Zanzibar information

Princess Salme Spice Tour

Discover the captivating story of the smart and rebellious Princess Sayyida Salme, the youngest daughter of Sultan Said. Born a Zanzibari princess in 1844, she was a remarkable woman for her time: she taught herself to write, had a clandestine love affair with a German merchant, eloped to Europe when pregnant, and even converted to Christianity. Her life was full of colour, secrets and adventure. Join a knowledgeable local guide to follow in her footsteps through palaces and plantations, and gain an insight into her incredible life, as well as the fascinating Zanzibar spice trade on a working plantation.

The Details

Starting in Stone Town you will be taken by a private guide to Princess Salme’s birthplace, Mtoni Palace, on Zanzibar’s west coast. The palace, Zanzibar’s oldest, was once home to nearly 1,000 people, most of whom worked on the surrounding spice plantations, and the Sultan’s royal court. In its heyday, it was a place where gazelles and peacocks strutted in an impressive, arched courtyard, where splendid fountains and palm groves dotted the grounds, and where the sultan admired his fleet in the ocean. But in the 1880s, Mtoni Palace was abandoned and today much of the building has crumbled. It remains one of the most significant sites and buildings in Zanzibar’s history though, and exploring the ruined bathhouses and atmospheric arches, listening to stories about palace life and Zanzibar’s rich history is fascinating.

You will then go on to enjoy a traditional coffee ceremony at an Omani mansion, once home to Princess Salme’s uncle. The mansion dates back to the late nineteenth century, and as you might imagine, has beautiful grounds filled with tropical trees and flowers. It is here where you will relax and enjoy a cup of freshly ground coffee.

Your next stop will be Kidichi Persian Baths. The baths were built for the sultans second wife who was the granddaughter of Shah of Persia and were used by the royals when they visited their spice plantations. You can still walk around the bathhouse, prayer room and relaxation area. Keep an eye out for the decorative peacocks and flowers in the stucco render.

Finally, you will be taken to an established spice plantation. Zanzibar, well known as the ‘Spice Island’, has a history of growing and exporting spices, dating back to the 16th century. Spices, originally brought over by Portuguese traders, led to the creation of plantations and trade routes to the Far East. Today spices form an integral part of everyday life for many Zanzibaris, bringing intense flavour to their cuisine and used in medicines, rituals and everyday life. A wide range of spices are still produced on Zanzibar including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, turmeric, black pepper and ginger – to name but a few! Take a stroll around the plantations where you can learn about the spices and discover their various culinary and medicinal uses. If the culinary possibilities tempt you, have a look at the Swahili cookery workshop excursion too.

You will round up the morning with a home-cooked lunch at the spice plantation, before heading back to Stone Town.

Start location/time: You will be met by your guide at your Stone Town hotel around 09:00 and driven to the Mtoni Palace to start your tour.

Duration of excursion: This is a half day tour and includes lunch; you will typically arrive back in Stone Town early afternoon. The exact itinerary for this excursion is very flexible, and can be combined with the Life in Stone Town tour.

End location: Your tour will normally finish in Stone Town, however it is possible to drive from the spice plantation on to a beach hotel.

Maximum size of group: This is a private tour, and will be booked exclusively for your party; each guide can take a maximum of six people per tour.

Guide: We work with a handful of enthusiastic and articulate Zanzibari guides to conduct this trip - including Anjam and Rajab, of whom we have personal experience. All of our guides have excellent English, and make fascinating company for the insights that they can give you into today’s Zanzibar, as well as the island’s history.