Zanzibar is made up of many islands, the main two being Unguja (sometimes called Zanzibar) and Pemba. The land is divided into three main areas, the plantation area, the coral rag area and the indigenous forests. The highest point is 390 feet above sea level. The population is estimated at around 1.1 Million, including Pemba island.
History of Zanzibar
Zanzibar was probably first inhabited roughly 2000 years ago, by the Bantu peoples who crossed over to the islands from the mainland [Tanzania]. The islands have a colourful history as it was a strategic trading location and visited over the centuries by the Persians, Arabs, Indians and the Europeans, specifically the Portuguese and the British. The first of these merchants, the Persians, are thought to have visited the islands around the 10th century. Between the 12 to 16th centuries, Zanzibar became a city state and it’s rising importance led to a Portuguese presence by the 16th century. After a short duration of Portuguese control, the British assumed control followed by the Omani arabs, who maintained their authority over the islands well into the 19th century. Apart from being a trading hub,the islands were also a major slave trade market, with the trade finally being stopped around the year 1873. Omani rule gradually came to an end and in 1964 the islands became a part of the United Repoublic of Tanganyika [Tanzania].
Generally the climate is moderate tropical and warm all year round with a minimal temperature variation of 24 to aprox 33 degrees Celcius year round- there are two distinct rainy seasons, between April – May and November – December. Rainfall is rarely long in duration and more often than not lasts a few hours to be followed by clearer sunny hot weather.
Getting There and Visas
One must have a valid Tanzania entry visa to visit the Zanzibar Archipelago. A visa is required for nationals of the European Union, Switzerland and Canada. It costs 50USD. For those transiting through Kenya a transit visa (valid 24 hours) is essential. It costs 20USD. You can also anticipate these steps and get your visa from your country of residence.
For EU citizens, your passport must be valid 6 months after the return date of your stay.
If you travel with your children and they are not already on your passport, know now that minors must have their own passport, regardless of their age.
As for getting to Zanzibar, regular international flights land in nearby Dar es Salaam, from where you can easily get a short connecting flight to Zanzibar. There are also regular flights from Arusha and Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi is the regional flight hub with many international airlines flying there.
Vaccination against yellow fever and the International Vaccinations Booklet are no longer mandatory for entry into Tanzania from EU Zone. Although, if you live in an area at risk (especially the neighboring African countries), they will be asked.
Similarly if you do visit the island of Zanzibar after your stay in Tanzania, the vaccine for yellow fever is required. Diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis A / B and typhoid are recommended.
Malaria is endemic in the country. Be sure to protect yourself against mosquito bites with repellents, mosquito nets and clothing covering arms and legs. We recommend you make an appointment with your GP or a specialist for further information on this subject.
Beaches and Excursions
There are many beautiful beaches in Zanzibar – the notable beach locations include Nungwi and Kendwa [ northen tip of Unguja], Matemwe [ mid south east], Kiwengwa [ eastern coast], Paje and Uroa.
As for activities, the islands are known for their pristeen marine parks so diving and snorkelling are rewarding, as is fishing, provided by specialist operators. One can also enjoy taking cultural / sight seeing tours of the island and stone town, known as “spice tours” because of visits to the island’s many clove and spice plantations. Dolphin tours are also offered in Kizimkazi, allowing visitors to see and come close to these intelligent and graceful creatures.
MONDAY-FRIDAY – 8.30am – 3:00pm
97% of the population follow the Islamic religion; we therefore request you to dress accordingly in public and avoid shorts & unappropriated sleeveless shirts.