Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go

What a tourist should know before going to Zanzibar for the first time in 2022

Tanzania is an equatorial Africa. It is located on the east coast, and is washed by the Indian Ocean. The main tourist destination is the island of Zanzibar.

Holidays in Zanzibar

General Information

In fact, there is no seasonal change in Tanzania: summer is only a few degrees cooler than winter. But there are the rainy seasons (twice a year, in spring and autumn). It rains mostly in the morning and at night.

Detailed tips for tourists who go to Zanzibar for the first time are in this author’s video.

Most tourists go to the island of Unguja. It is the largest island of the Zanzibar Archipelago.

Tanzania is a very poor country with low GDP per capita. It ranks 156th out of 187 countries. Therefore, to feel civilization is possible only on the territory of the hotel.

It is the beaches of Zanzibar that attract tourists. The sand here is bright white. At low tide, you can swim with a mask, looking at the tropical fish as in a large aquarium. At high tide, it’s nice to just swim without the fear of stepping on a sea urchin or something worse.

The beaches in the southern half of the island are more suitable for lovers of solitude. For good kitesurfing it is advisable to go to the east coast, where there is wind, such as in Paget.

Nungwi Beach

The best beaches for swimming are Nungwi and Kendwa

Is it safe in Zanzibar and Tanzania

There are few dangerous inhabitants on Zanzibar, despite its almost equatorial location.

  • Green or black mamba. The venom of these snakes is deadly, but an encounter with them is unlikely. To avoid this possibility altogether, it is advisable to avoid wild places, especially dense thickets.
  • Jellyfish. They are few and not deadly, but an encounter with them can be very unpleasant.
  • Sharks. You can meet them in deep water, away from the shore.
  • Poisonous fish (e.g., “zebra rat”). They can be found near the shore: they swim in the seaweed. These fish move very slowly, so you can not notice them and stepped on. The bite is not fatal, but extremely unpleasant. To avoid this, do not go far into the water at low tide.
  • Sea urchins. This is the most common dangerous sea creature. They can not be seen only at high tide. There are a lot of sea urchins, and at low tide you have to walk along the beach as on a minefield. Even using special shoes, to go pretty scary. You need to constantly look under your feet, and in places where the water to the waist – to go swimming. Sea urchin venom is tantamount to a bee. Stepping on it, you can lose a couple of days of vacation. If you do not dissolve the prickles in time, there can be a serious complication. If you come across a hedgehog, you should immediately get out of the water and contact reception: they will help.

The greatest danger is the sun (if you go on holiday in December-February). The sun shines at right angles, 12 hours a day, all year round on Zanzibar. It has a very high activity, and get sunburn, even in spite of special creams, can be very fast. The sun is also dangerous in the water.

In the evening to be on the beach is much safer, so after 17:00 there are quite a lot of people.

To avoid sunburn, it is recommended to swim in special swim shirts, or t-shirts for surfing.

When it is better to go

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The best time to vacation in Zanzibar is from May to October. In March and April it often rains, and in December and February it is too hot.

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How much of a flight and how to get to Zanzibar

Recently opened direct charter flights from Moscow to Zanzibar. The flight time is about 9 hours. With connections, the travel time can take 16 hours.

The cost of tickets in 2022 is on average 50 thousand -56 thousand rubles/1 person.

It is possible to find tickets for 5,000-6,000 cheaper, but there may be at least 2 connections.

Before buying the tickets it is important to check the conditions in the countries you will be connecting to: the quarantine measures are not the same everywhere.

Rules of entry

Zanzibar is an autonomous region of Tanzania, so the rules of entry are exactly the same as for that state.

Do I need a visa

A visa is required for entry to the island of Zanzibar. It can be obtained either on arrival or at the consulate. The visa is valid for 90 days.

To obtain it, you will need a passport and two visa application forms.

To get a visa at the airport you need:

  • passport;
  • Return air tickets;
  • fill in migration card/declaration.

Visasam visa center provides assistance in obtaining electronic entry clearance.

Please contact and write: +7 985 123 55 59 Tamara Kuba (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram).

