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Zanzibar: the sound of this word brings up images of exotic beaches, the sun shining and a gentle breeze? These are the main reasons why more and more travellers search for cheap air tickets to Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous gem of Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean. White sandy beaches, palm trees and turquoise waters, corals and tropical fish give you the sense you’re swimming inside a gigantic aquarium; but it’s real! The charm of Zanzibar is legendary – and, in fact, stems not only from the beaches. Explore the villages and settlements of the region, find the cheapest hotels in Zanzibar and discover the historic Stone Town, to get a glimpse of the authentic East African lifestyle and live glorious travel moments. Not to be missed!
One of the most important trade hubs of Eastern African, the Zanzibar Archipelago has always been a crucial crossroad of cultures, a focal point of Africa, India and Arabia. With a climate diametrically opposed to that of Tanzania mainland, Zanzibar consists of two major islands, Unguja and Pemba, accompanied by many smaller isles.
The supreme pole of attraction for visitors is the medieval Stone Town, a district full of cobbled streets, mosques and historic buildings dating back to the 19th century and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The list of charming areas around the islands of Zanzibar is endless, dominated mainly by the natural beauty of its landscapes. Forests and rolling hills, an immense variety of plants and animals unique in the world, beaches, palm trees and corals.. Travel to Zanzibar and you’ll know it; this is heaven on earth!
The airport of Zanzibar (Uwanja wa Ndege wa Kimataifa wa Abeid Amani Karume) is located 5 kilometres south of the city centre and can be reached by bus.
Getting around Zanzibar
You can get around Zanzibar by bus and taxi. Fares start at 1500.00 TZS and minimum taxi fare costs 4050.00 TZS.
The historic heart of Zanzibar is known as the Stone Town and is located at the western coast of Unguja, the main island of the Archipelago. Founded in 1560 by Portuguese settlers, today it comprises the largest residential area of Zanzibar. One of a kind among all the African capitals, the medieval Stone Town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Despite the UNESCO designation though, Stone Town is far from being a city-monument. Stone Town is a beautiful, lively town with a healthy population who continue to live and work there, besides the enormous tourist boom the city experiences.
A visit to Zanzibar’s Stone Town is a must, if you wish to get away from the touristic spots of the island and submerge into the depths of African culture and history.
- North of the Stone Town, you can see the charming Maruhubi Palace, built in 1882 by Sultan Barghash to serve as a residence for his permanent wife and 99 concubines. The Sultan, obviously inspired by his travels to Europe, chose to give the palace a European architectural style. Unfortunately, the palace was burnt down in 1899, but the ruins of it still consist one of the island’s most impressive attractions.
- The Jozani-Chwaka National Park stretches at an area of 50 sq.km and represents the last and only example of an indigenous forest remaining in Zanzibar. Featuring different habitats and ecosystems including mangroves, salt marsh and coastal forests, the park is the home of many indigenous exotic plants, as well as countless bird and animal species; over 50 species of butterflies, 40 bird species, antelopes and monkeys, including the Zanzibar Red Colobus, the Aders’ Duiker and the Zanzibar Servaline Genet, all of whom are endangered species.
- Kizimkazi is located at the southwestern tip of the island and is a famous destination for all the dolphin fanatics out there. If you wish to see a dolphin aquarium.. this is the wrong place for you! The beach of Kizimkazi is the perfect opportunity for you to watch these marvellous, intelligent animals in their natural habitat. The shallow waters around Kizimkazi are a popular hangout for bottle-nose and humpback dolphins!
Zanzibar is famous for its exotic beaches, you didn’t need to hear this from us. However, you should, by all means, visit the Matemwe Beach, across the northeastern coast of the island. An enormous coastline with fine white sand, azure waters, coral reefs and atolls, wooden houses and canoes – lucky you!
Zanzibar’s official languages are Swahili and English.
To enter Zanzibar, you need:
- a passport with a validity of 6 months after your travel dates
- a tourist Visa, issued by the Embassy of Zanzibar.
When to Go
Zanzibar has a tropical climate, with somewhat different characteristics than the typical tropical ones, due to the occasional strong sea breezes from the northeast monsoon.
In Zanzibar, there are two humid seasons, one from April to May and one from November to December.
During the period from June and October, Zanzibar experiences a long dry season with high temperatures; this is probably the best time to visit the islands of Zanzibar.
However, many travellers prefer visiting Zanzibar during the short dry period that follows the rains of winter; from January to February, that is.
Whichever season you choose to visit, you should always do your research, pack and plan your itinerary accordingly.