Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. It comprises Zanzibar (Unguja) Island, Pemba Island, and a raft of smaller islands. Zanzibar itself is approximately 90km long and 30km wide. Lying only a short distance off the Tanzanian coast, it is at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asian sea faring trade. Zanzibar has long been at the centre of any self respecting Indian Ocean experience in East Africa.
Over centuries different cultures have influenced Zanzibar to become what it is today. Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and British have settled here at one time or another and influenced the local culture into its present beautiful fusion.
Most visitors who travel to Zanzibar head out to enjoy one or more of the magnificent beaches. However, it is worth spending at least one night at the beginning or end of your stay in the historic island capital. Stone town is the main city in Zanzibar and it is of prominent historical and cultural importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, as well as a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements, with the East African culture being preeminent. For this reason, the town was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Zanzibar’s beaches are miles long with palm-fringed shores, powder-soft coral sands and turquoise seas, living up to the Indian Ocean Island idyll. The atmosphere is compounded by a colourful Swahili culture where traditional wooden dhows sail beneath billowing lantern sails. It is a great location for exploring, diving and snorkelling and has a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets.
Additionally there are several small islands off the coast of Zanzibar, which offer an even more exclusive experience than the main island. Some of these islands can be stayed on while others are visited only on day trips from Zanzibar. Zanzibar's most famous island is Mnemba, which is simply mind-blowing in its beauty.
Zanzibar has a tropical climate. It is located just south of the equator so the weather patterns follow Tanzania’s very closely, although it tends to be a little more humid and occasionally experiences rainfall in the dry season. The main rainy season generally extends from March to May, with afternoon tropical downpours. The humidity is high and daily temperatures extend into the thirties (°C). The long dry season lasts from June to October. Temperatures can vary hugely, but there is usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather. During November and December there is another, lighter rainy season which is much more motley than the main rains.
Zanzibar offers an enchanting blend of luxurious beach life and age-old cultures. Perfect for honeymoons and romantic escapes, this tropical island adventure combines easily with an East African safari.