The cost of registration: 1500 rubles for our services + $ 50 visa fee Tanzania.

Is it necessary to be vaccinated

Officially, vaccinations are not necessary to visit Zanzibar and Tanzania. Yellow fever vaccination is advisory, there is no vaccination against malaria. A PCR test to enter Zanzibar is also not necessary.

Health Insurance

There are 2 types of insurance:

  • Standard (“All world”, costs $7);
  • Extended (“extended” is bought in the country you want to travel to; its cost is $15).

You can travel to Tanzania with any of these insurances. You can take out insurance online on the service Cherehapa, which compares the prices of all leading insurance companies.

Learn in the video: how to buy health insurance online for traveling abroad in 2022.

What to take with you

The list of must-haves includes:

  • Creams with an SPF50 protection factor. In this case (if you comply with other safety requirements) sunburns will not spoil the holiday.
  • Repellents and fumigator. With their help you can travel more safely in the tropics.
  • Supplies for snorkeling (coral slippers, mask and tube for diving).

Where better to go

In Zanzibar you can find a place both for kitesurfing (choose an area with strong winds), and for a family with children (pay attention to the places with sandy shore without stones and corals), is where to relax and couples in love.

Sea and beaches

Best beaches in Zanzibar:

Kendwa Beach is on the northwest coast. The sand is soft, fine and very warm. The entrance to the sea is very comfortable, more about this in the video.

The Cafe in Zanzibar

Prices in local cafes and restaurants are low

The entrance to the water is very comfortable. There are no hedgehogs, but there are often beautiful starfish.

Kendwa Beach Zanzibar

Kendwa is a small beach with a wide shoreline.

Nungwi beach is located at the northernmost point of the island. This is the most popular beach among tourists, where the tides are small. There is also an open aquarium with sea turtles, which you can swim with.

Read more about it in the author’s video.

This is a true paradise for divers: there is a huge coral reef, beloved by fans of underwater hunting.

Nungwi Beach

This beach is famous for coral sand, white and soft: it almost does not warm up in the sun

The tides are small and the waves are virtually absent. Hotels and restaurants are relatively inexpensive. In the evening you can watch the Masai dancing, admire the beautiful sunsets.

Padge beach is located in the north. It is a great place for kiting.

  • Kite schools;
  • dive center;
  • boat rentals.

The tides are almost non-existent: the water recedes not far, and remains knee-deep. But there are urchins: you should be more attentive when entering the water.

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Where to go with children

Holidays in Zanzibar with children – not the best idea. But if you want to go all together, you should choose the beach of Pwani. The ocean is not very deep here. There are no sharp rocks at the bottom, and the entry into the water is very smooth.

Tides in Zanzibar

The tides are different. The water can come up to the edge of the shore and there will be very little room to sit and sunbathe. Sometimes you have to go to the neighboring beach because of this.

There is a serious danger in the tide: it can come suddenly, for example, when one is away from the shore, or at a cliff shore, where it is very difficult to go on land.

At the beginning of the tide, the water comes in fast. The tidal wave comes from the ocean, and gradually begins to fill the coastal shallow areas.

In some areas, the water recedes up to 2 km from the shore, and when the tide comes in, the water begins to arrive quite suddenly. There is very little time to reach the shore (also through urchins and seaweed).

To protect yourself, you should follow the tide tables, and not go far from the shore. Usually such tables are posted in hotels and on beaches.

The best beaches for tourists with low tides are Nungwi and Kendwa. This video compares these two beaches and tells you where the best beaches to stay in Zanzibar are that you can safely swim all day in the sea.

On them you can swim in the sea all day, you do not have to specially wait for a favorable time. Prices for holidays on them because of this are 10-20% more expensive than on other beaches.

