls.

Kichongwe Cave is located 2.9 km from the village in a hidden place just next to the seashore. It is a round cave, approximately 20 m in diameter.

Up to this day, the cave is used in traditional local rituals, and you may find the leftovers of shells, bones and incense used when feeding the spirits, asking for favors or casting a spell.

We kindly request you to show your respect for the biodiversity of this cave as well as for the local people and the spirits they worship in it. The following rules should therefore be followed when entering the cave:

1. Take off your shoes and use the locally produced shoes given to you at the cave entrance when entering the cave.
2. No smoking in the cave!
3. Please keep your voice low.
4. Do not touch any of the objects lying on the cave floor or suspended on its walls.
5. Do not collect plants or animals from the cave interior.

Please write your name in our Cave Guest Book before you leave!
The times for this program depend on the tides. If it is high tide in the morning, the program will be as follows:
After breakfast we will take a local Dhow and sail to a place in the sea, where there are lots of wonderfully marine life. This is where we will be snorkeling. Enjoy the richness of the underwater world!

We come back for lunch at the hotel. After a rest, between 2 and 3 p.m., we will proceed by car to Kichongwe Cave. Enjoy this unique experience, which combines the miracle of nature with the local spirits!

In the late afternoon we return to Hotel. The following approximately two hours will be at our own leisure, until dinner will be served.

Tonight dinner will be accompanied by some of Zanzibar’s best Taarab musicians!
Enjoy! (Optional if you will require it we shall organize at extra cost)

Day 3 – THE SEA AS FOOD PROVIDER
Seaweed has long been known in Far Eastern cooking, but in the rest of the world was despised as sea rubbish. Industrialized countries use seaweed in pharmaceuticals, textiles, rubber, adhesives and various foods nowadays.
In recent years it has proved a valuable cash crop for villages on Zanzibar’s East Coast. Cropping was introduced to the island nearly twenty years ago and mostly women make a living from it. Rope, sticks and seedlings are the only outlays needed to start farming.
Today we will visit the seaweed farming women in the sea at low tide. You will see them bind the seedlings to ropes and sticks and plant the sticks in the sandy salty ground. The sticks are planted quite firmly in the ground and rarely get torn out by the water when the high tide returns.

The rest of the day will be at our clients’ leisure, including a lovely lunch and a snack dinner at your Hotel.
At about 5 p.m. get ready for a special adventure: WE ARE GOING NIGHT FISHING with local fishermen on a Dhow! (Optional if you will require it we shall organize at extra cost)

Please follow the special instructions given to you regarding this special fishing trip!

Day 4 – GETTING BACK IN TOUCH WITH MOTHER EARTH…
To turn around and laugh! Laugh the laughter of total happiness that fills you when at last you come to the realization that all creatures on this earth share the same basic needs, share that same basic energy that flows through all of us and everything, are ONE! This is what you may feel when sitting on our sailing boat and smoothly gliding across the water of the Indian Ocean under the immense sky back to your Hotel.

We have visited Michamvi…
We are going to leave at your Hotel by boat when the high tide comes in (hours to be determined by day). We cross the water to the “Thumb of Unguja”, where is the mangrove forest of Michamvi. There we will be amazed about the variety of birds, which we will be able to observe fishing and going about their daily activities while smoothly gliding through a natural sea water channel that encloses part of the mangrove forest like a little island.

After touring the channel we will leave our boat at the sea shore and proceed for a walking tour to the tip of the “Thumb”, through undisturbed nature (about 2 hours).

When we come back, we will have some time at our own leisure, which we may use for swimming or sunbathing, while our staff will get everything ready for a lovely barbecue lunch at the beach.

After the lunch we will slowly go back to our boat and sail back to your Hotel.
Dinner at your hotel. After that you will enjoy a Kidumbak (a music style mixed between African and Arab, underlined with typical Zanzibari dancing) night with our musicians and dancers…
(Optional if you will require it we shall organize at extra cost)

Day 5 – FOLLOWING THE ANCIENT SAILORS
For many centuries, boats that sailed on the Indian Ocean were called dhows. While there were many different types of dhows, almost all of them used a triangular or lateen sail arrangement. This made them markedly different than the ships that evolved on the Mediterranean. These ships had a characteristic square sail. The dhow was also markedly different than the ships that sailed on the China Sea. These ships were known as junks.

Unfortunately, there is almost no pictorial evidence of early dhows. Most of our knowledge of the dhow's early construction comes to us from the records of Greek and early Roman historians. Added to this, we can compare some similar hull constructions used in the later Roman period, after they had opportunity to learn from the Arab sailors. Along with this we can examine early shipwrecks, and lastly we can learn from modern day construction of dhows. It seems that dhow making is considered an art, and this art has been passed down from one generation to another, preserving, at least in part, the dhow's basic design and use.

Today after breakfast we will go and visit local Dhow markers. We will learn how the local Dhows are made, watch the carpenter at work and surely ask a lot of questions…

We will return to your Hotel for lunch and have a rest.
Nowadays we tend to believe that modern Western medicine with its undoubtedly great achievements is the only valid method of healing disease.

The truth is that the art of healing is much older than Western medicine, and that different cultures at different times have used – and still use – different approaches and methods in order to fight disease.

Traditional African medicine is – unfortunately – still among the stepchildren of world medicine. Often we are suspicious of the ease, with which traditional African medicine men (and women) mix the use of different herbs with that of the spirits. But if the spirits are invisible to us, does this really mean that they do not exist?

