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Zanzibar

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Travel Guide Africa Tanzania Zanzibar

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Introduction

Stone Town

Stone Town

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Zanzibar is the collective name for two islands in the Indian Ocean: Unguja (the main island) and Pemba Island. The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City. The city's old quarter, known as Stone Town, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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Geography

Zanzibar is located 6° south of the equator and 36 kilometres from the Tanzanian mainland coast. It is 108 kilometres long and 32 kilometres wide. It is about 2,461 km2 big and Zanzibar is mainly low lying, the highest point being 120 metres. Zanzibar is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town, said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. The coral reefs that surround the east coast are rich in marine diversity.

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Cities

  • Stone Town is the fascinating harbour town, full of culture and fascinating architecture with its winding alleys, bustling bazaars and Arab houses.

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Sights and Activities

  • Stone Town - the older quarter of Zanzibar City, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The streets are crooked and narrow, and most of them can’t accommodate cars.
  • Beaches
  • Kendwa, on the north coast, is a quiet and beautiful beach town. The beaches are white sand. The Indian Ocean water is blue, calm and perfect for swimming.
  • Nungwi is also on the north coast and close to Kendwa. Its a popular backpacker hang out with lots of cheap beach bungalows and little restaurants. Here you can also see where traditional dhows are built and also swim with turtles in the natural aquarium.
  • For excellent views of the setting sun, check out either at The Africa House hotel's top deck or Mercury’s restaurant.
  • Zanzibar is famous for growing spices, especially cloves. Travellers can take tours of a spice farm. The farmer takes you around and shows you various plants and their fruits.

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Events and Festivals

  • Mwaka Kogwa - Mwaka Kogwa is a popular Shirazi New Year festival with ancient Zoroastrian historical roots. During this event, it is traditional for men to have mock "fights" where they try to hit each other with banana stems. This play-fight is not only for entertainment, but it is also an arena for men to fight out their grievances with each other and clear the air for the upcoming new year. Women also participate in this festival, but instead of fighting, they dress in their finest clothes and sing while taunting the men to "fight" over them. The festivities vary from village to village but Makunduchi is where the biggest events take place. All are welcome to attend this local event, in fact, it is considered unlucky if those attending the holiday do not bring a guest. This event is held every year around the 3rd week in July.
  • Eid-ul-Fitr - Eid-ul-Fitr is a largely celebrated festival at the end of Ramadan, which is a month-long fast observed by Zanzibar Muslims. Eid-ul-Fitr is a four day celebration of feasting, family gatherings, and dancing. This holiday's celebration dates change every year with the lunar Islamic calendar.
  • Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) - This festival is the largest annual cultural event in East Africa, and it takes place around the first two weeks of July. The festival celebrates the arts and cultures of Africa, India, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Iran and the Indian Ocean islands. The festival features a film competition, music and theater performances, workshops, and conferences all representing the regional arts and culture of the festival. Visitors can also expect to see presentations that appeal to both women and children.
  • Zanzibar Cultural Festival - This eclectic festival, event is held in various event venues around Zanzibar, showcases the local customs and a traditional cultural heritage in the region. Visitors can expect to experience "taarab" music and dance performances. Locally made arts and crafts will also be available for purchase. Visitors can also expect to see a variety of street carnivals and fairs; they can also attend canoe races and bullfights. This event is held annually in July, just after ZIFF.
  • Full Moon Parties - Every full moon, a big party is held on Kendwa Beach. Although the party does not compare in scale to the Full Moon Parties held in Thailand, this Zanzibar party is a great time and is one of the livelier events held in the city. Locals and backpackers alike gather together on this beach during a full moon, and party the night away with food, drinking, music, and dancing.

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Weather

Zanzibar has a tropical climate with hot and humid conditions year round. The average highs range from around 28 °C from June to August to around 33 °C in February and March. Lows average between 22 °C and 25 °C respectively. Almost half of the annual 1,400 mm of rain falls in April and May, while July and August hardly see any rain at all except maybe the odd late afternoon shower.

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Getting There

By Plane

Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ) has a number of international flights.
Destinations include Nairobi, Johannesburg, Entebbe, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Frankfurt, Addis Ababa, Mombasa, Brussels, Milan and Rome.

By Boat

The ferry for Dar es Salaam leaves from Stone Town several times a day. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day from the port.

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Getting Around

By Plane

There are no internal flights on Zanzibar, though there are flights to Pemba. For connections to the mainland, check 'getting there by plane'.

By Train

There are no train services on the island.

By Car

Taxi's are easy to hail on the island and relatively cheap, although always be prepared to haggle! As a general rule, always offer a third of the price you are first given by a taxi driver.

By Bus

Dala-Dala's (or shared buses) connect Stone Town with beach locations on the coast. They are incredibly cheap but prepare to be rather squashed. They will fit as many people as possible, including bags, produce and livestock!

By Boat

You can charter boats to go snorkelling, diving or fishing if you like. Or join a tour of course.

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Eat

Stone Town is full of restaurants, from sea food to Indian specialities. For those with an adventurous approach to food the night market in Stone Town is a fantastic experience. In the beach resorts most interests are catered for but of course sea food is very popular.

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Drink

Kilimanjaro beer out of a big bottle, while sitting in a hammock on the beach, is the best drinking experience you can have!

