Zanzibar is one of Africa’s tropical paradises set with white sand beaches, snorkeling havens and azure blue ocean which happens to also be a welcoming temperature. Islands in particular have many risk factors when it comes to eco-friendly practices given their far flung locations and logistics of recyling, however Tanzania has banned plastic and Zanzibar is starting to introduce more and more eco-tourism offerings allowing visitors to keep their footprints light and really benefit the local communities. Here are a few projects and activities you can support when visiting Zanzibar…
- Seaweed Co, Paje
Aside from making delicious skincare products such as body oils, butters, scrubs and soaps using seaweed as one of the ingredients, the project’s backbone are the local ladies who now get a sustainable income from farming and harvesting the seaweed. Instead of the seaweed being farmed and just exported out of the country, The Seaweed Co provides jobs for the local ladies in Paje as well as a few male guides from surrounding areas and in turn educates them on the properties of seaweed as well as how to harvest it and use it along with essential oils, beeswax and spices to make skincare products. Go and visit their centre and shop in Paje.
2. Do a Swahili Cooking Class at Red Monkey Lodge
You can’t get any closer to the beach if you tried and with beautiful simple island accommodation right on a quiet beach in Jambiani, you can’t go wrong. Red Monkey Lodge offers many activities to their guests, most of which benefit the local communities and one of these is a cooking class hosted by local Okala. Not only does Okala own his own restaurant and teach swahili cooking to tourists and chefs, he has also started a NGO as well as Marine cultures to educate locals on sponge farming and getting incomes in sustainable ways. Okala is someone you have to meet in Zanzibar.
3. Do an Eco-Tour with Okala and visit Marine Cultures.
One of the projects started by Okala, is Marine Cultures which teaches locals how to farm sponges to sell to make money. His passion lies in marine conservation education for locals but also for visitors. He is currently putting eco-tours together to take visitors to lessor known places in Zanzibar.
4. Day trip to Chumbe Island
Having just won an ITB award for Africa’s most sustainable project, Chumbe is a major success story in that it’s the first self-sustaining marine-protected island and its been running for 25 years. A visit to the island will include a snorkeling trip in the pristine protected reef just off the island as well as a forest tour learning about the endangered species there. Turns out one day is not really enough to take it all so that leads me to the next one…
5. Stay in Chumbe’s Eco-Lodge
Funded by their eco-tourism alone, by staying in their eco-lodge set with solar panels, compost toilets, using water regeneration; you will be supporting all of the conservation projects on the island. I’ve been to many islands, but here I felt like i had been deserted on an island in the middle of paradise ( with staff not far away). This was I was able to enjoy the true tranquility of this piece of ocean and reef they work so hard to protect as well as the wonderful education projects they hold so dear. To date they have educated 10 000 local students on marine conservation such as guarding the living coral, teaching fishermen the importance of not fishing in this area allowing fish to grow before they are fished and the small ways to make a difference in their own homes. This place was pure bliss!