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Results for: Zanzibar Island

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Anchored 22 miles off Tanzania’s coast, Zanzibar is an archipelago of over 50 islands and islets.  The two main Islands of Unguja and Pemba are believed to have once formed part of Africa, but broke away between 5 and 23 million years ago. Uniting with Tanzania in 1964, Zanzibar is now one of the best beach holiday destinations in East Africa, with beautiful white sands and clear blue waters stretching as far as the eye can see.


As a primary trading post on the spice, silk and slave trade routes for over a millennium, Zanzibar has been a unique cultural crossroads, blending African, Indian, Arabian and European cultures. This is most apparent in the Old Stone Town, one of the few remaining ancient towns in Africa.


Stone Town is a labyrinth of chaotic alleyways, interposed between towering limestone houses, each with ornately carved hardwood doors with brass finishings and terracotta roofs. Alongside the architecture, Zanzibar is unique in its cuisine, religion, politics, and way of life. It’s very different to mainland Tanzania, and makes for a perfect start or end to an East African safari. 


Things to do in Zanzibar: Zanzibar offers a number of outdoor activities and water sports, including cycling, kitesurfing, diving, or just general island hopping. Most hotels are based on the mainland, but if you want to escape the bustle of the main island’s beaches, there are plenty of smaller islands to give you that marooned-on-a-desert-island experience.


Paje, Jambiani, and Chumbe Island: The north coast of Zanzibar is popular with kite surfers, and most companies offer a range of boards and lessons for beginners. Paje is one of the most popular sites, with crowded beaches for kitesurfing and diving, and a lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, Jambiani is a quieter option with plenty of restaurants. For snorkelling and diving aficionados, Chumbe island – 12km from the main island – is the best place to be. This protected marine park is easy to get to (only 45 minutes by boat from Stone Town) and your money goes towards protecting a fragile ecosystem.


Mnemba Island, Stone Town, and Spice Farms: Mnemba island is largely regarded as one of the best dive and snorkel spots in Zanzibar. The island is a 30-minute boat ride from the town of Matemwe on Unguja’s East coast.  Zanzibar city comprises two parts: Stone Town, the historical epicentre, and Ng’ambo (literally translated as ‘the other side’). Stone Town is the historical core of Zanzibar, said to be the only remaining ancient town of East Africa still used today.


It offers enough activities for two days, including strolling around the labyrinthian alleys, touring the old slave market, visiting Prison island, checking out the old Sultanate ruins, or getting lost in the old market. Let’s not forget that the Zanzibar archipelago is, rather exotically, also known as the ‘Spice islands’ for its historical role as the centre for spice trade. It’s well worth taking a tour of the spice farms that still operate today and can be reached from Zanzibar city.


How to get to Zanzibar: There are some direct flights to Zanzibar offered by Condor, Jetfly, Ethiopian Airways, Kenyan Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airlines, Arkia Israeli Airlines, KLM, FlyDubai, Meridian, Easyjet, Mango and Turkish Airlines. Or, you can take a 20-minute flight from Dar es Salaam to the airport in Zanzibar, called Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.


Alternatively, a ferry operates from the harbour in the centre of Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar City. It runs four times a day and prices are usually half that of plane tickets (around $35 at time of writing). The ferry takes around two hours. Note that the seas can be rather rough, so be prepared if you are prone to sea sickness. Again, although Zanzibar is part of the Union, it has its own immigration service, and you need a valid passport to enter. And if you are travelling from countries that have Yellow Fever, you will need proof of vaccination.

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