Welcome to Zanzibar!

Zanzibar is a tropical dream island known as the spice island is located off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. It is actually an island paradise with whole group of islands – two large islands –Ungoja and Pemba plus with other small islands. This beautiful island is the home for white pristine beaches, colorful coral reefs, balmy weather and warm tropical waters making it a perfect under-water destination for snorkeling and diving.

Zanzibar’s reputation as an island paradise is not an exaggeration but it is also a fascinating destination from historical and cultural perspective, as well as being a top adventure and eco-tourism destination. This small island has a UNESCO world heritage site call Stone Town which has a strong, Arabic, Indian, African, Persian and European influences.

Planning to get married, looking for a honeymoon escape or looking to renew your vows, Zanzibar is the perfect place to do it in. It’s perfect romantic setting, breathtaking scenery and tonnes of things to do make it the best place to spend quality time with that special someone.

QUICK FACTS

Official Name:Zanzibar
Capital:Zanzibar city
Location:Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones.
Goverment:Federacy
Dialing Code:+255
Time Zone:GMT +03.00
Climate Weather:Dry with more humid
Population:1.05 million
Land Area:2461 km2
Official Language:Kiswahili, English, Arabic
Currency:Tanzania Shilling (TSh)
Foreig Currency Accepted:USD ($), EUR (€) British Pounds (£)
Entry requirement:Travellers to Tanzania require a valid visa each time they enter. Visas can be obtained at any Diplomatic or Consulate Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania abroad or on arrival, it is recommended to obtain your visa in advance. A holiday visa is valid for 90 days from the date it was issued. Nationals of Cyprus and Romania do not require a visa.

All visitors must hold a passport with at least two blank pages valid for at least 06 months beyond the date of your arrival. If your passport does not meet these requirements, you will be denied entry.

Health Tips:The sun is strong in Zanzibar. Wear plenty of sunscreen and avoid extended exposure out in the sun.
It is advisable to take a mosquito repellent. Preventative measures taken against malaria even though the risk is of contracting malaria.

General information

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 36 Km off the coast of the mainland, it is 108 Km long and 32 Km wide and area of 2461 Km2 and mainly lay lying, its highest point is 120 meters and consists of more than 50 small islands and two large ones which are more populated: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. 95% of local population is Muslim.

Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience with the beaches are often stunning with powdery white sand, shaded by palm trees. The sea is shallow and you will find beautiful coral reefs for snorkeling and diving. Zanzibar is the home of the endemic Zanzibar red Colobus, Zanzibar servaline genet, and the Zanzibar leopard.

Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. The larger islands are lush and highly fertile and everywhere the air is suffused with the aroma of fruit and spices, which crates an exotic atmosphere. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.

Time deference

GMT +03:00

Compare to Indonesia, Zanzibar is 4:0 hours behind compare to local time.
When it is 01:00pm in Jakarta is 09:00am in Zanzibar.

Compare to France, Zanzibar is 1:0 hour behind of France
When it is 09:00am in Paris France, it is 08:00am in Zanzibar.

When to visit

Zanzibar is located just 6º south of the Equator, and has an ideal climate for most of the year. Zanzibar enjoys 12 hours of daylight every day. Summer: from November to May hot, some humidity with some rains in November, March, April and May. Winter: from June to October warm with some clouds in June, otherwise sunny.

The best time to visit Zanzibar is from June to October during the cool, dry months of spring. Another popular time to visit is from December to February when it’s hot and dry. There are two best times to scuba dive off the coast of Zanzibar, in July and August and in February and March.  Visiting Zanzibar during rainy season is not recommended which is from mid March to late May and again in November.

Money and currency

US$1 = TZS 2240 (currency rate can be varied depending the day you search)
Euro€1 = TZS 2647
TZS 01 = IDR 06

Zanzibar is part of the Republic of Tanzania where the official currency is Tanzania Shillings, usually abbreviated to TSH.

The shilingi (Swahili; English: shilling; sign: TSh; code: TZS) is the currency of Tanzania. It is subdivided into 100 senti (cents in English).

Bank notes: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 Shiling
Coins: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 Shilling

The US$ is the most recognized foreign currency and it is suggested that you take US$ cash to change in to TSH.

British Pounds (£) and Euro (€) are also accepted, but the preference is for US$. US$ notes – As with many other countries, US$ notes printed prior to 2006 are not accepted so please ensure the US$ notes you take are printed after 2006.

Travelers cheques – Travelers cheques are no longer generally accepted for payment or for changing in to TSH so please do not take Travelers Cheques. Changing money in to TSH – You should try to ensure that you change money in to TSH at accredited exchange outlets. These will have a board outside indicating the exchange rates for that day. At the moment, there are no accredited exchange outlets outside of Stone Town. For people heading immediately to a beach location it is suggested that money be changed in to TSH at the Airport, or ask the agent providing the transfer to the beach location to go to Stone Town to change money.

