Zanzibar

Zanzibar   Stone Town

Why Zanzibar?                                                                 Click here to view video

Zanzibar’s allure is legendary. One of East Africa’s great trading centres, the archipelago has been for centuries a crossroads of culture, a melting pot of influences where Africa, India and Arabia meet, a complete change of pace from the mainland, a place where life’s rhythms are set by the monsoon winds and the cycles of the moon.
 
While Zanzibar gets most of the attention, the archipelago is also made up of Pemba to the north, plus numerous smaller islands and islets. Each of the main islands has its own distinct character. Zanzibar’s major attraction is Stone Town, with its whitewashed, coral-rag houses, quaint shops, bazaars, mosques, courtyards and squares. Another draw card is its spectacular sea, edged by fine, white-sand beaches. Although many places have become very developed, there are still some quiet spots left.  Verdant Pemba, in contrast, is hilly, densely vegetated and seldom visited. Voodoo flourishes amid its hilly terrain, winding creeks lace the shoreline, and the mangrove-lined coast opens occasionally onto hidden, pristine coves and bays the colour of emerald.

  • When should I travel?
Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year.  The heat of summer is seasonally often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near to the equator, the islands are warm all year round, but officially, summer and winter peak in December and June respectively. Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily. Short rains can occur in November but are characterised by short showers which do not last long.  The long rains normally occur in April and May although this is often referred to as the 'Green Season', and it typically doesn't rain every day during that time. July to October is one of the best times to travel because the days are dry with low humidity and the temperatures are about 25° C/ 77° F - perfect for the beach. November to March is also a very busy time for Zanzibar.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
While Zanzibar remains a relatively safe place, incidents of robberies, muggings and the like occur with some frequency, especially in Zanzibar Town and along the beaches, and there have been several recent violent robberies on east-coast beaches.  Avoid isolated areas, especially isolated stretches of beach, and keep your valuables out of view. If you go out at night in Zanzibar Town, take a taxi or walk in a group. Also avoid walking alone in Stone Town during the pre-dawn hours. It’s generally best to leave valuables in your hotel safe, preferably sealed or locked.

  • What money should I take?
The Tanzania shilling (Tsh) is used throughout Zanzibar but US dollars are by far the most accessible currency to pay with, and rates for things like tours and rental cars are usually quoted in US dollars. Although tourists can usually pay the equivalent amount in Tanzania shillings it's sometimes cheaper to pay in dollars - depending on the exchange rate of course. There are a number of forex bureaus where you can change money and travellers' cheques without much hassle. Rates in Stone Town are the best on the island, but are a little lower than on the mainland. Ideally, visitors should split their travel money into cash and travellers' cheques, in a mix of low and high denominations. Unfortunately in Zanzibar, travellers' cheques often receive poorer rates in comparison to cash, and some hotels do not accept them, so it's best to check in advance.

  • What language will they understand?
English is widely spoken but a few Swahili words are always well received.

  • How about my health?
Medical facilities are limited and medicines are often unavailable. If medical assistance is given, doctors and hospitals require immediate payment. It is therefore advisable to obtain medical insurance prior to travel. There are many hospitals in Tanzania, but most are drastically understaffed and under-resourced. It is crucial that you obtain malaria prophylactics before entering Tanzania. When purchasing these, please tell your doctor or pharmacist that you intend visiting Tanzania. If you're planning on diving in Zanzibar remember to tell your doctor this as it will determine the kind of anti-malaria tablets that are prescribed.

  • Public Holidays

2012
January 01 New Year's Day
January 12 Zanzibar Revolution Day
February 05 Birth of the Prophet
April 06 Good Friday
April 09 Easter Monday
April 26 Union Day
May 01 International Labour Day
July 07 Saba Saba (Industry's Day)
August 08 Nane Nane (Farmer's Day)
August 19 Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan)
October 14 Nyerere Day
October 26 Eid al-Adha
December 09 Independence and Republic Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

2013
January 01 New Year's Day
January 12 Zanzibar Revolution Day
January 24 Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
March 29 Good Friday
April 01 Easter Monday
April 26 Union Day
May 01 Labour Day
July 07 Saba Saba (Dar es salaam International Trade Fair Day)
August 08 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
August 08 Nane Nane (Farmers' Day)
October 14 Nyerere Day
October 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
December 09 Independence and Republic Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

  • Do I need a visa?
South African passport holders require a visa for Zanzibar (Tanzania).

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
Visitors must produce a valid yellow fever certificate obtained no less than 10 days prior to travel in order to enter Zanzibar.