Guides around Stone Town
Although the narrow streets of Zanzibar are like a labyrinth, Stone Town is not very large, and getting seriously lost is unlikely. (If you don't know where you are, just keep walking and you'll soon come out onto Creek Road or one of the streets alongside the sea.) In fact, for many visitors getting lost in the maze of narrow streets and alleys is all part of the fun.
However, if your time is limited, you prefer not to become disorientated, or you want to find some specific sites of interest, it's possible to hire a knowledgeable guide from most local tour companies.
If you don't want a formal tour, but would still like to be accompanied by a local, you could engage the services of the papaasi
, although generally they will be more interested in taking you to souvenir shops than museums. It might be wiser to ask your hotel or a reputable tour company to put you in touch with someone who will happily walk with you through the streets, and show you the way if you get lost. We have heard from readers who employed a local schoolboy, who was also very happy to practise his English, and this seems an excellent idea. About US$5 (in Tanzanian shillings) for a day's work would be a suitable fee.
If you are seriously interested in the history of Zanzibar, a local artist and historian, John da Silva, is very occasionally available for private guided tours around Stone Town. John knows the history of every public building and every house (and literally every balcony and door) in the town. His rates are US$20 for a tour lasting two to three hours. You can contact John through Sama Tours.