Zanzibar

Travel Guide Africa Tanzania Zanzibar

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Introduction

Stone Town

Stone Town

© Nicip

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.

The island and the surrounding islets are divided into three regions. They are Zanzibar Central/South, Zanzibar North and Zanzibar Urban/West. Zanzibar City, on the central west coast, is the capital and largest city of Zanzibar and the region of Zanzibar Urban/West. The population of Unguja was about 900,000 in 2016, with the most concentrated populations in the Zanzibar Urban Region.

The larger and more populated of Zanzibar's two main islands, Unguja is separated from its northern neighbor Pemba by 48 km of open sea. The mainland of Tanzania, which lies to the southwest of Unguja and is separate from it by the Zanzibar Channel, is considerably closer, as is the major Tanzanian mainland port of Dar es Salaam. Smaller islands surround the coast, notably Tumbatu in the northwest, Uzi in the south, and Mnemba Atoll in the northeast. A considerable number of smaller islands and reefs lie off Unguja's southwest coast.

Many of Zanzibar's main centres are on Unguja, and most of the Zanzibari economy is also based here. Other than the capital, the island's major population centres include Mbweni, Mangapwani, Chwaka, and Nungwi. Tourism is a major industry.

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History

Zanzibar is rich in history, with numerous archaeological sites dotting the island, most notably at Unguja Ukuu, just to the north of the causeway which links Unguja and Uzi Islands. The island has been deeply influenced by Arab culture for many centuries, and was part of the Sultanate of Oman starting in 1698. In 1896, Zanzibar was the location of the world's shortest war - they surrendered to the British Army after 38 minutes.

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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.
Chwaka – a small fishing village by the sea.
Jambiani – fishing village stretching miles along the beach with lots of small hotels and guesthouses.
Kendwa – a small fishing village a couple of miles from Nungwi, a great place for reading on the beach or scuba diving.
Kizimkazi – a small village on the south coast and starting point for dolphin tours.
Matemwe.
Nungwi – a popular small resort town on the northern tip of the island.
Paje – a small village on the east coast known for excellent kiteboarding conditions.
Uroa Village – a small fishing village on the east coast, resorts on the northern and southern side.

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Sights and Activities

Stone Town - the older quarter of Zanzibar City, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Blending Moorish, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African traditions and architectures, it is possible to spend days winding through Stone Town's labyrinthine alleys. That said, a day will give you plenty of insight. The inner city is small and can easily be explored by foot.
Former Slave Market. The museum only consists of slave chambers (one for 50 men and one for 75 women and children), a memorial, and an Anglican Church built on the site of the tree that served as whipping post. It provides only very limited information on the history of the building or slave trade in Zanzibar. Apart from the slave chambers nothing is left, as a hospital has been built into the old market. However, you can go into the holding chambers in the cellar to see how this wretched piece of history played itself out in small dark dungeon-type cells. The property was purchased by Dr David Livingstone (one of the biggest proponents of the abolishment of slavery) who wanted to turn the grounds into a haven after the atrocities committed there by the Oman Arab and British slave traders.
East Beaches. The seemingly endless beaches near Paje or Jambiani are very popular among travellers. The sand is brilliant white, and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are a deep teal. edit
Kendwa Beach (on the North Western coast, some km south of Nungwi). With a beautiful sand beach, here you can swim during low and high tide, which is not always possible on the East side of the island. Just beware of the Sea Urchins that give a powerful sting if stepped upon during low tide. Kendwa offers lots of beach bars and restaurants serving everything from pizza to local curries. Kendwa Beach is also known for the Full Moon Party, arranged Saturdays just before or after a full moon. While not as big or extreme as those arranged in Thailand, the parties on Zanzibar attract quite a large group of people, especially when the full moon coincides with public holidays in Europe and North America (i.e. Easter and Christmas).
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.
Spice tour. Zanzibar Island, a.k.a., the Spice Island, was an important stop in the Spice Trade centuries ago. Today, it is one of the few places in the world where saffron is produced, and many other Middle Eastern/Asian spices (cardamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc.) are grown here. Several companies take you on a tour which winds you around the island, showing you how cinnamon, jack fruit, kukurma or anise (licorice) are grown; letting you sample some of the exotic fruit grown on the island; and allowing you to tour the beautiful plantations. In Stone Town be wary of booking and paying directly on the street, in which case the tout might just take your money (from US$10) without a booking. Another common scam is for a tout to follow you into (or give you directions to) the office, in which case the tour price will increase by US$5, with you paying the commission. If you have a car you can drive to the Kizimbani area yourself, where spice tours are offered. Again, depending on your bargaining skills you may be able to get it for Tsh 22,500 (two persons) plus the tips (TSh 6,000). On the tips: you will be expected to tip the guy that climbs up the coconut tree singing a song (yes, it is that touristy), the guy that does the fruit tasting, the guy brading stuff from palm leaves while you walk around, and of course your guide. Usually TSh 1,000-2,000 should be fine. While you have never asked, nor were made aware of this entourage, this is how their scheme works. Given the nature of this even more people may show up during your tour and may expect tips.

