Zanzibar 2013: Prison (Changuu) Island

Prison Island, known locally as Changuu Island, is a small island off the coast of Stone Town. It was originally built up to be a prison, but ended up being a place to quarantine people with Yellow Fever. To get there, you can pay a boat driver a negotiable amount of money. Or you can book a ridiculously-priced tour through your hotel. I’m glad we didn’t choose the latter. Honestly, I didn’t find Prison Island to be all that spectacular. Its main attraction is a collection of giant tortoises that were brought there as a gift from the Seychelles. The tortoises are not native to the island and are confined to a relatively small space for the large population. After spending time with wild tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, this was a little depressing. Basically the tortoises’ sole purpose is to get poked and prodded by large groups of tourists all day. Not that I didn’t partake in the activities. Other than that, there is not much on the island to see. I imagined it to be some sort of Tanzanian version of Alcatraz, given the island’s nickname, but aside from a couple of chains in the ground, which probably aren’t even original, there wasn’t much going on with the prison theme. There is a small, gorgeous beach with starfish EVERYWHERE, though. Marisa and I decided to take a dip to cool off before heading back to Stone Town. Even though this is considered a “must see” in Zanzibar, I’d probably skip it if you’re short on time, unless you’re just dying to pet a tortoise.


 

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