Geography

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa. It is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean which comprises the two main islands of Unguja (Informally referred to as Zanzibar) and its sister island Pemba as well as about fifty smaller islets. The land area of the two main islands is approximately 2,332 km2 of which Unguja is 1,464 km2. Zanzibar (Unguja) is a relatively flat island with its highest point at 120 meters above sea level. Zanzibar is 35 km across the water from Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian East coast and 219 km from Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. The capital of Unguja Island is Stone Town. Pemba has three major towns: Wete, Chake Chake, and Mkoani. The archipelago and its people have their own unique history and culture – influenced strongly by the traders and invaders over the centuries, from the Persians, Portuguese and Omani Arabs to the English. This has led the islands having a mixture of different influences from the architecture to the food the people eat.

When to go

Zanzibar is a year-round destination. The coolest months are June through October, when the temperature averages 26 Celsius. This can rise to well over 30 degrees in the hot season from December to March. During November (the ‘short rains’) and between April and May (the ‘long rains’), rainfall is higher. Rain in Zanzibar comes in short, sharp showers in the morning or afternoon, followed by the return of sunshine, Visitors from the Far East or Western Countries will find the ‘cold’ climate in Zanzibar compares favorably to their own summer temperatures.

High season is in June, July and August and mid–November to February. During these periods many of the more up-market hotels may increase their prices.  However, smaller establishments and guesthouses keep their prices constant throughout the year.

Zanzibar’s predominantly Muslim population observes the fast of Ramadan for a month every year, during which time believers are forbidden to eat, drink or smoke between sunrise and sunset. As a result, many smaller restaurants and snack bars are closed during the day. Offices and shops are also closed in the afternoons. Tourist resorts and hotels are unaffected, but local discos, clubs and musical shows remain closed throughout the whole period. The ramadhan changes every year so the is no exact month that this starts, If you plan to arrive during that time, stay for the end of Ramadan, and enjoy the huge feast and party, the Eid Al Fitr, the most festive time on the isles.

How to reach Zanzibar:

There are several ways to reach Zanzibar.

Flights:

Into Zanzibar, Oman air, Qatar airways, Condor

Into Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania with KLM, British Airways, Emirates, South African Airways, Swiss Air or Kenya Airways.

From there, airlines such as Precision Air, Zan Air, and Coastal Air offer daily flights to Zanzibar (only 20 minute duration).

Ferries:

Zanzibar can also be very conveniently reached from Dar Es Salaam with daily sea ferry trips taking only two hours.