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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

Although Zanzibar is part of the Union it maintains its own immigration service and you need to have a valid passport to enter, even if you come from mainland Tanzania. This farcically means you must fill out a Tanzania arrival card for your arrival in Stone Town, and a Tanzania departure card when you leave. Also note that immigration in Zanzibar may check your vaccination records for yellow fever.

By Plane

Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ IATA) is on Unguja Island, about 5 km south of Zanzibar City. Airlines that fly to Zanzibar are: Regional Air, Precision Air, ZanAir, Coastal Aviation, Tropical Air, Mango, Flydubai, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Auric Air, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Fly540.

Zanzibar has 2 departure taxes: domestic flights TSh 5,000 (or US$5), and international flights US$30. For almost all cases though, this tax is incorporated into your flight ticket price.

Transport to/from the airport
There are taxis waiting for passengers when you exit the terminal. Despite having a "list" of prices for the various tourist destinations on the island, prices are negotiable. Although you can arrange a pick up at the airport with your hotel or tour company, even a little negotiating will get you a better price than the inflated one quoted by most hotels. However, some Stone Town hotels do offer free shuttle service from the airport.

There is a bus stop just outside of the airport gate. The dala dala is mainly used by locals, and can be very awkward if you have large bags or suitcases, but is managable with a backpack. The buses run along creek road, TSh 200, 20 min (2018). If traveling from Stone town to the airport look for buses marked Ndege (Airport in Swahili). These can be most convienently caught at the crossroads just south of the market on creek road.

By Boat

There are many ferries and catamarans that can take you between Dar es Salaam and the Island. Azam Marine, Sea Express, Sea Star, Seagull Kilimanjaro and Sepideh Megaspeed Liners are among the nicest available. Some of these are run by Azam (2 hr, US$35 for non-residents, leaving Dar es Salaam at 07:00, 09:30, 12:30 and 15:45 and returning from Stone Town at 07:00, 09:30, 12:30 and 15:30.

Depending on demand, weather and condition of the boats additional ferries may run at different times. Arrive at the port at least 30 minutes in advance to allow for emigration, luggage security checks and to secure a good seat on the boat.

First class is US$5 more expensive than economy and often not worth the money: While there’s good comfortable seating, you’ll stay in a freezing room with the A/C set to 18 °C and foreigners are often allowed in first class anyways, since they already pay around 2½ times the local price. If you prefer to stay on the sundeck outside, choose economy.

The quoted US$ price may be more expensive when paid in local currency, so it may be a good idea to exchange money first.

Flying Horse makes the same journey for US$20. However, it will take around 4½ hours. There are also evening departures on a slow night ferry. It runs towards the destination and anchors there until the morning before it enters the port. This has been reported to be a beautiful trip, but security is an issue and close attention to belongings must always be paid.

You may be able to hire a private boat for cheaper, but the trip will take considerably longer and unless you know something about boats, you could be on a vessel that is not equipped for bad weather conditions or an emergency. Remember: you get what you pay for.

While not advisable there are also dhow connections, e.g. to Bagamoyo (4-8 hr, TSh 5,000). Since you’re not arriving through official customs on this route you may need to pay a departure tax of US$5 on exit and face some questionnaires.

Day trips
Ferry schedules allow you to do the return trip the same day. For instance leave Dar es Salaam at 07:30 and return from Zanzibar on the 15:45 ferry. That leaves plenty of time to explore the Stone Town, the museum and have a nice lunch. The trip is beautiful and lasts about 2 hours. However, if the weather is bad it can take much longer and the trip can be very unpleasant. If you suffer from seasickness you are advised to take some anti-seasickness pills prior to boarding. The on-board personnel hands out free sickness bags at the start of the journey.

