Zanzibar City

FAQs about Zanzibar and Tanzania

What time zone is Zanzibar?

Local time is GMT +3, which is used in East Africa in general as well. Same time zone as Eastern Europe.

What is the climate in Zanzibar?

Zanzibar sits on the warm Indian Ocean, 6 degrees from the equator. The climate is reasonable with a constant temperature of 21–33 degrees Celsius. However, this is subject to the seasonal northeast monsoon winds, blowing day and night from November to March (the Zanzibar summer). The temperature is then about 26–34 degrees Celsius 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 degrees Celsius. The rainy season is from April to the end of May, although you can expect showers any time throughout the year.

Do I need a visa to visit Zanzibar and Tanzania?

Visitors from most countries require a visa to enter Zanzibar and Tanzania, and your passport should be valid for six months onwards. Single-entry tourist visas can be applied for at Tanzanian embassies, Tanzanian High Commissions, and at the Tanzanian borders (airports and in some cases when crossing 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 can purchase a visa on arrival at the airport. Don’t forget your yellow fever vaccination certificate.

If you get your visa at the airport, you’ll need to pay by credit card.

What medication should I take when travelling to Zanzibar?

Check with your doctor before traveling. 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 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 a serious accident. There are many hospitals in Tanzania that accept international insurance cards.

Which currency can I use 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.

Which credit cards work in Zanzibar?

Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted at large establishments. There are many ATMs in Zanzibar Town that can be used with Visa, Visa Electron, and MasterCard. You may need to try different banks before you find the one that works with your card. American Express works in Zanzibar, but not at as many ATMs.

What is the electrical current in Zanzibar?

The local current is 220-240 VAC 50Hz. Most sockets take the three-pong British plugs. There are still occasional power cuts in Zanzibar, but this is becoming less frequent. Visitors are advised not to leave expensive electrical appliances plugged in when not in use, due to occasional power surges. Safety adaptors are the best option when charging laptops, smartphones, etc.

Can I access the internet in Zanzibar?

There is wireless internet in almost every hotel and guesthouse and there are internet cafes all over Zanzibar. The mobile network reaches almost all corners of the island, with good 3G/4G, especially in town. Many cafes and restaurants offer internet for customers.

How do I make phone calls in Zanzibar?

If you 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 a local SIM.

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

What should I pack for a Zanzibar holiday?

Clothes should be light, loose, washable, and preferably made from natural fabrics. Rubber flip-flops or sandals are good for wandering around villages and towns, but a sturdy pair of walking shoes will be needed for sightseeing or walking through the forest. The tropical sun in Zanzibar is very strong, especially at midday. Sunscreen with high SPF and hats are recommended. You should also pack sunglasses and a flashlight (the electricity is not completely reliable).

What should I pack for a Tanzanian safari?

Lightweight clothes that cover your arms and legs are best. The sun will be strong, and dust will be everywhere, so it’s wise to cover up. A flashlight may also be useful, and mosquito repellant should always be with you in Tanzania. Also, consider dust when packing electronics. Full batteries are needed in some circumstances, depending on your accommodation.

On our safaris, we always include all necessities or inform you about the things you will need to bring. For other safaris, make sure to ask your safari company.

How should I dress in Zanzibar?

Modest clothing is appreciated by everyone in Zanzibar. Some items that are standard in your home country might not be appreciated. For example, bikinis and miniskirts or shorts are fine for the beach, but in 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 spending time on a beach in Stone Town or other beaches that are within sight of the town, consider wearing cover-up clothes when not swimming. Being topless is not allowed for women.

Can I take photos in Zanzibar?

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