Zanzibar is known for its appeal as a tourist destination. Zanzibar is also known for its spices. It is therefore no surprise that Zanzibaris have figured out a way to combine these two income generators into the famous Zanzibar Spice Tour.
Zanzibar has been growing spices for centuries, and was a major stopover on the ancient global spice route. Spices like cloves and nutmeg are still farmed on large-scale plantations. But at some point over the last couple of decades, the Zanzibar spice industry realized there was more money to be made from tourists visiting spice farms than from the spices themselves.
This is how the Big Body With Tatata Spice Farm was born.
Welcome to the Big Body With Tatata Spice Farm.
There are a whole bunch of spice farms catering to tourists in Zanzibar, and I gather that they are all quite similar to one another. But I feel pretty certain the that Big Body With Tatata is the best spice farm name, ever in the history of spice farms. I couldn’t get a clear answer on origin of the name — only that it came from the local chief.
So, here’s how our spice tour worked. My friend Michelle and I told the staff at the Sazani Lodge (the beach resort where we stayed — more on Sazani in a future post) that we wanted to do a spice tour, and they arranged a taxi for us. We didn’t request a specific spice farm so I think we just wound up at Big Body by chance. We’re so lucky!
We pulled up in the parking lot of the farm and a guy walked up to the taxi and introduced himself as Hamisi, our guide. Hamisi is the perfect guide for the Big Body Spice Farm.
Hamisi is the most muscular man I met in Zanzibar. He clearly pumps a lot of iron.
Hamisi led us into a quasi-forested area and introduced us to his assistant guide, whose name was Ali Baba. More on Ali Baba later.
As I alluded to before, the Big Body With Tatata Spice Farm is not a working farm, per se. It’s a collection of spice plants and fruit trees that are grown specifically for tourism. Hamisi led us through the farm and showed us various roots, seeds, barks, and fruits, relating amusing facts and anecdotes as he went along.
Peeling a tumeric root. Tumeric, which stains everything yellow, is a popular spice for cooking. Tumeric is also used to treat a wide variety of ailments/illnesses.
My spice tour highlights included:
1) Licking a piece of bark cut straight from a cinnamon tree. It tasted ten times better than any cinnamon I’ve ever tasted before.
2) Chewing raw cloves, which temporarily made my mouth numb.
3) Looking at a crazy-looking nutmeg seed and learning that Zanzibari women use nutmeg to get high. Nutmeg is a hallucinogen and also an aphrodisiac.
A raw nutmeg seed.
Apparently only women use nutmeg to get high and horny, not men. I asked Hamisi why that is and he said “because men don’t need aphrodisiacs”.
(I also asked Hamisi why women don’t lead spice tours. His immediate answer was “because women are lazy”, although he quickly corrected himself and said “because women are too busy at home with the children”. Sigh.)
4) Watching Ali Baba apply “the lipstick fruit”.
Seeds inside the lipstick fruit, which looks bit like a litchi on the outside.
No explanation needed.
5) Watching James, another assistant spice tour guide, climb a coconut tree.
He didn’t actually bring down any coconuts because the coconut were all on the ground already.
6) The fruit-tasting marathon at the end of the tour. I couldn’t take photos because my hands were too sticky. The fresh pineapple was beyond delicious, as was the watermelon and litchi.
7) This photo.
Best photo of Michelle and me, ever. Shot by James the spice tour guide, who should really quit spice tourism and become a photographer. Those necklaces we’re wearing are frogs made of grass.
At the end of the tour we had the opportunity to buy spices, coffee, tea, and other local products.
Zanzibar curry powders.
Note: Many of the products for sale at the spice farm are available much cheaper elsewhere. The local soap was nearly three times more expensive at the spice farm than it was at a shop we visited the day before in Nungwi Beach.
There was no actual charge for the spice tour; we were advised to tip our guides whatever we felt was reasonable. This is probably a smart move on their part because I imagine most people tip generously. I gave each of our three guides about $5 and Michelle did the same. We also bought some overpriced spices.
It was 100% worth it, if only for the grass accessories and the photos from James.
Thank you, Big Body with Tatata Spice Farm. The end.