Zanzibar Useful Info
An Indian Ocean haven is only a 30-minute flight from mainland Tanzania via Dar es Salaam airport. Accessible from any safari region in Tanzania, visitors can be relaxing on one of Zanzibar’s white sand beaches with a cocktail in hand in a matter of hours.
Zanzibar Island has a variety of hotel styles as well as beautiful beaches on the north and east coasts. The island radiates beauty, from its pristine beaches and whimsical boutique hotels to its friendly locals and the hustle and bustle of Stone Town. Most visitors enjoy relaxing in their beach hotel or exploring the depths of the Indian Ocean, but the island is more than just a pretty stretch of beach. Zanzibar has a rich Swahili coastal culture, history, and an unimaginable atmosphere that draws tourists year after year.
The island of Zanzibar was once ruled by Arab Sultans, and there was a time when Portuguese explorers visited. Travellers can visit the Turkish baths, the Arab buildings in Stone Town, or the Portuguese fort and gardens. Water sports, Spice Island tours and several luxury hotels are popular in Zanzibar.
The weather is tropical and hot throughout the year. There are two rainy seasons: the long rainy season, which lasts from March to May and reaches its height in April, and the short rainy season, which lasts from mid-October to mid-December. In Zanzibar, the total annual rainfall is roughly 1,600 mm, but in Pemba, it is 1,900 mm. The wettest months are April and May when downpours can be extremely intense and result in flooding. However, there may be a few brief thunderstorms throughout the year.
Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim and mosques can be found in all towns and villages on Zanzibar Island and Pemba. The evocative sound of muezzins calling people to prayer from the minarets is something to behold, especially during the evening session at sunset. For Christians and Hindus, there are a few churches and temples. If you are not Muslim, please do not enter the mosques.
Because nearly the entire population of Zanzibar is Muslim, Ramadan is a significant event on the island. Visitors arriving during this month should be aware of the rules and etiquette that must be followed. While eating, drinking, or smoking in public is not illegal, it is considered disrespectful because almost all locals will be fasting during the day. During this time, some restaurants will either close completely or close off their outdoor eating areas.
There are no foreign banks in Zanzibar. The local banks, however, are happy to exchange foreign currencies. From Monday to Friday, the banks are open from 9:00 to 16:00 and Saturdays and Sundays they are closed.
The Tanzanian shilling serves as Zanzibar’s currency. Most businesses in Tanzania typically accept foreign currencies. Cash and traveller’s checks are both readily accepted. All upscale hotels and resorts accept Visa and MasterCard.
Although leaving a tip is not required in Zanzibar, staff members have grown accustomed to it because of the large number of western tourists that visit the island every year. For hotel personnel, $1 to $2 per day is a sufficient amount, and around 5 to 10% should be added to restaurant tabs as is normal in most countries. Naturally, depending on how wonderful you thought the service was, this can change. Tipping for tour guides, porters, and cooks should range from $8 to $15 each day. The group may divide this sum among themselves. Although giving tips to cab drivers is not customary in Zanzibar, rounding up your fare is a kind approach to express your gratitude.