Zanzibar is an island partner within the United Republic of Tanzania which is located in the Indian Ocean about 38km off the coast of mainland Tanzania at six degrees south of the Equator. Zanzibar is made up of many islands, the main two being Unguja (usually called Zanzibar), and Pemba. The highest point is 390 feet above sea level.
The population of Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim, with a rich Swahili culture. Because of the religious and cultural traditions, dress code is important, and men and women should dress appropriately when away from the beach, i.e. covering shoulders and legs to below the knees. Beachwear on beaches is fine, but nude or topless bathing is not tolerated. When in villages or in Stone Town, wearing beachwear or revealing clothing would (and does) cause offense. Try to wear loose–fitting, non-see-through clothing when in public. The people of Zanzibar are generally very warm, open and hospitable, and your respect for permission before taking photographs or filming them 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. Local customs should be respected. Mosques are sacred places and there is generally no entry to non-Muslims, unless accompanied by a person of the faith who can show you around inside, 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 also the hand which should be used for eating.
The heat of summer is seasonally often calmed by windy conditions, resulting in pleasant sea breezes, particularly on the north and east coasts. 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 is usually hot, with some humidity, with rains in November, and May.
WINTER — June to October is usually warm, with rains in June, but otherwise sunny.
BEST – December to March and July to October.
Visitors traveling to Tanzania should check with their local health department or on-line to see what vaccinations are currently required/recommended, and that you have a valid International Certificate of Vaccination filled out.
Anti-malaria medication is recommended when traveling within East Africa, and tablets are recommended to be taken a few days prior to arrival, during your stay, and for a short period after returning home — depending on the schedule of the type you are taking.
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