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Sleep

There has been massive growth in hotels, villas, condos and guest houses over the past decade, providing travellers with a wide variety of affordable choices.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Coral Rock HotelJambiani ZanzibarHotel84
Cristal ResortPaje, PO BOX 3917 East CoastHotel83
Imani Beach Lodgep.o.box 3248Hostel88
Jambiani GuesthouseJambianiGuesthouse85
Kinazi UpepoZanzibarHotel-
Princess Salme InnMizingani Road, Malindi, Opposite New Fish Market Opposite HarbourHotel84
Tamarind Beach HotelBox 2206HOTEL79
Tanzanite Beach ResortnungwiHOTEL86
Twisted Palms LodgeBwejuu, on the oriental coast of ZanzibarHotel-
Zanzibar Fairytale GuesthouseJambiani, ZanzibarGuesthouse87
ZenjiHotelMalindi Opposite Cine Afrique nearby harbour, Stone TownHotel87
Mbuyuni Beach VillageJambiani village JambianiHotel83
Dolphin Bay Resort ZanzibarKizimkazi Mkunguni ZanzibarHotel-
Jambo Guest HouseP.O.Box 635Guesthouse-
Jambiani Villa GuesthouseOpporsite Abusons Store literally next the postofficeGuesthouse-
Ras Michamvi Beach ResortMichamviHotel-
Zanzibar Ocean ViewKilimani P.O BOX 4769Hotel-
Amaan BungalowsNungwi Beach North CoastApartment84
Shehe BungalowsJambiani Village Southern side of Jambiani East-CoastApartment79
Dudes Guesthousebox 210, Jambiani, Zanzibar JambianiGuesthouse90
Pakachi Beach ResortMain Road Paje/JambianiHotel-
Maruhubi Beach VillarZanzibarHOTEL79
Furaha ResortP.O.Box: 4525, ZanzibarHOTEL85
Step InKichakanjuki JambianiGuesthouse86
Jaribu Beach HotelPO Box 450 Paje JambianiHotel-
Zanzibar LodgeBehind Market St Stone TownGUESTHOUSE75
L' Oasis Beach HotelDimbani, KizimkaziHOTEL-
Warere Town HouseStone Town ZanzibarHOTEL88
Al Hapa HotelP.O. Box 210, JambianiHOTEL-
1001 NightsStone Town, Malindi Malawi Road Opposite Cine AfriqueHotel84
Ndame Beach Lodge ZanzibarPajeHOTEL-
Jambiani Whitesand BungalowsJambiani Beach Jambiani VillageGUESTHOUSE90
Baby Bush LodgeKiwengwaHOTEL83
DOMOKUCHUPO Box 3439 PajeHOTEL87
Sun and Seaview BungalowsPajeHOTEL77
Funguni Palace HotelFunguni Rd Stone TownHOTEL-
PolePole Villa GuesthouseJambianiGUESTHOUSE67
Mnazi HouseP.o Box 3884 Mapinduzi Street,Zanzibar TanzaniaGuesthouse-
Smiles Beach HotelNungwiHotel-
Crazy Mzungo's, on the beach in ZanzibarBwejuu BeachHostel-
Crazy Mzungos ZanzibarPaje ZanzibarGUESTHOUSE-
Mustapha' s PlaceBwejuuHOTEL-
Zanzibar Dorm Lodge (222 Hurumzi)222 Hurumzi St, Opposite 236 Hurumzi Hotel Stone TownGUESTHOUSE77
Villa Fleur De LysP.O. Box 44 - Makunduchi PO Box 1480HOTEL-
Malindi Guest HouseFunguni Rd, 609 Stone TownHOTEL-
Sagando HostelMichamvi KaeGUESTHOUSE85
Game Fish LodgeP O Box 3887 NungwiGUESTHOUSE-
New Teddy's PlacePajeHOSTEL-
Karibu Zanzibar HotelShangani St Opposite to Al Johari HotelHOTEL-
KS Beach Bungalows and RestaurantMatemweGuesthouse-
Executive Inn ChukwaniChukwani AreaGUESTHOUSE-
Kaure Sand Beach LodgeUroa Zanzibar East CoastGUESTHOUSE-
Royal Zanzibar Beach ResortNungwi NorthHOTEL-
Domokuchu Beach Bungalows'Paje BeachGuesthouse-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Major tourist areas and cities have internet cafes and many hotels offer (free) wifi nowadays. Connections can be slower at more remote places.
Also safari oriented places offer some sort of internet connections as well, by computers or wifi.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The International Dialling Code for Tanzania is +255, followed by area codes (e.g. (0)22 for Dar es Salaam, or (0)27 for Arusha). Calling from Tanzania, you dial 00 plus the relevant country code (44 for the UK, 1 for the USA).

There are four cell providers in Tanzania: Zain (the major one), Zantel, Vodacom and Tigo, who all offer roaming facilities. Connections are good in Tanzania, even in places such as Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and some parts of the Serengeti (the western and northern region of the Serengeti not). You can buy the prepaid cards in amounts ranging from $5 to $50. You can even buy a cell phone while in Tanzania. The price for a simple cell phone ranges between $55 and $80.

Avoid roaming charges with you home cellphone and turn it off. Instead, use a local SIM card or just wifi.

Post

Tanzania Posts Corporation is the national postal services of Tanzania. There are post officies in most major cities and towns throughout the country, which are generally open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm and Saturday from 9:00am to noon. Services are generally quite reliable though not very fast. Prices for international airmal services start at around 500-600 TSHS to other countries in East Africa and 700-900 TSHS to Europe and North America for postcards and letters up to 20 grams. Small packages start at around 2,000-3,000 TSHS, but it's generally better to do business with international parcel services like TNT, UPS, DHL or FedEx.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -6.16591
  • Longitude: 39.202641

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This is version 55. Last edited at 10:06 on Sep 12, 14 by Utrecht. 27 articles link to this page.

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