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Zanzibar & Islands

Zanzibar is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs and the historically significant Stone Town. It’s brilliant white beaches are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and provide the perfect place to relax.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • Historical Stone Town
  • Market places
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Coral reefs
  • Abundant sea life
  • Jozani Forest
Activities
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing safari - Deep sea fishing
  • Cultural visit - historical town tours, spice tours, prison island - aldabra tortoise, markets, old slave markets
  • Boat safari - Dhow boat trip
  • Dolphin safari - Kizimkazi
  • Visitt Changuu Islands giant tortoises
Size
  • Unguja(Zanibar Island): 995 square miles Pemba Island: 608 square miles
Location
  • Zanzibar forms part of the East African nation of Tanzania. It is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean that is 25-50 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania. The archipelago consists of 2 large islands and many smaller islands. The 2 large islands are Unguja(Zanzibar Island) and Pemba.

ABOUT

The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City, and its old quarter, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site. Zanzibar’s rich history has been influenced by the Arabs, Persians, Indians, Portuguese, British and local tribes from the African mainland and this shows in the architecture.

Zanzibar is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs and the historically significant Stone Town. It’s brilliant white beaches are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing.

Zanzibar’s main industries are spices and tourism. It is still sometimes referred to as the Spice Islands, because of the significance of its production of cloves, of which it is a world leader, and also nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. The ecology is of note for being the home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey, not to mention the diverse marine life found on the islands’ surrounding coral reefs.

GEOGRAPHY

The two Islands are located in the Indian Ocean about 35km off the coast of mainland Tanzania at longitude 39 degrees East and latitude 6 degrees South of Equator. Pemba is about 40 miles long and 14 miles wide. It has a surface area of 608 square miles (2,332 square kilometers). It is located about 36 miles from the continent and 29 miles north-east of Unguja Island. Unguja Island is 50 miles long and 24 miles wide. It has a surface area of 995 square miles. It is separated from the continent by a 21 mile corridor at its narrowest point. Its highest point is 390 feet above sea level.

WILDLIFE

The main island of Zanzibar, Unguja has a fauna which reflects its connection to the African mainland during the last ice age. Endemic mammals with continental relatives include the Zanzibar red colobus, one of Africa’s rarest primates. The Zanzibar red colobus may number only about 1500. Isolated on this island for at least 1,000 years, the Zanzibar red colobus is recognized as a distinct species, with different coat patterns, calls and food habits than related colobus species on the mainland.

Zanzibar red colobus live in a wide variety of drier areas of coastal thickets and coral rag scrub, as well as mangrove swamps and agricultural areas. About one third of the red colobus live in and around Jozani Forest- Ironically, the easiest monkeys to see are on farm land adjacent to the reserve. They are used to people and the low vegetation means they come close to the ground.

Rare native animals include the Zanzibar leopard, which is critically endangered and possibly extinct and the recently described Zanzibar servaline genet. There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bush-pigs, small antelopes, civets, and, rumor has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard.

Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of birdlife, and a large number of butterflies in rural areas. Pemba island is separated from Unguja island and the African  continent by deep channels and has a correspondingly restricted fauna, reflecting its comparative isolation from the mainland. Its best-known endemic is the Pemba flying fox.

CLIMATE

Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May, which are seasonally subject to the long rains. Short rains can occur in November but are characterized by short showers, which do not last long.

The heat of summer is seasonally often calmed by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coast. Being near the equator, the islands are warm all year round but officially summer and winter peak in December and June respectively. Zanzibar is blessed with an average of 7-8 hours of sunshine daily.

WHEN TO VISIT

  • SUMMER – November to May Hot, some humidity with some rains in November, May and June.
  • WINTER – June to October Warm with rains in June, otherwise sunny.
  • BEST – December to March and July to October

Optional Activities in Zanzibar & Islands