The island of Zanzibar is famous for its mix of exotic beaches, spice plantations, history and diverse culture and has fast become a favourite holiday destination for us South Africans. After a short and sweet stay on the island, I can see why … It is a tropical piece of paradise just 3.5 hours away.
In the good old days it was quite a mission to get to this tropical island of paradise but now you can fly directly from Johannesburg to Zanzibar on Mango Airlines. Mango is the only airline operating direct flights! Mango flies from OR Tambo to Zanzibar every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and from Lanseria to Zanzibar every Saturday. The duration of the flight is a little more than 3 hours. This is a ridiculously quick flight to be transported all the way to paradise!
Don’t forget your passport though. Just because you are flying on Mango, you are still flying international. And last thing, for us South Africans with a South African passport, we don’t need a visa when entering Zanzibar.
There is a high risk of malaria throughout all of Zanzibar at all times of the year, so malaria tablets are a huge must! I took Malanil tablets because I don’t like to play with fire! And I used a strong insect repellent every few hours (every hour to precise!) and I wore thin long sleeve pyjamas at night. I also slept under a mosquito net which was very cozy!
For us South Africans, the yellow fever vaccinations are no longer required.
Zanzibar is rich in culture and as a result of various influences, the cuisine is beautiful! Some of the various influences include Arab, Indian and Portuguese. Some of the things Zanzibar is famous for includes exotic fruit, fresh seafood and various spices. No wonder Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island.
I tried a few of the local favourites but the two that stood out for me was a stewed banana in a tomato and onion gravy thing and a curried octopus dish. I wish I tried more of the seafood dishes though. And I had a pizza at my hotel, because I just needed some carbs in my life.
Make sure to always carry cash on you because there are no ATM’s except for at the airport and in Stone Town. Although the national currency is Tanzania Shilling, people are happy to accept US Dollars. Any other currencies won’t be accepted and it is difficult to exchange on the island.
Just for a little conversation starter around the dinner table, 10 000 shillings is equal to R65.
The Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Zanzibar is from June to October during the cool, dry months of Spring. A popular time to visit is from December to February when it is hot and dry. Rainy seasons are from mid-March to late May and again from November.
So there you have it, just a few things to know when planning a trip to Zanzibar.