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 (1.5 hours). Return flight times depend on the day of the week but usually an afternoon/evening flight from Zanzibar with quite a long transit in 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, but this involves quite a lot of flying time. We book the connecting flights DAR – ZNZ – DAR.
Oman Air has flights to Zanzibar, via Oman, but timings are a bit challenging.
Ethiopian Airways fly to Zanzibar, via Addis Ababa, usually well priced but in addition to transit in Addis there are other stops en-route.
There are no charter flights from the UK so getting there and back is relatively expensive, hence holidays to Zanzibar tend to be more expensive than those locations like Goa, India, Sri Lanka, etc. which are served by charter flights. There are some charter flights from Continental countries, especially Italy.
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.
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.
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.
Tanzania Shillings (TSH), which can not be obtained until arrival in Tanzania/Zanzibar. There are plenty of Forex and banks to change money in the main towns and at airports. Transactions at shops, restaurants, etc in TSH. However, arrangements vary for paying for extras at hotels. Some hotels express extras such as drinks, meals, etc in TSH and it is best to pay in TSH otherwise, if they convert to US Dollars, conversion is at a relatively poor rate. Other hotels express extras in US Dollars and payment is best in US Dollars.
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. There are some ATM machines in main towns, but the machines are unreliable. There are no money change facilities at beach locations on Zanzibar apart from at hotels, where you get a relatively poor exchange rate. Before you travel we can advise which hotels express extras in which currency.
With your final information, we provide you with information about money matters, the best way to pay for extras at hotels, etc.
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.
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.
You need to get advice from your general practice. They may recommend a whole cocktail of things which will cost quite a lot: ask what is absolutely essential. Many organisations have out of date information about Yellow Fever.
A Yellow Fever Certificate is required by all 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. We do advise people doing a safari in Kenya on their way to Tanzania/Zanzibar to have a Yellow Fever vaccination. The Tanzania health authorities are advising people that they should have a Yellow Fever vaccination for their own protection – however, please seek advice from your GP practice. People having a Yellow Fever vaccination need to have it at least 10 days prior to travel.
Our understanding is that it is advisable to have protection for Hepatitis A, Typhoid & Polio. It is also advisable to take protection against Malaria, please consult your GP practice about this.
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.
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.
Swahili is the local language. However, English is widely spoken and staff at all hotels, shops and restaurants speak English.
With your final material we provide you with a sheet of basic Swahili words, greetings, phrases and numbers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
any people visit Zanzibar and spend the majority of their time at one or two beach locations. For those who want some activity, some hotels have water-sport centres mainly offering scuba diving and snorkelling, a few offer dingy sailing, wind surfing, kayaks, etc. Zanzibar is surrounded by a reef, especially the north and east coast where the nicest beaches are located.
At low tide the ocean recedes a long way which means that at these times swimming from the beach, and water activities, are limited. This is the time to go for long walks; on the north east and south east coast you can walk for about 10 miles along the beach calling in at fishing villages, watching village ladies harvesting seaweed for export, the fishermen preparing their nets/boats, children catching fish in the pools of water.
Some hotels offer excursions including village visits where you are informed about life in the village, visit a school and meet local people. Part of the cost of the excursions go towards funding projects in the village. Beware of the “swimming with dolphin” tours at Kizimkazi; we feel that the people who drive the boats do not respect the dolphins, driving their boats at them and chasing them, then encouraging people to jump in beside the dolphins – which should not be done.
To really appreciate what Zanzibar is all about you should plan, at the very least, a couple of days in or near Stone Town. This really is the essence of Zanzibar with its maze of narrow streets bustling with local people on foot, cycles and motor-cycles; appreciate the different forms of architecture and the magnificent Zanzibar doors with their brass spikes; visit the markets, though the meat and the fish markets are not for the feint hearted!
There are a couple of moderate, but interesting museums and one can learn much about the history of Zanzibar at the exhibition in the House of Wonders (the former ceremonial palace of the Sultans and later the headquarters of the British Administration), so named as it was the first establishment in East Africa to have electric lights and lift. An organised Town Tour will take you to the former slave market, the dungeons where slaves were held before being sold, as well other interesting parts of Stone Town. No visit to Zanzibar is complete without a spice tour, best organised from Stone Town rather than coming from a beach location.
We can give you information about how best to arrange a dhow safari to the islands off Stone Town; unfortunately much of Prison Island has been handed over to an hotel development, leaving only a small part of the island to casual visitors.
When we send you your flight tickets and final material, we provide you with comprehensive information about excursions, what to do, and how best to do it.
There is a wide range of accommodation, from back-packer places to the US$300.00 plus per person per night establishments (at Mnemba Island one is looking at nearly US$800.00 pp per day). Hotel sizes range from the small “boutique” style hotels to the larger “resort” hotels with a wide range of facilities. We do not book at the lower range budget hotels as we know what they are like, and we believe people who book their holiday with us expect a certain standard of accommodation which budget hotels do not provide.
Many people want smaller hotels with a local flavour, and there are plenty of these. Others will want a range of facilities such as spa, tennis court, fitness room, water-sports centre, choice of restaurants, and there are hotels which provide these. There are also hotels which are well set-up for families with inter-connecting rooms, family rooms and recreational facilities for children. There are just a few hotels which have rooms in individual bungalows, most smaller hotels have 2 rooms in each cottage.
We only book people in hotels which have en-suite facilities. The board basis at most beach hotels is half board (breakfast & dinner) as alternatives for eating at night are not close by. However, at hotels in the villages of Nungwi (at the north), Paje & Jambiani in the south east, we book on bed & breakfast as there are places to eat in the villages. In Stone Town we book accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis as there are many restaurants.
When we are booking 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.
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.
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 £5.00 – £8.00; 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 we send you your flight tickets and 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.