The Islands of Zanzibar (locally called Unguja) and Pemba and surrounding islets that together form Zanzibar are certainly some of the most attractive and restful locations in the world. With its Indian, Arab, Persian and Portuguese influences, Zanzibar is a cocktail of culture, people, tradition and colour. Combine this with its natural beauty, tropical climate and laid back atmosphere and Zanzibar is, in our opinion, one of the best ways to begin or end your Tanzanian safari experience.
It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 40km from the Tanzanian coast, and 6 degrees south of the equator. The capital of the islands, located on the island of Unguja, is also known as Zanzibar. It is 90km long and under 30km wide, occupying a total area of approximately 1683 sq km.
The coastal areas with white beaches, mangroves, lagoons and coral reefs compliment the richly fertile areas inland where the spice farms are situated. Zanzibar is also home to the historic Stone Town, said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Time spent experiencing the different aspects of Zanzibar is highly recommended.
Combining Zanzibar with a safari in Tanzania or Kenya makes a perfect itinerary for anyone planning to visit the region - a combination of excellent safaris, relaxing white-sand beaches and interesting culture and history.
Stone Town, Zanzibar's capital, is one of the most historically significant towns in East Africa. The architecture dates back to the 1800s and showcases the many influences that contribute to the dominant Swahili culture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take a short trip to Kendwa, which is a small fishing village and one of the best spots for snorkelling. Take a snorkelling trip to Coral Gardens, or to Mnemba Island on a traditional Dhow.
Zanzibar produces cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, which, paired with Tanzania's Mafia Island, gives them the nickname, the 'Spice Islands'.
Zanzibar's brilliant white beaches bathed in the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean are what visions of paradise are made of. Here, one is provided with the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. The warm clear waters fringed with coral reefs provide some excellent sites for snorkelling, scuba diving and other water sports.
There are more than 25 excellent beaches in Zanzibar many of these are remote and unspoilt but easily accessed. At the northern tip of the island is Nungwi, which is worth the hour or so it takes to get you there. On the west coast of Zanzibar is Mangapwani, and to the east are the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani.
Zanzibar is also an ideal base from which to explore the many small offshore islands, perfect for day-trips. Prison Island is the most popular with visitors because it is only a short trip from Stone Town. Other islets near to Stone Town are Chapwani, Chumbe and Bawe.
The main rainy season, or the 'long rains', last during March, April and May. Afternoon downpours are the norm, the humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30s (degrees Celsius).
The long dry season lasts from June to October, during which time the rainfall is unusual. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather.
During November and December, there's another rainy season, which is known as the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the long rains and less reliable. If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months in January and February, which is the 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
Kilindi Resort is a true blend of the very best of diverse cultures. White wooden-slatted shutters embrace wide-arched glassless windows that afford spectacular views over the Indian Ocean. This 'open-to-nature' approach to Kilindi's design provides the true essence to any stay.
Chapwani Private Island Chapwani is a private island of 5 hectares situated north-west of Zanzibar town, which can be reached in one of our boats in 15 minutes. Ten cosy rooms furnished in local style, each one with a sea view allows guests to share this exclusive resort with only a few others and to take advantage of an exclusive, personalised service in a real oasis of peace and quiet.
Mnemba Island is a tiny coral island 4km off the north-eastern tip of Zanzibar in the azure Indian Ocean. It is uninhabited apart from Mnemba Island Lodge. Surrounded by breath-taking coral reefs, it boasts some of Africa's most wonderful dive sites.
Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island and a number of smaller islets make up the Zanzibar archipelago located between 25 and 50km from Tanzania mainland. It makes the perfect accompaniment to an East Africa safari and some of the best itineraries end with a few days on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar.
Guests including the island with a safari in the Serengeti can be flown directly from the national park to the beach island. Alternatively, the coastal city of Dar es Salaam offers both flights and ferries to Zanzibar.
Sun Safaris will book flights for their guests to Dar es Salaam, from where guests can opt to take the 2-3 hour ferry or the short 15-minute flight to Zanzibar. The ferry is a unique experience, although the sea might be choppy and the length of the trip might not be ideal. The short flight from Dar is our preferred option as the cost is only slightly more expensive and the journey is much smoother and takes no time at all.