FAQ and info about Zanzibar and Tanzania

What time zone is Zanzibar?

Local time is GMT +3. In summer time Finland (GMT +2) and Zanzibar are in the same time.

How is the climate in Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is laying on the warm Indian Ocean, 6 degrees from the Equator. The climate is reasonable with constant temperature of 21 – 33 Celcius degrees. However, this is subjected to the seasonal northeast monsoon winds, blowing day and night from November to March (the Zanzibar summer). The temperature is then about 26 – 34 Celcius degrees with humidity. The southwest monsoon winds blow from the beginning of June to mid October (the Zanzibar winter). Then the temperature is about 21 – 29 Celcius degrees. The rain season is from April to the end of May, although one should expect shower any time through out the year.

How to get a visa to Zanzibar and Tanzania in general?

Visitors from most of the countries require visa to enter Zanzibar (and Tanzania in general), and the passport should be valid for six months onwards. Single entry tourist visa can be applied for at Tanzanian embassies, Tanzanian High Commissions and at the Tanzanian borders (airports and in some cases when crossing the border by land).

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state within Tanzania, so although you don’t need a separate visa to enter, you will need to show your passport on arrival. Visitors flying directly to Zanzibar are able to purchase a visa on arrival at the airport, and don’t forget your yellow fever vaccination certificate.

What medication should I take when travelling to Zanzibar?

You should take advice from your doctor. Visitors are required to show a yellow fever certificate before entering Zanzibar if they come from yellow fever risk countries. Malaria is not as common in Zanzibar as it is in mainland Tanzania, but prevention medicine is recommended.

Cover up after the sunset and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin. Sleep with a mosquito net or in an insect free room. HIV is a threat! Protection should be used. Drink bottled or well boiled water and make sure the seal is unbroken.

Remember that medical facilities are limited in Zanzibar. Visitors are advised to have comprehensive insurance to cover the unlikely event of serious accident. Dr. Mehta hospital accepts many European insurance cards (including Eurooppalainen from Finland).

Which currency can I use in Zanzibar? Which credit cards work in Zanzibar?

The local currency in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian Shilling (TSh). US dollar bank notes are also widely accepted as payment throughout the island. Traveler’s cheques can be exchanged at banks, bureau de change and some hotels.

Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted at large establishments. There are many ATM cash machines in Zanzibar Town and can be used with Visa, Visa Electron and MasterCard. Sometimes you need to try different banks before you find the one that works with your card.

How is the electric current in Zanzibar?

The local current is 220- 240 VAC 50Hz. Most plug sockets take the three ping British plugs. There are still occasional power cuts in Zanzibar, but it’s becoming less frequent. Visitors are advised not to leave expensive electrical appliance plugged in when not in use, due to occasional power surges. Safe adaptors are the best option when charging laptops, smart phones etc.

How to use internet in Zanzibar?

There is wireless internet in almost every hotel and internet cafes all over Zanzibar. Mobile network reaches to almost all corners of the island, with good 3G especially in town. You can also buy portable modems from local companies.

How to make phone calls in Zanzibar?

If you stay longer and need to make several phone calls, you might want to consider a local SIM card. We can arrange this for you. International calls are generally much cheaper with local SIM.

The country code for Tanzania (including Zanzibar) is +255.

What to pack for a Zanzibar holiday?

Clothes should be light, loose, washable and preferably made from natural fabrics, rubber flip-flops or sandals are excellent choice for wondering around the villages and town, but a sturdy pair of walking shoes will normally be needed for sightseeing or walking through the forest. The tropical sun in Zanzibar is very strong, especially in midday. Sunscreen with high SPF and shady hats are preferable. It’s good to also pack sun glasses and flash light (the electricity is not completely reliable).

What to pack for a Tanzanian safari?

Light, covering clothes are the best. Sun will shine and dust will be everywhere, so it’s wise to cover up. Flash light might be useful, mosquito repellant should always be with you in Tanzania. Also consider issues with dust when packing electronics with you. Full batteries are needed in some circumstances, depending on your accommodation.

On safaris arranged by Colors of Zanzibar we always include all necessities, or inform you about the things you need to bring. On other safaris, make sure to ask your safari company.

How to dress in Zanzibar?

Modest dressing is appreciated by everyone in Zanzibar. Foreign standards do not apply everywhere, so some items which are standard at your home country might not be appreciated. Bikinis and minis are fine for the beach, but in the villages and towns, women should cover their shoulders and wear a skirt or trousers that reach below the knee. Likewise, men should not go shirtless and should dress respectfully.

If you are spening time on a beach in Stone Town or other beaches that are within sight from town, consider wearing beach clothes when not swimming. Being topless is not allowed for women.

Taking photos in Zanzibar

You can take photos in public areas but ask for a permission before taking pictures of individual people or private houses.