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Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience, with its fascinating historical Stone Town and magnificent beaches.

Zanzibar's Indian Ocean offers world class watersports including scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing on traditional local dhows.

It is the ideal destination for couples, honeymooners, friends and family. Found offers a selection of premium accommodation to tempt you into booking your next holiday on this beautiful island.

Discover

Discover Prison Island- Earning its name as a former prison for slaves and a quarantine station for Zanzibar and the mainland, nowadays the island is home to giant land tortoises that were imported from Seychelles in the late 19th century, some of which are over two hundred years old! This endangered species came to Zanzibar as a gift from the government of the Seychelles. A  short boat trip from the harbour at Stone Town will get you to this tiny island.

Discover The Old Fort, also known as the Arab Fort and by other names, is a fortification located in Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar. It is the oldest building and a major visitor attraction of Stone Town.

The House of Wonders or Palace of Wonders is a landmark building in Stone Town. It is the largest and tallest building of Stone Town and occupies a prominent place facing the Forodhani Gardens on the old town's seafront, in Mizingani Road.

Discover Zanzibar’s History at The Peace Memorial Museum. Located on Creek Road, Stone Town, it has sections on archaeology, early trade, slavery, palaces, mosques, sultans, explorers (includes Dr Livingstone's medical chest), missionaries, colonial administrators, traditional crafts and household items, stamps, coins, fishing, and clove cultivation.

The Old Dispensary, also known as Ithnashiri Dispensary, is a historical building in Stone Town. It is located on the seafront, in Mizingani Road, halfway between the Palace Museum and the harbour.

The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre (ZBC) is an interactive butterfly exhibit near to Jozani-Chawka Bay National Park on Unguja island. The exhibit consists of a netted tropical garden with usually hundreds of butterflies, all of which are native species to Zanzibar. The enclosure is one of Africa's largest butterfly exhibits.

Climate

Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year.  The heat of summer is seasonally often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near to the equator, the islands are warm all year round, but officially, summer and winter peak in December and June respectively. Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily.

Short rains can occur in November but are characterised by short showers, which do not last long.  The long rains normally occur in April and May although this is often referred to as the ‘Green Season’, and it typically doesn’t rain every day during that time.

How to get there

From the Rest of the World

At present, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Oman Air offer international scheduled flights to Zanzibar. Several other large carriers fly into Dar es Salaam, which is only a short trip by air or sea from Zanzibar. Amongst them are Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines, KLM, Swiss and Egyptair. Our preferred airline is Qatar Airways, offering a 5 star service straight onto the island.

From the Rest of Africa

Kenya Airways, Fastjet, Precision Air and Ethiopian Airlines have regular flights to Zanzibar. Dar es Salaam is also served by them, as well as Air Zimbabwe, Egyptair, Air Malawi, South African Airways, Mango Airlines, and others.

Domestic Flights

Precision Air, Coastal Aviation and Fastjet amongst others offer a range of scheduled flights between Zanzibar and Tanzania’s main cities.

Getting to Zanzibar by Sea

There are several sea ferry companies that ply the waters between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. The largest of these is Azam Marine. You can book ferry tickets through our recommended ground handler in Zanzibar, Sun Tours.

Other Useful Information

Time Zone: GMT +3
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
Official Languages: Kiswahili & English
Electricity: 220-240 V AC, 50 Hz
Religion: Mainly Islam
International Dialling code: +255 24

History

Zanzibar has lured traders, adventurers, plunderers and explorers to its shores for centuries…
The Assyrians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and English have all been here at one time or another. Some, particularly the Shirazi Persians and Omani Arabs, stayed to settle and rule. With this influence, Zanzibar has become predominantly Islamic (97%) – the remaining 3% is made up of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs. The earliest visitors to Zanzibar were Arab traders who are said to have arrived in the 8th century. The earliest building that remains on Zanzibar is the mosque at Kizimkazi which dates from 1107, and is a present-day tourist attraction.

For centuries the Arabs sailed with the Monsoon winds from Oman to trade primarily in ivory, slaves and spices. The two main islands, Unguja (normally known as Zanzibar Island) and Pemba, provided an ideal base for the Omani Arabs, being relatively small, and therefore fairly easy to defend. From here it was possible for them to control 1,000 miles of the mainland coast from present day Mozambique to Somalia. Indeed, in 1832, Sultan Seyyid Said, of the Busaid Dynasty that had emerged in Oman, moved his Sultanate from Muscat, which was perhaps more difficult to protect, to Zanzibar where he and his descendants ruled for over 130 years. Most of the wealth lay in the hands of the Arab community, who were the main landowners, kept themselves to themselves, and generally did not intermarry with the Africans.

This was not true of the Shirazi Persians who came from the Middle East to settle on the East African coast. In AD 975, Abi Ben Sultan Hasan of Shiraz in Persia (now Iran) set out in seven dhows into the Indian Ocean but were caught in a huge storm and separated. Thus, landfalls were made at seven different places along the East African coast, one of which was Zanzibar, and settlements began.

Widespread intermarriage between Shirazis and Africans gave rise to a coastal community with distinctive features, and a language derived in part from Arabic, which became known as Swahili. The name Swahili comes from the Arab word sawahil which means ‘coast’. The Zanzibar descendants of this group were not greatly involved in the lucrative slave, spice and ivory trades. Instead, they immersed themselves mainly in agriculture and fishing. Those Shirazis that did not intermarry retained their identity as a separate group.

Two smaller communities were also established. Indian traders arrived in connection with the spice and ivory trade, and quickly settled as shopkeepers, traders, skilled artisans, and professionals. The British became involved in missionary and trading activities in East Africa, and attempting to suppress the slave trade centred in Zanzibar.

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