Make sure your passport is valid 6 months after your trip.
You’ll need a tourist visa to enter the country. You can ask for it at the Tanzania Embassy in your country or have it directly at your arrival at the airport.
Get all the vaccinations needed, after consulting your doctor: (here’s a few your doctor should mention)
- A and B hepatitis
- Yellow fever
- Typhoid fever
- Malaria prophylaxis
You can reach Zanzibar by direct flights and we will pick you up at the airport. Or you can take the ferry from Dar Es Salaam (for approximately $30). There are several ferries per day and we can meet you at the port (TZIVA house is very close to the ferry station). Let us know if you need further information on where to stay in Dar and how to get the ferry, etc. If you would like to have someone meet you in Dar and escort you to Zanzibar, we may be able to arrange this for an additional fee.
Most volunteers will live at TZIVA house or, upon request and if space is available, with families in clean, safe and pleasant homes located near your teaching assignment. Your stay will typically include daily breakfast and dinner (although self-catering may be arranged in some instances). Depending on your schedule and the location of your placement, self-served (“raid the refrigerator”) lunches will be available at home or you may want to bring a bag lunch. You will eat traditional Swahili cuisine (simple but healthful foods including fresh fish and chicken, rice-based dishes, chapati and bread, fresh vegetables and fruits and juices). We can accommodate vegetarians if you let us know in advance
ATM machines are readily available in Stone Town, as are Forex bureaux which change major currencies and also accept traveler’s checks (though at a lower exchange rate.) US dollars are sometimes required for government fees. Older style (pre 2003) bills in $20, $50 and $100 denominations are frequently not accepted.
Health and Safety Issues
While we make every effort to insure your safety and health, Zanzibar is a third world country with limited health care facilities and resources. We require all volunteers to obtain a traveler’s health policy (if their current health care insurance does not cover them) and sign a liability waiver. Zanzibar is a safe place to walk around by yourself at any time. We’ll let you know if there is any place you need to stay away from. Getting lost is probably the greatest risk, especially in the labyrinth of Stone Town but, at least for your first few weeks here or until you’re comfortable on your own, you’ll have a TZIVA member helping you when you want to go somewhere.
Zanzibar is over 90% Muslim. The island has mosques representing every major and most minor branches of Islam. Zanzibar is also noted for its tolerance of other faiths. There are several Catholic churches, Hindu temples, and the Anglican church built over the former slave market in Stonetown.
The climate is warm in Zanzibar. Light-weight and cool clothing is the norm. Men tend to dress in casual pants and T-shirts or shirts, though often you will see them dressed in the traditional white robes called kanzu and elaborately embroidered “kofia” caps. Zanzibari women typically cover their hair in public and wear ankle length garments. A small number veil their faces in public. While covering your hair is not necessary for foreign women, modesty in dress is important out of respect for Zanzibar culture. Shirts or blouses with sleeves that cover shoulders and pants or skirts that are knee length or longer are recommended for daily wear and required in the classroom. Swimming suits, shorts and beach wear are fine at the beach or swimming pools but not on the street. Sturdy walking sandals are a good choice for footwear. During the rainy season, an umbrella is a good idea.
Zanzibar has a large market area selling clothes, shoes and accessories. Colorful shawls, attractive dresses and wraps are readily available. Shoes, imported western clothes, especially for men, are found in the market as well. There is also a lively trade in used clothing from Europe and America.
Tours and Excursions
As part of your stay with us (and included in your fees), we will be taking to various parts of the island to visit ancient Stone Town and other communities and historic sites. Depending on your interests and the time of the year, this may include touring spice farms (one of our main industries), seeing Jozani Forest (and the famous Red Colobus monkeys), visiting the slave caves and slave market and learning about this unhappy part of our history, sailing to a nearby island or two on a dhow, and swimming at some of the more famous beaches. We want you to learn about our history, our lifestyles, the development work that is going on here and enjoy the many pleasures Zanzibar has to offer.
Most volunteers will enjoy the opportunity to swim every day and/or take part in the nightly community football games on the beach. Watching the sunset in the evenings (we have some spectacular ones) and visiting the beach at daybreak to watch the fishermen bring in their catch are special pleasures.
Stone Town has been named a world heritage site by the UN and wandering through its maze of narrow alleyways and visiting its museums, marketplaces, gardens, coffeehouses and wharf is a another pleasure. There are frequent outdoor musical events in the Old Fort and at various venues in the city and at the local dance clubs. Zanzibar also has a wealth of beautiful beaches, world class snorkeling, diving and fishing, spice farms and numerous other interesting places to visit while you are here.
Locally “Dala dalas” (minibuses or small lorries fitted with seats) are the common means of public transportation which you will likely use. They are cheap (around 35 US cents), fast, cover the entire island reaching the most remote location from Stone Town in no more than two hours and are available from early morning until around 10pm. Many vehicles are old and usually quite crowded (though Zanzibar police rigorously enforce seating maximums). Taxis are also readily available for late night events in Stone Town and can be hired for trips to the countryside if desired. Car and motorbike hire are also available although gas tends to be rather expensive. It’s also possible to pay for gasoline to some of the locals whom TZIVA is in good relation with, to experience some of the local places that only few people know.
Vehicle roads are limited within Stone Town. Walking, bicycles or small motorbikes are the only way to get around most of its narrow streets.
For day to day communication, we recommend using a mobile phone. SIM cards, which will give you a local number and cheap prepaid phone service, are inexpensive and easily available. Cells phones use GSM 900 and 1800 networks so US visitors need to make sure their phones operate on these networks (e.g., a “world phone”) and are unlocked so they can accept a different SIM card. These are sometimes available used or over the Internet. If not, it is possible to buy a functional mobile phone here for under $70 US. We would also appreciate the donation of any used mobile phones for our volunteer or staff to use.
Long distance calls may be made from your mobile phone or, slightly cheaper, from several businesses that offer phone services in Stone Town. It is also possible to use a voice over Internet protocol provider such as SKYPE over the Internet. The international country dial code for Tanzania, as well as Zanzibar, is +255. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)24 for Zanzibar and (0)22 for Dar Es Salaam.
Web and e-mail access are easily available.
Zanzibar uses three-pronged English-style outlets but adaptors are available for European or American style appliances. Please note, however, that the electrical current is 220 AC so Americans and others coming from countries that use 120 current will need to check that any appliances or equipment they bring from home will work on this currency. Mobile phone and camera chargers and laptop computers will often accept variable currency. Other appliances such as shavers and hair dryers may require a “step down” converter to operate here. These are available from travel stores. Please ensure that you have one sufficient for the wattage of your appliance.
Hand laundering is the norm in Zanzibar but here at TZIVA we have a washing machine that can be used for a nominal fee. Laundering of linens are included in your stay.