Zanzibar is an archipelago of two main islands (Unguja and Pemba) and about 50 smaller islets. It covers the land area of 2332 sq km of which Unjuga is 1464 sq km.
It is part of United republic of Tanzania, with limited autonomy in some economic matters, it has an automonous government complet with its own president, cabinet legislatures and judicial system.
Zanzibar is located 35 km off coast of Mainland Tanzania, between 39 degrees longitude and 6 degrees latitude south of equator.
Local Time : GMT + 3 hrs.
Population : Approx. 1 million. The majority of people on the island follow the Muslim faith. Dress code to them is of particular importance and it is suggested that women try to dress fairly conservatively in order not to offend the local people. 95% of the people are Muslim, with the balance being a mixture of Christian and Hindu.
Climate : Zanzibar is a few degrees south of the equator and enjoys a tropical climate that is largely dominated by the Indian Ocean monsoons. Average temperature in the summer months is 27ºC and in the winter months is 24ºC. It is very humid all year round, particularly in the summer monsoon rain period. April and May experience the highest rainfall with figures averaging at 249mm and July and August with the lowest averaging 60mm.
Language : The official language of Zanzibar is Kiswahili. Most residents have a good knowledge of English, Italian and various Arabic dialects.
Some important words in Swahili are:
Jambo - hello
Habari - what's news?
Mambo - slang greeting like habari
Mzuri - I am well
Asante - thank you
Kwaheri - good bye
Maji - water
Chakula - food
Kahawa - coffee
Chai - tea (also referred to as a bribe)
Moja - one
Mbili - two
Tatu - Three
Currency : Tanzanian Shillings. Approximate Rate US $ 1 = 1,200 Tanzanian Shillings.
Barclays Bank – Stone Town
People's Bank of Zanzibar - Stone Town
National Bank of Commerce - Stone Town
Bank of Tanzania - Stone Town
FBME Bank – Stone Town
Credit Cards and Traveler's Cheques
Credit cards are accepted at some of the major hotels, restaurants and resorts. Traveler's cheques are the safer option as these are more widely accepted than credit cards.
By Air :
At present, Ethiopian Airlines and KLM (together with Kenya Airways) offer international scheduled flights direct to Zanzibar.
Several large carriers British Airways, Emirates Airlines, Alliance Air (South African Airways affiliate), Swissair fly into Dar es Salaam, which is only a short trip by air or sea from Zanzibar. Charter flights directly from Italy, Israel, Switzerland and Germany to Zanzibar during the high seasons (from July to September and in December).
Dmestic flights between Tanzania's main cities and Zanzibar, Coastal Aviation, Precision Air and other local Companies offer a range of scheduled flights to and from the island.
Scheduled flights daily from the domestic terminal in Dar es Salaam are with: Precision Air, Air Tanzania and Coastal Aviation; charters are also available.
By Sea :
By Sea from Dar to Zanzibar: (All boats have their ticket offices at the seaport). Sea Star, Megaspeed, Sea Express, Azam, Flying Horse.
(Prices and speed of service vary 90min-180min. Costs around US $25).
Visas & Others : Tourist Visa for 3 months is available on arrival for US$ 50. International departures from Zanzibar attract a fees of US$ 30 per person. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is theoretically required on arrival, usually it is not asked for.
Things To See :
Chumbe Island Marine Reserve
This is the only marine reserve near Zanzibar. The island has accommodation for guests and provides an romantic getaway place for couples. Guests are not allowed to dive here, but the snorkeling is just as good. See our accommodation guide for more details on Chumbe Island.
Jozani forest is a protected forest and is home to some of our primate cousins. The Red Colobus monkey are indigenous only to Zanzibar and there are about 2300 in and around the forest. Nature walks are available and it is suggested that you cover yourself properly if undertaking a hike, as there is very little shade.
Zanzibar is known as the spice island, and the tour shows visitors the various spices are grown and harvested. Visitors will have the pleasure of seeing cinnamon trees, nutmeg trees, vanilla trees (believe it or not) and the likes. You will be asked to smell and taste various spices and guess what they are, as well as witness harvesters climbing huge trees with no harnesses or protection, to bring down coconuts for your delight.
There are a multitude of historical buildings in Stone Town, and most of these are within walking distance of each other. Building to see include: Forodhani Gardens, The Palace Museum, St Joseph's Cathedral, Arab Fort, House of Wonders, Durajani Bazaar and many more. We can provide a list of what to see, or if you prefer you can walk around Stone Town and discover things for yourself.