Zanzibar

Useful info

Time
Zanzibar is three hours ahead of GMT

Electricity
The power supply (230 volts) is not reliable, even in major cities. However, majority of big and medium-size hotels and resorts do not depend on the public power supply and run their own generators.

Money
The unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling, which is divided in into 100 cents. Visitors are advised to bring a sensible mix of hard currency in cash. These are easily changed into local currency. US Dollars are recommended for the best rates of exchange. Credit cards are not widely accepted and carry poor exchange rates. It is not rare that visitors are expected to pay in foreign currency, mostly in US Dollars. You can use credit cards (Visa, MasterCard) only at larger establishments, such as international hotels. There are currently couple of ATM's (cash machines) available at major banks in Stone Town. Read more >

Tipping
Not obligatory but a tip for exceptional service – a maximum of 10% - will be appreciated. Tip 10-15 USD per day for drivers or tour guide but remember an excessive tip can make it difficult for the next customer.

Weather
Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year. The heat of summer is often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near to 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. Short rains can occur in November but are characterized by short showers which do not last long. The long rains normally occur in April and May although this is often referred to as the 'Green Season', and typically doesn't rain every day during that time.

Best Times to Visit
July through October; December through March

What to Pack
Swimwear, sunglasses, hat, sun lotion, lip-balm and some insect repellent, it is better not to be stung by a mosquito, even if you are taking malaria tablets.
It is best to bring along medicines, required for the duration of the visit. Make sure that you pack your camera and plenty of film.

What to Wear
It never gets cold in Zanzibar, so lightweight clothing is the norm. In towns and villages, immodest clothing will offend local tradition.  Women should carry wraps to cover their legs in towns or villages, as revealing clothes can cause offence. On the beach, and within the confines of the beach hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable, but nudity is certainly not acceptable.

Health
Zanzibar isn`t particulary dangerous place health-wise, and with sensible precautions you’re unlikely to suffer anything more than minor tummy trouble.
Medical services and well stocked chemists are available in Stone Town but it is always a good idea to bring your own medicine for personal use.
Travellers are strongly advised to take prescribed anti-malaria tablets course a few days prior to arrival, during your stay, and for a short period after returning. Anti-mosquito cream and\or mosquito-repellers are very useful, particularly at night.
Visitors from countries, infected with cholera and yellow fever, must produce international certificates of vaccination. This is particularly relevant for those, travelling from or passing through other neighbouring countries, including members of the East African Commutity (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi) and vice versa. It is also important to note that travellers from the mainland of Tanzania to Zanzibar, would need to have a yellow fever certificate.

Security & Safety
Zanzibar is a safe place to travel in. Zanzibaris are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Zanzibar is a true example of tolerance and cooperation in our modern world, with an evidenced multicultural diversity that has co-existed for centuries and has a lot to offer the world by its example.
As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe, which frees your mind to absorb this colourful and historic island with incredible sights that will stay with you forever.

Food and drink
The Bantus, Omanis, Persians, Indians, Portuguese, Chinese and many more who, at some point, called Zanzibar their home left a mark on the islands of Zanzibar. They brought along a multitude of cultures and of course, a myriad of food traditions. Easy going and easy to integrate natives of Zanzibar quickly absorbed food traditions from their visitors. Although credit should be given to the visitors, one needs to acknowledge the local initiatives of modifying the original recipes into colourful, delicious dishes unique to Zanzibar. Many years of experimenting with available ingredients have given Zanzibaris their own dishes. Furthermore, the uniqueness is largely attributed by the plentiful supply of coconuts, a variety of seafoods, and several types of spices.
A king fish pilau, is as good as the one made of meat or chicken. On a more recent note – why not Zanzibari pizza, flushed down with the sugar cane juice? Stews and fried products from oysters, clams, octopus, and squids are just delicious. Last but not least, all the delicacies in Zanzibar are seasoned with nice collection of spices. With these few remarks, we hope you have an idea of what makes Zanzibar cuisines unique from those of its visitors.

Public Holidays
*  1 January - New Year’s Day
*  12 January - Zanzibar Revolution Day
*  26 February (2010) – Maulidi - Prophet Muhammad’s bithday
*  2 April (2010) - Good Friday
* 4 April (2010) - Easter Sunday
* 5 April (2010) – Easter Monday
*  26 April - Union Day
*  1 May - Labour Day
*  7 July - Saba Saba (Industrial Day)
*  8 August - Nane Nane (Farmers’ Day)
*  21 August (2010) - Ramadan begins
*  10 November (2010) - Eid al-Fitr – Ramadan ends
* 14 October – Nyerere Day (Death of Tanzania’s belovad president J.Nyerere) 
* 16 November (2010) – Eid al-Adha - "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid"
*  9 December - Independence Day
*  25 December - Christmas
*  26 December - Boxing Day 
 

NB! During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Eid al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be disrupted slightly. Some disruption may continue into Eid al-Fitr itself. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha may last anything from two to 10 days, depending on the region.