Zanzibar is an archipelago of some 25 islands off the east coast of Africa in eastern Africa with Unguja being the main island. Technically, Zanzibar is part of Tanzania but many Zanzibaris don’t think so. The history and way of life on Zanzibar is very foreign to outsiders which is why so many find a visit here so very fascinating.
At one time Zanzibar was a sultanate and a flourishing center for Indian, Arab and African merchants trading spices, ivory, slaves, etc in their dhow sailing ships as far away as the trade winds would take them. Much of the interaction back in the day took place in historical Stone Town.
Stone Town today is the old part of Zanzibar City and is still a vibrant area of narrow streets winding tightly amongst old homes, schools, mosques, museums, markets, landmarks, ruins, restaurants and shops. Stone Town has been designated a World Heritage Site.
From Stone Town one can partake in the City Walking Tour, Sunset Dhow Cruise, Spice Plantation Tour, Unguja Ukuu Snorkelling and Seafood Dinner Tour, Scuba Diving, etc. In Stone Town , guests often stay in boutique venues reminiscent of times gone by.
The other aspect that makes Zanzibar so special are the beach side resorts on the highly regarded white sandy beaches and warm ocean waters surrounding the islands.
The beaches on the Zanzibar are consistently included in the short list of the “best beaches of the world”, with the waters around the islands rated as a mecca for deep sea fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving. There are approximately 25 PADI certified diving establishments located on the islands for the beginner, novice and the experienced diver and lessons are available. Boat rentals including catamarans are also available.
Zanzibar has a mix of festivals; ruins and museums to visit; restaurants; shopping; and a wide assortment of interesting day and half day tours available. There are a number of unique things to experience which makes Zanzibar the “best one of a kind” destination in Africa. Many clients leave Zanzibar to the end of the African tour as a fitting finale to a great adventure tour.
Tours in Zanzibar can be tailored to the Economy, Mid-Range and Luxury levels. Some clients stay the entire time at the beach and visit Stone Town, some clients stay the entire time in Stone Town and visit the beach, some clients stay part of the time in Stone Town and the other part of the beach.
Chumbe Island is a smaller island off the main island of Unguja and is popular with the honeymooners and/or those who enjoy a tranquil marine park setting.
What suits you best? Refer to map on right for location(s)
Although not part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Mafia Island off southern Tanzania is home to another marine park rich in marine life with excellent opportunities to swim/snorkel/scuba dive with whale sharks typically from November to February. Witnessing turtles hatch occurs from April to July.
Timing a Tour to Zanzibar
JANUARY | FEBRUARY
In JANUARY and FEBRUARY, it’s winter in the northern hemisphere but its summer in the southern hemisphere with the weather generally hot and dry. On Zanzibar; January and February is a very good time visit historic Stone town. The weather and ocean conditions at the Zanzibar beach resorts are also generally excellent at this time. During February, Zanzibar hosts the Sauti Za Busara Music Festival. January and February is also is Manta Ray & Whale Shark season for the scuba divers.
MARCH | APRIL | MAY
The weather in East Africa is very unpleasant as there are heavy long downpours of rain in this period. Zanzibar is adversely affected by the heavy rains. Bring heavy rain gear if planning to visit during this time. On, Zanzibar; the streets of historic Stone Town are water laden requiring the use of rubber boots for footwear. The weather and ocean conditions at the Zanzibar beach resorts are very poor at this time.
JUNE | JULY | AUGUST
On Zanzibar; June, July and August is a good time visit historic Stone Town. The weather and ocean conditions at the Zanzibar beach resorts are also generally good at this time. During July on Zanzibar, there is the Mwaka Kongwa Festival and the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER
On Zanzibar; SEPTEMBER OCTOBER is a good time visit historic Stone town. The weather and ocean conditions at the Zanzibar beach resorts are also generally good at this time. For the serious scuba divers, in SEPTEMBER OCTOBER, Nungwi is visited by migrating Humpback & Sperm Whales which can exceed 14 meters and are approachable.
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER
The short rains fall intermittently throughout NOVEMBER and DECEMBER . Some photographers prefer overcast skies for better lighting conditions. NOVEMBER DECEMBER is a fair time to visit historic Stone Town. The weather conditions at the Zanzibar beach resorts are diminished at this time. For the serious scuba divers, December is the start of Manta Ray & Whale Shark season.
The only bad time to go to Africa is when the rains are heavy in the regions being considered. To find out the high temperatures and rain days, go to: www.weather2travel.com
More detailed climate information can be found at: www.climatemps.com