Roughly hundred years ago Seychelles gave two giant tortoise as a gift to Zanzibar, and at some point the tortoise were moved to the Prison island to keep them safe. Today, there are a total of 160 tortoise, oldest of which is 197 years, and biggest of which weights a whopping 370kg.
Prison island is roughly 30min by boat from Stone Town and the first thing you see when approaching the island is the beautiful sandy beach which is also a perfect place for some swimming in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
The tortoise are not allowed to walk free on the island which is a bit sad, but I think it is partially also for their own protection. The tortoise don’t seem to mind people and you actually get to feed them with leaves. Some of them also seemed to enjoy when you stroked their neck, pushing their necks far out and closing their eyes. As it was mating season, we saw some action during our visit 😉
The name of the Prison island is also a home to a prison which was actually never used. Just when it was finished yellow fever hit Tanzania and it was made a hospital and quarantine area for the sick. You can still visit the old buildings where a very simple hotel is being operated. Today, however, the island is mostly known for the tortoise and Tanzania is officially free of Yellow fewer except for few areas near Kenya.