Touts and annoyances
The "porters" at the Dar ferry terminal will hassle you for money, expect tips for referring you to "the best boat" or guide you to a ticket office that sells tickets at inflated prices. To avoid touts be forceful and head straight towards the ticket office of the ferry you intend to take. Touts will tell you anything to get you to use a service which pays them commission, and scam you in any way they can. They will say the company kiosk you are heading towards is closed, the ferry runs only later or only goes to mainland destinations (when they do service Zanzibar), they will say their service is a 90-min ferry (when it actually takes over 2 hours), they will quote you a price for first class tickets (but issue "e/c" economy tickets and pocket the difference), they will sell you a return ticket (leaving you to later find out it is actually only valid for return travel with a different, cheaper company and the seller has pocketed the difference). The dock is a zoo -- a prime hangout for pickpockets.

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Getting Around

By Taxi

Journeying outside Stone Town is most comfortably done with a taxi or a private car. The latter are essentially also taxis with drivers although they don't have the official taxi designation. They may however be a bit cheaper than a cab (10-20%) and your hotel receptionist can likely arrange one for you (the hotel may charge you a hefty commission Airport-Nungwi US$60 - compare below). Negotiate the price before and know the street price so you don't end up paying an overly high commission instead.

Sample fares include:

Stone Town to Nungwi or Kendwa: 1½ hr, from TSh 60,000
Airport to Nungwi: Tsh 65,000
Nungwi to Kizimkazi: 2 hr, from TSh 80,000
Airport/Stone Town to Paje: 1 hr, from TSh 50,000

By Shared Taxi

These cost US$10 per person for a trip anywhere on the island. Pick up and drop off wherever you choose; tickets must be booked online before travel from the Zanzibus.

By Car

Driving by yourself can be dangerous and may not be common place. Roads are sometimes in horrendous condition and all kind of obstacles (sudden bumps, animals, people, etc.) are to be expected at any time. Avoid driving at night if you can. Driving with the upper beams on the whole time is a stupid but unfortunately common practice that you shouldn't imitate. It is enough that one person cannot see.

That said a car will give you freedom to explore and may save you a lot of time. Even a one day and one way car hire may make sense, as the car can be delivered to and picked up from your hotels in the morning and evening, e.g. Nungwi to Stone Town (US$30 for a small 4x4 Escudo).

Petrol is priced at TSh 2,210 per liter (Nov 2017) and gas stations are well distributed on the island. Don't take chance on running out of petrol though.

There are many police checks on the roads. So make sure you have your driving licence, the temporary Zanzibar drivers permit, and the car insurance sticker on the windscreen. Also check that the rental car is roadworthy and the police will wave you through with a kind jambo.

The temporary Zanzibar drivers permit can be obtained from local authorities. However, if you ask your car rental company in advance, they should be able to get it for you and deliver it with the car. They probably need a photocopy of your home driving licence (a photo sent via e-mail should also work). Expect to pay about TSh 16,000 for the licence.

Hotels are happy to arrange a taxi or rental car for you although they might add some (sometimes: a lot) commission to the price.

It has been reported that police invent "offences" to get bribes. One scheme may involve to threaten to go to trial in a couple of days. They may even jump in your car on the grounds that you have to drive them to the police station. However, when they state "How can we sort this out?" Tsh 1,000-5,000 will be enough to forget the "offence".

By Daladala

A network of daladalas, minivans, small buses and sometimes pickup trucks, exist which service all the major villages on the island at a very cheap price (any route on the island should be less than TSh 2,000 per person). The adventurous, armed with a phrase book and map, will experience a wonderful side of Zanzibar life, which all too often is just another photograph to the typical tourist zooming past. It will take you a good 2 hours to get to Nungwi, on the northern tip of the island. There’s no daladala service running north to south. Instead you’ll have to go via Stone Town again and change buses there.

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

Zanzibar cuisine offers a much greater variety than the mainland one. While the usual cheap eating stalls cater the same ubiquitous chapati, rice, chips and Ugali dishes, esp. in Stone Town a lot of great food can be found.

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.

Forodhani Gardens. opens in the late afternoon. Forodhani Gardens is a nightly affair by the water. It is not to be missed place to eat in Zanzibar. It starts at around 5PM and gets busy after the sun sets. If you are not scared of local food, then this place is definitely worth a visit. A large open space with many food stalls and local food. Here you can also get the famous Zanzibar pizza, something like a savory crèpe, filled with beef, eggs and salad in the default version.
It is possibly the cheapest food you will find on the island, and value for money too. Ranging from crab claws, calamari steaks to plain old chips done in big woks. You are well advised to try the local sugar cane juice.

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Drink

While predominantly a Muslim community, small bars can be found everywhere in Zanzibar.

The sugar cane juice and fresh coconut milk that are mainly available in Stone Town are not to be missed.
Try the ginger beer (tangawizi, also available on the mainland) which is not a beer, but a soda with a spicy ginger flavor.
Beach bars on the beaches will supply you with good local beer and cocktails. You must try a Dawa-cocktail!

