In our Quick Guide To… series, we highlight the key information that you should know before travelling to that destination. Here’s your inside info on Zanzibar.
White-sailed dhows floating on turquoise waters framing palm-fringed beaches, aromatic spice markets and captivating architecture are just a few reasons to visit the archipelago of Zanzibar. Unguja Island is the largest and is more commonly known as Zanzibar. It’s a beach lover’s mecca with warm cerulean waters, beaches straight from a movie set and of course the beautiful market town that is Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zanzibar pairs perfectly with its parent country, Tanzania, for the ultimate bush and beach combination.
Currency: The Tanzanian shilling (Tsh). Most international credit cards are widely accepted.
Climate: The weather is pleasant and comfortable all year round. The country’s equatorial climate brings two seasons of rain each year: the masika that fall from mid-March to the end of May, and the mvuli, that are intermittent throughout November and December (and sometimes into January). June to October is the best time to visit the coast with sunny and balmy days averaging 23 degrees and cooling ocean breezes in the evenings. Between December and March, the days are hot and sunny, with temperatures ranging from the mid-twenties to the low thirties.
Visa requirements: Citizens of the Commonwealth do require a visa which can be purchased upon arrival, although it is advisable that you obtain it before travelling.
Drinking water: Bottled water is recommended.
Malaria: It is advisable that you take the necessary precautions before visiting Zanzibar – speak to your doctor or travel clinic to find out more, as well as about any other recommended vaccinations. Yellow Fever certificates are required if you’ve visited a Yellow Fever area before entering Zanzibar.
Tipping: Tipping should be in line with the service received and is at your own discretion.
Road travel and public transport: Public transport is available (not government owned), albeit poor. Local daladalas (small minivans) are the main way of getting around. Most of the roads are spacious and well-paved, but there are also earth roads. These are well-maintained and generally fine to drive, even in bad weather. Driving with extra caution during the rainy season is key. Various ferries come in and out of the ports.
Food: The many cultures existing on the island yields exciting cuisine made up of a mix of influences including Indian, Portuguese and Chinese, to name a few. Popular local dishes include sorpotel (a mixture of boiled meats), spice cake (a typical dessert) and pweza wa nazi (octopus boiled in coconut milk and various spices).
Language: The most commonly spoken languages on the island are English, Swahili and Arabic.
Click here for our full selection of Zanzibar itineraries. You might like to read our blog Things to do in Zanzibar.
Note: While we’ve gone out of our way to ensure that all the information provided here is accurate, we cannot be held responsible should the information change. We will update and amend as far as possible as and when we become aware of any changes.