Zanzibar is one of the most welcoming destinations to visit and is open to people of all nationalities. As long as you have the necessary documents and meet the entry requirements, travelling to the Zanzibar Island is easy. If you are preparing for a trip to the island of Zanzibar, this article will equip you with all the necessary information you need to make your planning and preparation seamless. We will look at the travel requirements, appropriate documentation, health information and vaccination, safety and security, as well as other important tips when you are vacationing in Zanzibar.
What documents do I need to travel to Zanzibar? For you to visit Zanzibar, you must have a valid passport and a tourist visa. Your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date you intend to depart from Zanzibar. In addition, it should have at least one blank page.
You can either apply for your visa online prior to your travel through the official Tanzania immigration website (www.immigration.go.tz or through the Tanzanian Embassy and consulate in your home country. It is also possible for tourists to get visas on arrival at the airport in Zanzibar. According to Tanzania’s department of immigration, the e-visa takes 10 business days to be processed, but on average it takes less than 3 days to be processed for most tourists. Once your application is approved, a copy of your visa will be emailed to you.
There are two types of visas applicable for foreign nationals who wish to visit Tanzania/ Zanzibar as tourists or for vacation, i.e. single entry visa and multi-entry visa. The single entry visa is valid for 90 days and only applies to the non-US nationals when entering Tanzania.
For foreign nationals who wish to enter Mainland Tanzania/ Zanzibar more than once during their vacation in Africa, a multi-entry visa is required. Multi-entry visa is also required for all US citizens to enter Zanzibar.
The cost of a multi-entry tourist visa to Tanzania is $100(USD), while the single entry visa cost $50(USD). At the airport, you can either pay for your visa via a credit card or USD. A proof of return ticket or onward ticket may be required when entering Zanzibar.
The Tanzanian government requires all travelers (including children) to fill online health surveillance form 24 hours before you arrive in Mainland Tanzania/ Zanzibar. In addition, for all travellers older than one year coming from countries where Yellow Fever is endemic must produce a proof of valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate when entering the country. This also applies to travellers who have been in transit in an airport in a country where Yellow Fever is prevalent.
To avoid the risk of contracting malaria in Zanzibar, CDC recommends travellers coming to Tanzania/ Zanzibar to take anti-malarial prophylaxis. While there are no mandatory vaccines (except Yellow Fever) to enter Mainland Tanzania/ Zanzibar, it is recommended that all visitors should have up-to-date vaccinations. Also, there are various vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Tanzania. Hepatitis A, diphtheria, typhoid, tetanus and polio are considered key vaccines and are regularly recommended for travellers intending to visit Tanzania as a preventative measure. Other vaccines recommended by CDC include hepatitis B, rabies, meningitis, measles, mumps and rubella, chicken pox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
It is advisable to consult your physicians early enough before travelling to Zanzibar to determine the most suitable vaccines and medications for you, as well as to monitor and manage any side effects that may arise from the vaccine.
For Covid requirements, fully vaccinated visitors coming to Zanzibar don’t require predeparture testing/ proof of negative covid-19 PCR test. For those not vaccinated, and those partially vaccinated, a proof of negative COVID-19 PCR / NAATS test taken within 72 hours is required on arrival. A QR code is needed to verify the results. For those visitors not vaccinated/ partially vaccinated without negative PCR test they are tested upon arrival at their own cost.
The Tanzanian shilling is the official local currency in Zanzibar. US dollar is also widely acceptable in Zanzibar and you can use it to pay in most places, including in restaurants, booking tours, car rentals or buying souvenirs. Some larger establishments accept credit card payments, but it is recommended to have some cash in case the hotel lacks credit cards services.
It is also advisable to have some Tanzania shilling with you, particularly when purchasing from local shops and hotels.
You can exchange your dollars/ other foreign currencies into Tanzanian shillings at the exchange bureau at the airport or in the banks in Stone Town. It is best to bring newer dollar notes, as notes older than 2013 can be harder to exchange while those older than 2006 are not acceptable.
