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Zanzibar Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Best Time: June - October Read More

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"Spice Islands and Tropical Beaches"

Zanzibar Tourism

Zanzibar, situated in the Indian Ocean just over 15 miles off Tanzania's coast, is an alluring archipelago known for its stunning mix of pristine beaches, famous spice plantations, rich history, and diverse culture which is a unique mix of African and Arab culture. Zanzibar Island is known for its pristine beaches like Nungwi, Kendwa, Paje, Matemwe, and Jambiani. The historic Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting captivating architecture and rich historical significance.

Adventure seekers can indulge in various water sports on the island's stunning beaches, while food enthusiasts can savour the tantalizing flavours of cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemongrass, and black pepper that Zanzibar is renowned for as the Spice Island. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Jozani Forest Reserve offers a chance to encounter the rare and endangered Zanzibar red colobus monkeys, one of the rarest primate species in Africa.

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Things to do in Zanzibar

1. Stone Town

Located in the capital city of Zanzibar Island, Stone Town is a historic and cultural hub featuring narrow streets, bustling markets, and significant historical architecture. Activities here include c (Read More)ultural tours, shopping, and visiting historical sites such as the House of Wonders and the Old Fort. The duration of a visit can range from half a day to a full day, and the best time to explore is during the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.

2. Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, the only national park in Zanzibar, is situated in the central part of the island. It is famous for being the habitat of the rare and endangered Zanzibar red colobus m (Read More)onkeys, one of Africa's rarest primate species. To access the park, visitors can opt for guided tours or hire taxis from popular tourist areas. The guided walking tours last approximately 1-2 hours. The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon when the monkeys are active, and the temperatures are cooler.

3. Nungwi Beach

Situated at the northern tip of Zanzibar Island, Nungwi Beach is a pristine white sand beach with crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and water activities. You can reach Nung (Read More)wi Beach by road or taxi from Stone Town. Activities here include swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, and sunset cruises. You can spend a whole day or more at this beautiful beach, and anytime during the day is suitable for a visit.

4. Spice Plantations

Throughout Zanzibar Island, you can explore aromatic spice gardens and learn about the island's history as the Spice Island. Spice tours and tasting sessions are popular activities here, and you can a (Read More)lso have cultural experiences. The best way to reach the spice plantations is through organized tours or by road from Stone Town. The duration of a spice tour can be half a day to a full day, depending on the tour you choose. The best time to visit is usually during the morning or late afternoon.

5. Zanzibar Butterfly Centre

The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, located near Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, offers a mesmerizing encounter with hundreds of colourful butterflies amidst lush tropical gardens. Visitors can enjoy educ (Read More)ational tours to learn about butterfly life cycles, behaviour, and conservation efforts. You can take a 30-minute guided tour, best experienced during the morning or early afternoon when the butterflies are most active.

6. Prison Island (Changuu Island)

Located off the coast of Stone Town, Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, offers historical significance and nature experiences. You can reach the island by taking boat tours from Stone Town. (Read More)Activities on Prison Island include visiting the giant tortoise sanctuary and snorkelling around the coral reefs. A typical visit to Prison Island takes a half-day, and the best time to explore is during the morning for better snorkelling conditions.

7. Kendwa Beach

Located on the northern coast of Zanzibar Island, Kendwa Beach is famous for its stunning sunsets, lively beach parties, and various water sports activities. It offers a vibrant atmosphere with beachs (Read More)ide bars and restaurants.

8. Mnemba Atoll

Situated off the northeastern coast of Zanzibar, Mnemba Atoll is a marine conservation area known for its pristine coral reefs and diverse marine life. It is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers (Read More) and can be explored through organized diving and snorkelling tours.

9. Paje Beach

Positioned on the southeastern coast of Zanzibar, Paje Beach is a popular spot for kite surfing and wind sports due to its consistent winds. The beach boasts beautiful stretches of white sand and turq (Read More)uoise waters, perfect for relaxation and water activities.

10. Nakupenda Beach

lso known as "I Love You" Beach, Nakupenda is a picturesque sandbank located off the coast of Stone Town. Accessible by boat, the beach offers a serene and romantic setting, ideal for relaxation and s (Read More)wimming.

11. Forodhani Gardens

Situated in Stone Town, Forodhani Gardens comes alive in the evenings with a lively night market offering a variety of delicious local street food, including seafood and Zanzibari specialities. It's a (Read More) great place to experience the local culinary delights and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.

12. Nungwi Beach

Located on the northern tip of Zanzibar, Nungwi Beach is famous for its beautiful white sand and crystal-clear waters. It's an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkelling. You can also witnes (Read More)s traditional dhow-building and take a sunset dhow cruise.

13. Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond

This conservation area, near Nungwi, focuses on protecting endangered sea turtles. Visitors can learn about turtle conservation efforts and have the opportunity to release baby turtles into the ocean (Read More)during certain times of the year.

14. Jambiani Village

Experience the local life and immerse yourself in the culture of Zanzibar by visiting the picturesque village of Jambiani. Stroll through the village, interact with the friendly locals, and observe tr (Read More)aditional fishing and seaweed farming.

15. Dolphin Tour

Take a boat trip from Kizimkazi to spot playful dolphins in their natural habitat. This activity is best done in the morning, as dolphins are most active during this time. However, it's essential to c (Read More)hoose a responsible tour operator to ensure the well-being of marine creatures.

