Zanzibar Blue Safari – 4 Days
Zanzibar Blue Safari – 4 Days
A little Zanzibar history
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago off the east coast of Tanzania (Tanganyika). It’s made up of a few islands, with the largest island being the one most people visit. This larger island is officially called Unguja, but most people simply refer to it as Zanzibar.
When it comes to history, Zanzibar has an interesting one. The islands have been inhabited for thousands of years, first by Bantu-speaking people who built coastal communities that were involved in trading with Persian, Indian, and Arab traders by about the 9th century.
The name “Zanzibar” comes from a Persian term meaning “Black coast,” likely due to the darker skin of the region’s original inhabitants.
When the Age of Exploration came to East Africa, Zanzibar became part of the Portuguese Empire (around 1503). The Portuguese rule lasted about 200 years until the islands became part of the Sultanate of Oman in 1698. In the mid-1800s, the Sultanate’s capital was moved to Stone Town, and Zanzibar eventually became a sultanate of its own.
During the centuries of Arab rule in Zanzibar, the islands became integral to the ivory, spice, and slave trades. The islands were often called the “Spice Islands,” and one of the biggest ports for the East African slave trade was in Zanzibar City.
The British got involved in the region in the mid-1800s when they began attempting to dismantle the African slave trade. By 1890, Zanzibar was a protectorate of Britain but still maintained a sultan.
When pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini died in 1896 and the British opposed his successor, Great Britain, and the Zanzibar Sultanate fought the world’s shortest war lasted just 38 minutes. Zanzibar would remain a British protectorate until 1963.
In 1964, just a month after Zanzibar became a constitutional monarchy under the Sultan, the people rose against the Sultanate during what’s now called the Zanzibar Revolution. The Sultan fled the islands, and the Sultanate was replaced by the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba.
Just a couple of months later, Zanzibar merged with mainland Tanganyika and remains a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania today.
Zanzibar is still an important exporter of spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and has also grown a sizable tourism industry. Many people (like me!) combine visits to Tanzania with a stop on Spice Island.
When to visit Zanzibar
Zanzibar’s seasons mostly revolve around the rain. The high season in Zanzibar is from June to October when the weather is cooler and drier. You can visit the islands any time of year, though people generally avoid April and May (the peak of the “long rains”), and the shorter rainy season in November. It’s hotter from December-February, but still fine for a beach vacation.
How to get to Zanzibar
There are two main ways to reach the main island of Zanzibar: by boat or by plane.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous option, you can take the ferry from Dar es Salaam on Tanzania’s mainland. The crossing is on fairly large and modern ferries and takes roughly 2 hours. There are four ferry crossings per day, but you’ll want to opt for the earliest ones to get the calmest seas.
You’ll definitely want to book your ferry ticket in advance (it gets very busy!) and be aware that the trip can be a little overwhelming if you’re traveling on your own, or if it’s your first time traveling in East Africa. Read my friend Helen’s post to learn everything you need to know about taking this ferry.
The other option is to fly to Zanzibar. There are short flights several times per day between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam and several daily flights from Nairobi and some other international destinations.
Ferry tickets run anywhere from $35-$60 per person each way, while you can often find flights from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar for as low as $40 per person one-way.
DepartureArusha city, Zanzibar
Departure TimeApproximately 8.30AM
Return TimeApproximately 7.30PM
Dress CodeCasual, comfortable and light
Included3 Meals a dayAirport TransferBudget AccommodationEntrence Park FeesLocal GuideSafari Driver/Guide
Not Included5 Star AccommodationAirport taxesInternational flightsPortersSafari VehicleTanzanian VisasTips and gratuitiesTravel insurance