Zanzibar Facts

  • Time zone: GMT + 3
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)
  • Approximate exchange rate: 1 US$ = 2,182.00 TZS, 1 €uro = 2,436.73 TZS
  • Official languages: Kiswahili & English
  • Electricity: 220 – 240 V AC 50 Hz – 3 pins square or round type
  • International Dialing code: + 255, followed by 9-digit local number

In accordance with the Zanzibar bank regulation, Zanzibar only accepts USD bank notes that have been printed post 2003. Please note that ATM machines can only be found in Stone Town and that the best exchange rates are also found in the capital. USD & Euro in cash are usually accepted.

Credit cards

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Zanzibar. Where credit cards are accepted, it is usually Visa and Master Card, and a surcharge is often levied. It is preferable to carry enough cash or travellers cheques. US Dollars are the main trading currency. There is no way to withdraw cash dollars on a card in Zanzibar. For using credit cards mostly there is a surcharge of 5-10%. Some places also have a surcharge on traveller’s cheques.

Tipping

It’s customary to tip often in Zanzibar. This is a way of expressing gratitude rather than a payment.

Situation

Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar, Pemba Islands and several islets. The combined population of Zanzibar including Pemba is approx 1,300,000. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast. It is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magical history of Stone Town, old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar. It is a place of winding alleys, bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses.You can find their beautiful brass-studded, carved, wooden doors – there are more than 500 different examples. You can spend many hours just wandering through the fascinating narrow streets and alleyways.

Visas & entry requirements

All visitors require a valid passport for the duration of their stay. Most nationalities can obtain their visa directly at the airport upon arrival. The fees vary according to the country you originate from, it is advisable to check with your nearest Tanzanian Embassy. Visas can also be obtained from Tanzania Diplomatic Representatives abroad.

Vaccination certificate

All visitors are required to show a yellow fever certificate to enter Zanzibar. Other recommended vaccinations are typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, meningitis, and hepatitis A. Visitors should also carry a separately stored extra supply of any prescription medication. Anti-malaria medication is recommended when traveling within East Africa. Anti-malaria tablets are recommended to be taken a few days prior to arrival, during your stay and for a short period after returning home.

Weather

Zanzibar is located just 6º south of the Equator, and has an ideal climate for most of the year. Slightly more humid than the Tanzanian mainland, and with pleasant sea breazes, especially on the North and East sides of the island. Zanzibar enjoys 12 hours of daylight every day. Summer: from November to May hot, some humidity with some rains in November, March, April and May. Winter: from June to October warm with some clouds in June, otherwise sunny. Best: December to February and from July to October. Religion About 95% of the local population is muslim. The remainder are hindu or christian and some with traditional beliefs. As well as many mosques, Stone Town hosts an anglican and a catholic cathedral and a hindu temple. All live in a very good way together. Please behave respectfully towards the local culture and avoid showing drunk behaviour, walking through the village in bikinis and during ramadam avoid eating/drinking/smoking in public places. During the fast of Ramadan for a month every year, the believers are forbidden to eat, drink or smoke between sunrise and sunset. As a result, many smaller restaurants and snack bars are closed during the day and open at 6.30pm. Offices and shops are also closed in the afternoons. Tourist resorts and hotels are unaffected, but local discos, clubs and musical shows remain closed. For the end of Ramadan, the Eid Al Fitr, there are the hugest feasts and parties.

Food

Lobsters, kingfish, prawns, octopus, crabs and squid are just a few of the many types of seafood on offer. It is not surprising that Zanzibar’s specialities are centred around what is available locally, so take full advantage of the variety of spicy seafood dishes on offer. Coconut also features in many dishes.

Drinking water

We recommend you drink only bottle mineral water during your stay on the island. Remember to carry plenty of water with you when you are joining any tours and excursions to avoid dehydration. Many trips are on dry dusty roads and water is not always available in the remote areas.

Safety

Although Zanzibar is still a safe island, usual precautions should be taken. Do not carry large sums of money or wear expensive jewellery during your stay. All valuables should be kept in a safe deposit box at the hotel. Avoid walking alone on beaches, especially at night.

Driving

Driving is on the left. Please take extra care when people crossing or walking along busy roads. You will find that there are not always pavements or sufficient lighting in the evenings and cars do not automatically stop at Zebra crossings. In order to drive in Zanzibar you must have your international driving license.

Insurance

We recommend a comprehensive insurance policy for all travelers in the unlikely event of a serious illness or injury. Holiday insurance can exclude certain sports and activities, please check your policy very carefully. Please not that any settlements for bills for your personal insurance cover (damage or loss of personal items, personal accident and medical expenses) must be settled locally in Zanzibar and claims made to your insurance company on return to your country. Clients are responsible for their own insurance and Palm Tours is not liable if a client should fail to purchase adequate insurance. All game and sporting activities undertaken by clients, such as parasailing, scuba diving, or horseback riding are at their own risk.

Public holidays

  • 1st January – New years day
  • 12th January – Revolution Day
  • 26th April – Union day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • 1st May – Labour Day
  • Prophet Muhammad’s Day
  • 7th July – Business Community Day
  • 8th August – Peasant Day
  • 9th December – Independence Day
  • 25th December – Christmas Day
  • 26th December – Boxing Day, Eid-el-Fitri, Eid-el-Haj

Domestic flights

Several airlines offer a range of scheduled flights between Zanzibar and Tanzania’s main cities. From the international airport of Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar the flight time is of 20 min. Be aware that their are no night flights. The last flight from Dar es salaam or Zanzibar is around 6:15 pm.

Zanzibar by Sea

There are several sea ferry companies that ply the waters between Zanzibar. You can book your ferry tickets through Palms Tours.

Help Us Preserve Zanzibar’s Magic

Zanzibar is unspoilt by the unpleasant effects of mass tourism – the number of visitors to the island is still low, but has been on the rise throughout the 1990’s. It is our hope that increases in tourism do not impact adversely on the magic of Zanzibar, and we humbly ask all visitors to follow a handful of guidelines, ensuring they will not offend the traditional values of the local people or harm the environment in any way. It is typical of the Zanzibaris’ friendly nature that they will not harass you for infringing these guidelines, but you should be aware that this is merely politeness, and is not an excuse for ignoring them!

  • Please ensure that you dress modestly when off the beach. Women should not expose too much leg and chest, and topless sunbathing is also strongly discouraged.
  • If you have children and are bringing them to Zanzibar, please make sure that they don’t display their expensive toys in front of their Zanzibari contemporaries. This may instill a false sense of values in the local children, whose parents are unlikely to be able to afford such luxuries.
  • If you are diving or snorkelling, you may be tempted to collect some pretty shells from Zanzibar’s many coral reefs. Please do not, as this kills entire reefs, the devastating effects of which can be seen in the well-trodden areas of East African coast. Although there are shell sellers, you are asked not to buy shells from them, as it simply encourages this harmful industry.
  • Zanzibar is an amazingly photogenic place, but if you want to take photographs of people, please ask their permission first out of courtesy.
  • If you are non-Muslim, then please do not enter any of Zanzibar’s many mosques.

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