Must Know Before You Travel to Zanzibar

  • Getting Around: Try using matatus for budget-friendly rides with fixed routes, or opt for boda-bodas or regular taxis for more flexibility at a higher cost.
  • Taxi: Choose reputable drivers or established taxi companies to ensure safety and fair pricing for your transportation needs.
  • Weather: Pack light, breathable clothing and sunscreen as Zanzibar has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round.
  • Currency: The Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) is used in Zanzibar, and currency exchange services are available at the airport and in major towns.
  • Language: While Swahili is the official language, English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas.
  • ATM: You can find the closest ATM near the Zanzibar ferry point. Several ATMs are available in Stone Town and one each in a few other locations like Paje, Nungwi, and Dunga. Note that ATMs in some areas may occasionally run out of money and have a limit of TSH 400,000.
  • Passport: Ensure you have a valid passport to enter Zanzibar, even if arriving from mainland Tanzania. Complete arrival and departure cards as required.
  • Car rental in Zanzibar: Choose a reputable car rental company like Kibabu Cars in Zanzibar. Remember, rental cars on the island are generally older (around 15-20 years) with low mileage due to their small size. Make sure to have your driving license, temporary Zanzibar driver's permit, car insurance, and road license stickers.
  • Zanzibar Drivers Permit:  Note that an international driver's license is not valid in Zanzibar. Obtain a temporary Zanzibar driver's permit from local authorities. Alternatively, ask your car rental company to arrange it in advance by providing a scanned copy of your valid driving license. The permit typically costs around $10.
  • Dress Code: Respect local customs by dressing modestly, with t-shirts and knee-length pants when walking through villages, as the majority of Zanzibarians are Muslims.
  • Banned Souvenirs: Avoid buying shells or taking sand out of Zanzibar, as it is prohibited.

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Nightlife in Zanzibar

Zanzibar's nightlife follows a unique sundowner tradition, starting early and winding down by midnight. Tourist areas such as Nungwi, Kendwa, and Stone Town offer beach bars with live music and cultural performances as well as popular local and international music. Popular clubs and bars in Stone Town include 6 Degrees South, Dharma Lounge, Garage Club, Kendwa Rocks, Starehe Club, and Forodhani Gardens. In Nungwi, Gerry's Bar and Cholo's Disco Bar are well-known spots, while Paje by Night in Paje and Red Monkey Beach Lodge in Jambiani are also great choices to experience the vibrant nightlife on the island.

History of Zanzibar

Zanzibar's history is rich and diverse, shaped by centuries of trade and cultural exchange. The island's strategic location made it a thriving centre for trade between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, attracting merchants from Persia, Arabia, India, and beyond. In the 19th century, Zanzibar became the seat of the Sultanate of Oman, and the Omani influence left a significant impact on the island's architecture and culture.

The island also played a crucial role in the East African slave trade, serving as a major hub for the capture and export of slaves. In 1964, Zanzibar gained independence from British colonial rule, and shortly after, it merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania. Today, the island's fascinating history is evident in its UNESCO-listed Stone Town, a maze of narrow streets, ancient buildings, and bustling markets, offering a glimpse into its vibrant past and the legacy of its diverse heritage.

Shopping in Zanzibar

One of the most popular shopping areas is Stone Town, where you can explore the lively Darajani Market for a variety of spices, fresh produce, and local crafts. For intricately designed jewellery and handmade souvenirs, the Zanzibar Curio Shop and Memories of Zanzibar are worth a visit. The Mwanzo Mpya Women's Cooperative is an excellent place to support local artisans and purchase beautifully crafted woven baskets and textiles. To taste Zanzibar's vibrant art scene, head to the Gallery Bookshop, which showcases local artists' works. Don't miss the Forodhani Night Market, a sensory delight offering a wide range of street food, snacks, and seafood dishes.

Best Time to Visit Zanzibar

How to Reach Zanzibar

How to Reach Overview

Zanzibar can be reached by air through Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, situated near Stone Town, which is approximately 5 kilometres away from the main city. The airport receives numerous international flights from major cities in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. It takes around half an hour to reach Zanzibar Airport from Dar es Salaam and about an hour from Kilimanjaro Airport.

Another option is to travel by ferry from Dar es Salaam to Stone Town, with the journey taking approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Once on the main island, visitors can use taxis, buses, or private cars to explore various attractions.

How to reach Zanzibar by flight

 Zanzibar is accessible by air through Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, located near Stone Town. It is around 5 kilometres from the main city. Numerous international flights operate to Zanzibar from major cities in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
It takes around half an hour to reach Zanzibar Airport from Dar es Salam and can cost approximately $50 for one side per person. From Kilimanjaro Airport, reaching Zanzibar can take around an hour and cost $100 for one side per person.
You can book your flights on Skyscanner.

How to reach Zanzibar by road

As Zanzibar is an island, reaching it by road is not possible from mainland Tanzania or other countries. However, once on the main island, visitors can use taxis, buses, or private cars to travel around and explore various attractions.

How to reach Zanzibar by waterways

Visitors can reach Zanzibar by ferry from the mainland of Tanzania. The most common route is from Dar es Salaam to Stone Town, Zanzibar's main city. Ferries operate regularly between these two locations, and the journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and costs around $35 to $40. The ferry is a popular and affordable mode of transportation for both locals and tourists.

You can book your ferry tickets in advance through Azam Marine.

Zanzibar Photos

The castle in Zanzibar
Omani Sultan of Zanzibar
Zanzibari slave trader Tippu Tip

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