Zanzibar is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Tanzania, a few degrees south of the Equator. It consists of two main islands, Unguja (usually known as Zanzibar) to the south and Pemba to the north, and over forty much smaller islands, some of which are uninhabited. Zanzibar represents one of the most emblematic examples of Swahili culture, which comes from the encounter between the Bantu populations of Central and Eastern Africa and Middle Eastern and Asian, especially Oman, Persia and India. The population mainly speaks Swahili, but English is also quite common. The old town centre of Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, rich in architectural and historical examples of Swahili culture, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Zanzibar was also a protagonist of the Eastern Africa slave trade, as well of the spice trade; even now, an important part of its economy is based on the production of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and ginger.
Ethiopian Airlines, Meridiana Fly, Neos, Qatar Airways, TUI fly Belgium, Turkish Airlines
Fly Dubai, Oman Air, Kenya Airways, Condor Flugdienst, provide connections that land directly at Zanzibar International Airport.
British Airways, KLM, Emirates and Swiss Air land in Dar es Salaam; from here you can easily continue your journey by domestic flight or high-speed ferry to the island of Zanzibar.
Domestic flights on the Dar es Salaam/Zanzibar route are operated by local companies like Precision Air, Coastal Aviation and ZanAir, and last about 20 minutes.
Connections by sea are provided by Azam Marine and last about 2 hours by high-speed ferry.
Mamamapambo is located in the Kibigija neighbourhood of the Jambiani village in the south-east coast of the island.
Stone Town, where both the harbour and the airport are located, is about 55 km from Jambiani.
Upon advance agreement, we are also happy to organize your transfer to and from the hotel with one of our vehicles.
The semi-autonomous archipelago is a 23 mile hop from mainland Tanzania, and although it is officially part of the East African country, in almost all aspects—politics, religion, culture, food—life there is different. As a base for traders from the African Lakes region, India, and the Arabian peninsula, Zanzibar became a hub for the region’s slave and spice trades. Most Zanzibaris consider themselves Zanzibari rather than Tanzanian, and their territory has its own leader and governing bodies. Mainland Tanzania is a mix of Christian, Muslim, and indigenous groups, but Zanzibar, which the Sultanate of Oman ruled for centuries, is almost entirely Muslim. (The Sultanate had in turn wrestled the islands from the Portuguese – and much later they became a British protectorate, until Zanzibar’s independence in 1963.)
Stop and say hi: Swahili is an easy language to pick up, and the initial learning curve is quick. Learning just the basics will take you pretty far. Don’t assume the constant streetside attention from people is an attempt to sell you something, or trap you into taking some sort of tour—that does happen, but saying hello is also an important part of the local culture. The “Mambos” and “Jambos” are often just that, so it’s a good idea to say hello back. It might be initially overwhelming, but it’s nice to realize that so many strangers will take the time to acknowledge your presence and ask you about your day. (A “Shikamoo”, usually reserved for those you don’t know, your elders or superiors, is a respectful greeting that locals will appreciate.)
Time-keeping is initially confusing, but actually makes a lot of sense. In Swahili culture, people start counting time at sunrise rather than at midnight, which means that 7 a.m. Western time is one o’clock in the morning Swahili time, and 7 p.m. is one o’clock at night. (This works because sunset and sunrise times are relatively constant year-round, since Zanzibar is so close to the equator.) A trick to decipher this code is to imagine drawing a line directly across a clock face: three becomes nine, four becomes ten. When arranging meeting times, it’s best to specify the time of day you’d like to meet—morning, afternoon, evening, night—that way, even if your numbers are off, chances are you’ll still connect.
The ancient city declared a UNESCO cultural heritage site in 2000 is charming, but it’s basically a maze. The act of receiving directions through the town’s winding alleys usually involves a series of confusing hand gestures and head nods, and will probably not get you where you want to go any faster. There are street names, sort of, but no one really uses them. The bright side is that Stone Town is small and safe, and not knowing where you’re going is part of the experience. Locals are helpful, so you can ask for directions as many times as you want, but sometimes it’s best to let yourself get lost.
Zanzibar has had many rulers over the centuries, and its long, tragic history has created one of Africa’s most interesting cuisines. This is the original fusion food, a delicious mash-up of Indian, Arab, Chinese, Portuguese and African cooking traditions, all driven by the constant presence of spice (these are known as the Spice Islands, after all, where cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg come straight from the source.)
Across Zanzibar, and many parts of mainland Tanzania, there are eggs white or eggs white—even when the yolk is included. There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that yolks are never a sunny yellow. They don’t taste different; chickens here feed on a grain that makes them produce monochrome eggs. The sorghum chickens eat across Tanzania has less pigmentation than the yellow maize fed to chickens in other parts of the world.