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  • February 22, 2024 5:31 pm local time

Overview

Zanzibar

Unguja and Pemba are believed to have once formed part of Africa but broke away between 5 and 23 million years ago. Uniting with Tanzania in 1964, Zanzibar is now one of the best beach holiday destinations in East Africa, with beautiful white sands and clear blue waters stretching as far as the eye can see.

As a primary trading post on the spice, silk, and slave trade routes for over a millennium, Zanzibar has been a unique cultural crossroads, blending African, Indian, Arabian, and European cultures. This is most apparent in Old Stone Town, one of the few remaining ancient towns in Africa.

Stone Town is a labyrinth of chaotic alleyways, interposed between towering limestone houses, each with ornately carved hardwood doors with brass finishings and terracotta roofs. Alongside the architecture, Zanzibar is unique in its cuisine, religion, politics, and way of life. It's very different from mainland Tanzania and makes for a perfect start or end to an East African safari.

Things To Do

Zanzibar offers a number of outdoor activities and water sports, including cycling, kitesurfing, diving, or just general island hopping. Most hotels are based on the mainland, but if you want to escape the bustle of the main island’s beaches, there are plenty of smaller islands to give you that marooned-on-a-desert-island experience.

  • Paje, Jambiani, and Chumbe Island
  • Mnemba Island, Stone Town, and Spice Farms

Where To Stay

There is a huge range of accommodation options on the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago, from simple boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts, honeymoon retreats, and backpacker hostels.

  • Flamingo guest
  • The Residence
  • The Zanzibar Collection
  • The Breezes Beach Club and Spa
  • The Baraza Resort and Spa
  • Zawadi Hotel
  • Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas and Spa

When To Visit

The best time to visit Zanzibar is from July to August and December to February. These are the dry seasons, so the weather is warm and there is less chance of rain ruining planned excursions. These seasons link perfectly with Tanzania if you are looking to combine your trip with a safari or trek.

Getting To And From

There are some direct flights to Zanzibar offered by the flight companies or 20-minute flights from Dar es Salaam to the Zanzibar Airport, called Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.  Alternatively, a ferry operates from the harbor in the center of Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar City.

People

98% of Zanzibar’s population is Muslim, and as such there are some cultural and religious norms in recognition of this. Keep to the following guidelines to remain respectful to the population:

  • Men and women should cover their shoulders and knees when walking through town. Beach wear is fine on the beach, but do not wear it through the streets of Stone Town.
  • Visitors should be discreet when drinking alcohol.
  • No public displays of affection.

Permits And Visas

The tourist visa can be bought on arrival, or online. In both instances, the visa costs $50 for a 3-month single entry visa, or $100 for US passport holders (at the time of writing). This can be paid in cash or by card.

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