Zanzibar is the ideal beach holiday package destination in East Africa. The sandy, white-washed beaches and clear blue water are iconic. The region, located in the Indian Ocean, is made up of a far-reaching group of islands, more accurately known as an archipelago.
The first Europeans to reach Zanzibar were the Portuguese; they were navigators who were trying to find a trade route to India. The location on the East African coast made Zanzibar the perfect spot on which to establish a trade route. It became an Arab state at the end of the 17th Century and then a British colony from 1890 to 1963. Finally, in 1964, Zanzibar and newly-independent country of Tanganyika became known as the United Republic of Tanzania.
The area is situated south of the equator, which means that the archipelago has a tropical climate. Indian Ocean monsoons dominate the area and so Zanzibar is plagued by heavy rains (known as mwaka). They begin in March and end in late-May; however, they can run into June too.
There is very little rainfall from January to March. Therefore, June to October is the perfect period to visit! You can expect an average temperature of 25°C.
Islam is the most practiced religion, but Christianity and Hinduism are practiced by a small percentage of the population.
Swahili was the first language spoken in the mainland of Tanzania and therefore crossed over to Zanzibar, but English is also prominent and understood by the majority of the population.
All of these meals are absolutely delicious. There is no doubt they will leave an everlasting impression on your pallet.
Zanzibar is located in an area where Malaria is prevalent and so consult your doctor before you travel to ensure that you have been given the correct preventative medicine.
Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park – Cost: $9
Zanzibar has a remarkable national park called Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including the endemic Red Colobus Monkeys. There are only 2000 left, making them one of the rarest species of monkey left on the planet. There are currently massive conservation efforts in place to safeguard their existence.
Make sure that you also take a walk along the Nature Trail. One of the park's experienced guides will lead you through this unspoiled paradise. There are 100 species of butterfly, sunbirds and if you're very lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the Zanzibar Leopard – a species that is almost extinct.
Spice Tour – Cost: $55
Zanzibar's fascinating history has influenced its food. You're definitely going to want to re-create many of the dishes back home. So, it's essential that you embark on the Spice Tour.
This is a walking tour through an active spice farm. You will be able to see how the spices, herbs and fruits are grown and cultivated.
There's an opportunity to smell and taste the spices, herbs and tropical fruits such as: nutmeg, clove, lemongrass, turmeric, cinnamon, vanilla, papaya, chili, black pepper, cardamom and oranges. Once the tour is finished, you'll be treated to a traditional Swahili lunch at the farm. Finally, you'll stop at the spice shop where you can purchase these freshly-packed spices.
Stone Town – Cost: $60
Stone Town is the main city and a bastion of the history of Zanzibar. You will be taken on sensory, whirlwind journey that will show you exactly why this island nation is incomparable to any other country.
It's recommended that you hire a tour guide; you can wander around the streets if you wish, but there is a good chance that you will get lost. Make sure that you take in the eye-catching architecture: the majority of the buildings date back to the 19th Century and although some are a bit dilapidated, they're still a sight to be admired.
After that, you need to go and experience the Darajani Market, which has a large variety of products. In the late-afternoon, you'll see the seafront, which is near the market, come to life – it's magnificent.
A trip to this town is not complete without a visit to the Forodhani Gardens. It's a public space that is in perfect proximity to many of the major sites. It's overlooked by the historic House of Wonders (aka Beit-Al-Ajaib) – definitely put this on your sight-seeing list. Why not take a break, relax, and enjoy the sensational views and characteristic ambience.
Are you hungry? Well, Forodhani Gardens has seafood galore (and that's an understatement!) You'll find all sorts on the menu such as squid, octopus, barracuda, shrimps, lobsters, prawns and crabs. If some of the items seem completely foreign to you, don't worry; the vendors will explain everything to you.
If you're not a fan of seafood, there are many other delicacies available such as Zanzibar pizza (a must-have), Urojo, pilau, kebabs, grilled sweet potatoes…the list is endless. Oh, and the prices are very reasonable, so go wild.
Forodhani Gardens exudes an atmosphere that needs to be experienced. Once you've had some food, put your feet up and are feeling replenished, it's time for the next activity!
Prison Island and Changuu Island – Cost: $70
Changuu Island, better known as Prison Island, is only a 30-minute boat ride from Stone Town. Fascinating fact: it was never used to house prisoners; it was used a quarantine area! What for? Well, you'll have to hop on the boat and go find out. Oh, and while you're there, watch out for giant tortoises!
Sunset Dhow cruises – Cost: $110
How does relaxing on a boat in the middle of the ocean, while watching the iconic African Sunset grab you? Yes? Then the late-afternoon Dhow boat cruises are a must.
The hustle-and-bustle of busy people in Stone Town grow faint until they are only an afterthought, When the dhow sets sail you will be served drinks and light snacks, simply sit back and sink into pure bliss.
Your breath will be taken away by the spectacle of the hot-orange sun setting beyond the horizon. As you head back for Stone Town the wind gently blows into the sail which is mesmeric.
The last thing that you want is to run out of money during your holiday in Zanzibar. Here is a list of the approximate price of food, drink and certain services. Please remember that prices may be more expensive depending on where you go.
After basking in the wonder of the Red Colobus Monkeys and being guided along the Nature Trail, you're definitely going to need one of these beverages. It's essential to have water in order to stay hydrated; coffee will give you that much-needed boost in the morning and an ice-cold soft drink is always refreshing.
A one litre bottle of water - $4
A soft drink e.g. Coca-Cola/Pepsi - $4
A cup of coffee $5
Whether you're having a sit-down dinner or are enjoying the local ambience at a club or bar, treat yourself to a drink – you're on vacation.
A local beer - $5
An alcoholic cocktail - $10
Wine by the glass - $6
A bottle of house wine - $30
Spirits (pouring brand) - $10
With the plethora of activities available in Zanzibar, a light lunch and or snack will always be in demand. It doesn't matter what option you choose; all of the food is an adventure for your taste buds. HINT: make sure that you try the legendary Zanzibar pizza – you'll be coming back for seconds!
Light lunch such as a sandwich or pizza - $9 - $15
A 3-course dinner - $35 - $60
A burger - $15
Adventure and relaxation don't have to be mutually exclusive. Why not go for an thrilling dive and then indulge in a blissful massage at your resort.
A standard spa massage - $80
Dive for a qualified diver - $110
Babysitting - $20 per hour
The magic of Zanzibar is waiting for you…what are you waiting for? Why not book a holiday package today!