Nungwi Beach

Not all beaches have such long tides. In Kendwa and Nungwi the tide is small: about 50 m

More Tips for Tourists

When going to Zanzibar, keep the following in mind:

  1. Don’t try to take seashells out of Zanzibar: at customs you may be fined, or offered a bribe.
  2. Don’t fall for the tricks of the Beach Boys and Maasai. Beach-boys will try to sell you souvenirs, fruit or a tour. Ignore them and they will back off. A number of Maasai offer escort services for women. They should be especially wary of single girls and ladies of age. Do not photograph them or there will be a conflict. Locals don’t really like to be filmed or photographed, but in general they are friendly and approachable.
  3. If you want to be alone with nature, move deep into the island: the forests are very beautiful. Minus: suitable beaches in such places may not be available.
  4. Do not swim in the ocean at night.
  5. Do not walk outside the hotel at night.
  6. Do not touch suspicious creatures in the water.
  7. Bring cash (new dollars), preferably large $100 bills. Bank cards are not accepted in many places, and may also add an additional fee to the purchase amount.

Most locals live very poor: their homes do not even have electricity. Therefore, moving away from the tourist spots, which are located mainly along the beach, you should be prepared for a meeting with beggars. It is always children: adults do not do it there.

If you want to please a child and give him a coin or a toy, you must see to it that he is alone: otherwise others will swoop down and start to take away and divide everything.

Most of the roads in Zanzibar are not paved. Other inconveniences: a lot of dust, bad smell. Be more careful when traveling around the island by car.

Nutrition

Domestic prices in Zanzibar (even in the coastal zone) are quite democratic: for 35 thousand shillings (1100 rubles) you can order a rather big lobster for lunch. It will also be served with a variety of side dishes.

The lobster is so big that it is enough for two people.

All establishments have a fish menu:

Food at the Cafes on the Beaches of Zanzibar

Cooked octopus on the menu at the Nungwi Beach Café

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There is no national cuisine in Zanzibar. The only original dish is fried bananas. Their consistency resembles uncooked potatoes.

Nungwi Beach Cafe

European cafes and restaurants in Zanzibar also exist, but they are very few.

The local eateries, where locals often eat, serve seafood soup, sometimes serve poultry, beef, and French fries.

The assortment of fruit is not very large: bananas, mangoes, coconuts, durian. Fruit is often sold on the street, and is relatively inexpensive.

Nungwi Beach Cafe

A small cafe on Nungwi Beach (photo by Boris Sokolov)

How much money to bring

Money in Zanzibar will be needed to pay for:

  • lodging;
  • food;
  • Visiting excursions.

Beach House on Nungwi Island

In Zanzibar you can find an acceptable option for 1700 rubles/24 hours.

Hotel 3 * with a good rating will cost at least 3500 rubles / 24 hours.

A 4* hotel with breakfast and a good rating will cost 4,500 rubles /24h.

A 5-star hotel will cost 10,000 r./24h. In addition to breakfast, the price also includes dinner.

The minimum amount needed for a good-quality meal is 1,000 r./1 person/24 hours. Prices for products are the same as in Russia. Fruits on the island are cheaper, alcohol is more expensive.

In general, the vacation of 1 person (when traveling independently) for 7 days will cost an average of 70 thousand rubles. In this case, you should take into account contingencies.

The average cost of the tour for 1 person – 64 thousand rubles. Visa is not included in the cost of the tour.

What currency to bring

  1. You must take a bank card, Euros or dollars (the best variant is large denominations of the new $100 bills).
  2. Dollars can be exchanged for Tanzanian shillings. You can do this at the airport or hotel.
  3. In many places you can pay only in cash: dollars or Tanzanian shillings.
  4. Russian rubles can not be exchanged.
  5. The new $100 bills with a blue protective strip change at a better rate than small or old banknotes.

Learn more about this in the author’s video.

Top 5 attractions: what to see

The main attractions of the island:

  • Jozani Forest. This is a unique tropical forest, which is home to wild cats, huge butterflies, rare birds, chameleons, Suni antelope and red colobus, the rarest monkeys on the planet.
  • Prison Island. It is a small island, which was uninhabited until the 60s of the XIX century. In those days the slave trade flourished, and the “live goods” were kept in a special prison, which was built there specifically for this purpose.

