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Welcome MarsVenus Tours

Welcome MarsVenus Tours

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Published by marsvenusjambiani
ZANZIBAR MARSVENUS TOURS & SAFARI
ZANZIBAR MARSVENUS TOURS & SAFARI

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Published by: marsvenusjambiani on Oct 09, 2009
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10/09/2009

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Taking the Jambiani cultural village tour withMarsVenus Tours & Safari
This is a piece that I wrote for MarsVenus Tours about the cultural tour that you can do in thecoastal village of Jambiani - would recommend it for all visitors to the East Coast who want tounderstand a bit about the history, culture, flora and fauna of the area."Beaches in Zanzibar are picture postcard tropical beaches. The fine white coral sand, enticingturquoise ocean, palm trees waving in the sea breeze – it’s understandable that many tourists,having saved to get here and travelled a long way from their home countries, just want to lie onthat perfect beach for their whole holiday. But it is also a shame to travel such a long way and notget a taste of the culture of your host country.Guests to Jambiani, on Zanzibar’s stunning east coast, do have that opportunity. This long,narrow coastal village hugs one of the island’s loveliest beaches, dotted with hotels andguesthouses. Three and a half miles long, with a population of over 6000 people, this village hasfor some years featured a cultural tour that gives travellers an insight into the daily lives of locals,and some idea of their past and how their future might unfold.MarsVenus Tours, the creator of the tour, ploughs all the profits back into community projects,including a kindergarten for children from the age of three to seven. It was the first suchkindergarten in the southern district of Zanzibar, set up in 2000, and provides an early educationfor local children in languages – Kiswahili, Arabic and English – as well as maths, science andenvironmental studies.The tour starts at the kindergarten so visitors can see where the money from their tour is going.Next the tour guide, Mussa Haji, explains the history of the island in brief. Not so long ago, hesays, everybody lived in areas of coral plantations, in huts made from coconut leaves, and onlywent to the coast to fish and harvest coconuts. There was no tap water, no electricity, no school.But gradually the custom for building houses from stone and lime that originated in the island’smerchant area, Stone Town, spread east, and people started to build more permanent housesalong the shore. The current school was built, meaning the new generation is much moreeducated than their ancestors were, and there is a small dispensary also in the centre of thevillage, meaning that villagers gravitate toward the heart of the village for their needs.Previously young people left Jambiani in droves to seek work in town, but the current abundanceof hotels – there are at least 18 now in the village – means that most people are now staying putin their home village and hoping to find employment in the tourist industry.MarsVenus, which started as an NGO then added tours to its operations to generate funds for itscommunity projects, is trying to lead by example in Jambiani – by showing people simple ways of making money or food and improving their lives. For example, outside their headquarters theyhave planted lots of herbs and trees to create shade and demonstrate the variety of plants thatcan be grown along the main street. Many people develop eye problems from walking andworking in the harsh glare of the sun day in and day out; the planting of tall trees to bestow shadewould make for a much more comfortable existence for all, but is an idea that hasn’t beencontemplated before. The older generation, Mr Mussa explains, didn’t plant trees, and so theyounger generation don’t either.He shows off an Indian almond tree, which was used to make soft drinks long before the adventof Coca Cola on the island. There are also a variety of mints – one type used to combat flu andanother kind that was used in the past to cleanse and scent dead bodies – as well as ylang ylangtrees and screw palms.Jambiani, with its curious linear shape, suddenly opens to reveal further strata. The next layer isof light forest – here villagers used to come to pray to spirits believed to be present in the trees.First there is the beach, then the sandy soil, then the coral, says Mr Mussa, but most tourists justlie on the beach without learning any more about the landscape.Moving onto the next strata, he reveals proudly a project MarsVenus have been working on for some time. It’s designed to show villagers that coral rock, thought to be barren by most peoplelocally, can actually provide a home for most plants given enough time and attention. There areabout 100 species of plants here – almost everything you can imagine. Look one way –

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