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Book cheap holidays to Zanzibar

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Flight and hotel Zanzibar

Where is Zanzibar and what is the area like?

The Zanzibar Archipelago is located about 20-40 km off the Tanzanian mainland and consists several small islands. The largest ones include Pemba Island, and Unguja. The region is semi-autonomous but runs as part of Tanzania in a federal government setup. Zanzibar City is the capital, located in Unguja. The historic city dates back as early as the 15th century when it was a trading centre for Arabs, Indians, and Africans. The Stone Town has officially been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Zanzibar area enjoys warm tropical climate perfect for sunbathing. The town is a major producer of exotic spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric. Here you will enjoy the delicious blend of spices in the local Swahili cuisine.

What do you need to know before visiting Zanzibar?

You can access Zanzibar through the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport which is about 5km south of Zanzibar town. There is also the Pemba Airport on Pemba Island which is part of the archipelago. Before taking a flight to Zanzibar, obtain a visa from the Tanzanian Embassy in London. However, you can get a single-entry visa at the airport at the cost of £40 to £70. If you travel through a country where yellow fever is prevalent, you may need to have a yellow fever certificate. You will also need to set your watch as Zanzibar is three hours ahead of London.

Zanzibar uses Tanzanian shilling as its currency. You can come with your pounds and exchange them at any of the commercial banks or forex bureaus at the airport. A currency declaration is not required. The main language in Zanzibar is Swahili, but most of the locals will understand English too. However, it's good to know a few Swahili words like the greeting and the popular ‘hakuna matata ‘phrase (means all is well).

What is the best time to visit Zanzibar?

Zanzibar experiences two rainy seasons; one at mid-March and the other in November. These may not be the best times to visit. However, the dry months of June to October and December to February are good for that superb weekend Zanzibar holiday. It's cool from June to October with temperatures ranging between 22-25°C. Temperatures are slightly higher between December and February.

Take a flight from Manchester to Zanzibar towards the end of July to enjoy the Mwaka Kogwa Festival where locals enjoy the arrival of Shiraz New Year. The festival involves huge bonfires, mock fights and brilliant attire. There is also the Eid al-Fitr Festival that marks the end of Ramadan. The three to seven-day festival involves lots of dancing and a wide variety of local cuisine. This festival follows the Islamic calendar. Pick a flight and hotel to Zanzibar that coincides with the festival you like.

What are fun activities available in Zanzibar?

There are myriad of activities to enjoy in Zanzibar. Here are some of them:

  • Enjoy the golden sunset from your hotel roof or the at the beach. Consider a flight and hotel in Zanzibar that includes a hotel near the beach or with a terrace where you can enjoy the evenings.
  • Take part in a local full moon party at Kendwa Rocks, a resort that charges an entrance fee of around £10.
  • Tour the spice plantations of Zanzibar and catch the scents of some of the most familiar spices.
  • Colour your hands with the traditional Henna at Hurumzi art gallery at the Stone Town.
  • Shop for dried spices at Aromas of Zanzibar in the Stone City.
  • Grab a traditional Swahili dress, hat or ‘leso’ at local boutiques in the Stone Town.

What places do you visit in Zanzibar?

After your flight from London to Zanzibar, enjoy city breaks in Zanzibar by visiting various areas of the region. Start with the Stone Town of Zanzibar. It has several narrow streets winding their way past Swahili fabric stores, traditional coffee shops, art galleries and craft shops. These areas are safe and you can walk around them. It is a perfect destination for cultural adventure.

The north beaches of Kendwa, Nungwi and Tumbatu are the most popular white sand beaches on Zanzibar. Enjoy sunbathing and sailing in the traditional dhows on crystal clear water. All the islands are about an hour’s drive from the Stone Town. In addition, enjoy snorkelling at Mnemba Atoll that's home to eels, yellow snappers and dolphins among other underwater species. The area also showcases colourful coral and is accessed by a dhow. Do not leave without visiting the giant turtles around Prison Island located 6km north of the Stone Town.

What cuisines do you enjoy in Zanzibar?

Zanzibar enjoys a mix of Indian, Arabic and African cuisines due to its location. Do not end any of your city breaks in Zanzibar without sampling some of the local delicacies. Here are dishes that you should try:

  • Biryani: A rice cooked with a blend of spices and pair together with chicken or fish curry.
  • Pilau rice: A combination of rice and the meat dish in one pot. It is drier and spicier than biryani.
  • Mchuzi wa Pweza (Octopus Curry): Tenderized octopus is cooked in spices and simmered in coconut cream. It is soft and tasty.
  • Mahamri and mandazi: These are pastries that are deep-fried and lightly seasoned with spices. They are usually taken with a cup of tea and great for mid-morning hunger pangs.

What will you take home?

At the end of your package holidays to Zanzibar make sure to pick up a souvenir. Craft shops are spread out in the Stone Town and near the beach resorts. Some items you can take home after an exciting weekend in Zanzibar include accessories such as earrings, necklaces and bangles. You can also take home dried spices or handmade shopping baskets. The ‘shukas’ or ‘leso’ fabrics are the best reminders of the rich culture found in Zanzibar. Grab one along with a Swahili hat on your way back home.

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