What to pack for Zanzibar holidays?

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The coastal regions of Pemba and Zanzibar have significant Muslim majorities and some sensitivity to cultural dress codes is important. When visiting villages or towns we advise you to cover up your shoulders and up to your knees, especially if you are in areas less visited by tourists and visiting towns and historical sights.

The best materials are easy-to-dry materials. You should bring a sun hat or a cap to avoid too much sunshine and sunstrokes. Don’t underestimate the hot and humid climate, especially when you are arriving from a colder region for vacation.

The sun in Africa is intense and dehydration is common. We advise our guests to drink as much water as possible but at least 2 liters of water per day. Wet wipes are also advisable to keep cool. Please bring a sunscreen of at least factor 20-30 to prevent sunburn and sunstroke. Dark glasses and a good hat or cap that shades the face are essential.

Here is a small packing list for your Zanzibar vacation:

  • Valid Passport (please check the Visa requirements for your country before arrival)

  • Swimwear

  • Appropriate dress (for visiting churches, museums and monuments)

  • Sunscreen 20, 30 or 50

  • Sunhats

  • Sunglasses

  • Mosquito repellant

  • Waterproof bag for your personal items

  • Water shoes (can be very helpful for visiting the reef, caves and for boat trips)

  • Vaccination for hepatitis A, typhoid fever, yellow fever, polio, malaria prophylaxis and travelers' diarrhea

Every trip and traveler is unique. However, our team and the processes that support our guests are consistent. With our destination expertise and round the clock support on offer, we look forward to planning your private, safe and tailor-made trip of a lifetime in Zanzibar and Tanzania. Feel free to contact us!

You can see the current weather information below:

How is the culture in Zanzibar?

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Zanzibar has two main islands, Unguja (Zanzibar island) and Pemba. There are many smaller ones around the main islands, most of them without permanent inhabitants or only hotels. Zanzibar is an autonomous part of Tanzania. The two countries – Tanganyika and Zanzibar – formed the Republic of Tanzania in 1964. Until 1963 Zanzibar was a British protectorate.

Zanzibari people are an ethnic mixture of many different backgrounds, including Persian, Arab and African. While Zanzibar is over 90% Muslim (mainly Sunni but including many minorities as well), there are also different Christians, Hindus and other, smaller religions represented on the island.

Although they are used to Western ways, you should try to be respectful. This means:

  • Women and men should make an effort to cover their legs and arms

  • It is regarded as disrepectful to show public affection

  • Be discreet when drinking alcohol in public

  • During Ramadan - the month of fasting - travellers should avoid eating and drinking publicly during the daytime. Also, be sure not to smoke in front of people

This cultural hotpot is known for it’s gorgeous beaches, spice farms and it’s Arabic influenced historical city, Stone Town. The history also contains a darker era, because Zanzibar used to be the biggest slave trader hub in East-Africa. Until today, many historical sights can be visited. To find out more you can read our article about What to do in Zanzibar? or see our Zanzibar Daytrips to discover more activities.

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As the culture of Zanzibar is a mix of different lifestyles reflecting various ethnic groups and historical backgrounds, Zanzibar clearly differs from the Tanzanian way of life. Especially Stone Town creates a unique atmosphere that often reminds visitors of arabian countries with a european influence. There are many museums, historical sights, food markets, churches and shops to explore. A famous symbol of Stone Town is the Forodhani Food Market that always starts when it is getting dark along the frontwalk of Stone Town. Here you can taste the different cultural influences by trying some of the most delicious food variety. Explore the secrets of Stonetown with Tanzania Horizon Safaris with your private Stonetown Daytrip.

The nightly ForOdhani Food Market

The nightly ForOdhani Food Market

A typical variety of food in Zanzibar

A typical variety of food in Zanzibar

Where are the best beaches in Zanzibar?

Even though all beaches in Zanzibar are beautiful, there are some differences concerning the landscape and activities to do. Please see the following map and discription to find more details about the best beaches in Zanzibar and contact us for further information.

Zanzibar Beach Map / Tanzania Horizon Safaris

Beaches in the North of Zanzibar

The North of Zanzibar reaches from Nungwi Beach and Kendwa Beach down to the area of Tumbati Island. The beaches are very famous and therefore more crowded compared to other areas of Zanzibar. The coast is quite versatile with rocks, sandy beaches and cliffs. The area is ideal for boat trips and snorkeling.

  • Kendwa Beach

  • Nungwi Beach

boat trip nungwi beach zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

boat trip nungwi beach zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Kendwa beach zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Kendwa beach zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Beaches in the East of Zanzibar

The east of Zanzibar invites visitors to Mnemba Island for snorkeling and boat trips. The coast is more flat and contains a big reef. Therefore the beach is quite flat and waves are smaller as the reef protects the beach from strong wind.

  • Mnemba Island

  • Kigomani Beach

  • Pongwe Beach

  • Jambiani Beach

Mnemba Island Zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Mnemba Island Zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Jambiani beach Zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Jambiani beach Zanzibar / tanzania horizon safaris

Beaches in the South of Zanzibar

The southern beaches of Zanzibar are less famous and less crowded than other parts of Zanzibar. It is the ideal place for honeymoons and to relax in a quiet atmosphere.

