Zanzibar Hotels

Getting Around Zanzibar


Getting around Zanzibar can be very cheap and horribly uncomfortable, or pretty costly and very relaxing. The only mid-range transport there is comes in the form of a few tourist minibuses that operate out of Stone Town. These take holiday makers to some of the various coastal hotspots the island has to offer - routes are very limited and run once a day. Seats must be booked through hotels in the capital.


This page covers daladalas, the islands public bus-come-trucks, tourist mini-buses, taxis, hire cars and motor bikes, bicycles and light aircraft and ferries that operate between Unguja (the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago and commonly known as Zanzibar) and Pemba and certain other islands.


Daladalas


Most locals travel by daladala. These are most commonly mini-buses (which are more akin to large vans -usually the Toyota Hiace) but sometimes trucks. For many tourists, back-packers and adventurers, the daladala experience is a thrilling one. Tourists are thrust into the heart of Zanzibari life; expect a chicken on you knee and locals with buckets of fresh seafood to sell.


Daladala travel is cheap; the longest journeys cost no more than TSh 2,000 (approx USD 1.50). However, it is not comfortable and can be very tiresome. A 60 km journey can take up to three hours since stops are so frequent, back-tracking sometimes even occurs, and the driver will wait around for as long as he deems it advantageous to swell his numbers.


The routes run throughout the day and are numbered, but to no particular scheme. All daladalas have their destination marked on them. The routes start from either the Darajani terminal on The Creek Road, or from one of the other terminals just outside of Stone Town and accessible by daladala from there. These are Mwembe Ladu, 2 km to the south and Mwana Kwerekwe, 5 km south-east. Many daladala routes are referred to throughout this site.


Tourist Minibuses on Zanzibar


By far the best value for money way to reach Jambiani, Bwejuu, Nungwi or Kendwa beaches is to book a seat on one of the daily tourist mini-buses. These will usually take you right to your hotel door for no more than USD 10 (getting a good price tends to require some haggling). You may have to be firm with the driver who may want to take you to a different hotel—one which pays him commission.


Seats can be booked through many of Stone Town’s tour operators and most budget hotels (this may even be true if you do not happen to be staying at the hotel in question). The minibuses all leave Stone Town at around 0800 and return from their various destinations in the mid-afternoon.


Though not the most modern looking vehicles, and not one-hundred percent comfortable, they are reliable and very few accidents have been reported in the past years. They offer a far quicker and more commodious trip than daladalas.


Taxis and Hire-cars on Zanzibar


Naturally, the fastest and most comfortable way to travel from point to point on Zanzibar or across Stone Town is by taxi. The cars do not have meters so make sure you have agreed a price before getting in. A rough guide for journey costs is as follows; Airport to Stone Town - around USD 15, within Stone Town – no more than TSh 5,000 (USD 5), Cross Island – drivers will quote around USD 100 but aim to agree on USD 60 - 70.


Hiring a car is not especially difficult. Drivers must be between 25 and 70 years old and have held a drivers licence for a minimum of 2 years. It is also advisable to obtain an International Driving Permit before leaving your home country, but we know of drivers who have obtained the necessary local permit by presenting their own country’s license only. Police must endorse your permit upon arrival, but with USD 10 and your driving license you should be able to obtain a temporary 15 day license once on the island. The agency that you hire your car from will take care of all of this during a 20 minute drive around to the respective offices whose stamps and signatures are needed. Stone Town tour operators double as car-hire agents and should be able to take care of all this for you. Hire costs are generally between USD 40 and 60 a day excluding fuel, but prices will drop to around USD 35 a day for hire periods of a week or more. Insurance is included, but do read the small print to make sure it is adequate and you are aware of the sense in which you are ‘covered’.


Examples of car hire companies that will be happy to assist you, are as follows:


 +255 777 414 044

+255 713 414 044


+255 777 469 146

+255 713 676 033


+255 777 410 186

+255 777 413 287

+255 716 848 177


We do not have first hand experience of this operation, however they appear to us to be well organised and vigilant.


If self-driving on Zanzibar take note; though most roads are in good condition and asphalted, many are not. Furthermore, roads are often very poorly signposted. It is advisable to have some very good maps and limited Kiswahili in order to ask for directions if it all goes wrong. It is also well worth having a good data roaming plan if you have a GPS-enabled phone, or else having your phone unlocked before leaving home and getting a local SIM card that will allow data usage. This will enable you to navigate reasonably well using Google Maps, though bear in mind that Google’s mapping is far from complete in Africa.



Bicycles and Motorbikes


If you can handle the heat (or can get up enough speed to cool yourself with wind-chill effect) then cycling along the coast of Zanzibar can be an excellent way to explore. Many beach hotels will rent you a bike for around USD 5-10 a day and some offer free bike hire to guests. Watch out for motorists (who generally have very little respect for cyclists and who expect you to leave the road when they honk, to allow more room for them to pass you) and remember that as a cyclist you are near the bottom of the highway pecking order, unlike in Europe where cyclists are of course relative VIP’s and afforded the highest legal protections of all road users.


Motorbikes and scooters are generally not recommended. The reckless attitude of Zanzibar’s own bikers means that police will be only too ready to find any reason to stop motor-cyclists and elicit fines (see here for some suggested avoidance methods for tenuous fines). The roads are not particularly safe for bikers either. However, if you are a keen rider with the skills and competence to give motor-biking a go they can be rented in Stone Town and Nungwi and informally on Pemba for around USD 35 a day including helmet and insurance.



Ferries and Light Aircraft


The only internal flight offered on Zanzibar is from Stone Town to Pemba. This is a wonderful journey for those looking for spectacular views but for those who get unnerved taking to the air it is not recommended. Most flights are on light aircraft, frequently mono-props. The planes, though flimsy, are well-maintained and the pilots competent. The flight costs around USD 100.


Internal Ferries carrying passengers from Stone Town to Pemba cost between USD 25 and 50. By day there are approximately 2 ferries a week, these take three hours. The cheaper option is the large overnight ferry running three times a week. The timetables are always changing. The most commonly used and reliable operating companies are Sepideh and Serengeti. Other ferries, such as those to Mnemba Atoll and Chumbe Island are mentioned on pages dedicated to these private islands.



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Inside a daladala. The driver will pack as many passengers as possible.

The above video demonstrates a suggested method of minimising the likelihood that local law enforcement officials will abuse their offices to exact bribes on tenuous pretexts of wrongdoing on the part of the motorist. A number of things are noteworthy about this interaction:


- The driver was not stopped for any offence or suspected offence. He was probably stopped in the hope that:

a) some punishable irregularity could be identified with his vehicle and documents, and

b) he would be willing to offer a bribe to the official


- The traffic officer didn’t know the speed limit. (This is quite normal).


- The officer attempted to prevent filming but was unable to suggest any legal argument in favour of the filming continuing.


- No funds were solicited in spite of the fact that a rigorous examination of the vehicle may have elicited a few minor faults.


- This VCP was staged on a Sunday*, quite possibly when the officer was not on duty. Improvised VCPs on Sundays are very normal throughout Tanzania as a means of enhancing the incomes of low-paid officers.


* Please note that while we are available via mobile phone and email to respond to emergencies that require resolution on Sundays, our offices are closed and we do not work on Sundays.