At about 3 p.m. we will come back to Uroa Village, this time for a very special encounter: we are going to meet two different medicine men. We will learn about the different herbs used in local medicine, and we will become acquainted with the principle of spirits involved in the healing methods of our second medicine man.

A group of African dancers with drums and songs will entertain you tonight and in this way accompany your dinner.

Day 6 – BI KIDUDE – A LEGEND ALREADY DURING HER LIFETIME!
(Optional if you will require it we shall organize at extra cost)
We would like you to become acquainted with one of the most fascinating personalities of our region, one of our greatest artists – singers, drummers, dancers – who at the same time is also one of our greatest herbalists and knower of ancient tradition. We will spend today in the footprints of this amazing woman:

I’ve always had an affinity for older ladies. I didn’t grow up around either of my grandmothers, and because of that I have always enjoyed and sought the company and wisdom of older women. It’s worth noting that age doesn’t always bring wisdom, but you can definitely learn a lot from those with life experience. I think there’s a freedom that comes with age, particularly with women who embrace and celebrate their longevity. These are women with stories to tell and lessons to impart. Women who have seen change and the passage of time. Bi Kidude is such a woman. She’s considered by many to be the oldest living musical performer on the world stage. The exact year of Bi Kidude’s birth is unknown, which helps to add to her mythical aura. Some web sources say she is 93, others speculate that she’s at least 100. Either way, her musical career has lasted for over half a century.

In the 1920’s, she was already singing taarab music with popular local troupes in her homeland of Zanzibar. Bi Kidude has always lived the life of a rebel. At age 13, she fled Zanzibar to escape a forced marriage. According to World Music Central, she journeyed to the mainland of Tanzania, where she collected stories and songs, and explored the land by walking barefoot. “Fleeing a second unhappy marriage, Bi Kidude boarded a dhow, the ancient sailing vessels of the Swahili coast and journeyed north to Egypt where she became a renowned singer in the foremost dance bands of 1930’s Egypt.” According to National Geographic, Kidude learned from the best in this period of her life: “In the 1930s Bi Kidude sang in a taarab ensemble alongside the legendary Siti Binti Saad, Zanzibar’s first female taarab singer and a major recording star in the region. From her, Bi Kidude learned a wealth of songs and musical lore, before striking out on her own as the main singer of a touring taarab ensemble.” Her travels stoked the fires of her rebellion. By the time she returned to Zanzibar in the 1940’s, she had chosen to shun her traditional veils and shave her head.

She lived in a clay house where she practiced traditional herbal medicine and cultural practices, married and divorced, and taught the ancient ritual of Unyago to the young girls of her village. Unyago is a female initiation ritual that can last from a day to three months, and provides education in the ways of womanhood, ranging from detailed sexual education, avoiding abuse and oppression, as well as the finer points of clothing, hygiene, and cooking. Kidude is among the most famous female initiators of the ancient ritual. A resurgence of traditional Swahili culture brought renewed interest in Bi Kidude in the 1980’s. She joined a popular band, Mohammed Ilyas and his Twinkling Stars, and toured Europe and the Middle East. The unusual spectacle of an elderly woman drumming and singing and leading a band brought her no end of attention. And no wonder - she’s a show stopper!

Throughout the Eighties and Nineties, Bi Kidude’s legend grew. She recorded her first solo album, Zanzibar in 1999. In 2005 she was presented with the prestigious WOMEX award for her lifetime achievement in world music. In 2006, the documentary As Old as My Tongue: The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude hit the film festival circuit, and has won tremendous acclaim. The documentary follows Bi and her entourage for three years, from her home in a township of historic Stone Town, Zanzibar, to theatrical performances in Paris. Let the record show, Bi Kidude is not considered a hero by all. She is considered an outsider to her own culture, because she rebels against Muslim beliefs and challenges the traditional woman’s role in society. In the film, she’s seen downing beers, enjoying smoking, and flirting with men a fraction of her age. In her own words: “I drink, I smoke, and I sing. I do not need a microphone, I just sing.” And she dances with abandon and clearly enjoys living her life.

In the morning, we will walk along the beach and get acquainted with the different creatures hiding in the sands and ponds at low tide.

The rest of the morning will be at our leisure. Then we will have lunch at Kaure Sands Restaurant.

After lunch, during which we will listen to some of Bi Kidude’s rich music from a CD, we will meet with local women in order to discover the way of life and problems women in particular are faced with here in Zanzibar.

In the evening a group of Zanzibari musicians will perform songs by Bi Kidude while our clients will enjoy a candle light dinner.

Please enjoy this special Bi Kidude day!

Day 7 – LEAVING A WORLD OF WONDERS…
This is your last day… sorry! Enjoy a lovely breakfast at your hotel, then let us load your luggage on our vehicle and take a last look at the sea; let’s breathe deeply and feel the world of wonders, which we have explored during the past few days. The simple ways of nature, the contact of a woman’s hands with the soil and the water, the keen awareness of the spiritual power that permeates everything in existence, the harmony between Mother Earth and human creativity… I hope it has replenished your heart the way it has ours, and left you with the warm awareness that whatever has been lost still exists. These tours can also be obtained as single day excursions excluding some of the activities. Minimum pax: 2 Meal plan: fb