FAQs

Is Zanzibar Travel an ATOL member?

Yes we are members of ATOL and our professional body is the Travel Trust Association (TTA).

ATOL Protected, member T7127

Travel Trust Association member T6869

How do you get to Zanzibar?

Kenya Airways has flights every day of the week from Heathrow, overnight on the way out to Nairobi (8.5 hours) then connecting early morning on to Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam. (1.5 hours). Return flight are usually an afternoon/evening flight from Zanzibar/Dar es Salaam to Nairobi connecting with an overnight flight to Heathrow. We use Kenya Airways for people doing a safari in Kenya and in the northern parks of Tanzania.

KLM fly from many UK airports, via Amsterdam then on to Nairobi connecting on to Zanzibar or to Kilimanjaro International Airport for those doing a safari in the northern parks of Tanzania.

Emirates and Qatar Airways fly to Dar es Salaam via Dubai & Doha respectively. We book the 20 minute connecting flights DAR – ZNZ – DAR.

Oman Air has flights to Zanzibar, via Muscat, 3 times per week.

Ethiopian Airways fly to Zanzibar, via Addis Ababa, usually well priced but in addition to transit in Addis there are other stops en-route.

When we help you book your holiday, we will look for flights at the most favourable prices, dates, flight times and routes which best suit you.

Is a visa required?

Yes, for the majority of countries including UK & EU countries. See the web site for the Tanzania High Commission in London. Best to get a visa before you go, but they can be obtained at airports on arrival and at border crossings on the mainland from Kenya.

When we have booked your holiday, with your Travel Confirmation & Invoice we will send you visa application forms and instructions on how to get them.

What is the weather like in Tanzania/Zanzibar?

There is a well established weather pattern. The monsoon normally arrives late March lasting until late May. This is not the time to visit. April is the wettest month of the year, with May not far behind, usually up to 15 inches of rain each month and, on average, up to 20 days of rain. Several hotels and many camps/lodges in the parks close at this time. You will not see Tanzania/Zanzibar at its best.

June through to October is glorious, relatively cool with temperatures in the mid 70s – 80s and relatively low humidity.

From October on it starts to warm up. Late November is called “the short rains” when there can be some extended periods of rain, but should not spoil a holiday taken at this time. In to January it starts to get hotter and more humid as the monsoon approaches. At this time of the year it is best, for a comfortable nights sleep, to stay at hotels which have air-conditioned bedrooms.

What is the currency in Tanzania/Zanzibar?

Tanzania Shillings (TSH), which can not be obtained until arrival in Tanzania/Zanzibar. It is best to take US$ cash to change in to TSH.

We advise against credit card payment as most hotels charge quite high commission, up to 10 percent. GBP Sterling is accepted at banks & Forex to change in to TSH but not widely accepted for payment at hotels.

When you book with us, with your final information, we provide you with information about money matters, the best way to pay for extras at hotels, etc.

What is the electricity supply?

220 – 240 volt AC. The power supply on the mainland and Zanzibar can be unreliable. Most hotels have back-up generators. In the parks most lodges and camps do not have mains electricity but have generators. Some have very limited power relying on solar power and kerosene lamps at night, which is quite romantic. Plugs at hotels vary, and even within different parts of the same hotel they can vary. In the main they are the 3 square pin plugs similar to the UK, but it is advisable to take a multi-adaptor.

What is mobile ‘phone coverage like?

You are going on holiday. Leave your mobile at home! For those who do need a mobile, coverage is almost 100 percent across the whole of the mainland and Zanzibar.

What are the vaccination requirements?

You need to get advice from your general practice. A Yellow Fever Certificate is only required by people visiting Tanzania/Zanzibar who may have recently visited a Yellow Fever endemic zone, or may have visited such a zone on their way to Tanzania/Zanzibar.

When you book your holiday with us, we will provide further advice about health requirements.

Are there duty free allowances?

Yes, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars. 1 litre of wine or spirits. There are several good duty free shops at Nairobi Airport, better value for most things than at Heathrow.

How do we get around Zanzibar?

We strongly suggest we pre-book your transfers which will save a lot of time and hassle, and probably money.

There are many tales of people arranging their own transfer to a beach hotel, agreeing with the driver to return on a certain day/time. The driver may not arrive, or, when he does, the price for the return trip has quadrupled. Stone Town is small enough to walk to most destinations. Cycles can be hired from many outlets in Stone Town and at many beach hotels to ride for miles along the beach.

