Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It lies 25–50 km (15–30 mi) off the east coast of mainland Tanzania. It is made up of many islands, the main two being Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) Zanzibar was once a separate state with a long trading history within the Arab world; it united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964. A major feature of Zanzibar is Stone Town (A World Heritage Site) – which dates back to the 19th century. Zanzibar remains a semi- autonomous state.

Arab traders discovered the Islands and used them as a base for voyages between Africa, Asia and India. The Arabs settled in Stone Town out of convenience using it as a point from which they could trade with the east coastal towns. They traded in Spices, Ivory, and Slaves.

Plantations were developed to grow spices, hence the name ‘Spice Islands’ was coined. Zanzibar lured many traders, such as the Arabs, Chinese, Dutch, Greeks, Indians, Omanis, Persians, Portuguese, and eventually the British. The British were the ones who brought about the abolition of slave trade in the 19th century.

The combined population of Zanzibar including Pemba is approximately 1,000,000.

Religion was influenced by the Arabs, Persians, Indians, Portuguese, British and the African mainland. About 95% of the local population is made up of conservative sunni Muslims. The remainder are Hindu or Christian and some follow traditional beliefs. As well as many mosques, Stone Town hosts an Anglican and a Catholic Cathedral and a Hindu Temple.

The main language spoken is Kiswahili. English is widely spoken and many people also speak Arabic. With the influx of tourism one may find other European languages such as French and Italian being spoken by some local people, especially around the tourist areas. Learning a few Swahili words whilst in Zanzibar may prove helpful in making many friends. (See: Swahili Phrases)

The local unit of currency is the Tanzania Shilling (Tsh). American dollars in cash or travelers cheques are acceptable in many places. Credit cards are still almost unknown in Zanzibar, and if you do manage to find a place to use them there will usually be a surcharge of at least 10%. Bartering about prices is common in Zanzibar market places. Hotel, restaurant and tour operator prices are generally non-negotiable.

It is essential that adequate travel insurance is taken out at the time of confirming your booking. This should cover any medical situation (such as hospitalization), as well as cancellation, curtailment of arrangements and your baggage.

When you travel with African Legends, you are automatically covered by our emergency evacuation insurance, through AAR. This guarantees all reasonable, practical assistance in obtaining emergency medical services/ evacuation to hospital should you suffer either severe illness, or from an injury whilst traveling with us. As this is for EMERGENCY EVACUATION only it does not cover the cost of treatment once in hospital and it in no way replaces your normal travel insurance, which must be purchased prior to travel.

Zanzibar experiences tropical weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May, which are seasonally subject to the long rains. Short rains can occur in November but are characterized by short showers, which do not last long.

The tropical heat is seasonally often calmed by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coast. Due to the nearness to the equator, the islands are warm all year round but officially summer and winter peak in December and June respectively. Zanzibar averages 7-8 hours of sunshine daily.

SUMMER – November to May Hot, some humidity with some rains in November, May and June.
WINTER – June to October Warm with rains in June, otherwise sunny.
BEST – December to March and July to October

A direct international dialing service is available from the major hotels. Both local and long distance calls are metered on a time basis and every second counts in terms of costs. Internet facilities are available in most major towns.

Although film is available at most hotels and supermarkets, it is recommended that you bring film and batteries with you.

Drink only boiled or bottled water or canned drinks

GMT +3

Power system is 220-240 volts ac, plugs 13amp usually square 3-pin.

When visiting Zanzibar, it is important for women to dress modestly out if respect for Muslim cultural beliefs, men should not wear shorts on the main island and women should wear dresses that cover the shoulders and knees.

Locally crafted products can be found in shops and Bazaars in Stone Town. Local produce can be purchased in the local markets. Buying local goods benefits the community.

All visitors must have a valid passport and visa to enter Tanzania. Visa fees vary according to the country you originate from. Visas can be obtained from Tanzania Diplomatic Representatives abroad.

Visitors traveling to Tanzania need a valid international certificate for vaccination against Yellow Fever and Cholera. Anti-malaria medication is recommended when traveling within East Africa. Anti-malaria tablets are recommended to be taken a few days prior to arrival, during your stay and for a short period after returning home. Please consult your doctor no less than 10 days prior to travel. Pre-cautionary measures that you can take to prevent contact with mosquitoes include: – insect repellent, wear long sleeved clothing and trousers in the evenings, and sleep under a mosquito net.

Airport departure tax on international flights is to be paid in Cash USD Only. In some cases some airlines include the departure Tax in their ticket price. Please check with your travel agent to avoid disappointment or confusion.