Essential Travel Information
Zanzibar is a popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world.
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Zanzibar General Information
Zanzibar Time Zone: GMT + 3
Zanzibar Official Languages: Kiswahili & English
Zanzibar Power Supply: Electricity 220 - 240 V AC, 50 Hz
Religion on Zanzibar: Predominantly Islam
International Dialling code for Zanzibar: + 255
Money on Zanzibar
Zanzibar Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (Tsh)
Cash is king on Zanzibar Island, the US Dollar being the
best of all, many things are priced in US$ but are also payable
in Tsh (Tanzania Shilling the local currency) Euro and British Pound.
There are only two cash machines on the whole of Zanzibar Island, both in Stone Town. They accept MasterCard, Visa and Debit cards, make sure your home bank card is authorised for foreign transactions! The exchange rate when drawing money from the ATM is set by the bank at the correct rate for that day and will appear on your statement in your local currency showing the exchange rate and usually a small fee.
If you are heading to another part of the Island, go via one of
the cash machines and draw out some Tsh and this will give you the
best value when paying for things around the Island.
Using Credit/ Debit cards on Zanzibar Island:
A few places do accept cards but all add a handling fee –
between 5 % and up to 20%.
It is also possible to take your card into the bank and make a cash withdrawal over the counter, but this is a long a tedious process.
American Express is only accepted in a handful of places on Zanzibar Island and at an additional premium to standard cards.
Travellers cheques on Zanzibar Island:
Travellers cheques fare worse than Cards with fees from 10% to 25% at the few places where they are accepted (couple of Stone Town Hotels and some high end resorts). Really only of use on Zanzibar Island as a back up for emergencies.
You will need the Travellers cheque, receipts from when you purchased the cheques and passport.
DO NOT CHANGE MONEY ON THE STREET.
Also local people have to account for any foreign currency they hold so do not believe the sad story that they need US$ to go to visit a sick relative on the mainland and therefore will buy your dollars at such a good rate for your help…. All locals pay for everything in local currency and get better rates for it!
The weather on Zanzibar Island is ideal for tourism related activities all around the year. Located very close to the equator, Zanzibar enjoys a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine all through the year. Visitors to Zanzibar can expect to enjoy 7 to 8 hours of sunshine daily throughout the year.
Zanzibar climate is characterized by heavy rains at a specific time of the year, rainfall in Zanzibar is heaviest during the months of April and May with a few spells of rain occurring during the month of November. The November rains in Zanzibar are of short duration and do not continue for a long period of time.
Tourists can visit Zanzibar all year round. The heat of the African summer is broken by windy conditions in Zanzibar as the cooling sea breezes pass through the island. The north and east coasts of Zanzibar Island experience pleasant sea breezes. The central part of the island also experiences this natural phenomenon.
Zanzibar Visas and Entry Requirements
All visitors to Zanzibar require a passport. Passports must be valid for 6 months and have at least two clear pages.
Most nationalities also require a visa. They are easily available on arrival at the airport and cost US$50 per passport, payable in US Dollar only.
Yellow fever certificate is an erratic requirement, occasionally they seem very strict but more often than not they just stamp passports and collect the money (which is set and payable to the Tanzania government NOT the Island of Zanzibar, so be careful if you complain about the amount, the official may give you a tirade of how the mainland is pillaging the Islands hard work to attract tourists !!!)
Please note there is a government departure tax of US$35 per person also payable in US Dollar only and this also goes to the mainland.
So make sure you have US$85 per person in cash for visa and government departure tax.
Nationals of some countries do not require visas, so it is advisable to check with your nearest Tanzanian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate prior to visiting.
Tanzanian visas are issued by the Director of Immigration Services in Dar es Salam and by the Principal Immigration Officer of Zanzibar.
As well as Zanzibar International Airport there are currently three other points of entry into Tanzania from where visas can be obtained. They are at the Dar es Salam International Airport, Namanga Border on the road from Kenya into Tanzania and Kilimanjaro International Airport.
In mainland Tanzania, visas are granted on showing a return ticket from Tanzania. This ensures that the person has enough funds for making a return to his/her original country. A permit visa of three months is issued for tourists.
Key Tanzanian diplomatic missions:
Not surprisingly Zanzibar's specialities are centred around what is available locally, so take full advantage of the variety of spicy seafood dishes on offer. Lobsters, kingfish, prawns, octopus, crabs and squid are just a few of the many types of seafood on offer on Zanzibar Island. Coconut also features in many dishes.
Zanzibar History, Culture & People
Zanzibar's local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of the colourful Zanzibar history.
Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism.
Population is estimated at 800,000, with the largest concentration being in Zanzibar City which has approximately 100,000 inhabitants.
Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birth place of the language.