Zanzibar has a lot to offer. This large archipelago, made up of a group of phenomenal islands in the Indian Ocean, about 50 km from the mainland Republic of Tanzania, has the best beaches, a very long history, healthy nature and beautiful people.
Here’s what you should know before you travel to Zanzibar
Zanzibar Island alone (also known as Unguja) is about 90 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide . In addition, here are some more facts worth knowing if you opt for this exotic destination:
Great attendance and real tourist tours in Zanzibar started only in 1995.
This island on the east coast of Africa has been a place of trade between Africa, India and the Middle East for centuries. It used to be a key destination for the highly profitable slave trade . Arab traders used Zanzibar as their base from where they set out on expeditions and bringing slaves from the interior of East Africa.
Due to its proximity to the equator, Zanzibar is warm all year round , as are most East African countries.
The shortest war ever recorded was the war between Zanzibar and England (August 1896) in which the British bombed the harem of Sultan Beit al-Hukum, and after 40 minutes there was a ceasefire.
Zanzibar became known around the world as an island of spices .
Zanzibar has the largest number of carved doors in Africa.
The name of the language ” swahili ” comes from the Arabic word “Sawahil”, which means “coast”.
Zanzibar is an archipelago of which the two larger islands are Unguja and Pemba. Pemba and other, smaller islands offer incredible opportunities for snorkeling and snorkeling , while the east coast of Ungue has the best beaches.
Zanzibar is the first country in Africa to introduce color television . However, the first services and providers of TV signals and systems on the mainland of Tanzania were organized and started working only in 1994.
The stone city was declared aWorld Heritage Siteby UNESCO in 2000. It is a unique city, a mix of Maori, Middle Eastern, Indian and African traditions and architecture where you can spend days and days wandering through the maze of streets. It is estimated that 85% of the historically important material since the city was built (coral stone) has been irretrievably lost.
The Arabs colonized these islands in the late 18th century and planted large plantations of spices there – starting with cloves – and turned the islands into a real world center of trade in spices such as vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. Take a tour of the villages that grow them and meet the farmers who scrape the bark from the cinnamon tree, which they later dry, and thus get a delicious spice that is great for coffee, teas, cakes, medicines, creams. Great for digestion and a very strong antiseptic. There, they use it to treat colds and flu by chewing the bark of this tree.
Freddie Mercury, singer of the band Queen , was born in Zanzibar in 1946. His real name was Farouk Bulsara.
In addition to these facts, we suggest a few more attractions, which you can read about below.
Seaweed Center – Algae Industry Development Project
On the east coast, in the town of Paje, hard-working natives earn their living by growing seaweed and making soaps and creams. From here, 3% of the world’s total commercial algae harvest is obtained. The industry employs 15,000 women from surrounding villages.
“Seaweed Center” has become a socially responsible company that provides women, villagers from the island of Zanzibar, the opportunity to improve the quality of living and to develop economic activities for the benefit of the whole community.
The project includes a small factory where soaps and algae creams are made, which are sold in local shops, but are also distributed throughout East Africa. Tourists are allowed to visit the village and find out what life is like for these women who collect and process seaweed all day to feed their families.
Dhow – transport ships
You will surely notice the elegant, traditional sailboats sailing on the open sea on Zanzibar , so it is not surprising that Zanzibar is becoming more and more attractive to tourists . These are ships that were made by the Arabs a long time ago, at a time when they ruled the seas and when they needed to quickly sail around the islands for trade. So they made beautiful sailboats with long, thin wooden hulls.
Since 98% of the population of Zanzibar is Muslim, “dhowe” have long been used here for transportation and cargo. They say that the largest such sailboat of almost 300 feet, 33 meters high, was recently built in Dubai! Most of the boats you will see in Zanzibar are small, private boats, ideal for a romantic cruise at sunset.
Darajani market – scents of spices, dried fish and textiles
The big attractions in Zanzibar are not only world-class beaches, they are certainly centers of urban culture such as UNESCO’s “Stone City”. The old part of the city is an unavoidable place, especially the Darajani market in the middle of the city center.
You will literally be overwhelmed by the smells of all possible spices, dried fish and textiles. The merchants from Zanzibar are very kind and are always happy to meet you, so expect to always be rewarded with a little something.
Mnemba – a small magical island
Zanzibar today would not be an important tourist destination without the crystal clear Indian Ocean that surrounds it, and everything that lives below its surface. Over 500 species of marine animals inhabit the coastal waters of Zanzibar.
On Mnemba Atoll you will discover blue spotted rays, dolphins, humpback whales, mackerel, sharks and hundreds of other creatures that you can see while diving. It is an interesting fact that endangered green sea turtles nest here .
This is a small island, but there is so much to do and see: guests can dive, fly a kite, swim as they please, ride a kayak, lie in a large hammock or simply eat delicious, unusual food and drinks served by friendly staff.
Nungwi beach – the most beautiful beach in Zanzibar
In all possible tourist portals, shops and sites, among the ten most beautiful beaches in the world are those from Zanzibar. Wherever you stay on the islands you will find a piece of paradise. Nungwi Beach is often recommended (recently declared one of the hundred most beautiful and one of the bluest beaches on the island).
Until a couple of decades ago, this place was such a quiet, simple fishing village. Now it is one of the most picturesque landscapes in Africa , where the colors change from soft blue to dark turquoise water.
What visas are required for Zanzibar?
Almost all those who want to travel as tourists must apply for a “regular” visa for a single entry . However, if you intend to make more entries into the country (or travel for any purpose other than tourist) or if you intend to stay in Tanzania for more than 90 days, you should carefully read the guidelines on the website to make sure you are applying for the correct visa type .
How much does a visa cost?
An ordinary (tourist) single-entry and registration visa costs $ 50, and a multiple-entry visa costs $ 100. Unless you live in countries that are on the list of the official website of the immigration department of Tanzania (which includes Botswana, Mauritius, Madagascar, Singapore, South Sudan, Rwanda, etc.), a visa is required for all other travelers.