All About Zanzibar

The famous islands of the Zanzibar archipelago are located about 25 miles off Dar es Salaam on the mainland coast of Tanzania.



Spice Isles of Unguja, Pemba (Zanzibar) and Mafia  

These islands, off the East Coast of Tanzania, have always been known to be the perfect place to unwind after a safari or trek up Kilimanjaro, Or simply a romantic destination for honeymooners. What is not as widely known about these islands, is that they are home to some of the world’s critically endangered species – red colobus monkeys, bottlenose dolphins, whalesharks, dugong and even the ancient coelecanth which scientists thought disappeared off the face of Earth with the dinosaurs!

The islands are perfect for families as well as senior citizens as there is plenty do so – from the active watersports, diving and snorkelling, to swimming with dolphins, or taking a leisurely sunset cruise in a traditional sailing dhow.

The water is warm, beaches are beautiful, excursions are numerous and historic Stone Town, the archipelago’s capital, is a hub of activity – old stone crumbling buildings with elaborate doors and balconies, and narrow streets teeming with bazaars and bicycles, a wonderful marketplace, old sultans palaces and the site of the infamous slave trade.

Getting to Zanzibar

By air is the only feasible method for reaching Zanzibar from outside East Africa. There are very few direct flights, but from Dar es Salaam it is not too difficult to book a short hop flight to Zanzibar or Pemba, or there are frequent ferries.

Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar by Air

From Dar es Salaam there are daily flights to Zanzibar. Flights cost around GBP 70, USD 100, EUR 90. Booking through Alternative Airlines seems to be the most cost-effective and simple option.

Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar by Ferry

There are many boat options from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar and back.  Each provider charges differently with tickets priced between USD 20 and USD 50 one way. It is advisable to opt for one of the faster more modern boats. Many of the ferries look worryingly un-seaworthy and though few accidents have been recorded, safety and peace-of-mind are, of course, invaluable.

Getting to Zanzibar from South Africa

Direct flights to Zanzibar take off weekly from Johannesburg, operated by 1Time. The flight lasts approximately three and a half hours and costs roughly ZAR 4,500 return.

South African Airlines also flies daily to Dar es Salaam from Johannesburg (approx. ZAR 5,000) or Cape Town (approx. ZAR 7,500). However these flights sometimes arrive late and may necessitate an overnight stay in Dar before making the transfer to Zanzibar.

Time Zone

The Zanzibar Islands are 1 hour ahead of South Africa.


Official language is Swahili, however English is widely spoken, especially by all the staff within the tourism industry.

Currency & Tipping

Tanzanian currency (Tanzanian Shilling – Tsh) is used and operates on a decimal system. The Notes are available in the following denominations 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10 000. Coins are 10, 20, 50 and 100. MasterCard, Visa and American express have only limited acceptance at present and visitors should not be dependent on using them We recommend that you travel with US Dollars as these are accepted all over the island. Where no service charge is included, 10% is adequate.


Visas are no longer required by S.A passport holders when visiting Zanzibar.  For more information on Visa requirements for other countries visit The Consulate of the United Republic of Tanzania.

How to get around

The local taxis, known as Dala Dalas link all the local towns in Zanzibar. Taxis are also readily available and you can negotiate with a taxi driver on price to your destination.

Departure Tax

A departure tax of USD 40.00 per person is payable upon departure from Zanzibar

All information was correct at the time of going to print (July 2013) and should only be used as a guideline