July 28, 2019

It is now an open secret that, one cannot claim to have visited East Africa without visiting the Spice Islands of Zanzibar.  The Semi autonomous Indian Ocean Archipelago is one of the greatest places that no serious traveler can afford not to visit.

Located few miles from the commercial city of Tanzania, Dar es salaam, Zanzibar is known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, history, culture and forest. Suffices is to mention that, Zanzibar is an Island of its own which can offer a number of touristic activities.

This article therefore, entails what you should expect while you make a wise decision to visit Zanzibar. The article starts by highlighting on requirements needed to enter into Zanzibar a semi autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania, the first impression that you may get when you arrive in Zanzibar and then it highlights on the list of things to do while in Zanzibar.

We believe that, this article will be useful to future visitors of Zanzibar, travel agents and other likeminded friends around the globe who are travel manias just like us. Re-publication of this article is authorized provided that, is recognized.

Things to do before coming to Zanzibar

Tourist Visa to Zanzibar

As you are planning to travel to Zanzibar, you should have a Visa to Tanzania except of nationals of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC, save for DRC and Angola) and nationals of East African Community (EAC).

Since November, 2018 tourists’ visas can be applied and obtained online. The said online single entry tourists Visa lasts for 90 days and allows you to visit both Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania.

To apply for Tanzania tourists Visa or as commonly known as ordinary visa, you need a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival to either Mainland Tanzania or Zanzibar, a duly filled form, respective visa fee.  There is also an arrangement where you visa can be obtained upon arrival, for nationals whose countries do not fall under referral visa category.



Referral visa

There are some countries whose nationals may require special clearance from the Commissioner General of Immigration or the Commissioner of Immigration of Zanzibar prior to issuance of the Visa, these countries falls under what is called referral visas.

As of July, 2019 nationals from the following countries required referral visas; Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Somaliland, Sierra Leone, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The category also includes stateless persons and persons with refugee status. The list changes from time to time, therefore you may wish to visit Tanzania Immigration website for updated list.

In view of this, it is not advisable for nationals falling under referral visa list to book flights ticket, or make payments for reservations before obtain approvals of their visa application. For nationals falling within the referral visas, it is advisable that, they lodge their visa application at least sixty days before the intended travel date.

How to enter Zanzibar?

Going to Zanzibar is not a heft undertaking, many international airlines such as Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Ethiopian Airline, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Etihad and KLM to mention but a few have direct flights to and from Zanzibar. Some flights have daily flights others have weekly flights; you may wish to consult your travel agent to advice on the suitable flight for you.

Equally, important, you may enter Zanzibar from Dar es salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, where you will either ferry from Dar es salaam to Zanzibar or get a less than 30 minutes chartered flight from Dar es salaam to Zanzibar.

If you decide to enter Zanzibar from Dar es salaam, it is advisable to take the first ferry, the one commencing the journey at 6:00 am where you will enjoy spectacular sunrise view and see small fisher men and women riding in their small local boats.

The possible first impression

While you arrive in Zanzibar, most likely you will be welcomed by very friendly faces of multi-cultural inhabitants called Zanzibaris. The Island mostly dominated by Arab culture will greet you with sounds of Azan, a regular call to invite Muslims to attend prayers.  Although majority of Zanzibaris are Moslems, other inhabitants of different faith practice their faith freely.

Things/ activities to do while in Zanzibar

Now that you are in the Spice Island of Zanzibar, you can start exploring the beauty of Zanzibar. This can be done individually or through a pre arranged tour with local tour operator. You are advised to make sure that you engage a registered tour operator to avoid unnecessary inconveniences.

Stone Town Excursion

Depending on your itinerary, you may wish to start exploring Zanzibar through excursion in the historic city of stone town.  While at Stone Town, you will have a chance to cruise around and enjoy the fascinating features such as Portuguese Fort, Sultan’s of Oman Palace, the old slave market and St. Joseph’s cathedral. The Stone Town as the name suggests is an ancient town built by stones. The town is currently listed under the UNESCO World Site Heritage, meaning that its architecture and designs are legally protected by International Treaties.

The town boasts with its diverse architectures from the Portuguese, Indians, Africans and Arabs. You could easily notice marks of Portuguese, English, as well as Oman Arabs who at different times ruled the Island.

You will also see the First Anglican Church in Zanzibar built in 1873. Equally, you can visit the Roman Catholic Church built in 1883. Presence of those two churches in Muslim majority community, demonstrates religious tolerance which is an embedded cultural value amongst the Zanzibaris.

As you peacefully walk through streets of Stone Town you will get a chance to meet petty innovative traders who sells variety of goods such as African prints especially those with the hakuna matata slogan, you will also get a chance to try a Henna tattoo which does not tattoo the skin permanently, and it is mostly used by the Zanzibar women on special celebrations like marriages and Eid festivals. Henna is applied for the sake of beauty as well as joy. It is advisable to try this traditional beauty art at a reasonable price.

Prison Island/ Changuu Island

As you visit Zanzibar you will be tempted not to skip the Prison Island visit. The Island which is not more than 30 minutes boat ride from Stone Town is believed to have been dedicated for confinement although no record as to prisoners housed there. Instead, the same was used as a quarantine station for yellow fever epidemic. White Changuu Island you will see a list of ships that docked there including number of passengers who were found to be affected by yellow fever and therefore refused no proceed to Stone Town. This is another activity that you should do in Zanzibar.

