To do or avoid?
Depending on your number of days on the capital Stone Town or Zanzibar City (Tanzania), it will be more or less easy to book a good half day for the excursion to Prison Island otherwise named Changuu island.
Zanzibar offers relatively few excursions given the surface of its territory and the Prison Island Tour is sold everywhere in Stonetown. It must be said that it is accessible at any age and easy without any physical difficulty.
Personally, I would find it unfortunate not to do so by being based on Stone Town. It is already difficult to come to Zanzibar so enjoy the life and activities offered on site including this quiet and enjoyable boat trip.
Some will always say bad things about excursions and visits. Just read the comments on the web. Everywhere on the planet, you will have detractors for all causes: “go your way, no one, captive animals, scam, carbon footprint, etc â€¦”.
It seems good to think positive and have a good day on the ocean, to walk on the sand barefoot, to immerse yourself in the water, to touch nature, to be curious, to learn from local and decrease the intellectualization time of holidays!
How to book Prison island?
Everywhere in Stone Town, more or less official guides and beach boys propose the excursion. If you are afraid, go through a more expensive agency. Otherwise pay 10 US dollars of reservation to a guide, a photo of the guide, possibly his official card and pay the balance before departure. It is impossible for anyone to offer you this tour especially if you stay in the very touristy western part of Stone Town.
Paying more does not guarantee a better boat, more time. All the boats are almost identical: fishing boats with engines of 40 horses. They provide almost all the same benefits, it is their daily business.
Price: for 4 people, everything was $ USD 35, 31 euros in 2019. Entrance fee of USD $ 4 = 10,000 TZS per person.
Departure 9:30 am and return to the hotel around 13:00 without food or drink.
Giant tortoises in prison island
In 1919 the British governor of Seychelles sent a gift of four Aldabra giant tortoises to Changuu from the island of Aldabra. These tortoises bred quickly and by 1955 they numbered around 200 animals. However people began to steal the tortoises for sale abroad as pets or for food and their numbers dropped rapidly. By 1988 there were around 100 tortoises, fifty in 1990 and just seven by 1996 A further 80 hatchlings were taken to the island in 1996 to increase the numbers but 40 of them vanished. The Zanzibar government, with assistance from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (Now known as World Animal Protection) built a large compound for the protection of the animals and by 2000 numbers had recovered to 17 adults, 50 juveniles and 90 hatchlings.
The island lost its use as a quarantine station, but remained in the ownership of the government who converted the newer quarantine buildings into a guesthouse. This ceased to function but has since been reopened as a hotel by a private company. There are 15 holiday cottages in the northwest of the island as well as a tennis court, swimming pool and library and the old European Bungalow has been turned into a restaurant named after Mathews. Freshwater is transported to the island via an underwater pipe from the Zanzibar mainland.
The island is still owned by the government, which charges a US$4 entry fee. The old prison remains standing, providing shelter for some of the tortoises and the cells can be visited.