Travel to Zanzibar and Pemba Island

Zanzibar and Pemba…

Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.

Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors - there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.  Stone Town was recently and deservedly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Zanzibar’s brilliant white beaches lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing.  The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is likely to be the ocean.

At the northern tip of the island is Nungwi, approached by a road lined by banana palms, mangroves and coconut trees. This is the dhow building capital of Zanzibar island, so it is a good place to see traditional craftsmen at work.  On the west coast of Zanzibar, Mangapwani beach is worth a visit, and to the east are the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani, all with stretches of beautiful and uncrowded sands.
 
Pemba is Zanzibar’s sister island. Despite many years of isolation from the outside world, Pemba is receiving a small but growing number of foreign visitors. Beautiful beaches, natural forests and outstanding diving are just some of the attractions on offer.

Overview

Tanzania boasts the most impressive National Parks and game reserves in all of Africa. The plains and savannahs of Serengeti National Park are considered “the” spot on the continent to see wildlife up close. Nearby, the Ngorongoro crater teems with wildebeest, gazelle, zebra, lions, leopards, cheetahs and even the elusive white rhino. Not to be forgotten, the Selous Game Reserve is larger than Switzerland.

People

Tanzania’s population is concentrated along the coast and isles, the fertile northern and southern highlands, and the lands bordering Lake Victoria. The relatively arid and less fertile central region is sparsely inhabited. So too is much of the fertile and well watered far west, including the shores of Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa (Malawi). About 80% of Tanzanians live in rural communities.

Zanzibar, population about one million (3% of Tanzania’s population), consists of two main islands and several small ones just off the Tanzanian coast. The two largest islands are Unguja (often referred to simply as Zanzibar) and Pemba. Zanzibaris, together with their socio-linguistic cousins in the Comoros Islands and the East Africa coast from modern-day southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, created Swahili culture and language, which reflect long and close associations with other parts of Africa and with the Arab world, Persia, and South Asia.

Tanzanians are proud of their strong sense of national identity and commitment to Swahili as the national language. There are roughly 120 ethnic communities in the country representing several of Africa’s main socio-linguistic groups.

Language

Kiswahili & English

History

Coastal and island Tanzania organized into city-states around 1,500 years ago. The Swahili city-states traded with the peoples of the interior and the peoples of the Indian Ocean and beyond (including China). Many merchants from these trading partner nations (principally from inland Africa, the Arab world, Persia and India) established themselves in these coastal and island communities, which became cosmopolitan in flavor.

The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama explored the East African coast in 1498 on his voyage to India. By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire coast. The coastal peoples rose up against the Portuguese in the late 1700s. Their resistance was assisted by one of their main trading partners, the Omani Arabs. By the early 19th century the Portuguese were forced out of coastal East Africa north of the Ruvuma River and the Omanis moved in.  British influence over the Sultanate steadily increased in the 1880s until Zanzibar formally became a British Protectorate in 1890.

German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884. In 1886 and 1890, Anglo-German agreements were negotiated that delineated the British and German spheres of influence in the interior of East Africa and along the coastal strip previously claimed by the Omani sultan of Zanzibar. In 1891, the German Government took over direct administration of the territory from the German East Africa Company and appointed a governor with headquarters at Dar es Salaam. The Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-07 united the peoples of the Southern Highlands in a struggle to expel the German administration. The German military killed 120,000 Africans in suppressing the rebellion.

German colonial domination of Tanganyika ended after World War I when control of most of the territory passed to the United Kingdom under a League of Nations mandate. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN trust territory under British control. Subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government and independence.

In 1954, Julius K. Nyerere, a school teacher who was then one of only two Tanganyikans educated abroad organized a political party—the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU candidates were victorious in the Legislative Council elections of September 1958 and February 1959. In December 1959, the United Kingdom agreed to the establishment of internal self-government following general elections to be held in August 1960. Nyerere was named chief minister of the subsequent government.

In May 1961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime Minister under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December 9, 1961. Julius Nyerere, then age 39, was elected President when Tanganyika became a republic within the Commonwealth a year after independence. Tanganyika was the first East African state to gain independence.  The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar adopted the name “United Republic of Tanzania” on April 26, 1964.

Travel Guide

Currency

The unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh) and there are no smaller denominations. It’s best to carry as little cash as possible when travelling to avoid further inconvenience if anything should be lost or stolen.

Weather

Tanzania has a tropical climate along the coast but it gets temperate in the highlands.
April & Mid – May = Long rains (Green Season)
June – Sept = Cool season
Nov – Dec = Short Rains
October – March = Hottest season
The range of Temperatures in Tanzania is fairly limited and always hot, running from 77 to 86 degrees F on the coast while the rest of the country apart from the highlands run from 71 to 80 degrees F.

Health Requirements

A yellow fever vaccination is required only for persons from, or those who have visited yellow fever endemic countries.  Malaria Precautions are necessary.  Please speak to your doctor for further advice.

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for travel to Tanzania. U.S. citizens with valid passports may obtain a visa either before arriving in Tanzania or at any port of entry staffed by immigration officials.  U.S. passports should be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date the visa is obtained, whether it is acquired beforehand or at the port of entry.  Also, foreigners may be required to show their passports when entering or exiting Zanzibar.

Credit Cards

Major Credit Cards may also be acceptable in some large Hotels.

Electrical Appliances

240 Volts AC, 50 – 60 Hz

Water

It is best to only drink bottled water.

Destinations

Explore the rest of our Tanzania destinations:

Brochure

Build your own custom brochure

Finally, information the way you want it, when you want. Create your own customized information brochure from anything on our site with this magical tool called a brochure builder. Add destination information, hotels, resort and lodges and even vacations that you are interested in. Simply find a product you are interested in, and click to add to your brochure.

Once you have finalized your selection, press select and your own customized brochure will be created, filled with all sorts of hints and tips to get you started. What a great way to get your friends and family interested in a trip, or perhaps to surprise your husband or wife with, or even to just have a memory of your own vacation?

The selection on this website is just a small showcase of the offerings available, ask the travel experts for more details. We're here to inspire!

    

This Destination

Zanzibar and Pemba Island

Related Destinations

Arusha
Lake Manyara NP
Selous Game Reserve
Serengeti National Park
Tanzania
Tarangire National Park

Related Hotels

Breezes Beach Club
Fumba Beach Lodge
Kilindi
Matemwe Main Lodge
The Swahili House

Related Vacations

Safari and Saffron

Related Tours


Top Stays

Kapinga Camp
Exeter Dulini Lodge
Phinda Zuka Lodge
Selinda Camp
The Oyster Box Hotel

Top Vacation Packages

Five Senses of South…
Elewana Sky Safari,…
Best of Botswana Fly In…
Kenya & Tanzania…
Tanzania Tented Adventure

Hotels/Lodges

Breezes Beach Club

Situated on a pristine, peaceful beach on the East coast of the…

Learn More

Fumba Beach Lodge

Situated on one of Zanzibar’s most beautiful and secluded beaches,…

Learn More

Kilindi

he resort, fringed by casuarina trees and set on a magnificent beach…

Learn More

Matemwe Main Lodge

ONE OF VERY FEW boutique lodges on the north coast of Zanzibar,…

Learn More

The Swahili House

Located in the bustling heart of Stonetown the building was…

Learn More

Zanzibar Serena Inn

Idyllically situated on the sea-front of ancient Stone Town, and…

Learn More

Vacation Packages

Tours