The Prison Island Zanzibar is among the islands found on the Indian ocean and it is also referred to as Changuu island and it is found on the north western part of Stone town.
Around 1860 the Prison island was used as a detention center for slaves and it is among the historical sites in Zanzibar. Prison island is located about 5.6 kilometers from Stone town and it can be accessed by a boat from Stone town.
During a tour to Prison island, giant aldabra tortoises can be seen and you can also enjoy views of the ocean and take part in a number of activities during a tour of the island. The island also has beautiful scenery.
Changuu island or Prison island is among the few habitats of the giant tortoises in the world. These tortoises are among the animals that have lived long in the world and some of them on Changuu island are as old as 200 years.
The tortoises on Prison island in Zanzibar are about 122 centimeters in length and they weigh about 250 kilograms. Apart from the calm waters of the ocean, Prison island has over 400 species of fish and turtles and dolphins can also be seen around the island. You can also see the ages of the tortoises written on their shells during a tour of the island.
Throughout the year tourists who visit Zanzibar island can also take a boat to the Prison island and see the giant tortoises and other attractions on the island and also take part in activities like swimming and snorkeling.
What to know about Prison island
Prison island got its name from being an island where slaves used to be kept by the Arabs around 1860.
The island later was used as a place where people with sickness such as yellow fever and cholera were kept or quarantined. Around 1919 a gift of the giant tortoises was taken to the island and they were four in number. In exchange for these tortoises, Zanzibar also sent a gift to the British governor of the Seychelles.
These giant tortoises are considered an endangered species and with time the tortoises increased in number to about 200 tortoises on Prison island.
Today the tortoises can be seen around Prison island and also at the tortoise sanctuary. During a tour to the island you can also approach the tortoises. These tortoises are herbivores in nature and can feed on grass and plant stems.
The life span of the tortoises is about 65 to 95 years and when it comes to laying eggs, female tortoises lay about 9 to 25 eggs. When visiting Prison island you can also see birds like peacocks among others.
The tour around Prison island takes about 2 to 3 hours and this activity costs about 30 USD to 45 USD. This activity when visiting Zanzibar island can be done as part of a half day experience on the island which involves a boat ride from Stone town which takes about 30 to 45 minutes and also a number of activities when you get to the island.
Best time to visit Prison Island
Tours to Prison Island can be carried out at any time of the year however the best time to visit the island when in Zanzibar for a holiday is the dry season.
The dry season in Zanzibar takes place around June, July, August, September and October and it is a time when the weather is favorable. This time of the year also favors many activities carried out around the island including snorkeling, swimming, boat rides among others.
When visiting Prison island in the dry season, there are many tourists who can be seen and also around Zanzibar island and the dry season is also considered the high season. Apart from June to October, the dry season is also experienced from December to February.
Another season which is experienced in Zanzibar island is the rain season which is also considered the low season. the rain season is experienced in Zanzibar from March, April and May which is a long rainy season and also around November when it is a short rainfall season.
The rainy season in Zanzibar also being a low season is characterized by fewer tourists visiting the island due to the rains which make it hard to take part in the various activities around the island like diving, snorkeling, relaxing at the beach among others.
Travel during the rainy season or low season in Zanzibar also favors tourist who have a limited budget for their holidays. This is because prices of activities and flights are discounted during the rainy season.
During the tour of Prison island, you can enjoy sunbathing by the white sand beach, swimming in the Ocean, beach walks, and also self-walking tours around the island which are done along a wooden bridge with views of the ocean.
How to get to Prison island in Zanzibar
Prison island in Zanzibar can be accessed by taking a boat from Stone town. the boat ride takes about 30 to 45 minutes and it can be a private boat ride or you can take a boat to the island as part of a group.
When visiting Zanzibar island where you can tour Prison island, you can book flights to Abeid Amani Karume international airport or take a ferry from Dar es Salaam to the island. The ferry operates daily and is also affordable.
Apart from visiting the Prison island when in Zanzibar you can also take a tour around the historic town of Stone town to experience the cultural diversity of the island and also see different landmarks, engage in diving, spice tours, safari blue tours, cycling, cultural tours, tasting the local foods among other activities.
Another experience you can enjoy when in Zanzibar is going to the different beaches around the island such as Nungwi beach, Kendwa beach, Paje beach, Kizimkazi beach, Pongwe beach, Jambiani beach, Matemwe beach among others.