The heavenly Zanzibar archipelago is one of the best tourist destinations in the world. In 2021, travel lovers can visit the island to enjoy the scenic views of lush vegetation, turquoise waters, and white sands. Tourists can enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna, spectacular birdlife, marine life, and wildlife, exciting water sports, delicious food, and fun filled activities. Here are some tips that tourists should know before visiting Zanzibar.
Reaching Zanzibar is very easy. Travellers can take a flight from Arusha, a ferry from Dar es Salaam, or fly directly to Zanzibar International Airport. Although the ferry is cheaper, the flight from Dar Es Salaam is more comfortable, and takes less than 20 minutes!
The mouth watering cuisine of the region is unique because of its African, Arabic, Indian, Portugese, Turkish, and Swahili influences. The food is made with a blend of spices such as cardamom, turmeric, lemongrass, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, and pepper. Drinks such as ginger tea, avocado shake, and sugarcane juice are popular. Tourists can try delicious dishes such as pulao, biryani, Zanzibar pizza, octopus curry, plantain soup (Mtori), date nut bread, chapati, coconut bean soup, kebabs, porridge (Uji), cassava (Muhogo), donuts (Mandazi), and fresh seafood! At places such as Forodhani Night Food Market, visitors can try the street food, where food that is served hot is expected to be safe for consumption.
The island is a conservative region, so dressing modestly is essential. One should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and ensure that they are at least covered from their shoulders to their knees. Tourists should be respectful to local customs, and if they intend to visit a mosque, they must cover their heads as well. Bathing suits are accepted only at beach destinations. In 2021, it is important to note that travellers, and the tour guides that join them, can be fined at least $700 for dressing indecently.
Swahili time might be different from what tourists are generally used to. Many locals count time from sunrise, instead of midnight, which can create confusion for guests. An easy way to cope with this is to specify morning, afternoon, or evening, when setting up meetings and timings.
The locals are generally very friendly, down to earth, and helpful. It is important that tourists interact with them kindly and respectfully. When meeting children, tourists must not take any pictures without the consent of the child’s parent, nor give any item or food to the child unless allowed.
Many people know English in Stone Town and popular tourist spots, but it is a good idea to learn a few words and phrases of Swahili to make interaction easier and smoother. Swahili is an easy language, so learning the basics is not difficult. Tourists should know greetings and important questions. As most locals are Muslim, one could also say Selam!
- Public Behavior
Drinking or carrying alcohol in public places may be seen as offensive by the locals. Any public display of affection between couples is not allowed. Wearing revealing clothing, or being nude or beaches, is not acceptable. In 2021, being in public without a mask is frowned upon. In certain areas, such as military regions, tourists cannot take pictures.
Zanzibar is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. The exotic flora and fauna is a mesmerising sight to behold, and the sandy beaches offer scenic views that tourists will never forget. This stunning environment requires conservation and preservation, so tourists must ensure that they do not damage the beauty of the region. They should not pollute beaches or forests. Buying any natural resources, such as seashells, is illegal, and permits are needed in order to be able to visit certain protected areas.
Tourists should take precautions to protect themselves from Malaria, as the disease is still prevalent in Zanzibar. They should use mosquito nets for their beds, and wear insect repellent. It is also advisable to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers so less skin is exposed to mosquitoes.
- COVID Testing
Before travelling to the beautiful region, tourists should know the COVID test requirements set by Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, Elderly, Gender, and Children. A negative test report is not required on arrival or departure, unless requested by the home country or the flight airlines. Tourists can get tested 72 hours before their departure, at testing centres in Pemba, Migombani, and Lumumba, which take USD $80 for the test. The centre can deny the test if visitors do not arrive on time, or do not have a valid appointment, Appointments can be booked online at https://zanzibarcovidtesting.co.tz/app/home and confirmation letters are required to be shown at the testing centre.