Spice Island, Coast of Black People, the island of beautiful coral reefs - it's all about Zanzibar. Freddie Mercury, Asia's first rock star, was born here in 1946. Here, 5-star hotels are located side by side with impoverished villages. Expensive beach restaurants compete with poor local market stalls. Azure coast coexists with garbage dumps behind the scenes. Historic colonial architecture hides slums.
Explore exciting new destinations with Travellizy's experts. We will tell you all the most important information about the former slave trade center.
Is Zanzibar an island?
Not far from the coast of East Africa, in the Indian Ocean, almost on a par with the Seychelles, there is a semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar. It consists of 75 islands and is part of Tanzania, an African country. The archipelago has two large islands: Pemba and Unguja. The latter is informally called Zanzibar. The local population considers themselves Zanzibarians, and they do not identify themselves with Tanzanians. They obey their own leaders and governing bodies.
Their reference frame
Travelers are a little confused by the reference frame on the island. In the culture of the local population, time is counted from sunrise to sunset. That is, 1 p.m. in Zanzibar equals to the first hour after dawn, which is 7 a.m. Western European Summer Time. And 1 a.m. = the first hour after sunset = 7 pm WEST.
In fact, this reference frame makes sense for an archipelago. After all, the island is close to the equator and the time of sunsets and sunrises practically does not change all year round.
Weather in Zanzibar
In Zanzibar, the rainy season occurs twice a year. The long season with long showers is from March to May. During this period, monsoons hit the island.
Short but frequent rains occur from November to December. During this period, showers are quickly replaced by blue clear skies.
In winter, the temperature on the island is up to +40°С, and the water warms up to +28°С. At this time, the ocean is the most calm and transparent. In spring, the air temperature is up to +28°С. But the ocean water becomes cloudy and cool. Tourists like the summer season most of all, with water and air temperatures up to +20-26°С and a light breeze. It's a great time for both beach holidays and sightseeing. But in the summer months, there are rare short rains.
Where to stay in Zanzibar
In the north of the island, in the villages of Nungwi and Kendwa, there are the best beaches and, of course, the most expensive hotels. The final cost depends on the proximity to the coastline, the availability of "+breakfast" and "all inclusive" services. The price increases, if there are spas and gyms. On average, an inexpensive two-bed bungalow in the village will cost € 35-40 per day.
Important! You need to start searching a hotel on the island from the beach. In Zanzibar, the tide is strong, so many beaches for some time become warm "puddles" with algae and ankle-deep water. Many travelers are upset with such a discrepancy between reality and photos from the Internet.
The wide Paje Beach is located on the east coast. You can come here to relax with children. The water in the ocean is calm, clean, the sand is fine and white. There is no need to be afraid of sea urchins. There are cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops on the territory. Fire shows are held in the evenings. There are rental points for bicycles, scooters, mopeds.
The purest Jambiani Beach stretches from the east to the south coast. It has a flat, shallow bottom, without high waves and sea urchins. On its territory, there is a longboard rental and a kiting school.
On the north coast of the island, in the village of the same name, there is Nungwi Beach. It is famous for its coral bottom, white sand, and the absence of sea urchins and stones. There is also a lighthouse on its territory.
In the village, there are souvenir shops, a market, restaurants with excellent seafood prices. Tourists are happy to go fishing, paddle boarding and ride a scooter.
On the northwestern coast of the island, is Kendwa, nicknamed the Millionaire's Beach. The hotels here are all inclusive and they are very expensive. The beach itself is perfectly clean with calm emerald-turquoise water, fine soft sand. Of course, without hedgehogs and algae.
For the record! Experienced travelers say that the best beach on the island is located in the very north, between the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa. You can swim here all day and not think about the low tide.
What to see in Zanzibar
Of course, the first in the list of local attractions is Old Town of the capital, the Stone Town area. In addition to walking through the labyrinths of streets, it is interesting to see the Arab Fort here. It hosts shows, performances and festivals. Go visit Freddie Mercury's House. Today, it has been converted into a hotel.
Walk along the Stone Town promenade with the Forodhani Gardens. There is a local fast food festival every evening. Fish, shrimp, lobster, octopus are grilled in front of your eyes. You will be offered to try local sauces, soups and chickpea pancakes.
Jozani Forest is Zanzibar's national park. Cute monkeys, red colobus and a poisonous green mamba live here. Entrance is € 10 for an adult and € 5 for a child.
At the entrance to Jozani Forest, there is a butterfly farm with a botanical garden. Inspection takes 30-40 minutes. Entrance € 5 for adults and € 3 for children.
A tortoise farm is located across the street from Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. Almost no one mentions it, but the place is interesting and worthwhile. There is no box office here either, only a canopy and an inscription "Reception". There are also no fixed entry prices. It seems as if the cost is being invented on the fly. Therefore, bargain! Tourists manage to enter for an average of € 10 for two. Don't expect a service with infrastructure. But a non-professional tour of a local farm worker is guaranteed.
In addition to a reservoir with fish, a separate reservoir with turtles, an open-air cage with monitor lizards and snakes, the most fascinating thing is the Aldabra giant tortoises. They live up to 200 years and weigh up to 300 kg. Kids are allowed to ride on them. And to make turtles move, employees lure them with fruits.
How to get to Zanzibar
The island has an international airport, but not all countries offer direct flights here. Previously, people had to choose connecting flights through Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Today, Dubai, Istanbul, Muscat, and Doha also operate direct flights to the island.
From Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, Zanzibar can be reached by boat. The island is separated from the mainland by 30 km of ocean. Slow ferries (7-8 hours on the way) and fast ferries (2 hours on the way) run from here to Zanzibar, with the price of € 50. It is better to buy ferry tickets directly at the pier, several days in advance.
You can fly from the capital by plane in just 30 minutes. Ticket price is € 80. If there are free seats on the plane before departure, then you can bargain and buy them cheaper. Also ask for a discount for a group of 4 people or more.
Traveling on a direct flight from European countries to Zanzibar, vaccinations are not required. But arriving from African countries, at passport control, you will need to present a document confirming that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever. We recommend that you get vaccinated before the trip and have a certificate with you. It is well tolerated, is given 10 days before travel and is valid for 10 years.
Travellizy experts call Zanzibar a jingle coin in the air. Its bright side is for travelers and vacationers. The dim side is for the African population. But as the locals say: "Hakuna Matata!" = "no trouble", "no worries"!