The Zanzibar Archipelago is made up of a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. Centuries ago, the island was an important area for the spice trade, first with the Arab world since the eleventh century, before falling under the rule of Arab sultans who reigned over the islands for a number of years, integrating with the local Swahili.
Unguja Island is the largest of all islands in the archipelago and more commonly known as Zanzibar. Stone Town, littered with Indo-Arabian architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When not languidly lounging on the islands impeccable beachfront, visitors can wander the narrow labyrinth of streets that make up the town, venture to the Forodhani Gardens’ night market on the waterfront across from the House of Wonders, and taste the local street food.
While Zanzibar is known for being flat and sand-strewn, its neighbouring island, Pemba, is the land of cloves and mangoes, with terrain composed of hillocks that are fertile and lush with fruit and spice trees. Traditional dhows lie scattered across most of the coastline with fishing being a large part of Pemba’s culture.
- The Zanzibar Archipelago offers superb beaches, warm, tranquil waters and the ultimate Indian ocean island getaway
- The different islands that are part of the archipelago offer an array of different attractions unique to each island
- Stone Town is recognised as a UNESO World Heritage Site
- Get lost in labyrinth streets, night markets, and local food vendors
- The island is easily reached from the mainland and is a convenient add-on to a safari trip
Facts and Information
Zanzibar Island is known as Unguja by the locals and has only become a popular tourist destination in recent years. It has quite a troubled and tumultuous history. It was settled by the Arabs as early as the 9th century and by 1045 the locals had been converted to Islam. They were joined by the Persians some 400 years later though both were ousted by the Portuguese in 1500. The Omani Arabs reclaimed the country by 1700 and they were instrumental in the expansion of the slave trade to work on the clove plantations. The British opposed slavery vigorously and by 1873 it had been abolished in Zanzibar.
The British exerted more influence and Zanzibar became their protectorate in 1890. Despite the mainland being controlled by the Germans, they ruled peacefully for over 70 years and Zanzibar was largely unaffected by both World Wars. Tanganyika did become independent in 1961 and Zanzibar followed suit in 1963. A few months later a union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar was formed in 1964, leading to modern-day Tanzania.
Welcome to Tanzania! - Karibu Tanzania! Do you speak English? - Unasema Kiingereza? Hello - Jambo! No problem - Hakuna matata! Thank you very much - Asante Sana Elephant - Tembo Cheetah - Duma Lion - Simba
Currency: The Tanzanian shilling is freely exchangeable. Most major facilities accept major credit cards; Visa and Master Card are the most widely accepted.
Religion: Mainly Muslim, also Christian, Hindu and traditional beliefs.
Climate: Zanzibar has a tropical climate and can get pretty hot and humid during the summer though thunderstorms can cool things down. It experiences its rains from mid March to June. A short rainy season also occur from Sept to Nov.
Language: KiSwahili is the official language, although English is widely spoken. The terms Swahili and Kiswahili are used interchangeably, though the term Swahili normally refers to the people while Kiswahili refers to the language.
- Welcome to Tanzania! - Karibu Tanzania!
- Do you speak English? - Unasema Kiingereza?
- Hello - Jambo!
- No problem - Hakuna matata!
- Thank you very much - Asante Sana
- Elephant - Tembo
- Cheetah - Duma
- Lion - Simba
Travelling to Zanzibar
You should have no real difficulty getting to Zanzibar as there are direct flights from many international destinations. Most travellers, however, fly straight into Dar es Salaam and take one of many scheduled daily flights across the Indian Ocean to Zanzibar. The island is only 40km off the coast so the flight is just 15 minutes. You can also take the daily ferry which takes about 45 minutes!
You can also access Zanzibar from other destinations in Tanzania. There are internal flights here from Kilimanjaro, Arusha and more, and if you are coming from Kenya, you can fly from Nairobi. Getting to the satellite islands is also pretty easy - there is a regular flight to Mafia Island from Dar and a ferry from Zanzibar to Pemba. You can fly to private airstrips on most of the islands from Zanzibar or Dar.
NB: We can organise everything from your international flights to your domestic charters or road transfers. Don't stress out about planning your journey - leave it to us and we will make it a pleasure.
Our consultants have been to Zanzibar countless times so they can answer all your questions like what to bring, what the health and visa requirements are - we will do our best to make your trip as easy as possible. Don't delay - contact us to plan your tailor-made trip!