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Zanzibar

Pristine palm-fringed beaches, white-sailed dhows on azure seas, vibrant spice markets, and the cobbled streets of the island’s capital, Stone Town, are all woven into the tapestry that is the colorful island of Zanzibar.

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CapitalZanzibar City
CurrencyTanzanian shilling
LanguageSwahili
Time DifferenceGMT +3

Pristine palm-fringed beaches, white-sailed dhows on azure seas, vibrant spice markets, and the cobbled streets of the island’s capital, Stone Town, are all woven into the tapestry that is the colorful island of Zanzibar. Known locally as Ungunja, the island is full of rich history and is at the crossroads of Arabic and African cultures, creating a wonderfully eclectic fusion of influences. Whether you are solely traveling for a luxurious island getaway, or as an addition to your East Africa safari, Zanzibar invites you to create lasting memories in paradise. 

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Location

Zanzibar is an archipelago situated approximately 25 miles off the east coast of Tanzania. It is a semi-autonomous territory of Tanzania and consists of two large islands known as Unguja – the local name for Zanzibar – and Pemba Island, plus several smaller islands.

What type of wildlife will we see?

While you will be spoilt for choice with larger terrestrial predators in Tanzania, including the Big Five, Zanzibar is home to some rare and prolific aquatic species like moray eels, octopus, coral reef ecosystems, manta rays, a diverse array of vibrant fish, and even the endangered Green turtle. If you enjoy snorkelling or diving, there is also a strong chance you will get to experience intimate encounters with dolphins, or the ocean’s largest fish, the whale shark. The Jozani Forest Reserve is also a great place to spot rare endemic mammals and birds between the swampy tropical fronds and is home to the island’s most famous resident – the red-colobus monkey.

Best time to go and why?

Zanzibar is a year-round destination with a tropical climate, meaning you can expect hot and humid weather throughout the year. There are two rainy seasons throughout the year with the first occurring from March to May, and a secondary rainy season falling in November. The long dry season, when rainfall is fairly rare, lasts from June all the way through to October. Temperatures on the island may vary due to altitude and location, but one can generally expect clear skies and sunny weather during this time making it a superb time to visit. The island is renowned for its world-class diving which is an activity that can take place any time of the year.

When is high season?

July to August is considered peak season in Zanzibar with pleasantly high temperatures and little to no rain, making it an ideal time to experience all the island has to offer.

When is low season?

Low season is between the months of March and May. This is the island’s rainiest season with some resorts closing while others offer discounted rates.

Top recommended resorts

There are a number of high-end lodges and resorts scattered around the island that offer the utmost in barefoot luxury for discerning travelers. Kendwa, situated on the north-western strip of Zanzibar, is home to Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa – a 5-star luxury resort just minutes away from the idyllic Kendwa beach. The Residence Zanzibar is another great option for a luxury escape and is located on the complete other side of the island on the southwest coast. The resort is surrounded by 32 hectares of lush, tropical gardens and is fringed by a pristine mile-long white sand beach. Paje beach, situated on the eastern side of the island, is considered one of the most visually stunning beaches in Zanzibar and is home to Zanzibar White Sands Luxury Villas & Spa – a luxury collection of some of the finest villas on the island. For those seeking utmost exclusivity and privacy, Mnemba Island Lodge, situated off the north-eastern coast of Zanzibar is on its very own island surrounded by an atoll of some of the most breath-taking coral reefs in Africa.

Top recommended activities

Spice Tour

A Spice Tour is undoubtedly one of the most popular activities in Zanzibar, reminiscent of bygone days when it was known as the ‘spice island’, exporting items like cloves, vanilla, nutmeg and cardamom across the world, brought in from Asia and South America. A spice tour takes you to organic farms on the island where you can see, touch, smell, and taste a variety of spice plants and experience the island’s rich history. 

Marine Safari

Zanzibar has some of the most exceptional coral reefs on the planet and a snorkelling or diving expedition is a must to experience the vibrant underwater world of the island and surrounding isles. It is one of the few remaining untamed underwater wildernesses and is a truly remarkable experience.  

Dhow Cruise

A traditional wooden dhow cruise while visiting the island is an essential part of your Zanzibar experience. Gliding effortlessly to the sound of the white canvas sails in the breeze and the lapping of the crystal waters below is an unparalleled experience, and a fantastic way to enjoy the sunset, or a lazy lunch on a palm-fringed island nearby. 

Stone Town

The central point of the island, Stone Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and is an eclectic mix of African, Arabic and colonial styles all mixed into one cobblestoned city. It is packed with vibrant cultural influences from traders from India and the Middle East and has something exciting around every corner – from intricate fabrics and markets to eccentric food stalls selling mouth-watering culinary treats. 

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