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Sunrise to Sunset in Zanzibar

  • Story Highlights
  • Zanzibar is an archipelago of islands off the coast of Tanzania
  • Stone Town was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Hotels on the island offer guests the opportunity to volunteer in community projects
  • To learn about the island's spice trade, visit one of its many plantations
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(CNN) -- With such beautiful beaches, many tourists get no further than the resorts of Zanzibar. But there's plenty more on offer on these tropical islands in the republic of Tanzania.

The main attraction: Zanzibar's white powdery beaches

The magic starts in Stone Town on Unguja, Zanzibar's largest island. Stone Town was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and here visitors can lose themselves among its mosques, winding alleys and bustling bazaars.

Zanzibar is also known also as Spice Island with cloves, cardamom, vanilla and chili just a few of the species grown here.

To experience a true sensorial feast, head down to one of the island's many plantations. With Nutmeg Tours your guide will lead the way picking out spices to touch, taste and smell.

An authentic experience might involve volunteering in local projects. But becoming a temporary volunteer is controversial, so choose a charity or project where your short-term help can make a long-term impact.

Don't Miss

African Impact with Amanzi Travel give volunteers the opportunity to help with wildlife conservation and community development projects throughout Africa. In Zanzibar, African Impact runs a teaching and community development project where volunteers spend time at community-run nursery schools assisting teachers, who are volunteers themselves, to teach children in English.

If there isn't time to travel far, visitors can also lend a hand with the projects the hotel is running.

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At the Matemwe Retreat in Zanzibar, for example, 80 percent of the staff are employed from the local village; hotel profits have contributed to building a new village school; and foundations have been laid for a clinic that the villagers say is badly needed because the nearest hospital is two hours drive away.

The lodge can also arrange visits to the neighboring village where guests can get involved in community projects such as a school lunch program or its sea turtle protection program that has so far rescued over 40,000 turtle eggs on the island's beaches.

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