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Prison Island Tour

About 6 kilometers North West off the shores of Stone Town lays a haven; just 800 meters long and 200 meters wide (at its broadest point). A haven rich in history, nature and beauty.

Prison Island also known as Changuu Island was uninhabited until the 1860’s when the Sultan of Zanzibar; Majid bin Said gave the island to two Arab slave traders. These Arabs would use it as a prison for rebellious slaves prior to shipping them abroad or being sold in the Stone Town Slave market. At the time the island was also used for coral mining thus resulting to big pits that still remain to this very day.

Following the 1890 Heligoland-Zanzibar treaty, Zanzibar became a British Protectorate and in 1893, First Minister Lloyd Mathews purchased the island from the Arabs and constructed a prison complex that still stands. The fort never housed any prisoners however it became a quarantine station for Yellow Fever cases. In 1923 it was officially known as the Quarantine Island.

The British Governor of Seychelles at that period sent 4 Aldabra Giant tortoise to Prison island from the island of Aldabra. By 1950 the numbers had multiplied to hundreds just before major theft of these precious creatures begun resulting to only 7 tortoise remaining by 1996.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared them as vulnerable species and was placed under their red list. Since then the tortoise have increased protection and safety of these animals and more tortoises are being brought to the island from other locations of conservation.

A trip to this island consists of a 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town where you will soar through the waters of the Indian Ocean to the translucent waters that surround the island. You will then be able to walk along the forest, admire its structures and forts that still stand last but not least, meet and feed the mighty Aldabra Giant Tortoise that for some; are aged to 180 years.

After this tour you have ample time to relax on the beautiful white sandy beach, go for a swim in the turquoise waters or even explore the magnificent aquamarine as you snorkel along the corals that fringe the island. Once your satisfaction is fulfilled we shall raise our anchor and glide back to Stone Town as we admire the panoramic scenery.

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