Zanzibar Archipelago travel advice
Zanzibar is a group of fifty islands, of which Zanzibar Island is the biggest, the best known, as well as having some of the most stunning beaches.
Accommodation on Zanzibar
This is where the majority of the hotels are and there are a myriad of beach hotels to choose from. There are some very busy beaches, backed by large resorts which we don’t use. We have driven all round the island and found quiet beaches with small boutique hotels and simple lodges. We’ll drive you across the island to these and you can relax in peace.
Many people staying on Zanzibar combine a longer stay on the beach with a night or two in Stone Town. This is busy and bustling and a very exotic place to explore, to eat out at some fabulous restaurants and pick up a few presents to take back home. There are converted Swahili houses to stay in and we can recommend not only these but the best restaurants and even shops to explore!
Islands of Zanzibar
There are daily flights between Zanzibar Island and Pemba Island, to the north. Flights take about forty minutes. Pemba is a quiet island with only a couple of hotels. It’s an ideal place for divers, snorkellers and people looking to escape to somewhere very quiet. For those that want exclusivity there are a number of small islands surrounding Zanzibar. Reached by boat some have small boutique hotels on whilst others are private islands. These come at a premium but offer the ultimate in accommodation, service and privacy.
Finally, for those who want to explore all the islands of the archipelago we have a private yacht for island-hopping in real style.
The official languages are KiSwahili and English but more than 100 different languages are spoken across Tanzania. Almost everybody involved in the tourism industry, either directly or indirectly, will be able to speak some English.
The traditional gratuity to safari guides or camp staff is not included in the price of your tour and is completely discretionary. If you want to tip because you have received good service, a brief guideline is as follows:
- Driver-guides - US$10 per guest, per day.
- General camp/lodge staff. We recommend US$5 per day. This should be placed in the communal tipping box.
- National Park guides US$8 per day.
- We also recommend that you change some of your money into small denominations of Tanzanian Shillings for tipping.
The currency of Tanzania is the Tanzania shilling (TSh). The current exchange rate is approximately US$1=1000TSh (GB£1=1500TSh). Hotels will accept payment for food and drinks in either US$ or TSh. Some restaurants and shops in the tourist areas may also accept payment in US$.
Due to a spate of forgeries, nobody in Tanzania, including banks, will accept US$100 notes, so it is best to carry smaller denominations.
Credit cards are accepted at some of the major hotels but a 5-10% surcharge will usually be added. There are very few ATM's in Tanzania. Do not rely on credit cards other than as a back-up.
Conservative casual wear is generally acceptable everywhere, but revealing clothes should be avoided since they may cause offence, particularly in towns and villages in the coastal areas where there is a very strong Muslim element. In Zanzibar particularly you will need to cover your knees and shoulders.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
When to go to Zanzibar Archipelago
You’ll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Zanzibar Archipelago.
11¾ hours (Zanzibar, via Nairobi)