Inspiration for the chic and savvy globetrotter.
Visitors from the United States and Europe need visas to enter Tanzania. As Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state within Tanzania, you don’t need a separate visa to visit, but you do need to show your passport. Detailed information about visa requirements, fees and processes for visitors of all nationalities can be found here.
Most travel websites will advise you to visit our beautiful island between June and October. Indeed, the weather is most consistent then – dry, calm and averaging 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit). But we love our piece of paradise all year round, and we think you might, too! Heat-lovers will be in heaven December to February, while diving enthusiasts should visit in July-August or February-March for optimal conditions. (Fair warning: the rains do come in mid-March to late May, and again in November.)
ATM – On arrival at the airport you may want to draw cash at the ATM there as there are NO ATMs outside Stone Town. Be careful taking out money from ATMs—choose those that are inside banks whenever possible.
CASH – Before travelling we would advise you bring USD notes with you no older than 2013 (anything older is difficult to exchange in Tanzania) in large denominations ($50 & $100) or EURO for exchanging at money tellers as they give you the best rates to the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS). Banks don’t offer the most favourable exchange.
DRAWING USD – the only place to draw cash in USD$ is inside Barclays Bank in Stone Town. You need to go into the branch.
For information about the exchange rate to the Tanzanian shilling, click here.
There are several ways of getting around Zanzibar! Most of our guests like to use the taxi service to get around the island and neighbouring areas. Be informed that they are not always the cheapest!
On occasion we have guests who want to experience local transport and feel more adventurous and use the local buses called dala dalas – fair warning they are often packed, noisy and very dusty but very cheap and a real experience!
For those that prefer self-drive we can arrange car rental or little scooters (piki piki as they are known here) . The roads in Zanzibar are fairly decent but often the drivers can be unpredictable so you should be a confident driver, come with your international license (easiest) or a license from your home country. Rental cars although road worthy, are not new and always well maintained! There are international car rental companies operating on the island we are told now (new development) so you may want to check online for the latest updates.
If you like cycling, bikes can very easily be arranged and do not require prior booking.
You will find our corner of the Spice Island to be a particularly warm and laid-back place. Our talented and highly-trained staff are on hand at all times to cater to your needs and offer assistance. It is important, of course, while traveling around the island, getting to and from the airport, and exploring the sights to be aware and conscious of your surroundings. Keep your belongings close and firmly shut. Don’t carry around large amounts of cash, and try not to be ostentatious in displaying wealth. Dress modestly & respectfully in Stone Town (longer pants or skirts and covered shoulders for women, shirts for men). Always check your government’s travel advisory page.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan won’t affect hotels and restaurants catering to tourists, but it does change the tone of the island, with over 90 percent of locals abstaining from food or drink between sunrise and sundown. Many small shops and cafes will be closed during the day, and it is appreciated when tourists dress modestly in more urban areas.
Getting to Paradise – the most important part!
Direct flights arrive daily to the Zanzibar International Airport from many locations within Tanzania, including Arusha (near Kilimanjaro) and Dar Es Salaam. Qatar, Kenya Airways, South African Airlines and Air Tanzania all fly to Zanzibar. International airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates run regular flights to Dar. Don’t love those little planes? The ferry is a great option, taking you straight to the heart of Stone Town in as little as 75 minutes. Tickets cost around $35 USD, and you can book here, or buy directly at the port.
Visit your local Travel Clinic before setting out on your holiday to check you have all necessary vaccinations. Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination is required for entry into Tanzania. Risk of Malaria is low in Zanzibar, but not unheard of. Decent health services are available, and quite economical, in Stone Town. Upendo also has access to a trained medical expert in case of emergencies. At Upendo, we maintain the standards of hygiene you would expect in an international class luxury hotel; we can’t promise the same of local shops and cafes. Enjoy the Zanzibari cuisine as you explore the island, but eat at your own risk!