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A spice tour in Zanzibar is essentially a must-do for travellers, but there are big differences concerning the price and content of the excursions. I paid 10 USD, but I heard from other travelers that as much as 100 USD can be charged. Therefore, it is worth the effort to shop around a bit and compare prices with the different companies offering the tours.
The experience itself is a mixed bag. On one hand, it is incredibly exciting to see all the fresh spices on the plantations before they hit the shelves in our supermarkets, on the other hand, the whole thing is obviously a big selling spectacle. A guide directs us through the many plots of land and thoroughly explains the properties of the spices, opens fruits and seeds and lets us grope, smell and taste everything. In addition to the mosquitoes, we are accompanied by a group of young men, who are all busy weaving hats, handbags, neckties and small animals out of palm leaves, which they then simply throw over our heads and around our necks. Towards the end of the tour, all of us have souvenirs hanging from our bodies like ornaments on a christmas tree, which seems sweet and nice, but then hands get outstretched and money is demanded. Then of course, you don’t want to be like that and hand over a couple of bucks.
Included in the spice tour is also a performance of a nice gentleman with the poetic name “Butterfly”. Butterfly climbs palm trees for a living, while singing loudly in Swahili, welcoming the tourists to Zanzibar, and accompanies the song with some very x-rated dance moves. All in all, the spice tour is definitely worth your time when you are not all that opposed to the selling attempts, you can definitely learn a lot and the entertainment isn’t half bad either.