ATM machines are available at some locations in Stone Town and dispense TSH. It can be hit and miss as to whether they have been re-stocked with money so our suggestion is to rely on ATMs as a last resort. Credit Cards – Do not rely on credit cards. These are only accepted for payment by the larger hotels and at many hotels there is a commission charge, invariably 5%. Restaurants and shops do not accept credit card payments. Payment for extras at hotels vary between hotels. The majority will accept payment in US$ cash and some prefer payment in TSH. Check with your tour operator the best way to pay for extras at the hotels where you will stay.

Electricity

The local current is 220- 240 VAC 50Hz. Most plug sockets take the three ping British plugs. The Plug type used in Zanzibar is: “Type D & G (British)”. There are still occasional power cuts in Zanzibar, but it’s becoming less frequent. Visitors are advised not to leave expensive electrical appliance plugged in when not in use, due to occasional power surges. Safe adaptors are the best option when charging laptops, smart phones etc.

 

Telephone and how to call

The international dialing code for Tanzania Zanzibar is +255 followed by the destination’s phone no. Calling from Zanzibar, you dial 00 plus the relevant country code.  Zantel considered as one of the best providers with good internet speed. It has a better coverage from Stone town to north or southern part of the island. Other popular operators are Aitrel, Tigo and Vodacom. SIM cards can be purchased pretty much everywhere. Be aware that your SIM card needs to be registered by law.

Visa requirement

Citizens of 56 countries and territories can visit Tanzania without a visa for up to 3 months and these are mainly African nations.

Visas are required by almost all visitors to Tanzania, including EU and Indonesian citizens (except 56 countries), and should be obtained before arriving in Tanzania. If you are arriving from a country without a Tanzanian embassy or consulate, visas are issued at Dar es Salaam international airport and at Zanzibar airport. Tourist visas are valid for 03 months from the date of issue.

Visa requirements are likely to change so please check with your local Tanzanian embassy or representative.

Passport must be valid for at leave 06 months.

Vaccines and Travel insurance

Visitors are required to show a yellow fever certificate before entering Zanzibar if they come from yellow fever risk countries. Malaria is not as common in Zanzibar as it is in mainland Tanzania, but prevention medicine is recommended. Cover up after the sunset and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin. Sleep with a mosquito net or in an insect free room. HIV is a threat! Protection should be used.

Remember that medical facilities are limited in Zanzibar. Visitors are advised to have comprehensive insurance to cover the unlikely event of serious accident. Holiday insurance can exclude certain sports and activities, please check your policy very carefully.  For your information Dr. Mehta hospital accepts many European insurance cards.

How to go to Zanzibar

Indonesia to Zanzibar

Distance between Zanzibar and Jakarta is 7460 Km.
Flight between Jakarta and Zanzibar takes close to 11 hours 09 minutes.
Apparently, connecting flights and direct flights with stopover take longer time.

Airlines operated from Indonesia to Zanzibar
KLM, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, Oman Air

French to Zanzibar

Distance between Paris and Zanzibar is 7100 Km.
Non-stop flights could take up to 10 hours 37 minutes.
There are very few non-stop flights from Paris to Zanzibar. Therefore, you’ll have to take connecting flights. In such cases, flight time depends on the stopover destination specified by your airline or the one you choose while booking your ticket.

Airlines operated from Paris to Zanzibar
Ethiopian, Turkish airlines, Qatar Airways, Air France, Oman Air

 

Transportation in Zanzibar

Taxis

The easiest way to get around the island is via a taxicab. They can be found at the airport and all major hotels. Taxis are not metered and the price is agreed to before the journey. Renting a driver for a full day runs about $100 USD.

Bike & Scooters

The roads are flat and follow the coastline so it’s an easy ride via bike. It also is much easier to navigate the busy streets and you don’t have to have a special license to ride one. For Vespa, scooter, or motorcycle rentals, you must have an endorsement if you don’t have an international driver’s license.

Dala Dala

Locals use a Dala-Dala an open air truck with seats that’s very crowded but cheap. Mini-buses are available; you can get timetables at the hotels or if you are a larger group book one for a private tour.

Car Rental

Renting a car is fairly easy and they deliver, for a price, to your hotel. You must have an international driver’s license or get an endorsement before driving. Police have checkpoints around the island so make sure everyone driving has documentation. If you only want a day tour, consider renting a taxi or minibus to drive you around.

Sea Ferry

Ferries from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar leave fairly regularly. There are three high-speed ferry companies to choose from and each has about two departures per day. The journey takes about one and half hours. No need to purchase ticket in advance, they can be brought at the port. Times change regularly, but there is usually a boat ever hour or two.

There are several medium sized ferries and catamarans running this route regularly throughout the day. Ferries dock in the centre of both Dar es Salaam and Stone town – Zanzibar.

