Zanzibar – Africa’s exotic spice island

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Ras Nungwi lies at the northernmost tip of Zanzibar, a classic Indian Ocean escape. It’s close enough to the island’s inland spice plantations for a day trip, but most people come here simply to unwind and get away from it all. And who can blame them!

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Luxury hotels line the sandy shore, but walk towards the headland and you soon reach the village of Ras Nungwi, where you can gain a glimpse of the island of old. The village is known as an important centre of boat building – in particular for producing Arabic-styled dhows, the type of which have sailed these waters for centuries – and local craftsmen build and repair the Ras Nungwi fishing fleet using methods passed down through the generations.

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Many of the dhows are tied up along the sandy shore, seaweed clinging to their hulls. Others can be seen heading out to sea beyond a protective reef, their white sails twinkling in the sunlight, a light coastal breeze enough to fill their sails as they glide gently by and fill their hulls with the catch of the day.

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The turquoise waters abound with wahoo fish, prawns, squid and octopus. The fishermen take home some of their catch, the rest they sell on to the beachfront hotels – to be grilled on skewers and served in open air restaurants, salty and fresh, and cooked with intoxicating local spices. Delicious.

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