Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consisting of Zanzibar Island (locally, Unguja), Pemba Island and many smaller islands. Zanzibar island itself is approximately 90km long and 40km wide. In 1896, Zanzibar was the location of the world's shortest war, surrendering to Britain after 38 minutes of naval bombardment.
Requirements to get into the country:
Most countries do require a visa when entering Tanzania/Zanzibar.
(SA passport holders DO NOT require a visa when intended stay does not exceed three months)(Other passport holders please visit: www.tanzania.org.za to obtain more information on your passport requirements) For those who require a visa it can be obtained on arrival and needs to be paid in cash.
Please note that you need at least 6 months validity on your passport, otherwise you will not be allowed to exit your home country, and will not be allowed to enter Zanzibar. If your passport is within 6 months from its expiry date, we suggest that you obtain a new passport.
From 1 June 2015 minors need unabridged birth certificates. Please note that it can take upto 3 months to get them from Home Affairs. All Children and Infants require valid passports.
You must have at least 4 open pages in your passport.
Recommended Health Precautions:
Zanzibar is situated in a malaria zone, so it is recommended that you consult your physician on the right prescription for you.
Pregnant women are not allowed to take Malaria prevention drugs.
Please consult your physician before entering any malaria area.
Insect - Mosquito repellent
Be sure to take a repellent, and cover all exposed areas of your body (e.g. neck and arms). We recommend that you wear trousers at night and long sleeved shirts should you be outdoors. If the heat is too much and you wear a short sleeved shirt, make sure you smear/ spray your arms with repellent. At night before you go to
bed, make sure your mosquito net is either touching the ground, or is tucked in, and your exposed areas (especially your ankles) are protected with repellent.
Yellow fever vaccination
NO longer required for South Africans travelling from South Africa.
Food and water precautions
It’s not inevitable that you’ll get diarrhoea while travelling in Tanzania, but it’s likely. Diarrhoea is the most common travel-related illness, and sometimes can be triggered simply by dietary changes. To help prevent diarrhoea, avoid tap water (even when brushing teeth), only eat fresh fruits or vegetables if cooked or peeled and be wary of dairy products that might contain unpasteurised milk. Avoid food and beverages obtained from street vendors or from the street markets. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish.
Getting from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar
Dar airport is on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam and the Harbour/Ferry Port is in the middle of Dar. Traffic in Dar is horrendous, it can take you 2 hours or longer by taxi from the airport to the ferry port (the distance could be done easily in 30 min if there was no traffic). The taxi will cost anything from US$ 30 upwards to the ferry port. Make sure you agree on the taxi fare before you get into the taxi.
By ferry: The ferry takes about 90 min to 2 hours to reach Zanzibar.
By plane: Several local airlines offer flights from Dar to Zanzibar (the flight time is 20 minutes)
Passport. Although Zanzibar is part of the Union it maintains its own immigration service and you need to have a valid passport to enter, even if you come from mainland Tanzania. This farcically means you must fill out a Tanzania arrival card for your arrival in Stone Town, and a Tanzania departure card when you leave.
Getting to Zanzibar from Overseas
Great news for travellers from South Africa: Mango Airlines have increased the flights to Zanzibar and it is a direct flight from Johannesburg!
ZANZIBAR is served by many international direct flights that are ever expanding. Zanzibar International Airport which is also named Kisauni Airport and is the only airport on the island of Unguja. Zanzibar is served by several airlines offering convenient flights from the United States and Europe. Ethiopian Airlines offers the most comprehensive flight schedules and most convenient service from the U.S. mainland Africa, Asia and Europe via Addis Ababa to Zanzibar: it regularly operates approximately 21-hour, one-stop flights from Washington D.C with a short stop in Addis Ababa. The airline also offers alternative convenient routes at a low cost with stops in other US or European cities for passengers traveling from smaller airports. Cheap and convenient flights to Zanzibar are available on many other airlines operating flights to Zanzibar. Airline choice is great and ever expanding, including major US and international carriers like KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, American Airlines in cooperation with Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Fly Dubai in partnership with Emirates.
There are a number of taxis waiting for passengers when you exit the terminal. Despite having a "list" of prices for the various tourist destinations on the island, prices are negotiable. Although you can arrange a pick up at the airport with your hotel or tour company, even a little negotiating will get you a better price than the inflated one quoted by most hotels. However, some Stone Town hotels do offer free shuttle service from the airport.
Things to see and do
There is a lot to see and to do on Zanzibar island. First and foremost, do enjoy the amazing white sand beaches especially at the north, east and south coast. The sand has the consistency of castor sugar! The best beaches are Nungwi/Kendwa, Matemwe/Kiwengwa and Paje/Jambiani, each offering different appeal.
