Zanzibar

The
Destination

Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline is magical, with tranquil islands and sleepy coastal villages steeped in centuries of Swahili culture.

Here, Zanzibar offers a space to relax and rejuvenate. Its powdery beaches are backed by palm trees and massive baobabs, and warm crystal blue waters that are famed for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Take an easy walk through the old town to experience the culture and history - visit the old slave quarter at Stone Town or browse the heavenly spice markets. In the evenings, sample delicious fresh seafood caught fresh that day.

Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar and little has changed in the last 200 years. The grand old Arabian homes lining the narrow streets and winding alleys give the city its own unique charm. Stone Town is also the port for trips out to Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, where stories are told of rebellious slaves.

Zanzibar Aerial View

What’s included

All transfers to and from the airport to your hotel, including transfers from your previous climb or safari if part of your Travel Tanzania itinerary.

Travel Tanzania can arrange day tours to Jozani Forest Tour, Prison Island, Safari Blue excursions on request.

Zanzibar Fresh Fish
Relaxing Message Zanzibar
Aerial View Overlooking Chalets Zanzibar
Chalets Zanzibar
Dining Sunset Zanzibar

What
to expect

Zanzibar is a great escape for couples and the solo traveler alike. We have range of handpicked accommodation, suited to any taste and environment. Each area of the island has something different to offer, and there are many stunning boat trips available to the smaller islands off the main coast, such as Changuu Island.

South of the island is where you’ll find golden sand and coral reefs – a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. It tends to be less busy in the south, so if you’re looking for a real getaway, head south.

The north is home to the islands nightlife and is a popular tourism hotspot. Here, the ocean is beautifully warm, and you can spend the day relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Then in the evening, head into town for a wide choice of restaurants and entertainment.

If you’re looking for a little water action, head east for kite surfing and water activities. There are beautiful beaches here again, and this side of the island offers a more laid-back vibe.

Back over to the west is where you’ll find Stone Town. The windy roads and cobble streets take you through an architectural history of the town, leading down to the markets and traditional restaurants. Stone Town is also the place to pick up a boat trip for one of the smaller island excursions.

It takes no more than an hour to cross the island, and you can travel by scooter or taxi. But if you want an early start on the kite surfing or boat tour, you could well consider taking in two different spots. However, you decide to spend your vacation, we can assist with hotels, transfers and day tour bookings.

Zanzibar is situated in the tropics and has a hot and humid climate. The island is almost surrounded by a coral reef and the sea water is warm (20 degrees) and quite calm. During low tide it is possible to walk out to the reef in places.

April to June is monsoon season and rain will keep you indoors for parts of the day. Many resorts close down for this period, but for budget travelers this is the time to travel. July to October has an average temperature of 25ºC with low humidity and light evening breezes. This time of year sees few tourists in Zanzibar so for the more private traveler this is the time to go.

November to March is very hot and humid, though the short rains fall during this period. Ramadhan (Muslim Festival) is during December/January and many Muslims fast during this period. Some local businesses close at this time but all resorts and accommodation are open during this time. The festival does move earlier every year so it would be important to check dates.

Zanzibar is well known for the general hospitality and friendliness of the locals.

The majority of the locals are of Bantu origin with many Arab influences. Due to a policy introduced by the Tanzanian Government in the late 1960’s tribes were relocated and broken up to prevent tribal warfare as in neighboring Kenya. Though this certainly contributed to the prevailing peace in the country it also is one of the main roots of the general poverty because of a lack of skills.

The different islands usually define which tribes they originate from. For instance the Waunguja are from Unguja Island while the Wapemba tribe is from Pemba Island and the Watumbatu are from Tumbato Island. There are tribal rivalries between the Waunguja and Wapemba but it’s mostly political.

Zanzibar was visited by a variety of nations through the ages, and of these the Shirazi Persians and Omani Arabs settled and ruled. This caused the predominant Islamic community. The earliest visitors were the Arabs traders in the 8th century. The mosque at Kizimkazi is the earliest building on Zanzibar and dates from 1107.

The Monsoon winds brought the Arab traders to trade in mainly ivory, slaves and spices. Unguja (known generally as Zanzibar Island) and Pemba provided a base for the Omani Arabs as it was fairly small and easy to defend. This allowed them to control the coast from Mozambique to Somalia. Sultan Seyyid Said moved his Sultanate from Muscat in 1832 as it was easier to defend and his Busaid Dynasty ruled the next 130 years. At this point the Arab community, being the main landowners, had most of the wealth and did not intermarry with Africans and generally kept to themselves and thus kept the wealth.

The Shirazi Persians from the Middle East settled on the coast after Abi Ben Sultan Hasan of Shiran in Persia had a nightmare that made him believe in the imminent devastation of his community. He and a group of his family and select followers decided to migrate and set out in 7 dhows. They were however separated and landed on the coast at 7 different places and began settlements. And so in 975 Zanzibar was settled.

The Shirazi did however intermarry with the local Africans and generated a community with quite distinctive features. This group of Zanzibaris were mostly fisherman and involved in agriculture. The rest of the Shirazi community that did not intermarry kept their identity as a separate group.

Indian traders also settled in the area and worked as shopkeepers, traders and artisans. The British attempted to stop the slave trade centred in Zanzibar as part of their missionary and trading activities.

Zanzibar culture is infused by religion. Approximately 95% of locals are Muslim, and dates back to the original Arab settlers. The rest of population is either Hindu or Christian. During the 1963 revolution many of the then large Hindu population were killed or left the country. The later Portuguese rule and British Colonialism brought Christianity to the area.

The official language of Tanzania is Swahili and it is the most spoken language on the island. The language is derived from Kiswahili which was fashioned by the intermarriages of Arabs, Persians, Omanis and Zanzibar Bantu. The most pure form of this language is still spoken by the Zanzibaris; most of them speak English as well and have a decent knowledge of Italian and Arabic.