It is true that many of the police in Zanzibar are friendly and non-threatening. However, most of them will do what they can for a bribe. They either hope you just give them a "tip" when they pull you over (for no reason) or will come up with some real (or fake) violation to fine you for. If this happens, ask them to write a ticket and tell them you need a receipt. It is not legal for them to charge a fine without writing a ticket (that includes their name). If they refuse to write an official ticket, it means they intend to pocket the money. Politely let them know you are aware of this and that you will not pay without a ticket, and usually they will let the whole matter drop. In any case, remember: It may be easier and cheaper to pay a bribe than a fine, but this is only making the problem worse for future tourists and expats! Do not pay bribes!
PLEASE PREPARE! Malaria can sometimes be fatal and at best may make you regret that you survived. Medicines must be taken weeks BEFORE you come here. There are 4 different species of Malaria and humans can get them all from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Illness and death from malaria are largely preventable if you plan ahead.
While you are here you need to use a repellent spray early in the morning and any periods of darkness, especially at night. The Bartender at my beach hotel had Malaria 3 times before he was 25. Do not take chances!
I would suggest you buy repellent with 100% DEET.
During the rainy season the large lakes that appear in the road take up exactly the entire width of the road. Also they are only located where the vegetation is so dense, that you cannot actually walk along the sides or avoid walking in the water. Take good boots that dry quickly. Get used to it. It is the rainy season and you are going to get wet and stay that way. At least it is always warm!
The rainy season is from November to May with the heaviest rains in the last 2 months.
Please note: Prices, including flights, are always cheaper during the rainy season. However, many hotels shut, so plan carefully.
Zanzibar is in a malaria area and you need to take precautionary measures. Prophylaxis is most probably the better option. But, also use repellents and other precautionary measures.
You need a yellow fever vaccination at least ten days before entry. It is best to contact your nearest Tanzanian Embassy in order to make sure about entry requirements.
If you spend some time on a beach in Zanzibar (and almost every visitor does), be careful where you sit. A palm tree may provide some welcome shade, but a coconut landing on your head could cause major injury, possibly even death. Staff at our hotel were pretty vigilant in checking the trees regularly and picking any coconuts that appeared ready to drop, but even so we avoided sitting beneath any that had nuts on them.
The least-appealing aspect of our stay in Stone Town was the amount of hassle we were subjected to by touts, would-be guides etc. One in particular made a real nuisance of himself. He would wait for us each morning as we emerged on to Kenyatta Road from our hotel and waylay us with demands that we buy his services as a guide. Each day we would shake him off by telling him we already had plans – a tour booked, shopping to buy. Each day he would say “Maybe tomorrow” and to shut him up, sometimes we would say “Maybe – or maybe not”. On our final morning he was there as usual, with the usual pleas to take a tour with him. When we said that we were leaving that morning (and no thank you, we didn’t need an airport transfer), he became quite abusive, claiming that we had promised him that we would take one of his tours and that he had been relying on that promise to feed his family that week. Our consciences were clear as we had made no such promise, and we didn’t really believe his claim about the money as we’d seen other tourists agree to one of his tours, but the encounter left a sour taste in our mouths at the end of what had been an otherwise great week.
This isn’t to suggest that all guides in Zanzibar adopt such hard sell techniques, nor to create the impression that the people here aren’t warm and welcoming, which they almost uniformly are. But do be aware that there is a culture of fairly aggressive touting for business and that, perhaps unsurprisingly, local people are likely to see tourists as a relatively easy source of money.
Hello, I am the wife of a fench man who was shoted during the night of 17 september 2008. Here after you will have the global story but what i can say is :
1st the story is real and my husband is always at hte hospital (please see Foreign Commonwealth office to see evidence that it is true)
There are cases of armed crime in Dar es Salaam, including in the peninsula area and Coco beach, which is popular with expatriates. In Zanzibar there have been several reports of robberies, some accompanied with violence, occurring on popular tourist beaches. Most recently armed robbers shot a French tourist at a guesthouse on the East Coast of Zanzibar on 18 September 2008.,)
2nd i did not know before the cristal resort owners, and I can not judge them but thanks to their help my husband is alive.
