The highlights of Zanzibar can be visited in 3 or 4 days, but to enjoy some downtime on the beach, consider going for a week after a safari. After a few days on bumpy and dusty roads, this is an ideal way to round up a vacation to Tanzania. You can fly to Zanzibar from Kilimanjaro International Airport or the other regional airports, or catch a 90-minute hydrofoil from Dar es Salaam.
See "In One Week."
Days 8 & 9: Stone Town, Zanzibar
Stone Town warrants a couple of days to soak up the atmosphere in the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways. The elaborate 19th-century houses have impressive carved-wood doors, elegantly carved balconies, and loggias and verandas that cling precipitously overhead; many have been restored as charming hotels decorated with antiques and Persian rugs. Zanzibar is also known as the Spice Isle, thanks to the inland spice plantations with cardamom, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, and you can sample these on an informative half-day tour. Also when in Stone Town, eat at the nightly food market, visit one of the offshore islands, and perhaps take a ride on a dhow.
Days 10-13: North or East Coast Beaches
There are more than 25 idyllic beaches to choose from on Zanzibar, all backed by palms and mangroves, where views of a white-sailed dhow slipping silently across a sinking sun are a permanent feature. The young at heart can head to the north coast for a few nights in a rustic bungalow at Nungwi or Kendwa (well known as a party destination and for its idyllic beach), while on the east coast are large family resorts spread attractively along the beaches. Watersports are on offer around the island. In the southeast, the Jozani Forest has excellent nature trails and is home to the rare red colobus monkey, or you can swim with dolphins off the southwest of the island.
In contrast with Zanzibar, the other island in the archipelago, Pemba, has a fledgling tourist industry and is hardly visited at all. It's almost completely surrounded by mangroves and so has fewer beaches than Zanzibar, though serious scuba divers should head here for some of the best diving in Africa. On the west coast, the Pemba Channel creates dramatic walls and drop-offs that are home to a variety of large marine species such as sharks, rays, and barracudas.
Day 14: Transit
Depending on times of onward travel, you may need to spend another night in Stone Town before catching a flight or the ferry to Dar es Salaam to connect with international flights or continue on to other parts of Tanzania.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.