Zanzibar is a lovely island off the east coast of Africa. The island belongs to Tanzania. The history of the island is colorful, because it has been in the hands of the Arabs, Portugal, Oman and the United Kingdom. You will find waving palm trees, azure blue sea and pearly white beaches! Do you also want to travel to Zanzibar? I have the answers to the questions you probably also have about a trip to Zanzibar, things you want to know in advance of your holiday!
A trip to Zanzibar: 15 things you want to know in advance
1. Where’s Zanzibar?
The island of Zanzibar is located on the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar is located 40 km off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar consists of several islands. The largest islands are Unguja and Pemba and the smaller islands include Mafia, Latham, Hadimu and Tumbatu. The island has a total area of 1658 km².
2. What do the beaches on Zanzibar look like?
There are a total of about 25 beaches on Zanzibar. According to many, these are the most beautiful beaches in all of Africa. The beaches look perfect because of the white beaches, the azure blue sea and the large palm trees. The sea is suitable for diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, suppen etc.
3. How long is the flight to Zanzibar?
From the Netherlands it is about a 10 hour flight to Zanzibar. There is a direct connection from Schiphol Airport to Zanzibar International Airport. You can also choose to take a flight to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and from there arrange a short flight to Zanzibar.
4. Do you need a visa for Zanzibar?
You need a passport that is valid for at least six months on the day of departure. You can arrange a visa upon arrival at Zanzibar. At the airport and on the plane you will be given a form to fill in. Then you pay fifty dollars. Keep in mind that the queues can be long and not very fast. When you leave Zanzibar you will have to fill in another form.
5. What about vaccinations for Zanzibar?
If you go to Zanzibar, the yellow fever vaccination is mandatory if you have been in a yellow fever country in the previous seven days. Officially you must have a cholera stamp in your vaccination passport, but this is barely checked. The recommended vaccinations are DTP, Yellow Fever and Hepatitis A. Always consult GGD before traveling to Zanzibar.
6. Do you have to tip on Zanzibar?
People who work in the tourism industry are used to tipping. There is no obligation to tip these people. Realize that these people often need the tips in order to make a living.
7. Can you drink the tap water at Zanzibar?
You cannot drink the tap water on Zanzibar. It is clean enough to brush your teeth, but you should not swallow it. At good hotels and restaurants it is safe to drink drinks with ice cubes. But this is not recommended outside the hotels or in the less good restaurants. Always buy bottles of water of which the closure is still closed.
8. What religion do the people of Zanzibar have?
On Zanzibar, 98% of the inhabitants are Muslim. You don’t notice this at the tourist spots and in the hotels. However, you can see on the streets in the smaller villages and towns that the women are dressed with a headscarf or burka. I advise you to take this into account when you are in these places and wear clothing that covers your shoulders and a pair of pants/skirt up to over your knee.
9. What about health care on Zanzibar?
Health care on Zanzibar is limited. In the capital Stone Town there is a private clinic where the quality of care is the best on the island. If something really bad is going on, you have to go to the mainland of Tanzania or Kenya. Keep in mind that most insurers do not have contracts with health care institutions on Zanzibar. This means that you will have to pay the medical costs on the spot (cash). These costs will be reimbursed by your insurer later on.
10. What language do people speak on Zanzibar?
The official language of Zanzibar is Swahili. This language is also spoken by people in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. Swahili is a mixture of several languages and as a tourist you can’t make anything out of it. The inhabitants who have jobs with which they come into contact with tourists speak English reasonably well.
11. Do you need a world plug on Zanzibar?
The usual voltage is 220-240 Volt alternating current. On Zanzibar you have English sockets, so you need a world plug.
12. How about paying on Zanzibar?
On Zanzibar the official means of payment is the Tanzanian shilling. There are denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000. The coins come in a value of 50, 100 and 200. One euro is worth about 2,500 shillings. However, you can pay with euros and dollars. Please note that ATMs can hardly be found on Zanzibar. Only in Stone Town you can withdraw cash with a maximum of 200 euros per day. So it’s handy to bring dollars or euros with you.
13. Is there a time difference on Zanzibar?
Zanzibar is located in the time zone UTC+ 3:00. The island has no winter or summer time. Therefore the time difference between Zanzibar and the Netherlands is one hour in daylight saving time and two hours in wintertime.
14. What is the best travel time for Zanzibar?
Zanzibar has a tropical monsoon climate and due to its location there are not many weather changes during the year. Its location not too far from the equator means that the temperature fluctuates around thirty degrees Celsius throughout the year. At night it cools down between five and ten degrees. Because of the cooling sea breeze it feels a bit less warm on the coast than in the interior. There are two rain periods on Zanzibar: March to June and from October to January. Especially inland, precipitation combined with high temperatures creates high humidity. In these periods you will experience heavy showers that last up to one hour.
Do you have questions about your trip to Zanzibar and things you want to know in advance?
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