Getting In & Around Zanzibar
Zanzibar, a tropical paradise known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and fascinating history. As you plan your visit to this enchanting destination, it’s essential to know how to get around and make the most of your time on the island. In this guide, we’ll take you through the various transportation options available, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey as you explore every corner of Zanzibar.
1. Getting to Zanzibar:
a. By Air:
When travelling to Zanzibar, most visitors arrive at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. The airport is well-connected to several major cities in Africa and the Middle East, offering both domestic and international flights. Airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airlines, KLM and Qatar Airways provide regular service to the island. Tourists can even fly directly, after their safari tour, from Tanzania’s National Parks from chartered planes.
ZAFS agents can help to plan your flights and stay in Zanzibar. We advise visitors who wish to combine their safari experience with a trip to Zanzibar to book their flights through a reputable tour operator as local airlines may not accept credit cards or bookings made on-line. Plus, any changes to your flight schedule will mean your tour operator will get regular updates on their Tanzanian number and this poses a difficulty if visitors book independently.
b. By Sea:
Alternatively, you can reach Zanzibar by ferry from mainland Tanzania. The most popular departure point is Dar es Salaam, with frequent ferry services, three times daily, operated by companies such as Azam Marine and SeaLink. The journey takes around 2 hours, offering stunning views of the Indian Ocean along the way.
2. Navigating Zanzibar:
a. Public Transportation:
Zanzibar has a well-established public transportation system, primarily consisting of minibuses known as “dala-dalas.” These colourful vehicles connect major towns and villages, providing an affordable mode of transportation. However, they can be crowded and not always reliable in terms of schedules.
b. Taxis and Private Drivers:
Taxis are readily available throughout Zanzibar, particularly in urban areas like Stone Town. It’s advisable to negotiate the fare before the journey or ensure the driver uses a metre. Another option is hiring a private driver who can take you to various attractions and provide valuable insights into the island’s culture and history. Booking through ZAFS means that we can curate a personalised itinerary for you and provide you with the necessary arrangements to get to the various locations for your chosen excursions.
c. Renting a Car or Motorcycle:
For those seeking more independence and flexibility, renting a car or motorcycle is a popular choice. Several rental agencies operate on the island, allowing you to explore Zanzibar at your own pace. However, keep in mind that driving conditions can be challenging due to narrow roads and unpredictable traffic.
3. Exploring Zanzibar’s Key Destinations:
a. Stone Town:
As the historical heart of Zanzibar, Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lose yourself in its labyrinthine alleys, marvel at the impressive architecture, and visit attractions like the House of Wonders and the Old Fort. Don’t forget to explore the bustling markets and indulge in delicious local cuisine.
b. Beaches and Coastal Areas:
Zanzibar is renowned for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Head to popular spots like Nungwi, Kendwa, and Paje to relax on powdery sands, engage in thrilling water sports, or embark on unforgettable snorkelling and diving adventures.
c. Spice Plantations:
Take a tour of Zanzibar’s aromatic spice plantations, where you can discover the island’s rich spice heritage. Engage your senses as you learn about spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and taste exotic fruits straight from the trees.
d. Jozani Forest:
Nature lovers shouldn’t miss Jozani Forest, Zanzibar’s only national park. Here, you can encounter the rare red colobus monkeys, wander along enchanting nature trails, and witness the diverse flora and fauna that call this tropical forest home.
4. Island-Hopping Adventures:
a. Pemba Island:
Embark on a mesmerising journey to Pemba Island, Zanzibar’s lesser-known gem. Known for its untouched natural beauty, Pemba offers tranquil beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and a chance to immerse yourself in the local Swahili culture.
b. Mnemba Atoll:
Dive into the crystal-clear waters surrounding Mnemba Atoll, a private island known for its extraordinary marine life. Snorkel or scuba dive alongside colourful fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.
c. Prison Island:
Just a short boat ride from Stone Town, Prison Island awaits with its white sandy beaches and the opportunity to observe giant tortoises up close. Take a refreshing swim or enjoy a picnic in this idyllic setting.
5. Safety Tips and Considerations:
a. Cultural Sensitivity:
Respect the local culture and customs by dressing modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites. It’s also polite to ask for permission before taking photographs of individuals.
b. Road Conditions and Driving Safety:
Exercise caution while driving in Zanzibar, as roads can be narrow and poorly maintained. Be mindful of pedestrians, cyclists, and dala-dalas, and always wear a seatbelt.
c. Water Transportation Safety:
If you plan to partake in water activities or use water taxis, ensure that life jackets are available and worn. Choose reputable operators with proper safety measures in place.
Zanzibar is a destination that captivates travellers with its natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality. By familiarising yourself with the transportation options and key attractions discussed in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your Zanzibar adventure. Embrace the island’s unique charm, explore its hidden gems, and create unforgettable memories that will stay with you long after you leave this exotic paradise.
Remember, ZAFS Tours is here to assist you in planning an unforgettable experience on the captivating island of Zanzibar. Book your tour today and embark on the journey of a lifetime!