  • Makunduchi Beach

  • Kizimkazi Beach

  • Uzi Island

makunduchi beach zanzibar

makunduchi beach zanzibar

Kizimkazi beach zanzibar

Kizimkazi beach zanzibar

Beaches in the West of Zanzibar

The western beaches of Zanzibar best reached by boat and include a large variety of small sandbanks where you can book a beach picnic and Blue Safari, Snorkeling, Diving and watersport activities. They can be reached from Stonetown. Please contact us to arrange your tour and to get further information.

  • Tumbatu Island

  • Bumbwini Beach

  • Prison Island (Changuu Island)

  • Stonetown Beach

  • Fumbe Beach

Sandbank at the westside of zanzibar / Tanzania horizon safaris

Sandbank at the westside of zanzibar / Tanzania horizon safaris

Prsion Island Zanzibar / Tanzania horizon safaris

Prsion Island Zanzibar / Tanzania horizon safaris

How is transportation organized in Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consisting of Zanzibar Island (locally, Unguja), Pemba Island and many smaller islands. Zanzibar island itself is approximately 90 km long and 40 km wide. There is a variety of public and private transport.

Taxis in Zanzibar:

Taxis are the most comfortable way of travelling in Zanzibar. We recommend to always negociate about prices before starting to drive to your destination. Tanzania Horizon will assist you to arrange all your travels while in Zanzibar.

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Boat Taxi Transport in Zanzibar:

Private boats are perfect to discover hidden places and reach small island and beaches all around Zanzibar. As they have no official meeting points it can be difficult to spot them. For not loosing time, Tanzania Horizon Safaris will kindly assist you to organise a boat taxi for your. Feel free to contact us!

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Local Transport (Bajaji / Tuk Tuk) in Zanzibar:

Local transport works by DalaDala (public mini bus) and Tuk Tuk (locally called Bajaji). This is probably the cheapest way of transport in Zanzibar but carries some security risks as some drivers have no official licence. We recommend all our clients to contact us to let us organise transport with trusted drivers or preferably order a taxi.

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Rent a Car or a Scooter in Zanzibar:

A more individual way of transport is renting a car or a scooter in Zanzibar. You will need an international driver’s licence and to be very careful about traffic and local driving habits. There are several places to rent cars and scooters. Tanzania Horizon Safaris will assist you to find your transport of choice. Feel free to contact us fort further information!

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How to arrive Zanzibar?

You can arrive Zanzibar by plane to Zanzibar International Airport:

Zanzibar is served by many flight companies and that are constantly expanding. Zanzibar International Airport which is also named Kisauni Airport and is the only airport on the island. Zanzibar is served by several airlines offering convenient flights from the United States and Europe.

Passport:
Although Zanzibar is part of the Tanzanian Union it has its own immigration service and you need to have a valid passport to enter, even if you come from mainland Tanzania. That means that you must fill out a Tanzania arrival card for your arrival in Stone Town (Zanzibar), and a Tanzania departure card when you leave the island. That includes arrivals by plane and ferry.

Arriving Zanzibar by plane:

  • International Flights
    Direct flights to Zanzibar: Condor, Jetfly, Ethiopian Airways, Kenyan Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airlines, KLM, FlyDubai, Meridian and Turkish Airlines.

  • Domestic Flights
    Zanzibar can be reached from Dar es Salaam by plane. The flight takes about 20 minutes and several airlines are operating services.

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Arriving Zanzibar by Ferry from Dar es Salaam

The Harbour/Ferry Port of Dar es Salaam is located in the middle of Dar es Salaam. The traffic is horrendous, it can take you 2 hours or more by taxi from the airport to the ferry terminal. You should be at the terminal at least 1 hour before departure.

Azam Marine is operating the ferry www.azammarine.com. The ferry takes about 2 hours to reach Stonetown (Zanzibar). Here you have to go through customs and Visa regulations.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris will assist you to book your ferry ticket and transport to your accomodation!

Duration from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar by ferry: 2 hours / 90 kilometers

Duration from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar by ferry: 2 hours / 90 kilometers

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What to do in Zanzibar?

Zanzibar Beach

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Zanzibar is a tropical island that is most famous for its stunning beaches, good weather and beautiful accomodations. Nungwi and Kendwa are among the most famous beaches and offer everything concerning beach activities from watersports, snorkeling, boattrips or simply relaxing on the white sands.

We prepared an overview for you in our article about the best beaches in Zanzibar.


Stonetown

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The city of Stonetown is where most visitors start their staying in Zanzibar as it can be reached by plane and by ferry. You can read our article How to arrive Zanzibar? for further information. Beside the beautiful and unique architecture of Stonetown itself it offers alot of historical sights, restaurants and boutique hotels. You can find a small list of the most famous sights in Stonetown and book a Stonetown Daytrip with us to visit this cultural heritage.

  • The Old Fort (also known as the Arab Fort)
    It is a heavy stone fortress that was built in the 17th century by the Omanis to protect the city from European invasions. It has a roughly square shape and the internal courtyard is now a cultural centre with shops, workshops, and a small arena where live dance and music shows are held daily. The fort location is also used for the Zanzibar International Film Festival.

