Today we’re going to talk about a common excursion on the beautiful Zanzibar Island: The Mangapwani Caves.

Mangapwani literally means “The Oman Arabs are on the shore”.

The village of Mangapwani is located in Bumbwini road, near the western shore of the main island of Zanzibar. Some 20km north of Zanzibar town.

The discover

It is reputed that the Mangapwani Caves were discovered in XIX century by a slave boy working on the plantation of Hamed bin Salim el Harthy, who was a wealth arab land owner who possessed many slaves.

The boy was searching for a lost goat which had fallen into the cavern. In the process to rescue it, he discovered water in the cave, conducive for domestic use including shrine regards.

The Slave Chamber

The Mangapwani Slave Chamber was built from Mangapwani caves in Zanzibar around 1880 and connected to the seaside 2kms away. It was an important transit point for the captured slaves to be sold to the world at the time of the abolishment of slavery in 1873, especial in the Middle East. Between 1880 and 1905, the Slave Chamber was used as a place of concealment of the human cargo pending their disposal.

The Slave Chamber is a square underground cell that was cut out of the coralline rock, with a roof on top. The area is surrounded by varieties of indigenous trees such as Breadfruit, Rambotans and scent shrubs. The chamber was originally built by Mohammed Bin Nassor Al-Alwi, a prosperous slave trader, to store his slaves. Boats from Bagamoyo on the Tanzania Mainland would unload their cargo on a secluded beach, separated from the main Mangapwani Beach by coral-rock outcrops.

The dirt path from the beach to the Slave Chamber still exists today.


On the beach close to the one of Mangapwani cave, an abandoned cargo ship stay abandoned on the shore, as a reminder about what happened on this place.

Khamis, was a fantastic guide for this expedition, and his passion let us litterally fall inside the history of this place.


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