Zanzibar Island, a.k.a., 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, and many other Middle Eastern/Asian spices (cardamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc.) are grown here. Visit one of the spice farms where you can see how anise, pepper, cloves etc. grow; you can sample some of the exotic fruit grown on the island. And do check out the "lipstick tree".
There are a number of historically important (and frankly, just plain beautiful) buildings in Stone Town, like The House of Wonders and The Arab Fort. It is easy to arrange a simple walking tour with a local guide who can teach you some history. The market in Stone Town is one of the largest, most vibrant open-air markets anywhere. Here, you can find several varieties of bananas, "elephant garlic" unique to the island, the largest avocados you'll probably ever see, and more. Prices are extremely reasonable. Even if you have no intentions of purchasing food, the spectacle alone is worth a visit. If seeing raw meat and fish covered in flies makes you squeamish, avoid that part of the market. Overall, pretty much all food that is not packaged in plastic is covered in flies.
Seaweed Center (Seaweed industry development project), (Paje, East Coast, Zanzibar), ? +255 772 37-18-44, . 3% of the world's commercial harvest of Seaweed is taking place in Zanzibar island. The industry has ~15,000 women seaweed farmers. The Seaweed Center is a socially responsible business that provides female seaweed farmers in Paje, Zanzibar with opportunities to improve their personal standards of living and develop economic activities that benefit the entire community. The project comprises a factory and gathering site to produce soaps and creams from seaweed that are sold locally and begin to be distributed throughout East Africa. Tours are available, showing the life of seaweed women, the work and the value added activities.ck tree". *Zanzibar also has quite a lot of caves, e.g. Tazani near Nungwi or Kuumbi Caves in Jambiani. A tour company in Jambiani called "Mambo Poa Tours" offers excursions off the beaten track, for example to an abandoned eco resort in the South of Zanzibar. Also do a village tour that are offered all over the island. The villagers don't see tourists as intruders, to the contrary, they welcome foreigners. *Please do make sure that you are dressed with a t-shirt and knee-length pants - Zanzibarians are 98 % Muslims and walking through villages in beach gear is disrespectful. *A Zanzibar resident put together quite a lot of information on "Zanzibar Insider Buzz", you can google it.
There are also useful facebook pages, such as Karibu Zanzibar, Backpacking in Zanzibar, plus any facebook page from one of the many tour operators. *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, nowhere else in the world, since they need a diet of 70 different plants, berries etc. The Red Colobus Monkeys are a protected species. 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. Ever since they are compensated for their losses, the killing stopped. 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.
The inner city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, is a most unique city. Blending Moorish, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African traditions and architectures, it is possible to spend days winding through Stone Town's labyrinthine alleys. That said, a day will give you plenty of insight. The inner city is small and can 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, i.e. if they have been converted to (boutique) hotels, clubs, or restaurants. Most buildings are in bad shape and the rough sea climate has taken its toll on the structure.
While in Stone Town, you can shop for souvenirs, drink the occasional tea, or visit the few city's historic sites. Be aware that -being close to the equator- even the little alleys may offer little shade/protection from the sun. Water is also important and can be bought in plenty of stores along the narrow streets.
The House of Wonders is currently closed due to reconstruction work (Oct 2014). It carries this name because it was the first house in Stone Town to have electricity, running water, and an elevator.
Former Slave Market (Entry fee is TZS7,000 - this fee includes a guide (Oct 2014), who you may or may not tip). This is the site of the old Slave Market. The museum only consists of slave chambers (one for 50 men and one for 75 women and children), a memorial, and an Anglican Church built on the site of the tree that served as whipping post. Unfortunately it provides only very few information on the history of the building or slave trade in Zanzibar. Apart from the slave chambers nothing is left, as a hospital has been built into the old market. However, you can go into the holding chambers in the cellar to see how this wretched piece of history played itself out in small dark dungeon-type cells. The property was purchased by Dr David Livingstone (one of the biggest proponents of the abolishment of slavery) who wanted to turn the grounds into a haven after the atrocities committed there by the Oman Arab and British slave traders.
In the tourist areas around the waterfront, Kenyatta Road and Shangani Road, you will be beset by all manner of papasi, touts and others wanting to offer you taxis, spice tours, music, gifts, etc. A polite but firm No, thanks usually doesn't do the trick, and can get exhausting. Best thing to do here is to keep walking and wander into the more residential alleys where you won't be disturbed.
Africa house in Stone Town was the old English club and explorers like Livingstone and Stanley relaxed in the bar and billiards rooms before exploring the main land. The billiards room now is an Arabic shisha smoking lounge.
