Drinking and Dining


The Zanzibari Cuisine is as delicious as varied. It comes with a blend of flavour from all around the Indian Ocean. In almost all Hotels you will have breakfast included - but do not expect decent coffee :-( . Unless you are staying in a resort-type accommodation on the East coast where there are few or no alternatives, eating out is easy and safe with highlights when it comes to seafood. Prices are depending on the type of restaurant you choose and may start at as little as € 1,- for a typical local meal. In most tourist restaurants you will have to expect € 5 - 10 for a main dish.

Although being a Muslim country, there are no restrictions in regard to alcohol for tourists and prices are moderate. Local Beer is strong and tasty but don’t miss out on the fresh fruit juices - Mango, Papaya, Passion and many more … they are delicious …

Electricity

Tanzania’s electricity  has in theory 220-240 V, but in reality it varies from 160 up to 220 V. The plugs are the British type and you may need an adapter to be able to use and recharge mobile phones and other devices. There are commonly electricity blackouts but they usually do not last more than a few  hours and most of the Hotels have a generator supply to overcome those periods.

Internet and Telephone

Meanwhile most of the Hotels and Restaurants offer WiFi to its guests, There are also some Internet Cafés available in Nungwi as well as in Stone Town.


Cell phones have swamped the island in recent years and almost everybody has got one. If you bring an unlocked mobile phone, you can easily buy a prepaid sim and start calling at local rates. Roaming fees of your home-provider though might quickly cause you a considerable hole in your travel budget. Same with data-roaming (if available at all).


Health and Vaccinations


Zanzibar is less exposed to  risk of malaria and other widely diffused diseases of Central Africa, such as yellow fever but certain precautions have to be observed (e.g. minor cuts and scrapes can easily become throbbing infections and traveller’s diarrhoea can be avoided by the good old wisdom: „cook it, peel it, wash it or forget it“). If of need you will find physicians and pharmacists in private health structures as well as the most commonly prescribed medicaments. Finally do not forget using sun screen lotions with high protections factors even if you are only in the shade.

Before you travel though, you should consult your family doctor to ask for advice and necessary vaccinations. Although there is no risk of yellow fewer in Zanzibar and officially there is no requirement to be vaccinated against unless you pass through an endemic area, health officials at the airport often ask for your vaccination certificate. If they try to make you a hard time, you have to insist that you arrived directly from Europe (or a non-infected area) without leaving any airport during transit.


Opening hours


Most shops are open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., occasionally to 7 p.m or even later. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday mornings until 1 p.m. Forex Bureaux have usually longer opening hours.

Although more than 90 % of Zanzibar’s Population is Muslim, all major Christian Holidays are also adhered and in addition there are quite a few national holidays that provide for another day off.  Tourists usually are not much influenced by those holidays and even during Ramadan, public life goes on without major disturbances.

Religion and Ramadan

The vast majority of Zanzibaris are Muslim. Therefore the most important is that, unless at the beach, dress decently. Uncovered shoulders and heads are fine, but tiny mini-skirts, hot pants or uncovered bellies aren’t. Non-Muslim should avoid entering Mosques without permission and while in public also avoid too much of intimacy. If taking photographs of people you should ask first for permission as many still believe that by taking a picture you might take a piece of their soul too. Hotels and Restaurants serve meals normally during Ramadan but outside hotels tourists should pay tribute to this religious fasting and avoid eating and drinking in public places.

Safety and Security

Zanzibar can be considered ‚safe’ in terms of African countries but still it is advisable to behave carefully. Do not take any valuables with you, especially when out in the dark. During daytime almost all areas of Zanzibar can be considered as safe but at night stay away from dark beaches or unlit narrow streets. Mugging is very rare but if you leave anything unattended, it might quickly attract someone’s attention who has a good use for it.

Time

Zanzibar is on GMT +3 hrs which is one hour ahead of Central European Summer time and two hours during winter. However, if you want to switch to Swahili Time (which starts the day at 6 am, meaning that 7 am is 1 o’clock Swahili time) you might easily get confused.  

Transport

If you arrive at the airport or ferry-port with luggage, best way to get to your hotel is either by prearranging a pick-up or taking a taxi. Once you have checked in and got rid of your luggage, you might as well start exploring the island by local transport called ‚daladala’. They can be everything from a wooden cage on an end-of-life-vehicle to minibus or mid-size reasonably new buses. The latter one is recommended unless you want to get really close with locals. Fare for the bus is cheap. They don’t follow any time schedule but leave whenever they are full - and full does mean really full.

Most buses are leaving from the central bus terminal in front of the old market in Stone Town („Darajani“) and cover almost all places on the island.

Taxis are quite expensive and it is necessary to negotiate the price BEFORE entering the car. It is also possible to rent cars or motorbikes (International driving licence is not required but you will need a local driving permit) but driving on the left and in ‚African Style’ is not quite everyone’s cup of tea.

Visa requirements

A passport (valid for at least six more months) is necessary to enter the country. Most nationals require a Visa that can be obtained from a Tanzania embassy abroad or on arrival at the international airports of Dar Es Salam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro). For most EU and US Citizens Visa on arrival works  well apart from unpredictable waiting times at the passport control which is caused by an obscure administrative procedure. But do not worry, at the end you will be called, your fingerprints and photograph will be taken and off you go.

For the Visa on arrival Tanzania currently charges US.$ 50,- (except US and Irish citizens who pay US.$ 100,- !?). Currently they ask for Credit Card payment.  However we strongly recommend to reconfirm the current Visa regulations for your nationality before you travel!

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