Surprisingly or not, the Prison Island Tour in Zanzibar is a great occasion to celebrate… animal freedom. Although the terms “prison” and “freedom” shouldn’t belong in the same sentence, this happens on the trip to Changuu Island, also known as Tortoise Island. The reality is that, while the name of the excursion comes from an older idea, that was never actually put into practice, what you’ll see during the half-day cruise will not only surprise you but also create memories that will last a lifetime.
Concretely, the Prison Island Tour Zanzibar takes you to a small island, northwest of Stone Town (the old capital city), that was designated as a prison complex back in the late 1800s, when the territory was still ruled by the British. However, no prisoners were ever housed there and instead, the island became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases. Today, the place is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year, who want to find out the troubled history of Changuu, but mostly get there for a completely different reason.
More precisely, during the Prison Island Tour in Zanzibar, tourists get to see the endangered Aldabra giant tortoises, which were originally a gift from the British governor of Seychelles, back in 1919. These huge and spectacular animals bred quickly and, by 1955, their number on the island increased to around 200. However, during the following decades, this number dropped to a minimum of 7 tortoises in 1996, because people would steal them for selling them abroad as pets or for food.
Luckily for the gentle giants, the Zanzibar government, together with the World Society for the Protection of Animals, intervened until it was too late, and built a large compound for tortoise protection. Still, the Aldabra species is considered vulnerable today, but a dedicated foundation continues to bring many tortoises, especially juveniles, from other locations, for conservation.
Many things have changed in the last decades for Changuu, but some remained the same: the island is still owned by the government, it maintains its nickname, as does the Prison Island Tour in Zanzibar, but the watchword is no longer “incarceration”, but rather “freedom”. Of course, we refer to the giant tortoises that roam free and can’t wait for tourists to visit them.
Feeding the tortoises & sunbathing on a wonderful beach
The Prison Island Tour in Zanzibar, operated by Zanzibar Tour Guide, a travel agency with over 18 years of experience, includes interesting and diverse activities, such as visiting the old prison complex, feeding the land tortoises, sunbathing on a wonderful beach, and swimming in the unique azure waters of the Indian Ocean, surrounding the island.
The above-mentioned travel agency has highly-professional guides, who speak your language, and very careful drivers, in air-conditioned cars, providing hotel transfer (pick-up & drop-off). If you’re looking for an activity that is both amazing, adventurous, and even peaceful at times, all in one day, all you have to do is book this trip!