Zanzibar consists of two Indian Ocean tropical islands, Pemba and Unguja, surrounded by several islets, near Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on the East African coast.
People have lived in Zanzibar for 20 000 years and the islands were used as a base for traders on their way between Arabia, India and Africa. Persian traders settled in Zanzibar City (Stone Town) because the island of Unguja offered a protected and defensible harbour and a convenient trading point to other coastal towns, although the archipelago had few valuable products to offer traders. The traders established garrisons and the first mosque in the Southern hemisphere on the island.
What people live in Zanzibar?
More than 99% of the population of the Zanzibar archipelago is Muslim. The largest group of Muslims in Tanzania are Sunni Muslim, with Shia and Ahmadi minorities in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Pew Research Center research conducted in 2008 and 2009, 40% of the Muslim population of Tanzania identifies as Sunni, 20% as Shia, and 15% as Ahmadi, besides a smaller subset of Ibadism practitioners.
What language is spoken in Zanzibar?
Swahili is the official language of Zanzibar, but many locals speak Arabic and English. Other European languages such as Italian and French can also be heard throughout Zanzibar. Swahili is widely spoken throughout East Africa in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. The name “Swahili” comes from the Arab word sawahil, which translates as “coast”.
What is the capital of Zanzibar?
Many people think that Stone Town is the capital of Zanzibar. In actual fact, the capital is Zanzibar City, in which Stone Town is situated. Stone Town is certainly a must-see when visiting Zanzibar, with its narrow streets, coral stone buildings, and spice markets, all of which make the city a centre point of Zanzibari culture.
Stone Town is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is famous for the elaborate wooden carvings which can be found in the doors of most buildings in the city. The carvings are all subtly different in their designs, reflecting social status, ethnicity, and religion; some designs feature verses from the Quran.
Zanzibar shares the same visa policy as the rest of Tanzania. Travelers of certain nationalities can enter the country without a visa, while others will either have to obtain an eVisa or a paper visa.
You can get a visa on arrival for Tanzania at Zanzibar International Airport (or if arriving in mainland Tanzania first, at their point of entry).
The visa on arrival must be paid for at the border and costs around US$50. New arrivals must usually wait in line at both the airports and the 5 entry points along Tanzania’s land border.
An easier option for visitors from many countries is to apply online for a Tanzania eVisa in advance of their journey.
💉 Are vaccines needed for Zanzibar?
Yes, some vaccines are recommended or required for Zanzibar. The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for Tanzania: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for travel to all regions, both foreign and domestic. Check with your local Passport Health clinic if immunization is offered in your area.
How to get to Zanzibar?
There are only two ways to get to this tropical paradise;
- By air
- Through the sea
✈🛫 Flying to Zanzibar
- Flights to Zanzibar international airport are available at all airports in Tanzania.
- You can also catch a flight to Zanzibar at JKIA in Nairobi and Moi International airport in Mombasa.
- Flights cost between 50-100 USD.
- At the airport, there are taxis which can take you to your hotel
Abeid Amani Karume International Airport formerly known as Zanzibar International Airport and Kisauni Airport is located 5 kilometers south of the city of Zanzibar.
When is the best time to visit Zanzibar?
The best time to visit Zanzibar is during the archipelago’s dry season, from July to September, which is a very popular time to travel. However, it’s worthwhile travelling at most times of year, with balmy temperatures between 28°C and 34°C and sunshine the norm.
During the short rains in November and December, downpours are followed by blue skies. It’s only very wet during the peak of the long rains in April and May.
🥣🍽 Foods to try in Zanzibar
The Spice Island, Zanzibar, is known for its flavorful dishes and vibrant, colorful decor— both of which reflect a blend of Swahili, Indian and Arab-style influence. The East African island offers delicious food at affordable prices, with most menus including seafood, vegan, and halal options.
Recommended restorants in Zanzibar (click here)
If you are looking for the Spice Markets in Zanzibar, then this short guide is for you!
Despite having beautiful and bright beaches, corals which give a paradise experience to Snorkelers and divers, Zanzibar has been known for so many years as a quality spice exporter Islands in the World.
Common spices like Turmeric, Gingers, Black Peppers, Cinnamons, Cardamoms, Cloves are mostly used daily in Zanzibar cuisines, so you must find them everywhere in the local Markets.
This guide will give you direction on Markets where you can go to buy your spices in Zanzibar. And here, you can book a transport from your Hotel to the Market and back to your Hotel.So, the best places to buy spices in Zanzibar are two places, at Darajani Market and during the Spice Farms Tour according to our Experience.
The official currency of Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe dollar (ZWL) although it is not an internationally recognised currency.
How to get around Zanzibar?
Once you are on the island you have three main ways of getting around taxi, dala dala (shared minibus) and shared shuttle bus. This guide will explain how to get between the three main tourist areas with these different options – the information is shown for one direction but can be applied to the reverse route
Taxi: If you are a group taxis can be a good option as they give you the flexibility to depart at any time. Taxi fares vary hugely, so you will need to ask around to get the best prices. Unfortunately, many taxi drivers make a habit of ripping off tourists so you will usually need to haggle to get fair price. Hopefully, Uber or Lyft will reach Zanzibar one day, but in the meantime pre booking taxis online (with set rates) is the best option
Dala Dala: There are no official bus companies operating on Zanzibar, instead there are a large number of privately owned minibuses (known as dala dalas). The buses don’t have timetables, instead departing when they are full. It is not possible to prebook tickets, in fact don’t pay anyone until you are already on the bus as this is likely to be a scam (this guide has some tips on how to avoid being scammed).
You should pay the conductor during your journey and make sure you are paying the same as the locals (~2000tzs). Some conductors try to take advantage of tourists demanding up to 10x the normal price, but just stand your ground and insist on paying the same as everyone else (it is normal to pay extra for large luggage though). Stone Town is the main hub and almost all journeys will go via Stone Town.
Shared Shuttle Bus: Our shuttles give you the convenience of a taxi at much lower prices. You can book your tickets online and get picked up and dropped off directly at your accommodation.
What to visit in Zanzibar?
Recommended to visit link (click here)
The most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar
Nungwi beach– The most beautiful beach in Zanzibar and that’s it’s much crowded.many water activities to do and the tide always allows it.
Many restaurants ,beach bars,night clubs.
Jambiani beach-Not crowded, very quiet, very beautiful with the white sands. During the low tide, the ocean goes away for about a kilometer or even more and you can go out for a walk.
Paje beach– Paje beach is kept quite clean due to the fact that there are resorts & restaurants along the length of the beach. It is almost impossible to swim on low tide, but that is normal for Zanzibar as most beaches are very tidal. High tide swimming is good & like being in a warm bath. A must visit for travellers to Zanzibar.
Have a nice trip!!! ✈🚢🌅