Four wheel drive vehicles can be hired through our local operator, though we advise against hiring vehicles. Hire cars are not regulated, poorly maintained so prone to break-down, and relatively expensive at US$60.00 per day. Also, driving is precarious with poorly maintained roads heavily populated with cyclists, children, chickens and other types of animals.

What is the main language?

Swahili is the local language. However, English is widely spoken and staff at all hotels, shops and restaurants speak English.

When you book with us, with your final material we provide you with a sheet of basic Swahili words, greetings, phrases and numbers.

 

What is the main religion?

On Zanzibar the majority of the people are Muslim. The Islamic tradition means Zanzibaris have a moderate and hospitable manner. Their beliefs are liberal, and not fundamental. Please respect their tradition by behaving and dressing modestly in public. During Ramadan (dates vary) we do ask visitors to respect local people who fast during the day by not eating/drinking in public places. Just a few restaurants do close during the day in Ramadan. On the mainland Christianity is the main religion.

Given the religion, is there a strict restriction on alcohol?

No, alcohol is served in the vast majority of hotels and restaurants. There are just a limited number of hotels/restaurants in Stone Town which do not serve alcohol. Lager is either brewed in Tanzania or Kenya (and very acceptable) or Castle Lager is imported from South Africa. Most wine is from South Africa. There are a couple of retail stores which sell alcohol in Stone Town.

 

Is tap water safe to drink?

We urge people to drink only bottled water, also use bottled water to clean teeth. Many shops and stalls sell bottled water, as do hotels and restaurants, though it is cheaper to stock-up with bottles bought at shops/stalls. Make sure seals on water bottles are unbroken.

Is Zanzibar over-developed for tourism?

In our opinion it is not, yet, overdeveloped and most of the island is about local people going about their daily business. A couple of streets in Stone Town are predominantly for tourists selling local artefacts, paintings, wood carvings, cotton-wear, etc. There are no high density, high-rise hotels with the majority of hotels blending well with the local environment. There are some largish hotels catering predominantly for “package” holidays from Continental countries.

What sorts of things are there for visitors to do on Zanzibar?

See our Activities page on this website

When you book your holiday with us we provide you with comprehensive information about excursions, what to do, and how best to do it.

 

What sort of accommodation is available?

See the Hotels section of our website

When we are helping you book your holiday we provide you with detailed information about the hotels you may want to stay at. We know every hotel on Zanzibar and have stayed at most. See the “Hotels” button on our Home Page for a description of many of the hotels on Zanzibar.

 

Will we be hassled by local people?

Tanzania/Zanzibar is not as bad as some destinations like parts of Egypt, the Gambia, parts of India and Goa. There are, of course, some local lads who will approach people asking if they want tours or transport organised, etc. or offering visitors goods, sometimes of dubious legality! A reasonably assertive, but not aggressive, “No, thank you” will usually be sufficient.

What sort of food can we expect?

Stone Town has many restaurants and quality, understandably, is related to the price paid. Most of the restaurants will serve international food, but why go to Zanzibar/Tanzania to have chicken and chips? However, as a fall-back for people who would like this, it is there. Nearly all restaurants will serve good curries. Fish is readily available and cooked in a variety of ways. I tend to eat fish all the time as I know it is fresh.

There are some restaurants which serve local dishes; cooked, spiced green bananas; dishes made from maize and meat & fish cooked in coconut milk. Why go to Zanzibar to eat Chinese food? Because in Stone Town there is one of the best Chinese restaurants you are likely to eat at with fresh, locally grown ingredients. Meals at beach locations tend to be taken at the hotel you are staying at, especially the evening meal. For lunch you can go to other hotels or restaurants along the stretch of beach where you are staying. Larger beach hotels tend to have buffet meals and usually good quality.

Smaller hotels will have a limited menu which will always include a fish dish. Lobster is normally available at hotels and restaurants, but at a price, yet much less than you will pay for lobster in the UK. Vegetarians should have little problem getting suitable meals. Eating is not expensive, less than you will pay in the UK, the average price for a reasonable meal is about £7.00 – £9.00; the most expensive hotels and one restaurant in Town charge about £18.00 for a 3 course meal. Drinks are a little less than you pay at hotels in the UK.

When you book with us, in your final material we provide you with our thoughts about restaurants in Stone Town. We will also ask if you have any special dietary requirements so we can advise hotels, and particularly safari camps/lodges, in advance of your stay.