Kizimbani Spice Farm, Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Never one to turn down the chance to travel, I was delighted when a much missed friend from Yangon invited me and a group of friends to celebrate her birthday in Zanzibar.

My parents travelled to Zanzibar a couple of years ago (my father decided he would climb Kilimanjaro to mark turning 60!) and one of their favourite activities had been a tour of a local spice farm, so I was excited when I learned that one of our first Zanzibari excursions would be to the Kizimbani spice farm in central Zanzibar, around 45 minutes drive outside of Stonetown where we spent the first few days of our trip.

We did a slightly modified tour, choosing just to visit the Kizimbani spice farm and to return to Stonetown for lunch as we had more friends arriving from the airport, but most spice farm tour are combined with lunch in a local village or a cookery class so you can see all the different applications for the spices you have just seen.

I was incredibly impressed with the tour, in addition to all the standard fruits I was expecting to see (bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, durian, avocados, jackfruit) we also saw a huge array of spices from cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, to pepper  nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, lemon grass, vanilla and annatto (known locally as lipstick fruit)

Annatto is used as a colouring for curries in Zanzibar, but you are probably more familiar with the idea that it is traditionally used to colour cheese such as Langres and Livarot

Cloves are the most famous of all Zanzibar spices and they were, for many years, the worlds largest exporters of cloves.

Peppercorns and cardamom

Vanilla (did you know it takes 7 years to reach maturity!!) and turmeric

Nutmeg (the bright red webbing is mace!) I saw this growing in Penang and fell in love with nutmeg juice – something I was surprised not to see in Zanzibar.

Lemongrass, oranges and bananas

Ylang Ylang (we couldn’t recognise the smell apart from the fact it reminded us of a 1990’s Bodyshop 😉 and watching them harvest jackfruits. People can rent areas of the spice farm over a period of time to profit from the harvests

Our tour guide was great, informing us of the medicinal benefits of spices, from the familiar (cloves are great for toothache, turmeric for an upset stomach) to the more usual (I had no idea Cinnamon was a major ingredient in Vicks vapour rub! ) as well as how they are used in local cooking and how they are grown and harvested.

Spice Tours are really easy to organise, pretty much any hotel will help you to book (for a small mark up) or you can book online with companies such as Colours of Zanzibar  As many of the spice farms are located in central Zanzibar, you could even plan to do a spice farm on your way from Stonetown to the beaches on the east coast, such as Pingwe for example



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