The Old Dispensary has a basic "top storey" bar which offers nice views on the harbour and beaches (local beer: TSh 4000). Despite its location it is off the beaten track and you may find yourself with a few locals and a band sipping at quite some height.

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Sleep

Zanzibar does not offer much of cheap accommodation. The cheapest budget hotels in Stone Town start from TSh 25,000 for a double, and normal budget hotel prices range TSh 45,000 to 90,000 and that's during the low season, where several hotels stay closed due to lack of customers. The quoted prices are after bargaining: low-season is a good time to do so and not having your bags with you when doing so, will also give you a boost. Accommodation at the beaches is often more expensive, with the cheapest options starting at TSh 50,000.

Zanzibar Lodge (Njila guest house), Stone Town (250 m from darajani market), ☏ +255 777458584. Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. The lodge has 4 rooms and can accommodate up to 8 people. single US$25, double US$40 (including breakfast).
Coco del Mer. Nice and central hotel with mostly decent rooms. Ask for discount for about half price. There is also a restaurant downstairs. double US$60.
Flamingo Guest House. A great budget place 10 minutes from the city centre. It is simple, clean and rooms with private bathrooms are a bit more expensive. The breakfast is quite nice and substantial including fruit, a loaf of bread, eggs, and coffee/tea. Single US$15, double $28, dorm $15 per person. edit
Funguni Palace Hotel, Funguni Rd (near to Ferry), ☏ +255 777411842, ✉ fungunipalace@yahoo.com. 24 hrs. This hotel contains 11 rooms in Zanzibar traditional style inside. Some rooms have self-contained bathrooms and some use shared bathrooms. There are air conditioners in rooms. US$35.
Pearl Guest House (in middle Stone Town, about 5 minutes walk east of the port and Mercury's Restaurant. If your are coming from the market, it is about 2 minutes walk east of the junction of Creek Road and Malindi Street). A simple budget guest house for backpackers. Don't expect much (common bathrooms, cold water shower and without breakfast) but the owner is friendly and it offers a very good value for money.
Malindi Guest House Hotel, Funguni Rd (Near the ferry). Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. It's close to the Zanzibar Port (off Malindi Street) and near the fish market (but the smell isn't so bad). Known to double book rooms during high season. US$20 per person per night, $40 sharing with private bathroom.. edit
Annex of Abdullah (south of Jaws Corner, (opposite white & green Mosque)). Very basic but very cheap single rooms with shared bathrooms. Basic breakfast included. A really decent find for the budget traveller. US$15.
Jambo Guest House. Check-out: 10AM. Simple, but nice and clean rooms with fans and shared bathrooms and a great breakfast with lots of fresh fruit make this a welcoming place that is famous with backpackers and fills up quickly. The staff is a bit disorganized, but generally friendly. Has free Wi-Fi. low-season double from TSh 45,000.
River Man Hotel. A cheapy, but some of rooms are really big and bright. Rooms area clean and have fans and shared bathrooms. Breakfast can be organized on request. It's next to a mosque and a busy walking street, so check which room your getting if that’s an issue for you. Low-season double from TSh 30,000.
Furaha Resort, ☏ +255 772279353, ✉ hassanjumbe@yahoo.com. Check-out: 10AM. 7 km from Stone Town the way to north of Island, with a nice rooms,sunset view restaurant. Rates quoted above are on per room per night and on bed and breakfast basis. Children below 6 years old will be allowed free if no extra bed is needed. Extra bed US$20 per night. Facilities: swimming pool, en suite bathroom, AC, hot water, ceiling fan, pool garden view rooms offer cable TV and mini bar. Single/double occupancy rates: basic room US$50/65, standard/twin US$85/80, pool view deluxe US$75/95, Triple Deluxe (1 king size bed and 1 single bed) US$115. All taxes are included.
Pongwe Beach Hotel. A small hotel on the eastern side of the island. It is ideal for those looking for a relaxed and secluded "paradise island" experience. The food here is also excellent with half-board and bed & breakfast options available. Most rooms have sea views, some have their own splash-pools.
Botanic Country House in Tunguu, central region (behind the new Tanzanian House of Parliament) is a great option for budget travellers who have had enough of the beach. A night for two people goes for US$40/night which includes a tasty breakfast. Nights are cool and it is a mosquito-free environment in the countryside of Zanzibar.