Apart from that fascinating historical state of affairs, you will equally encounter what is said to be the longest living Aldabra Giant Tortoises. These rare species Tortoises originated from Seychelles and some weighing an average of 200 Kg and some as old as one century.

While at Changuu Island you will observe and feed the tortoises, swim, sunbathe or snorkel.

Forodhani Food Market

Another activity that you must do while in Zanzibar is visiting Forodhani Food Market and taste delicious Swahili foods. The famous food market normally opens late afternoon around 1900 hours, where you will be seeing young boys in a jovial mood diving at the harbor while you are enjoying the beauty of the sun set.

Forodhani Food Market is famous for various Swahili dishes which are of course influenced by Arab and Indian dishes. While at Forodhani you can test varieties of sea foods and local traditional dishes by local authorized vendors. This is yet another opportunity to interact with the local residents in this beautiful event which makes people closer.

By any standard, this yummy court is a must visit for food lovers and those who wish to taste different dishes. We recommend that you test the famous urojo soup which is nicknamed Zazibar mix. It is normally served with toppings such as bhajia, fried mashed potatoes with some cassava shavings, red and coconut chutneys.

Spice Farm Tour

You probably know Zanzibar’s nick name, that is the Spice Island, and most likely you will be tempted to test various dishes with spices while at Forodhani Food Market. What you might not know, is why the nick name?. To find out why the nick name, you should pay a Spice farm tour while you are in Zanzibar.

Historically, Zanzibar was famous for producing cloves; it was the leading cloves producer in the world, which was one among the leading exports after slave trade. It is said that, during those days it was normal to smell cloves, hence the name. When you make a spice and food tour, you will not only see those spices in its original form but also see some products made from those spices such as soaps, fragrance and shampoo. You will meet the local community who are at the centre stage of farming those spices. You will get an opportunity to learn characteristics of spices from those who are in the field.

Soothing at white sands beaches

They say it is very difficult to select a beach in Zanzibar; this is because there are plenty of nice, amazing and beautiful white sands beaches with luminescent waters. When you visit Zanzibar, going to beach is not an option, but a must. Whether you just go for soothing with tranquil waves of the Indian Ocean or just  observing sun set in a lazy holiday mood, Zanzibar beaches has what you need and more.

There are hotels which can be found along the beaches, famously known as beach hotels, you can ask your tour operator to book one for you, and normally they are a bit expensive. However, this should not worry you, there is an arrangement where you can be accommodated to a non beach hotel but still you can access beach, ask your tour operator to advice on how this can be done.

Dolphin spotting and snorkeling

If you are an adventurer, dolphin watching is an activity not to miss when you visit Zanzibar. Kizimkazi is a popular hangout for dolphins who comes for the reliable food supply, to nurse their calves, rest and socialize. This activity is normally undertaken during sun set therefore; you will also experience memorable sun set and get an exclusive memorable pictures or video clips.

Another activity that you can do while in Zanzibar is snorkeling. There are various destinations for snorkeling; this can be arranged by your tour operator. The most visited snorkeling site in Zanzibar is Mnemba Toll Marine Reserve.

Learn few Swahili vocabularies

As you are exploring the beauty of Stone Town, you will encounter a number of jovial residents speaking the language similar to Arabic. The language is Kiswahili which was developed from the interaction between native Africans and Arab traders mostly slave traders.

Kiswahili is the mostly spoken language in the Eastern part of Africa, which is one of official languages in the East African Community, a Regional body comprising Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Kiswahili which is the National Language of Tanzania is also spoken in some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. You may therefore wish to grab some few Swahili words such as Jambo!, or Mambo!, loosely translated as hello, or hi!. Other words are like Asante, meaning thank you in English.


Get your souvenir

While you are finalizing your memorable tour in the Spice Island of Zanzibar, you would not wish to let your invaluable memory perish just like that, you will therefore buy something to keep your Zanzibar memories alive. You may therefore wish to buy a handmade hakuna matata T. shirt, bracelet, necklace, Khanga, Kikoi or any other African Print clothe. You may equally grab one of the fine art works from young men and women at a relatively reasonable price.

Who can arrange your visit to Zanzibar?

If you think of travelling to Zanzibar, think of Wildtaina Safaris, a registered tour operating company in Tanzania ready and willing to making your Zanzibar experience memorable. Do you want to arrange your honey moon?, birthday party?, anniversary? Or just for come for leisure and relaxation?, we are just here to make that is happening without hustles.

We know the language, the laws and the culture of Zanzibar, above all, we are professionals knowing what we are doing and what is expected from us, therefore, choosing working with us will not be a regrettable decision.

Wildtaina Safaris is a reliable and trusted tour company in the country which will make your Safari to Tanzania memorable. At Wildtaina Safaris, we prioritize quality services and customers’ satisfaction.

We make sure that there is value for money for every service that we render; we have a passionate, dedicated, innovative and experienced team to serve you. We have competitive and affordable tour packages prices to suit your budget. We can also arrange a tailor made package to suit your plan. Therefore, when you think of travelling to Zanzibar, think of Wildtaina Safaris.