Important facts and info
The main language is Kiswahili. Even if you only use a few words whilst you are in Zanzibar you will make many friends. English is widely spoken and many people also speak Arabic. Other European languages such as French and Italian are known by some local people, especially around the tourist areas.
The combined population of Zanzibar including Pemba is approx 1,000,000.
About 95% of the local population is Muslim. The remainder are Hindu or Christian and some with traditional beliefs. As well as many many mosques, Stone Town hosts an Anglican and a Catholic Cathedral and a Hindu Temple. Please behave respectfully towards the local culture and avoid showing drunk behaviour, walking through the village in bikinis and during ramadam avoid eating/drinking/smoking in public places.
3 hours ahead of GMT.
Power system is 220-240 volts ac, plugs 13amp usually square pin.
Note that zanzibar has a history of powercuts. Red Monkey Lodge has a backup generator to ensure the water supply and the cooling for food/drink items but in case of prolongued blackouts will not run the generator 24hours.
The population of Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim with a rich Swahili culture. Because of religious and cultural traditions dress code is important, and men and women should dress appropriately when away from the beach, ie covering shoulders and legs too below the knees. Beachwear on the beach is fine, although nude or topless bathing is not tolerated.
When in villages or in Stone Town wearing beach wear would (and does) cause offence. Try to wear loose-fitting, non-transparent clothing when in public.
Zanzibari people are generally very warm, open and hospitable, and your respect for permission before taking photographs or filming local people is appreciated. Do not take photos or film at sensitive government sites including the State House, seaport, airport or military sites. If uncertain, it is always better to ask.
Public consumption of alcohol is not permissible, except in hotels and tourist areas, bars and some restaurants, where it is no problem.
Public displays of affection such as kissing are not customary and generally considered offensive, unless behind closed doors.
Local customs should respected. Mosques are sacred places an there is generally no entry to non-Muslims, unless accompanied by a person of the faith who can show you around except during the times for congregational prayer, which are five times daily.
When offering or accepting things, try and remember to offer and receive with your right hand. This is the hand which should also be used for eating.
Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year, with the exception of April and May, which are seasonally subject to the long rains. Short rains can occur in November but are characterized by short showers, which do not last long.
The heat of summer is seasonally often calmed by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coast. Being near 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.
SUMMER – November to May Hot, some humidity with some rains in November, May and June.
WINTER – June to October Warm with rains in June, otherwise sunny.
BEST – December to March and July to October
The unit of local currency is the Tanzania Shilling (TSh). USD, Euro in cash are usually accepted. For using credit cards mostly there is a surcharge of 5-10%. Negotiating prices is common in Zanzibar although Hotel, restaurant and tour operator prices are generally fixed.
Please note that ATM machines can only be found in stonetown and that the best exchange rates are also found in the capital.
A variety of locally produced crafts can be found in the shops and bazaars of StoneTown. Buying such goods benefits the local community so we encourage you to look out for such goodies.
All visitors must have a valid passport and visa to enter Tanzania. Most nationalities can obtain their Visa directly at the airport upon arrival. Visa fees vary according to the country you originate from. Visas can be obtained from Tanzania Diplomatic Representatives abroad.
Visitors traveling to Tanzania don’t need anymore a valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever and Cholera!
Anti-malaria medication is recommended when traveling within East Africa. Anti-malaria tablets are recommended to be taken a few days prior to arrival, during your stay and for a short period after returning home.
AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX
Airport departure tax on international flights is to be paid in Cash Only. In some cases some airlines include the departure Tax in their ticket price. Please check with your travel agent.