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Zanzibar - Useful Information

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Services in Zanzibar Town.


There are a small number of consulates in Zanzibar but the capital city of Dar-es-Salaam is where you need to go if you need an embassy. If you lose your passport you'll need to visit the Ministry of the Interior in Zanzibar in order to get off the island. The Ministry can supply you with papers to get you home or to Dar where you can arrange for more temporary papers from your Embassy. See the Listings Section for a complete embassy list.

TV Zanzibar had the first color TV station in East Africa, and in 1972 the first color television broadcast in East Africa was accomplished. The new technology was a dream of the first Zanzibari President, Karume, who was assassinated before the first broadcast. Ironically, the television technology that Karume brought to Zanzibar was used to cover the trial of his murder. Court TV is possibly another Zanzibari first.

Banks & Money

In the last few years, Zanzibar has opened up dramatically to the free world, resulting in some changes in the rules for tourists and currency. For instance, two years ago tourists had to pay for almost everything in hard currency; whereas today it is possible for tourists to pay departure tax in TShillings (but it is wise to always keep a stash of dollars – just in case). Travelers’ Cheques checks are accepted only at large hotels and some restaurants and, even then, sometimes grudgingly. You can convert them to cash at the People's Bank of Zanzibar, the Forex bureaus at some hotels (International, Mazson's and the Tembo) and at the Forex offices at the port and airport. These bureaus will also exchange most hard currencies for TShillings.


There are several local hospitals in Stone Town but tourists should always try Zanzibar Medical and Diagnostic Centre . The office is ideal for any minor medical attention needed. While traveling in East Africa, a trip to the doctor is recommended should you have a question or notice that you're feeling a little off. High fever and headache could be tip-off signs for malaria, and you should seek medical attention immediately at the appearance of these symptoms.

Tourist Information

Tourist information can be obtained from the Zanzibar Tourist Corporation located in the Livingstone House on the Bububu Road just outside of Stone Town. The office doesn't have much, but can help to book beach bungalows and bandas (another word for bungalow but usually meant as a modest accommodation on the beach) on the East Coast of the island. They also sell maps that can be purchased from almost any shop in town that caters to tourists.

Tour Operators

There are many tour operators on the island, many of whom have offices in Stone Town. Tour companies can arrange anything from hotel reservations to Spice Tours. They'll book a car, a guide, and they'll try to satisfy language requirements as well. There are French, Italian, and German-speaking guides available if booked in advance and if luck has them on the island. Tour operators are excellent for booking trips to Jozani Forest or the small islands off the coast. Tour companies change hands and reputations rise and fall. Ask the hotel where you're staying for reliable tour companies.

Getting There

Visitors entering Zanzibar are required to have a passport. Nationals from Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Zimbabwe, most Caribbean island countries, and many island states of the Pacific and Indian Oceans are not required to have a Tanzanian visa for entry, but all others must. . A tourist visa can be obtained in your home country at the Tanzanian Mission or Tourism Offices or they can be obtained at the border. Prices have been going up for visas and vary depending on the applicant’s nationality. For some reason, the prices between advance purchase and "at the door" purchase seem always to be different.

Arrival by boat or by air will land you in the immigration line but sometimes, depending on time of day and day of the week, you may not have to go through immigration at the port. There the customs check is sporadic, but it is quick when required. A piece of paper that is absolutely required for entering by way of the airport is proof of a yellow fever vaccination. You will not be allowed on Zanzibar without this card, but it is not always checked at the port. You should have the vaccination if travelling in East Africa whether or not it is required.

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