Zanzibar prison island

In 1893 the island was bought by the British. It was assumed that dangerous criminals would be kept here. But the yellow fever epidemic broke out, and the slave prison building was used as a hospital. Rumor has it that horrific experiments on human beings were conducted there. In the middle of the twentieth century, the convict prison was closed.

On this island, you can not only see the sullen prison building, but also interact with the giant Seychelles tortoises.

  • Cheetah’s Rock. This is a sanctuary where rare animals and birds live. Thanks to the efforts of the staff of the reserve, its inhabitants are not afraid of tourists.
  • Nakupenda. This island is hidden underwater, and appears only at low tide, and only in the morning.

Nakupenda

On the disappearing island you can eat shrimp and lobsters: dishes of them are included in the price of the tour.

  • Kikimzaki. This is the southernmost beach of the island. Almost every day here you can see Indo-Pacific dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, and even swim with them.

You can learn about all the main sights and beaches of Zanzibar in this video.

Scooter and Car Rental

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The car fleet consists of 95% of the following vehicles:

  • Toyota Rav;
  • Suzuki Grand Vitara;
  • Suzuki Vitara.
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There is no car rental station on the territory of the airport terminal.

Rent a scooter in Zanzibar

To avoid the possibility of overcharging, the car and scooter should be booked in advance at one of the rental companies.

Mobile Telephones and Internet

It is advisable to buy a SIM card in advance to stay in touch with each other. A 12GB SIM card costs only $12 in Zanzibar.

Internet in Zanzibar is stable and works even in the remote parts of the island.

Wi-Fi is available in all hotels: in some hotels it is paid, but it is very inexpensive.

Q&A

Common questions and answers are as follows:

The best excursions are a one-day safari to Celus Park, Nacupenda Island and Blue Safari. Cost is $60-80 per person, you can haggle, the operator will have options on the spot.

The airport is bad, old and stuffy. Transfer: if with children then individual, if without children – normal.

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go

The Zanzibar Archipelago, located in eastern Tanzania, in the heart of the Indian Ocean, welcomes travelers in search of peace and adventure. In total there are over 50 islands, of which the two most famous are Pemba and Unguja (better known as Zanzibar).

What to see in Zanzibar?

The Stone City Alley

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go - Photo 2

The Stone City Alley

The fusion of African, Arabic, Indian and European culture and the fusion of architecture that makes this city so unique and special. You will pass the old slave market where the first Anglican church in East Africa was built. Admire the walls covered with verses from the Koran and go to the local market to get drunk on the aroma of the many spices the island has to offer.

Giant tortoises from Prison Island

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go - Photo 3

Giant tortoises from Prison Island

Zanzibar was a stopover of the slave trade on the African coast. The slave trade, begun by the Portuguese in the 15th century, was maintained by the Omanis until it was abolished in 1873 after the bombing of the British navy. Slaves were arrested on the penal island, which later served as a quarantine station for the sick.

Today the ruins can be visited 30 minutes by boat from Stone Town and get a glimpse of the island’s history. Those who want to know more about this part of Zanzibar’s history will also want to visit the old slave market under the stone city’s Anglican cathedral. Giant tortoises can also be seen in this little tropical paradise.

Arabian Fort

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Arab Fort

After two centuries of Portuguese occupation the Arabs took over. The Omanis built this impressive fort in the late 17th century on the site of a centuries-old Portuguese church.

Monkeys of Jozani Forest

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go - Photo 5

Monkeys of Jozani Forest

A visit to this forest, located in the southeast of the island, is really worth it. Just because it differs from the usual forest and because you will meet small monkeys that are unique in the world: the red colobus monkeys (Piliocolobus kirkii). It is impossible not to see them, they are everywhere! They even let you get close, but it is better not to touch them, not only for your safety but also for theirs!

After a walk through the forest, you can also visit the island’s mangroves, an ecosystem of great importance. Protected and revered by the locals, mangroves are natural regulators that can cope with events such as tsunamis or rising ocean levels.

Visit a spice plantation

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go - Photo 6

Visit a spice plantation

Zanzibar isn’t called the “Island of Spices” for nothing. Take a spice tour of the plantations, forests and fields, where cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper are grown and sold around the world.