The most reliable ATMs are in Stone Town. While there is an ATM in both Paje and Nugwi, there is no guarantee to will find cash (they frequently run out of cash). You cannot withdraw dollars/foreign currency from ATMS in Zanzibar. The only available option is to draw Tanzanian shillings.
Safety and Security Information
Zanzibar is a relatively safe destination for tourists, but it is still important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. To be safe and to prevent putting yourself at risk of becoming a victim of theft, pick pocketing and crimes, avoid travelling alone at night, walking in isolated places, dark streets, avoid exposing expensive items and carrying a lot of money with you.
Zanzibar Travel Insurance
For tourists visiting Zanzibar, it is very essential to get Zanzibar travel insurance before your trip. It not only gives you peace of mind when travelling, but it also comes in handy in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as medical emergencies or mishaps during your travel. When getting Zanzibar travel insurance, go for a package that covers personal injury, medical emergencies and evacuation. It is also best to purchase a travel insurance that can reimburse you in instances when your luggage is lost or delayed, your flight or trip is delayed or cancelled. It is important to go through the travel insurance policy in details to understand what the insurance covers and the exemptions.
Zanzibar’s coastline is adorned with miles of pristine beaches where you can enjoy your vacation. There are numerous beaches to choose from in Zanzibar, including Nugwi, Kendwa, Paje, Matemwe and Jambiani. Whether you are looking for adventure or tranquility, you’ll find a beach to suit your interests. The water is always warm, making it possible to indulge in plenty of watersport activities, including snorkeling, diving and swimming. Zanzibar beaches also have some of the most diverse coral reefs where you can encounter a different species of fish, sharks, green turtles, dolphins, and manta rays. Kite surfing is another popular activity on Paje Beach.
The people of Zanzibar are warm and hospitable to visitors. Most of the population on the island is predominantly Muslims, but there are a few Christians and Hindus, too. The national language of Zanzibar is Swahili. The people of Zanzibar are mainly Bantu and mix of Persians and Arabs.
Travel Cancellation Policy
If a client wants to cancel a confirmed booking, for any reason, the amount of money refunded will depend on the duration you cancel your trip prior to your booking date. Generally, the closer you cancel the trip towards the initial booking date, the higher the cancellation fee. For example, tours cancelled less than 30 days prior to the booking date are subject to 50% cancellation fee, while those cancelled within 15 days will attract a 75% cancellation fee. While we try to accommodate clients cancellation requests, it might not always be possible to make a refund depending on timeframe within which you cancel your trip. In such instances we advise the clients to consider rescheduling their trip to another time. Due to the pricing of activities and accommodation charges fluctuation during different seasons, the new trip cost may need adjustment to factor in the pricing changes.
Depending on your interest, Zanzibar trips entail excursions to different attractions. Relaxing on the beaches is one of the top activity for travellers. Visiting historic sites such as Old Fort, slave museum, old dispensary, and ruins is also high on the list of things to do during Zanzibar trips. Other popular activities when visiting Zanzibar include snorkeling, swimming, spice farm tours, cave explorations, Jozani Forest, Stone Town walking tours and market visits, kitesurfing and dolphin safaris. Half day boat trips to the nearby islands such as Prison Island and Chaggu are also popular with visitors.
How to Get to Zanzibar
There are several ways to can get to Zanzibar depending on the point of your departure. If you are coming from the Mainland Tanzania, there are two ways to get to Zanzibar; you can either take a direct flight or ferry.
The easiest, fastest and most convenient way to travel to Zanzibar from the mainland Tanzania is by flight. There are different airlines departing from different areas of Tanzania to Zanzibar airport on a daily basis, including from Mwalimu Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam and Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha. Direct scheduled flights to Zanzibar are also available in most major towns, including Dodoma, Kigoma and Tanga as well as from airstrips within major national parks such as Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Selous, and Ruaha.
