Zanzibar truly is a majestic island.

Discover an exotic spice island paradise where coconut tress line powdery, white sand beaches and clear azure seas, Zanzibar – the quintessential Indian Ocean island experience!

A historical melting pot of cultural influences, Zanzibar is unique in its ability to offer a blend of experiences that go far beyond your average beach holiday.

Exclusive resorts along pristine beaches provide for time-stopping relaxation on sun loungers and in spas. If you can’t sit still for long then test your sense of adventure and swim with dolphins, snorkel coral reefs or dive azure seas; sailing, and kite-surfing are available too. Offshore, the emerald crests of atoll islands lie waiting to be explored.

Or, go local…  visit spice plantations and experience the island’s historical trading roots with a trip to World Heritage Site Stone Town and the bustling spice markets.

Frozen in time, a visit to Stone Town will transport you to another age of Omani Sultans, Swahili princes, Shirazi merchants and ancient Indo/Persian architecture. Lose yourself meandering through the ancient alley ways of the inner city and experience a genuine time capsule to rival those of Havana or Venice.

Founded over 1200 years ago, when Arab dhows from Arabia and Turkey came in search of ivory, slaves and spice, Zanzibar today is a cosmopolitan mix of Bantu, Arab, Portugese and Indian cultures. The  semi-autonomous archipelago of over 50 islands, including the two main islands of Unguja (Zanzibar Island) and Pemba lie just 40km from mainland Tanzania and 6 degrees south of the Equator. Zanzibar Island itself is roughly 85 km long by 39 km wide, and is also known as the ‘Spice Island’ as it’s covered in the aromas of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. The east coast is protected by a coral reef that allows for calm, warm Indian Ocean waters.

The locals are warm and friendly and often greet you with ‘Jambo’ (‘hello’ KiSwahili – the main language, but English is widely spoken too). Zanzibar is largely a Muslim community. Although they are used to Western ways, you should try to be respectful when walking through villages and make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered.

Zanzibar truly is a majestic island. It has tropical beaches, abundant sea life, diverse cultures and a rich history that will leave you wanting more.

Fast Facts

Highlights

Tropical beaches; rich history; World Heritage Site; diverse culture.

The Island

One of over 50 semi-autonomous islands in an archipelago, Unguja (Zanzibar Island) is roughly 85 km long by 39 km wide, and is also known as the ‘Spice Island’. The east coast is protected by a coral reef that allows for calm, warm Indian Ocean waters.

Geographical Location

Located 40km from mainland Tanzania and 6 degrees south of the Equator in the Indian Ocean.

Population

1,303,569 (2012) made up of a mix of Bantu, Arab, Portuguese and Indian cultures.

Language

KiSwahili, English and Arabic

Time

1 hour ahead of South Africa – EAT UTC +03:00

Climate

Warm all year round due to being close to the Equator. Strong sea breezes often cool down the island from November through to February, with brief showers in November. Rainy season is March through May. Average high temperature of 30.3 °C.

Currency

Tanzanian Shilling (TZS).
1 USD = 2,145.42 TZS; 1 Rand = 160,55 TZS (Approx.)

Health Requirements

Yellow fever is a concern in Zanzibar and visitors are required to have the necessary injections more than 10 days prior to departure, and obtain a valid yellow fever certificate to prove the injections were received.

Zanzibar is situated in a malaria zone and visitors to the island will need to take the necessary precautions.

Trading Hours

Most shops and travel companies are open everyday, although some close on Fridays, the Muslim holy day, or on Sundays, the official day off. Business hours are between 08h00-17h00. Government offices and banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Activities

Whilst Zanzibar is world renowned for it’s white, sandy beaches, there’s plenty of other activities besides sun-lounging to fill your holiday with adventure. From world class water sports, to ancient architecture tours, to bustling spice markets – there’s plenty to do on this exotic island.

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Getting Around

Getting around on the island: Cheapest way is the dala-dala, it costs about USD1.50 per person to get from Stone Town to the north, east or south coast. Shared taxis operate from Stone Town for USD10 per person. Regular taxis from Stone Town to any coastal area in Zanzibar are USD50 (minibus taxis up to 6 people).

Rental cars in Zanzibar are in general about 15-20 years old with very low mileage – remember this is a small island.

Hotel transfers are at least $ 50 one way and they are also happy to arrange a taxi or rental car for you.

Stone Town

Frozen in time, a visit to Stone Town will transport you to another age of Omani Sultans, Swahili princes, Shirazi merchants and ancient Indo/Persian architecture. Lose yourself meandering through the ancient alleyways of the inner city and experience a genuine time capsule to rival those of Havana or Venice.

The inner city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Blending Moorish, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African traditions and architectures, it is small enough to be easily be explored by foot. It is estimated that 85% of the historic building fabric (coral stone) of Stone Town is irredeemably lost. Only very few of the old magnificent buildings shine brightly.

Visit one of the spice farms

The Spice Island, was an important stop in the Spice Trade centuries ago. Today, it is one of the few places in the world where saffron is produced, as well as cardamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg. You can see how the spices are grown and sample some of the exotic fruit grown on the island.

Jozani Forest

Jozani Forest has excellent nature trails, featuring some very exotic (and large) trees and plants. Even more interesting, though, are the Red Colobus Monkeys that live here. These Monkeys can only survive on Zanzibar, since they need a very specific diet of different plants only found together in Zanzibar. A major part of the entrance fees goes to the local farmers in the surrounding area. In the past, the farmers killed the Monkeys because they destroyed their crops. They are very curious and playful and will likely pose for a picture. The entry fee (USD10) also include an optional visit to a beautiful mangrove forest which is highly recommended.

Watersports

Warm, tranquil waters make Zanzibar one of the best diving/snorkeling spots in the Indian Ocean. Deep sea fishing is world class on the north coast. These days surfing, and kite-surfing are becoming popular on the island, with good conditions for both beginners and the more experienced. Sailing is one of the best ways to experience Zanzibar and many options are available, including sailing a traditional Swhahili dhow. Dolphin excursions are available, too.

Shopping

The best place for shopping is Stone Town, where you can find beautiful textiles, handmade jewelry, intricate wood or stone carvings, spices and many souvenirs. The curio market can be found next to the food market. Do not buy the first thing you see. First take a walk through the market, and you will see prices get progressively less. Bargaining with the vendors is expected here. This is their way of doing business and it also ensures that you get the best price.

Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. On its main island, Unguja, familiarly called Zanzibar, is Stone Town, a historic trade center with Swahili and Islamic influences. Its winding lanes present minarets, carved doorways and 19th-century landmarks such as the House of Wonders, a former sultan’s palace. The northern villages Nungwi and Kendwa have wide beaches lined with hotels.

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