Villages of Zanzibar

Paje

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Paje

Paje is a fascinating combination of a traditional fishing village with luxury kitesurfing and foreigner’s resorts. The coastal strip is sandy and dotted with huts and palm trees. Padje, located at the intersection of Kitogani (Stone Town) in the west, Bwejuu in the north and Jambiani and Makunduchi in the south, is an excellent starting point for exploring the island.

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Jambiani

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, what to do, and when to go - Photo 8

Jambiani

Jambiani remains a traditional fishing village, although today there are several seaside resorts and kitesurfing centers. Like Padja, seaweed farming is the main source of income for the village, and women run the farm, picking weeds at low tide.

Nungwi

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and visit - Photo 9

Nungwi

Nungwi Village is located in the northern part of Zanzibar, about an hour’s drive from Stone City. Nungwi, a former traditional fishing village, is now also well developed with its resorts and restaurants . Nungwi Beach has long been considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar.

What things to do in Zanzibar?

Kitesurfing on Beaches

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and visit - Photo 10

Kitesurfing on the Beaches

Kitesurfing in Zanzibar is on the rise and water sports are booming on the island. The most popular spots are in the Nungwi area , near Paje and Matemwe . Other beaches for kitesurfing include Jambiani and Kivengwa.

Swim with dolphins

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and visit - Photo 11

Swim with dolphins

On the southwestern tip of Zanzibar is the village of Kizimkazi with its coconut palms, baobabs , beautiful turquoise water and above all its dolphins . In many cases you will be able to dive next to them, but make sure that the tour operator follows the rules of responsible dolphin watching.

Eat at a rock restaurant

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and visit - Photo 12

Eat at the Rock Restaurant

To get to this restaurant, you must cross the few meters separating it from the beach in a small boat. Located on an island, it gives the impression of being one with the rock. Sitting at a table, you can contemplate a breathtaking view of the ocean while enjoying a plate of fresh seafood.

When to go to Zanzibar?

Zanzibar’s climate is equatorial. Temperatures are mild all year round, ranging from 22 C to 26 C , with a dry season from June to October. The months of March to May are characterized by abundant rain. Zanzibar, located near the equator, is protected from some natural meteorological disasters (cyclone, tsunami…). The temperature is pleasant every month of the year, and the climate varies depending on the time of year.

During the dry season ( June to October ) there is almost no rainfall and the temperature is moderate, around 23 C . On the other hand, the wet season ( March to May ) is characterized by heavy rains, when the thermometer rises to 26 C . Therefore, the atmosphere is heavy. Note that the rains after a lull from June to October appear again at the end of the year, around November.

If you are planning a vacation to Zanzibar, the months of July to September are preferable, as well as the months of December to February. Remember that Zanzibar is primarily a seaside destination, so the water is warm all year round: from 25 C in August to 30 C in March.

Where is Zanzibar?

Zanzibar, Africa. What to see, do and when to go - Photo 13

The archipelago of Zanzibar is located off the east coast of Tanzania, opposite the capital Dar es Salaam. Lost in the Indian Ocean, it is 30 km wide and 85 km long and draws its unique culture from its proximity to the African continent. For centuries Zanzibar has been considered the gateway to East Africa, due to its strategic position at the crossroads between the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian world and India.

Information on flights to Zanzibar

Zanzibar Airport (Abeid Amani Karume International Airport / ZNZ) is the main international point of entry into the country. Located about 5km south of Zanzibar and Stone Town, flights with stops in East Africa, Europe, the United States and the Middle East ensure a fairly smooth arrival.

From Europe: Qatar Airways , Oman Air , Emirates and Turkish Airlines can take you to Zanzibar airport with one stop at the respective hubs (Doha, Oman, Dubai and Istanbul). These airlines are joined by Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airlines which are expanding their flight options to Zanzibar.

Before booking tickets to Zanzibar, think about the best seasons to stay there: summer ( July and August) and winter ( December to February) are high season and tickets are more expensive during these months.

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