Cycling tours are not only great for toning up the body; they are also eco-friendly and provide a unique perspective on the country you’re travelling around. Zanzibar, with its warm tropical climate, lush vegetation and large tracts of open space, is the perfect location to get on a bike and start cycling. Here are some of the best routes on the island, taking cyclists through bountiful natural beauty, intriguing history and fascinating sites.
Nungwi and the northern tip of the island
This route meanders towards the seaside village of Nungwi with its wide, palm-lined beaches. Here, one of the main tourist attractions is the boat yard where fishermen tinker on their boats during the day and set off into the ocean come sunset. Further on, there are rural villages and Portuguese ruins dating back to the 16th century waiting to be explored, and there is a fabulous tidal pool where cyclists can stop for a refreshing dip. You can visit local blacksmiths who fashion iron nails by hand for fishing boats, and watch basket weavers plying their trade. Finally, adventure through recently discovered stunning coral caves filled with stalagmite and stalactite crystal rocks.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Red Earth Village tour
Absorb true Zanzibar culture and traditions on the Red Earth Village tour. The route leads to a rural village built on deep-red earth, where visitors can learn about cultural traditions and tribal lifestyles that very few others get to observe. After cycling around the village, you can meet the local community and hear them explain how their indigenous houses are made using the red clay that surrounds them.
Watch the villagers making fish traps using traditional methods and natural materials, and experience the harsh realities of having to pull water from a well that is 58 metres (190 feet) deep. You’ll then continue on the road to an enormous baobab tree where you can enjoy panoramic views over the Indian Ocean. You can now take a breather before cycling back to the departure point.
Matemwe and the northeast region
Matemwe is a quiet beach on the northeastern coast of Zanzibar where long, flat stretches of sand give cyclists the opportunity to pedal alongside gently lapping waves. This beautiful tropical beach is also home to the Kiwengwa caves, part of the ancient history of Zanzibar. Locals would visit the caves to worship their ancestors and bring gifts to the amazing stalagmite and stalactite crystal formations, formed when water dissolved calcium carbonate from coral stones.These caves have only recently been discovered.
After exploring the caves, the route continues to a green rice plantation where visitors can learn more about the art of growing and harvesting rice. You’ll finish up at a local fruit and vegetable market for a final taste of traditional village life.
Cycle to the Blue Lagoon
Begin at Paje on the southeast coast of the island and cycle along around 10 kilometres (six miles) of smooth white sand to the Blue Lagoon. Stop for a short boat ride and a spot of snorkelling before continuing along the beach for another five kilometres (three miles) towards Upendo. After a quick break for refreshments, round it off with an off-road cycle through the traditional village of Bwejuu.
Off-road biking to a hidden beach
Not for the leisure cyclist or those without a decent level of physical fitness, this off-road biking route blends outdoor adventure with stunning natural views. It takes cyclists to some magnificent areas that cannot be explored by car, where the panoramic views are guaranteed to take your breath away.
You’ll traverse dirt tracks and pedal through the fabulous African wilderness before breaking to take in the gorgeous vistas of Tumbatu Island off the northwest coast of Zanzibar, where white sands contrast sharply against a turquoise blue ocean. Continue through colourful fruit and vegetable farmlands before finally reaching a hidden beach that not many tourists get to see.
Taking on the Jozani Forest
This route is another that is not recommended for novices or those without any experience in long-distance cycling. It kicks off in Paje, from where you will ride towards the rural village of Bwejuu, where things start to get interesting as off-road conditions come into play. Continue for some distance through amazing and unspoiled forest, before reaching the entrance to the Jozani National Park. Here, bikers alight for a fabulous walking tour through the park, which is filled with indigenous colobus monkeys, before hopping on their bicycles once again for a leisurely meander back to Paje.
The nitty gritty
All the cycle tours mentioned above are half-day tours that take between three and five hours to complete. Prices vary for different tours and all include cold bottled water, fresh fruit snacks and any entrance fees that may be applicable, as well as all equipment.
Bike rentals are available if you’d like to explore the island by yourself instead, and longer guided tours that span a few days can also be arranged.
Paje Bike Tours and Rentals, next to Paje by Night, Paje Beach, +255 713478576
Zanzibar Cycling Adventures, Nungwi, +255 778677662
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.