You can also access Zanzibar by flying into international airports in the neighboring East African countries of Kenya (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi or Moi International Airport in Mombasa) and Uganda (Entebbe International Airport) and then taking a direct flight to Zanzibar. Malindi. Another alternative is to get to Zanzibar is by booking a connecting flight from Europe, Qatar (Doha), UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi), or South Africa (Johannesburg).
Taking a ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar is the other option to connect from Mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar. There are four regular scheduled ferry trips on a daily basis both ways. On average, it takes about two and half hours to cross to Zanzibar but can take more depending on the company you book with.
Frequently Asked Questions about Zanzibar
1. What type of accommodation is available in Zanzibar
You can find several types of accommodations in Zanzibar, ranging from luxury, midrange to budget-friendly options. They include boutique hotels, luxurious beach resorts, restaurants, villas, backpackers’ hostels and guest houses.
2. What type of cuisine is available in Zanzibar
You can enjoy both international cuisine and local dishes in Zanzibar. Swahili cuisine such as pilau and biryani are popular on the island. Other popular local delicacies you can enjoy include Zanzibar pizza, ‘chipsi mayai’, and ugali and ‘ndizi nyama’. There is plenty of fresh seafood too, including lobster, octopus, calamari, prawns and fish curries.
3. What is the best way to get around Zanzibar
When you are visiting Zanzibar, there are several ways to get around the island depending on your budget, desired comfort level, preference and the destination you want to get to. The most convenient way is by using a taxi. Depending on the location you wish to visit, you can also use ‘dala dala’ (public transport commonly used by locals), traditional dhows, boats, quad bikes, car hire or bicycles. Walking is also a great way to explore Zanzibar, especially Stone Town.
4. How long should I plan to stay in Zanzibar
You can stay in Zanzibar as long or a short as you want. The duration of your stay will depend on your travel schedule, activities of interest, and budget. Zanzibar has a lot of activities and attractions to keep visitors engaged throughout their stay. As a basic guideline, plan on spending 5-10 days in Zanzibar Island. This will give you ample time to relax, feel the sense of the island, explore major attractions, try the local cuisine, enjoy the beaches and appreciate the culture. If you want to explore most of the island’s attractions and beaches and to engage in more adventurous activities such as snorkeling and kitesurfing, you may want to extend your stay here.
5. How do I get from Zanzibar Airport to hotel
The best option and the most convenient way to get from the airport to your hotel in Zanzibar is by using a taxi. There are many companies offering airport transfers available in Zanzibar Airport. They offer both private taxis and shared shuttle service for tourists. Depending on the location of your hotel, there are dala dalas (public) plying some routes.
6. What type of weather should I expect when visiting Zanzibar
When visiting Zanzibar, you can expect high humidity and warm temperatures ranging from 25°C to 31 °C all year round. Generally, there are two rainy seasons: the short rains from November to December and the long rains from mid-March to May. The rest of the months experiences cool and dry temperature.
7. Does Zanzibar have Uber
At the moment, there are no uber or bolt services in Zanzibar. However, there are many affordable and reliable taxis services on the island taking visitors to different destinations.
8. Is tap water safe to drink in Zanzibar
It is best to use bottled water during you trip to Zanzibar to reduce the risk contacting travellers diarrhea.
9. What is the electric supply in Zanzibar
The electric current in Zanzibar ranges from 220 to 240 V, 50 Hz. The two main types of power plug sockets in Zanzibar are the type G (the three–square pin socket type arranged in a triangular shape) and type D (two round pin plug style). If your home country uses a different type of electric plug or a different voltage, you’ll need to use a travel adapter and a voltage converter for your appliances.
10 Can you access internet in Zanzibar
You access the internet using your phone in Zanzibar. For better coverage, it is best to buy a local simcard such as Zantel at the airport. It is also possible to get Wi-Fi in larger restaurants and hotels.