Even if I do not want to speak about it too much today it is of my duty to warn all the travelers and the tourists. While we had chosen to make our honeymoon in Tanzania + Zanzibar, we were a victim of a holdup on September 17th, 2008 at 8 pm. This took place in the hotel crystal resort in Zanzibar (towards Paje village). The hotel as many of the others is situated on the beach with bungalow. Thus it is not closed. We were in the dining restaurant, a man appeared from the beach equipped with a very big rifle. He assaulted a lady who ate and try to steal her bag. Then certainly to show that his weapon was a real one he fires a bullet on the ground, and it is my husband who sat in front of me who received the bullet into its intestines. It entered by the back some centimetres of his column and went out on left of its body. It rose while howling and fell down by ground. The man continued to attack other tourists, fired once again but directed on the swimming pool this time without wounding anybody. Then that lasted a half hour, me lying close to my husband trying to speak to him and all the other tourists on the ground, without knowing if the men were still there. We were then attacked by a man with a knife. The police force although being prevented 5 min after the shooting, condescended to be shown only 40 minutes after. The owners of the hotel and me then evacuated my husband using a pick up because neither helicopter nor ambulances are available on this island. Then always thanks to the hotel which has a private partnership with an airline company of safety/repatriation, we could go in Dar Es salem. Even if Nairobi would have be the best, the internal bleeding did not allow a transport to Nairobi. Indeed it took the bullet at 8:15pm and could only be in the hospital at 12:15pm … He was operated during 4 hours, the bullete had divided into 2 the small intestine and damaged the large intestine. Fortunately the surgeon was very qualified and bent all. Fortunately the bullet had touched only the intestines what is almost a miracle. He had lost so many blood that he has being transfused with 3 pockets, and the hospital did not have enough blood. Fortunately I was compatible, fortunately Tanzanians helped me and one man gave its blood this night for my husband. The embassy was prevented very quickly but during the night helped me neither psychologically nor to find blood because according to the consul “but everyone sleeps Madam”. She did not move until 8:30am, hour of the beginning of daily work I imagine. Then the nightmare continued 7 days before we are repatriated in France. The hospital in Dar Es Salaam (the aga khan) is certainly the best of Tanzania but contrary as what it is written on the pages of the ministries for the foreign affairs, it is far from being close to the European standards. The doctors were qualified, but they did not have money for the minimal hygiene, not the means of changing cloths enough, not the means of having air-conditioning and a generator when electricity braoke down, not the means of being correctly trained on the material…. The insurance (Europe assistance) paid the expenses of the hospital but wanted to pay me only the hotel and not my food, neither my taxis, nor my telephone…. They did not send an European doctor to see how was really the hospital, they made confidence with the doctors on the spot who told them that the hospital was very nice and competent…. I lived a nightmare waked up during 7 days. Fortunately my husband is well today, he is always in hospital, he has a stomy (pocket and artificial anus) but which is only provisional and in few months all of it will be almost as if nothing had occurred.
if you visit zanzibar TAKE CARE
Street Touts are often called ‘Beach Boys’ even when they are 40-50 years old. The local name for them is ‘Papasi’ the Swahili word for ticks. So what do they want? Most are friendly, definitely persistent and can be downright helpful sometimes. They will approach you just about anywhere. If you truly do not want any service of any kind, then be prepared. Here is what services they provide:
• Tour of Stone Town
• Other tours (Jozani Forrest, Spice Tour, Prison Island, etc.)
• Souvenir shops/crafts
• Help with bags
• Directions to a specific place (they walk you there)
Be polite. If you tell them ‘I already have’ and list several of the items above, they start to realise that you know how things work. I ‘hired’ one, or he hired me and I paid $7 for a 2 hour tour of Stone Town. I was shown everything and had a fascinating explanation of local life. They work on a commission. So if you go to ‘my brother’s shop’ and you buy something they get paid a small amount by the shop owner later. Always keep some small coins on hand. If you get lost or really need help you be able to give them a small reward for their assistance.