Dhow Inn, Paje Beach (turn left at the Paje junction, go for about 200 metres, then turn right), ☏ +255 777525828. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. This quiet, comfortable and atmospheric hotel is small and intimate with only 6 rooms. Well equipped rooms, stylish swimming pool, free wifi, attentive staff and the hotel is active with various local NGOs. No small children. US$65.
Tamarind Beach Hotel, Uroa Village, East Coast, ☏ +255 777411191. Bungalow hotel by the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Zanzibar. US$380.
Fontaine Garden Village, Stone Town (south east coast of Zanzibar in the village of Bwejuu), ☏ +255 713419451, +255 714902618, ✉ reception@fontainevillage.com. Offers 11 bungalows, some en suite, some shared facilities. There is also a house that sleeps 5. 20-seat restaurant. 100 m from the beach. 45 minutes from Stonetown.
Ras Michamvi Beach Resort, Michamvi, ☏ +255 24 22 31 081. A peaceful hotel on the northern end of the southern East Coast of Zanzibar. All 15 rooms are overlooking the Indian Ocean, with powder-white sand.
The Zanzibari, Nungwi, ☏ +255 774-323318. A beachfront boutique hotel with 8 rooms. An adjoining bar and restaurant is crafted out of a traditional wooden boat.
Teddy´s Place, Paje (at Paje junction turn right and after the wall of Cristal turn left), ☏ +255 773 096 306. Backpacker style accommodation. Zanzibari food, and bar. US$12-25.
Mustapha´s Place, Bwejuu (at Paje junction turn left and drive for a few minutes until you see a sign for Mustapha's Place on the right - follow this), ☏ +255 774 366 841. Mustapha's is popular with backpackers, volunteers and families and offers rustic accommodation and reliable food about 2 minutes form Bwejuu beach US$15-60.
Milele Villas (Private Holiday Villa Rental), Fukuchani, ☏ +255 773-828026, ✉ info@milelevillas.com. Environmental friendly and self-sufficient set of villas located on the North-Eastern tip of Zanzibar. Sleeps from 2-12 people, and includes facilities such as an infinity swimming pool, sea-view and volleyball court. edit
White Beach Hotel Zanzibar, Bwejuu (East Coast Bwejuu), ☏ +255 772279353, ✉ hassanjumbe@yahoo.com. Check-in: any time, check-out: 10AM. This hotel contains 6 bungalows along the beach. US$40 as a single and $25 sharing room double. Price includes breakfast and taxes.
Dhow Palace Hotel. Check-out: 10AM. Slow internet connection (Wifi) available. Non-residents from US$75 for a single.
Chavda Hotel is in the middle of Stone Town, 15 min by foot from the Harbour (or TSh 1,000 by taxi). Rooms are nice but without luxury. Double beds, 2 single or 3 single beds are available, all with air conditioning and mosquito drapes. Breakfast is small (it's better to eat around the corner) but the cheap hotel is on the roof of the hotel and offers nice views of Stone Town. Rate for a room with double bed US$90 incl. breakfast and taxes (10% charge when you pay by credit card).
Kisiwa House, Baghani St. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 10AM. In a nicely restored building. Big rooms, though only the more expensive ones has view of the ocean - the cheaper rooms only have view to the street. High season: US$165-220, low: US$110-170.
Kholle House, Malindi 607/608 (2 minutes walk to the ferry & Mercury's), ☏ +255 779779898200. Kholle House is a unique and historical hotel in the heart of Stonetown. All of its 10 rooms are different and special with en suite bathrooms, AC and fan. Built in 1860 by Princess Kholle, daughter of the first Sultan of Zanzibar is now one of the most authentic places in Stonetown. Enjoy the à la carte breakfast and the swimming pool by the garden, and do not miss the stunning 360° views from the terrace! US$90-190.
Island View Hotel (located in Kilimani (about 2 km south of Stone Town)). A great option for budget travellers. Rooms have a TV with many channels, clean washrooms, a telephone and the option of air-conditioning. Staff are very friendly and helpful! Double US$35-50 including breakfast.
Africa House Hotel. A historical building dating back to the first generation of old Arab houses at Shangani waterfont in Stone Town. Around 1900, it became the English Club for members of the British navy officers. In 1964 the club was taken over by the Tanzanian government. The building was privatised in the 1990s and offers hotel accommodation, the Sunset Bar (a popular meeting place for sundowners), a restaurant, a library and an Arabic shisha smoking lounge.

View our map of accommodation in Zanzibar

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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

Accommodation in Zanzibar

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Zanzibar searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Contributors

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Zanzibar Travel Helpers

This is version 65. Last edited at 14:04 on Nov 19, 20 by Utrecht. 28 articles link to this page.

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