Special food and drinks

The island’s position on the edge of the Indian Ocean has brought visitors from other lands since time immemorial – Persians, Chinese, Arabs, Indians and many more have all sailed their vessels into Zanzibar’s harbour over the centuries, bent on trade and sometimes plunder. And with these strange visitors came new ways of eating – heaps of glass noodles from China, sweetmeats from Arabia, spices from India. Zanzibar’s cuisine, like its language, is a mix of ingredients from all over the world. The different fruits, vegetables and spices introduced by merchants and traders all flourished in this rich, fecund environment and were soon incorporated into Zanzibar’s agricultural life.

Biryani – The rice is cooked in a variety of spices, and then paired together with a meat or fish curry, that always accompanies the rice.

Pialu rice – Unlike biryani, where the rice and dish are cooked separately, pialu normally intends that the rice and meat and spices are all combined and cooked together. So it’s a bit drier than biryani (as there’s no curry sauce), but it also tends to be a little more spice flavored than biryani.

Urojo –There’s a tangy chicken stock base, into which is added chopped potato, fried cassava chips, thinly sliced red onion, kachori and a hard-boiled egg.
Boku-boku is a sort of skew of meat cooked in maize, ginger, cumin, chili, tomato and onion.

Octopus curry – Octopus is a favorite seafood in Zanzibar and it’s widely eaten at both street food stalls and fancy hotels throughout the island.

Zanzibar Pizza – Chicken or beef or fish – and then a mixture of peppers and onions, and and egg then gets poured into the middle of the dough.
It is famous throughout the island, especially at the Forodhani night market in Stone Town.

Mishkaki – For a delicious meat snack, usually either chicken or beef, grab a few skewers of mishkaki.

Pepper Shark – Shark is one of the most traditional types of Zanzibari seafood. it is prepared with pepper and other spices.

Spice Cake – The spice cake is the most typical dessert in Zanzibari cuisine. It is made of a pastry with a mix of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and chocolate.

Mandazi – A mandazi is basically the Swahili version of a doughnut, a deep fried lump of dough that’s lightly sweetened and occasionally seasoned with a hint of cardamom.

Drinks

Try a fresh coconut, it is rich in antioxidants and the white “flesh” inside is very soft and easy to eat.
The fruit juices at the hotels are usually freshly made, simply delicious.

Sugar cane juice – Fresh sugarcane juice, squeezed from an old-school press right before your eyes, with some ginger and lime: the taste of summer. You’ll usually find someone selling this around Forodhani Gardens.

Beers – The most popular brand is the “Kili” (Kilimanjaro), followed by Safari, Serengeti (the purest of the beers, without cornstarch), Tusker (all in 500 ml bottles but more hotels seem to stock nowadays the 350 ml bottles) and the “gourmet” Ndovu (350 ml). The locals drink beer “moto” (warm)

Places to go and things to do

Stone Town

It is in Stone Town that myriad narrow streets wind their way through craft shops, art galleries, fabric stalls and quaint coffee shops. It is also the perfect place to explore on foot and getting lost within this maze of ancient streets will give rise to a number of cultural experiences that can appear much more local and authentic than the beach life up north.

Nungwi & Kendwa beaches

Nungwi is a popular place yet it’s not overrun by tourists, and it’s one of Zanzibar’s top beaches as the tide doesn’t head out too far. This is a great beach for those looking to just soak up some sun.  The smaller nearby Kendwa is on the west coast, overlooking the tiny Daloni island and the larger island of Tumbatu. Both are located about an hour’s drive from Stone Town.

Snorkeling at Mnemba Atoll

Traveling to Mnemba Atoll there is always the chance of spotting dolphins, and reaching the island itself, the colorful coral is no less than mesmerizing. Zanzibar is home to many species of fish, with huge trevally, yellow snappers, barracuda, eels and many more.

Prison Island

Island is a nature reserve for giant tortoises and a place to see the ruins that once functioned as the prison.

Palace Museum

Commonly know as the Sultan’s Palace, The Palace Museum is perhaps the most historic building in Stone Town and is a must-see for any tourist. The Palace Museum is located in the waterfront, overlooking the ocean, and was built in the 19th century as a home for the Sultan and his family.

House of Wonders

The House of Wonders is a hugely important and visually stunning historic building in Stone Town. It hosts a highly interesting exhibition and offers a brilliant insight into Zanzibari and Swahili culture. The House of Wonders is the grandest and tallest building in all of Stone Town.

Spice Tour

Tourists can choose from a variety of tours and explore the winding streets with expert tour guides who will inform you of the origins of the industry, as well as teaching guests about the wide variety of spices that Zanzibar produces and trades in.

The old Fort

The oldest building in Stone Town, the Old Fort is located on the seafront, right in front of the famous Forodhani Gardens. Originally built in the 17th century with the purpose of defending the island from attacks from the Portuguese, nowadays the Old Fort is one of Stone Town’s main sights.

Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort

Sultan Sands Island Resort

Fruit & Spice Wellness Resort

Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa Resort

Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa

Diamonds Mapenzi Beach Resort

Neptune Pwani Beach Resort & Spa