  • The House of Wonders
    in located on the Mizingani Road along the Stone Town seafront, and is probably the most well-known landmarks of Stone Town. It was built in 1883 and restored after the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896. Formerly the Sultan's residence. It was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity. Since 2000, its interior has been dedicated to a museum on Swahili and Zanzibar culture.

  • Forodhani Gardens / Food Market
    The Forodhani Gardens are a small park in the frontwalk of Stone Town, right in front of the Old Fort and the House of Wonders. Every evening after sunset the gardens host a popular market selling grilled seafood and Zanzibari recipes.

  • The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph
    The cathedral was built by missionaries between 1893 and 1897. The design was based on that of the Marseille Cathedral and is one of the most well-known landmarks of Stone Town and can already be seen while arriving the harbor of Stonetown. The church is still operational today and holds regular mass on Sundays.

  • Slavery Museum / The former slave market
    The museum consists of slave chambers (one for 50 men and one for 75 women and children), a memorial, and an Anglican Church built on the site of the tree that served as whipping post. It provides information on the history of the building and slave trade in Zanzibar. You can go into the holding chambers in the cellar that was used by the Oman Arab and British slave traders.

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Nationalpark Jozani Forest

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Jozani Forest has excellent nature trails, featuring some very exotic trees and plants that are home of the Red Colobus Monkeys that live here. These Monkeys can only survive on Zanzibar, nowhere else in the world, since they need a diet of 70 different plants, berries etc. The Red Colobus Monkeys are a protected species. A major part of the entrance fees goes to the local farmers in the surrounding area. In the past, the farmers killed the Monkeys because they destroyed their crops. Ever since they are compensated for their losses, the killing stopped.

You can book a guided tour with us to visit the Jozani Forest on a Daytrip.


The Zanzibar Caves

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  • Tazari Caves (near Nungwi)
    The caves belong to a recently discovered series of caves that contain stalagmites and stalagtites and is home to crab spiders and bats.

  • Kuza Caves (near Jambiani)
    Visitors can swim in natural pools inside the cave that have been created by a subterranean river.

  • Kiwengwa Caves (near Pongwe)
    These caves are a part of ancient history of the Zanzibar Island and have just recently been opened to the public. The stalagmites and stalactites have been formed from water dissolving calcium carbonate from coral stones. There is hardly any natural light so flashlights are recommended. You can visit the caves with us as a Caves Daytrip.


Diving & Watersports

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  • Surfing in Zanzibar
    The Southeast Coast of the island offers a variety of surf spots for different level surfers. The reefs are flat and beginner friendly in some sections. For a good surf experience in Zanzibar a guide is essential.

  • Snorkel Excursions
    Menai Bay Conservation Area in the southwest side region holds very colourful coral reef systems with vivid sea life. You can take a morning trip out to snorkel or dive in a traditional dhow boat from Fumba Beach. You can see our Blue Safari Daytrip here.


Spice Tour

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Spices have long been a pillar of Zanzibar's trade-heavy economy and Stone Town ibecame the heart of the Spice Trade along the East Coast of Africa. Portuguese and Chinese traders introduced spices such as garlic, cacao and chili to the islands several centuries ago but it was the Omani Sultan Seyyid Said who fully exploited the potential of Zanzibar's tropical climate and incredibly fertile soil. Today you can visit some legendary Spice Farms on our Daytrips to explore and taste the secret of Zanzibar’s ancient treasures.

What is the best time of the year to visit Zanzibar?

Zanzibar Average SUNSHINE HOURS

Zanzibar Average SUNSHINE HOURS

Zanzibar’s weather pattern is divided up into dry and wet seasons. Its main rainy season lasts from March to May, with tropical downpours virtually every day, high humidity and temperatures in the mid 30s. There is another, shorter, rainy season in November and December, however these rains tend to be lighter and less predictable.

ZANZIBAR’s AVERAGE RAINFALL PER MONTH / IN MM

ZANZIBAR’s AVERAGE RAINFALL PER MONTH / IN MM

The best time to visit the island is between June and October as the rains will have dried up and the temperature will be hot but not unbearable. This is also the best time to go scuba diving as visibility will be at its peak. Visiting at the beginning of the dry season is usually a good option as the island will still be lush and hydrated from the wet season. Visiting in January and February is also recommended as this is usually a dry period between the two rainy seasons.

QUICK FACTS

  • Best Time to Visit Zanzibar: June - October

  • High Tourist Season: June - October

  • Low Season: March - May

  • All Seasons: June - October (spring), November - February (summer), March - May (monsoon)

  • Another good time to travel to Zanzibar is between December - February, when the November showers have ended, and the weather becomes warm and dry again.

  • The monsoon months in Zanzibar are between March - May, and it is not recommended to visit the islands during these months, as your tourist experiences will be limited.

  • There will be some showers during November as well, but not as heavy as during March - May.

  • July - August, and February - March are when to visit Zanzibar if you are interested in going for scuba diving, or other water sports.