The Osprey Brand Team, a group of ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, delivers the latest from new team member Aimee Cebulski who is on a 6-month world travel adventure. She’s taking an Osprey Sojourn 28 with her (from our new Travel Collection). She recently landed in Stone Town, Zanzibar…
Set off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is an ancient island full of flavor, spice and history. Over the centuries, this small island has been dominated by Persian, British and African cultures, and the result is a unique feel of crumbling colonialism with a tropical vibe.
Zanzibar gained prominence mostly for its good location to access the trade winds and distance between Africa and the Middle East. It became a major trading hub and also legendary for its spices. Cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, lemongrass and countless other fragrances fill the air here.
In addition to its distinction in the spice trade, Zanzibar was also under colonial rule for quite some time and was a major port in the African slave trade. Thousands passed through here in route to places like Britain, Oman, Persia and other Asian destinations.
The resulting culture here is one of a true melting pot. Swahili is easily intermixed with English, Arabic and even Portuguese around town. The cuisine here is also quite varied, ruled by spiced dishes such as rice and sautéed vegetables and meat. The food here has been very tasty and we’ve gone to the night market where chefs in white coats and hats grill up fresh seafood from the day and local delicacies like a Zanzibar Pizza (more like a quiche filled with meats, cheeses and spices). At an average of one or two dollars per item, it’s quite a steal!
We’ve visited some of the main historical sites here such as the House of Wonders and the Old Fort and wandered the maze of crumbling buildings in the compact old center of town. One of the most popular places to take in the sunset is the main bar at The Africa House, one of the oldest hotels in Africa…Even for being an upscale renovated historical property, drinks at the bar still remain a good value and the balcony is spectacular for the afternoon light.
On a musical note, Zanzibar is the home of Queen frontman the late Freddie Mercury; several buildings around town pay homage to him and there’s even a restaurant (Mercury’s) with an outstanding waterfront view and Queen memorabilia on the walls.
Today I ventured out of Stone Town and went on a half day spice tour. Our guide took the group out to a local spice farm where we saw how cloves, vanilla, peppers, cinnamon, pineapples, breadfruits, coconuts and more are locally grown and various harvest techniques. No wonder the island is renowned for its spices! Their procedures are painstaking and thorough to ensure the best quality end product.
The highlight of the spice tour was lunch at a local home. Our hostess had prepared us a lunch of spiced rice (with spices right from the trees) and various sautéed vegetables and sauces. We sat on mats on the floor and enjoyed this simply prepared home cooked meal. It was delicious! Her mastery of balancing the spices obviously came from generations of instruction.
Tomorrow we are heading north out of Stone Town, to the beach area called Nungwi, to check out the famous turquoise Zanzibar waters and see about potential good dive spots. Wifi seems to be hard to come by around here, so hopefully we’ll be able to post again soon.
Features of the Sojourn 28 wheeled convertible pack: Our StraightJacket™ compression system has always been well-suited to the rigors of travel. Add the High Road™ Chassis to the mix and you’ve got the Sojourn. For those who want to reduce the hoist component of their haul time it can’t be beat. When you do need to carry the Sojourn our superb zip-away suspension is on the ready. You’ll also find foam sidewalls for keeping the load secure, while handy mesh pockets, clothing straps and front panel daisy chains maintain your organization. Colors available: Earth, Charcoal, Pepper. Click here for more information – Sojourn Series.
For more information about Aimee, check out her bio page here.