Zanzibar (Swahili Unguja) is the largest island of the archipelago which also consists of many other smaller islands such as Pemba and Mafia.
The capital, Stone Town, is the most populous town where both the international airport and the tourist and commercial ports are located.
Zanzibar, in addition to its important history especially concerning its capital, is considered one of the most beautiful atolls in the Indian Ocean, with tropical aspects characterized by a wonderful sea, a perfect destination for lovers of snorkeling and diving. The beaches are dreamlike, with sand similar to talcum powder and palm trees in the background to frame a perfect picture.
Zanzibar: how to get there and where to stay
The access to the island is simplified by the frequent air connections, both international and domestic. Above all, Zanzibar can be reached from the main airports of Tanzania, Kilimnjaro, Dar es Salaam (from which ships and hydrofoils leave for the island) and Arusha, as well as from Tanzania parks at significantly lower prices compared to other destinations such as Pemba, Mafia and the remote and exclusive Fanjove or places on the Swahili coast such as Pangani.
Thanks to the tourist development of the last 15 years, you have the opportunity to choose from an infinite number of hotels, lodges, resorts, B&B and guesthouses, which offer solutions for all budgets.
The tourist development has also led to crowded beaches, mostly in the north area close to Kendwa, Nungwi and Kiwenga which are literally swarmed by tourists in high season. On the other side, there are still many places where tourism has not yet taken over, such as the wonderful Jambiani beach.
Zanzibar, unlike Pemba and Mafia, does not give the feeling of being in a part of Africa that is still authentic and unexplored.
Stone Town is the capital of the island. It has a great history that starts in the early 1800s when the first stone houses were built (hence the name even if the locals love to call it “Mhi Mkongwe “, or old town in Kiswahili).
Since 2000 it has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which contains in the old city all its beauty and the cultural melting pot that was developed on the island over the centuries.
There are many attractions to visit in the city including the Forhodani gardens, the Arab fort, the house of wonders, the Anglican cathedral, the Palace Museum, the palace of Freddy Mercury and Darajani market, just to give few examples.The city tour will involve all your senses thanks to the particularity of mix of smells, tastes, sounds and colors.
Not far from the city, it is recommended to take the spice tour, an opportunity to also (lo leverei) experience the hinterland of the island, walking among the strangest plants, and to be able to discover where all the spices, that you find ready to eat, come from.
Zanzibar: when to go
Zanzibar (the same also applies to Pemba and Mafia) has a tropical climate strongly influenced by monsoons.
Temperatures never drop below 19 °C and reach maximum 33 °C in the warmest months and with high humidity levels.
Monsoons influence the climate.
Between June and October the “kusi” blows from the southeast reaching up to 25 knots. The north-west coast is the most sheltered.
The “kusi” takes a break between September and October. We have splendid climate, although there will always be the possibility of some rain.
In November the weather is good with short rains that do not have an effect with activities and excursions.
From December to March the monsoon reverses and we have the “kaskazi”, with winds from the northeast. From mid-January to March the wind usually calms down. In this period in Zanzibar we find high temperatures and humidity.
Finally in April and May we witness the months of long rains (“masika”).
Zanzibar: the phenomenon of the tides
The whole island of Zanzibar is influenced by the phenomenon of tides, typical in the Indian Ocean.
It is very evident along the entire east coast of Zanzibar which is protected by the coral reef and has a gently sloping beach making the phenomenon much more visible. In the north, on the other hand, the beach sinks more abruptly and visually reduces the impact of the tide.
Between each extreme of tide there are about 6/7 hours.
This wonderful phenomenon of nature makes Zanzibar even more fascinating. Allows you to walk towards the coral reef, glimpsing starfish and tropical fishes. The colors of the water are also affected, ranging from the transparent white of the low tide, to the turquoise and the emerald green streaked by intense blue. A real show!
Kendwa e Nungwi. Originally small fishing villages, today they represent areas full of life with resorts, diving schools, bars and restaurants for all types of travelers.
From Matemwe to Jambiani. This strip of coast is most affected by the phenomenon of the tides which create suggestive and spectacular different scenarios every day.
There are many incredible and exciting activities and excursions you can do during your stay in Zanzibar.