If you are here for a short period of time or just off a cruise ship, size them up first. Persistent, but polite is ok.
On the other hand
I did have an older one who kept talking to me in a bar. I am pretty sure he had a substance and/or mental health issue. The next day he saw me and was convinced that I had agreed to pay him for a tour of Stone Town. I had done this with another Beach Boy 2 days before. I even tried to hide in a shop who told me the obvious problem with our little friend. I ended up having to have a security guard chase him away. Other than that episode I had good relations with these guys and they would always shout ‘Jambo’ at me when I was out and about.
Please note: This tip is also on the ‘Cultural Tips’ as I found most of these guys were OK.
SUNBURN can cause SKIN CANCER. Zanzibar is absolutely blessed with sunshine an almost continuous 10 months a year. Combine this with being at sea level and only a few hundred miles south of the Equator – you can get sunburn in 10 minutes. Trust me. I know. Getting lots of episodes of burnt skin and peeling can greatly increase your chances of getting skin cancer. Please cover up with good quality sun screen anytime you are out and about here.
There is one thing you really should beware of in Zanzibar, the scourge of so called beach boys touting for business.
They are usually hanging around the hotels and beaches and will approach you with a friendly "Jambo Rafiki"
Beware, these guys are after your money and will try any method of fleecing you for a few bucks.
Do not encourage these guys as they are seen as parasites by ordinary local people and are not official guides as some will tell you. (It is amazing how many different business cards these guys have for use depending on the situation)
I have seen tourists get friendly with these guys on many occations and despite warnings, they have ended up bieng ripped off for free meals, a "small present" , beers and on one occation buying drugs for thier so called guide. Stangely enough a cop happened to be near by and they ended up paying a hefty fine to the cop. Needless to say thier "guide" was nowhere to be seen.
Take my advice as a local who has been here for years. Avoid these beach boys as you would a poisinous jellyfish. You have been warned !!
When the tide goes out, there is a huge stretch of sand and rocks left bare which alllows you to walk out to the edge of the reef. A lovely walk, barefoot in the sand, but beware! Firstly there are lots of spiney sea urchins, so barefoot isn't a good idea! Secondly, it is further than it looks. This means that, if you happen to be out as far as you can go when the tide turns, the water starts to get deep pretty quickly. Ok if you are a good swimmer, not so good if you're not.
A friend I met in Stone Town took the overnight ferry to Pemba in first class. Several ‘gentlemen’ sat next to him and ignored other empty seats. When he asked to see their First Class tickets, they just laughed. And when he fell asleep they tried to steal his bags. Luckily they were prevented by other tourists. Apparently this happens often. Watch your bags!
If you leave Zanzibar via some unorthodox way, say by ship other than the Pemba/Dar ferries or catamarans, ensure you get an exit stamp at the immigration office. Especially if you leave for another country, such as Kenya or Mozambique, South Africa etc. Explain to the officers at immigration your situation and they will do their best.
The catamarans that ply Dar es Salaam to Stonetown play very loud and extremely violent films. While local youth may cheer and applaud at limbs being chainsawed off and gore splashing about and what not on the screen, it's not only PGR, but not-below-18-sort of films. Don't go with small children, unless they have some other distraction to turn them away from the videos. It destroys the fun of the catamaran ride too as the video sound is overpowering. Like with Indian bus videos and Hindi films, onboard staff will not understand your perspective if you ask for them to lower sound or turn off the video screen next to you.
Could be that upper deck class with a roomier saloon and bettwer view provide distractions in other directions. I must say I did not like the catamarans' entertainment. Next time I rather travel some other way. I did complain and I will do it again at first opportunity.
Definitiely not a danger - the food is sooo goood! - but the sit down on the floor for three continous hours is way too much for children. These excellent rooftop restaurants are very hard on children. Impossible to run around, impossible to play. Both places have a quiet atmosphere, a tranquility that is very special, "advanced" food and difficult sitting arrangement (in the long run) that makes visiting real hard with active and picky children. If with children, choose somewhere else or find an arrangement so that the children are being taken care of elsewhere while you are at the Emersons'. Definitiely.