Around Stone Town
Spice tours are being offered by many companies, they take you out to a spice farm, where your guide will show you how things like cinnamon, jack fruit and kukurma are grown, and will let you taste most of them. Be wary of buying them on the street, in which case the tout might just take your money without a booking. Another common scam is for a tout to follow you into (or give you directions to) the office, in which case the tour price will change from USD10-15, with you paying the commission.
If you have a car you can just drive to the Kizimbani area yourself, where plenty(!) spice tours are offered. Again, depending on your bargaining skills you may be able to get it for TZS22,500 (two persons) plus the tips (6000).
Surfing on the Southeast Coast Surfing is getting more popular on the island. The Southeast Coast offers a variety of surf spots for different level surfers. Guaranteed uncrowded surf in crystal clear warm waters with a consistant waist high wave for beginners and shoulder to head high wave for advanced can be found on the island. The reefs are flat and beginner friendly in some sections and can be gnarly with sea urchins if you do not know the spots. Self exploring missions are not recommendable. For a good surf experience in Zanzibar a guide is essential. Aquaholics Zanzibar  is the only surf school on the island and offers trips for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers. A variety of surf boards is available to rent.
Deep Sea Fishing with " Hooked on Fishing" in Nungwi in the North Coast.
Kitesurf at the Ras Nungwi beach with [www.kiteboardingzanzibar.com]. Full equipment rental runs USD60 (half day) and USD90 (full day). Lessons can be booked (Group introduction of 3 hours at USD165 and private lessons (1h) at USD90). They also offer Kendwa beach and Matemwe kite beach.
Zanzibar Cycling Adventures takes you to some of the islands hidden treasures, offering cycling tours around the Northern region of Zanzibar. You get a bit of culture, history, exercise and fun... all on a bicycle!
Do not miss out on one of the best dives in East Africa with Spanish Dancer Divers  who arrange daily trips to the famous Mnemba Atoll Marine Park for divers and snorkelers. Mnemba Atoll is known for having clear warm waters. Dolphin and Green Turtle encounters are very common, though not guaranteed.
Kendwa Beach on the North Western coast is beautiful. Here you can swim during low and high tide, which is not always possible on the East side of the island. Just beware of the "Sea Urchins" that give a powerful sting if stepped upon during low tide. Kendwa offers lots of beach bars and restaurants serving everything from pizza to local curries. Kendwa Beach is also known for the Full Moon Party, arranged Saturdays just before or after a full moon. While not as big or extreme as those arranged in Thailand, the parties on Zanzibar attract quite a large group of people, especially when the full moon coincides with public holidays in Europe and North America (eg Easter and Christmas).
The Beaches on the South East coast are popular among travellers. The sand is brilliant white, and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are a deep teal.
- Fishing with local Dhow with and "jumping" out of coral reef like a local, the most exciting feeling must try in a life time.
- Sit and stare at the water for hours on end.
- Arrange for a ride on a local's dhow (a carved, wooden boat).
- Cooking course with local women.
- Rent a bicycle and explore the village.
- Makunduchi * Join the Mwaka Kogwa festival in July.
- Kizimkazi is famous for the Dolphin Tour. You can take this beautiful (but not necessarily moral) tour from the beach after negotiating price with the local captains.
Kitesurf is a popular sport in Paje Beach, where the crystalline lagoon waters and reef protection offer ideal conditions for both advanced and beginner kitesurfers. At full moon the lagoon maybe very full and conditions may be suboptimal. Zanzibar Kite Paradise  offers beginning classes as well as rentals.
Find plenty of opportunities for scuba diving; Rising Sun Dive Center  (based at the Breezes beach resort)
Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, Pete village (1km before Jozani Forest Park), . 09:00-17:00. The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre (ZBC) is a community and environmental project located in Pete village next to Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. ZBC has trained local people from the Pete community to farm the butterflies sustainably and buys their pupae for the netted garden. Revenue generated by tourist admissions supports ZBC with the project’s aims of poverty alleviation and conservation of the local forest. ZBC provides visitors with a unique and fascinating opportunity to learn about all the different butterfly life cycle stages close up in one of Africa's largest butterfly exhibits. Visitors can enjoy an interactive tour with one of the knowledgeable guides in the tropical garden where hundreds of butterflies, all of which are native species to Zanzibar, fly freely. USD5 per person. USD5.
Menai Bay Conservation Area Snorkel Excursions (Fumba Water Sports), Fumba (25 minutes south of Zanzibar airport), +25 5 774878701. Menai Bay Conservation Area in the southwest side region holds very pristine and colourful coral reef systems with abundant sea life. Take a morning trip out to snorkel or dive in a traditional Swahili dhow then come back to an all inclusive lunch from Fumba Beach Lodge. USD45-95.