Zanzibar

Zanzibar is an archipelago of Zanzibar(locally Unguja), Pemba ISIsland and several smaller islands. It is famous for beautiful sandy beaches and the surrounding coral reefs as well as a distinctive historic Stone Town.

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Tanzanian Flag

Geography

The archipelago is located in the Indian Ocean, about 40km from the Tanzanian coast. Zanzibar island itself is approximately 90km long and 30km wide

Climate

The heat of summer is often cooled by strong sea breezes associated with the northeast monsoon. Laying near to the equator, the islands are warm all year. Rains occur by brief showers in November and in longer rains normally in March, April, and May

Currency

Zanzibar currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS), which was being exchanged at a rate of around € 1 = TZS 2064 or USD 1 = TZS 1839 in March 2015.
(Please note that there are NO ATM's outside Stone Town)

What you will need to travel to Zanzibar

  • Valid passport for at least six months
  • Passports must have a clean and full visa page for endorsement
  • Visa required: Yes. Costs: US$50 for a single entry or US$100 for double.
  • A Yellow Fever vaccination is required for Tanzania. Please make sure you have the necessary vaccination proof.

How to get to Zanzibar

Only a few international flights are heading directly for Zanzibar. The most international airlines fly to Dar es Salaam. Several local airlines offer flights from Dar to Zanzibar (15 minutes). There are also many ferries and catamarans that can take you between Dar es Salaam and the Island.

How to drive to Zanzibar

First of all, choose a car rental company with excellent reviews. Rental cars in Zanzibar are in general very old and with low mileage. Around About Cars offer new vehicles which are regularly serviced and well maintained cars! There are many police checks on the roads. Verify you have your driving licence, the temporary Zanzibar drivers permit, the car insurance as well as road license stickers on the windscreen.

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Zanzibar Roads
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Roads

Zanzibar has 1,600 kilometres of roads, of which 85% are tarmacked or semi-tarmacked. The remainder are earth roads, which are rehabilitated annually to make them passable throughout the year.
Particularly outside of Stone Town driving is comfortable. Nevertheless a GPS is very helpful when driving at night.

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Public Transport

Public transportation

There is no government-owned public transportation in Zanzibar. The privately owned Daladala, as it is officially known in Zanzibar, is the only kind of public transportation.
Most locals travel by Daladala. It is very cheap, but for many tourists or back-packers this way of travel could be a stressful and tiresome experience. A 60 km journey can take up to three hours because of so frequent stops and the driver, who will wait around for as long as he wants. There could also be chicken or seafood right besides you.

Where to stay

Zanzibar Retreat Hotel is a small picturesque hotel situated right on the beach of Matemwe on Zanzibar’s north eastern coast. It is very convenient and relaxing.

Maru Maru Hotel is a boutique hotel in town with an all-around view of stone town from the rooftop. It has modern Marakesh theme and a very good value for money. A hotel celebrities love to stay.

Hotel Marine, near the harbour Gate, is a budget hotel at the centre of Stone town. All rooms are equipped with Cable TV, Air condition, hot water, Internet Wi-Fi, parking area for safe car park, Breakfast and many more. Many tourists choose this hotel because of its location, services and price.

Pearl Guest House is a simple budget guesthouse for backpackers with a very good value for money. It is situated in the middle of Stone Town.

Zanzibar's beautiful beaches

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Zanzibar beaches Zanzibar beaches
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Zanzibar's amazing white beaches surrounded by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean afford a perfect place to relax, take a break and soak up the sun. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, so peaceful, that the ocean is the only noise breaking the silence.
On the west coast especially Mangapwani beach is worth a visit. To the east the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani all have long stretches with white sand. At Zanzibar’s north coast, Nungwi, approached by a road lined by banana palms, mangroves and coconut trees, is a good place to see traditional craftsmen at work.
Zanzibar also offers several small offshore islands which are perfect for a day-trip. Prison (or Changuu) island is the most popular one for tourists.

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Terrace Restaurant at the Maru Maru Hotel
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Restuarants
Zanzibar's amazing white beaches surrounded by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean afford a perfect place to relax, take a break and soak up the sun.
If you are not scared of local food, you should try Forodhani GardensM. It is a nightly affair by the water, starts at around 5 and gets busy after the sun sets. It has a great value for money. Ranging from crab claws, calamari steaks to plain old chips done in big woks. You are well advised to try the local sugar cane juice.

Hurumzi' (earlier known as Emerson and Green or Emerson's Tower Top Restaurant) is well worth a visit. It offers amazing food and sublime atmosphere. Even if dinner is quite expensive the rooftop view of the sunset is not to be missed. If you want to visit it, do not forget to book a table in advance.

Terrace Restaurant is located at maru maru hotel in Stonetown with a 360° view. All UNESO world heritage sites along with magnificent Indian Ocean can be seen from this famous restaurant. There are also happy hours everyday from 16:00 to 19:00 hours. Especially the Asian food is a must try. Moreover it is a great place to watch the sunset.

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Stone Town
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Safety tips


Although Zanzibar is generally safe, problems do occur from time to time. The best practice is the same as in other countries: wear the minimum jewellery, never carry large amounts of cash and do not confront attackers.

Please be also aware of the fact that Zanzibar is largely a Muslim community. Even if they are used to Western ways, you should try to be respectful and attentive. This includes, for example, that it is count as disrespectful to show public affection. You also should be moderately when drinking alcohol. At Ramadan, travellers even should avoid eating and drinking in public during the daytime. Women and men as well should cover their legs and arms.

Things to do and see in Zanzibar

Explore the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter. Or just go beach to beach and enjoy clear, turquoise-blue water; shallow sandbars and many small islands almost unvisited by tourists.

Stone Town, is the old city located on a lagoon, where the rich citizens of Zanzibar used to live. A visit to the ancient slave market is a must so as to commemorate the victims of the African Holocaust – slavery. The historical doors of carved wood are a special attraction when strolling through the narrow streets. The buzzing market of Darajani is also worth a visit. Perhaps you make a stop at the Zanzibar Coffee House, walk on and do some errands…

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Spices
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Because of its history Spices have been grown in Zanzibar ever since the Arabs decided to try growing them on these tropical islands instead of importing them from South-East-Asia. Especially cloves are famous for their high quality to this day. Zanzibar was once the world's leading clove producer. We recommend a tour through one of the spice farms of Unguja. You can learn and see how different spice plants grow.

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Jozani Forest
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Jozani Forsest is the last remaining rain forest on Unguja Island, the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. See the Zanzibar red colobus monkeys and be amazed by "the largest remaining stand of near-natural forest on Zanzibar."

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Prison Island
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From Stone Town it takes about 20 minutes by boat to reach Prison Island (originally Changuu). The prison was built for runaway slaves. Nowadays, the giant Seychelles tortoises are the main attraction on the island. Changuu is a popular destination for mainly families with children and snorkeling fans.