Addicted to Durian – I Found the Cure in Zanzibar!

By Mark Wiens 11 Comments

If you didn’t already know, I happen to be a raging addict of the “king of fruits,” and I don’t ever plan on going to rehab.

To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about it for a couple of weeks. I was traveling around Egypt and East Africa, it had been weeks since leaving SE Asia, and my mind had been thinking in terms of other delicacies like pilau and biryani.

I arrived to the island of Zanzibar, eager to begin a short holiday. After checking out a number of guest houses we decided to check into the Karibu Inn (a lovely guest house in Stone Town). After greeting the receptionist, my eyes were directed to a calendar behind the reception counter. The calendar was completely ordinary, except that it was a freebie from the Zanzibar Export Authority and YES, there were pictures. There it was, in the top right corner of the calendar, a halo of glory resting on a golden pillow…a Durian.

I was overjoyed and couldn’t contain myself. I started questioning the receptionist like I was with the CIA, where can I find that? What is the price? Are they easy to find?

Durian in Zanzibar
Durian in Zanzibar

Our receptionist, Mohammad, was ecstatic that I showed such interest in such a delicacy. “Yes, there are durian’s here in Zanzibar…at the market.” Mohammed offered to bring me a couple durian’s from the market the next morning to which I gladly accepted. I could already feel that Durian bond between us, a bond I believe is one of the strongest.  In the morning I feasted on 2 durian’s. I hadn’t been so satisfied since the legendary durian buffet in Kuala Lumpur (which by the way is worth an annual migration).

For the rest of my time in Zanzibar, I was wearing my Durian Goggles – keeping an acute lookout.

The next day we were, en-route to the East Coast of Zanzibar when I noticed a pile of spiky fruit sitting on a table at a village on the edge of the forest. I screamed for the van to pull over and proceeded to chat with the men hanging out around the table of glory. They chuckled as I started speaking to them in Swahili and they could tell, I was interested in one thing only: their fruit.

Slicing Durian in Zanzibar

I picked a durian and the vendor sliced it up; I began to feed myself.  It was splendid, the flavor was exquisite. It’s a fruit that can’t be forgotten, a fruit that could foster migrations, and a fruit that I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the rest of my bank account on.

The men were entertained and laughed aloud as I licked every durian seed clean until the entire fruit had diminished before me.


The Zanzibari durian’s have similar flavor to the South East Asian durian, but they are not nearly as meaty, hearty, or large. Just like any other durian in this world, Zanzibari durian’s are worth going out of your way and reversing your itinerary for.


I’m quite certain that throughout the history of Zanzibar there has never been a parallel “white man,” so enthusiastic about eating durian on the island.

That evening I enjoyed another durian outside the Karibu Inn, sharing this time with a bank guard. We sat there eating, he had a chunk of durian in one hand, a sawed off shotgun in the other, and we both had smiles upon our faces.

– Migration Mark