Would it be unreasonable NOT to book in advance for Zanzibar? I will be there the last week of September and I would like to do a bit of Stone Town, Beaches and maybe Pemba. We are looking for cheap but clean guesthouses so we are very flexible on the stay.
It is a good idea to end a trip to Tanzania in Zanzibar. I prefer to stay in Stone Town, and am familiar with this hotel there It is the Zanzibar Palace Hotel, a small but beautiful and friendly place. Most attractions there are within walking distance. There are others of course, but I do not know them. Here is my page on the hotel. No harm in booking ahead.
Zanzibar Town Hotel Tips by Odinnthor
....and here is a look at Stone Town.......
On the other hand, if you are looking for a beach resort, then I can recommend the Breezes. Check it out. Again, there are others but this one I know.
Make sure that you visit a travel medicine specialist especially if you are from the U.S. Do not assume that your regular doctor has the answers needed for up to date travel medicine concerns. Malaria can and will kill you. Do not take medical advise from non medical people, - including us. This is far too important an issue to listen to guesswork. Here is the medical requirement page regarding Kenya.
Wow, not too many ask about Pemba, but nice to see some have the forethought to include it. It has been a while since my time there, but I can tell you that some of the very best diving in the Indian Ocean is to be had there.
I had to look, to see if Swahili Divers owned and run by a Raf and Cisca, a very nice couple, - were still operating, and found they have moved up north to Kervan Saray. They used to be in Chake Chake. They have opened up a resort there and knowing Swahili, it appears to be idyllic and eco friendly. Take a look:
Here is the seperate website of Swahili Divers, although you can get there from the resort site.
If you are coming from Zanzibar, you are likely just to want to chill out, so the Kervan would be perfect. I know that there were relatively few choices in transport, but it is more than likely that you can rent a bike or a scooter nowadays.
There is always the Fundu Lagoon if you are not into the hidaway up north. This place I do know, and it lives up to its awards. It is also much closer to CHace Chake and the airport.
I remember being amazed at the population being the same as my country (Iceland), as well as my soon to be residence country (Belize). I was there fronting a small private tour groups, (we were there for the diving), and it appeared that we were the only foreigners there. I hope it has not changed too much.
Hope you feel the Karibu (welcome in Kiswahili), as much as I did. Thanks for bringing me back there. Good luck and enjoy the Spice Islands.......d:o)
Just in case you are also going on safari while in Tanzi, here are some suggestions for you.
Having done a number of both Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa safaris, as a tour director, I am fairly familiar with the place.
If you are looking for reliable operators, I can certainly give you few reliable names. First check out the TATO site to get an overview of the available ones that are registered with TATO. There are about 140+ registered with them. They do tend to be a bit political, and I do know some operators that have been around for years but are not on the TATO list
Having done a number of both Kenya and Tanzania safaris, I highly ecommend Makoa Farms. Their specialty is horseback safaris. Even if it is not what you are looking for, check them out anyway.
Warrior Trails is also well respected. Here is their site.
Africa Dream Safaris specialize in personalizesd safaris tailormade for you. As such they are a little on the expensive side.
For budget style safaris check out Bobbys Tours.
Kiliwarriors is an ecofriendly operator, and quite capable.
If these are not what you are looking for, there are several others I can include as well.
Hope this is of help to you.
Also be sure to include tips in your overall travel costs. Not a good idea to ignore that one.
Tipping in Tanzania is similar to what it is in the US. Similar but not the same. On a safari remember that there are more than one person to tip, depending on the quality of the safari. This is a general guide on safari.
Driver/Guide: US8 – US20 per day per guide
Chef: US8 – US20 per day per chef if it is a an adventure safari in tents.
Be aware that this is not really per person. For instance, if you are in a party of four, each should contribute about five buck for a total of twenty bucks a day for the guide. If there is an assistant, half or two thirds of the tip for the guide in enough.
On a trek, like a Mt. Kilimanjaro trek, this is a general tipping guide for that type of travel, same rules regarding group tipping as above.
Head Guide: US15 – US30 per day per guide
Assistant Guide: US10 – US20 per day per guide
Cook: US8 – US12 per day per cook
Porter: US4 – US10 per day per porter
Also know that most tourist frequented restaurants and hotels/lodges are also to be tipped pretty much as you would in the US. Lot of places have tip buckets on the counter.
Now if you are alone of with a partner on a safari, simply ask discreetley what is customary, and then compare the response with the above guide, and you will have a fair idea of what to do.
This should give you a place to start, and when questions come up, just come back and we will work on it.
Good luck planning, and I hope this helps.......d:o)
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I would try to book ahead at least for the first nights in Stone Town - you can try to organise the rest from there, especially as some of the guesthouses work with beach places and can help you to find a place. If you try finding a place on your own upon arrival, you will be immideately be surrounded by papasi (the local touts) and it can be a pain to shake them off as they want to cash a commnission from the guesthouse. If you don´t need something right in the centre of Stone Town but want to get a feeling of a typical Zanzibari neighborhood - a 15 minutes walk to the heart of Stone Town, close to the market and dala dala station and right round the corner from the ferry terminal, I can recommend Zenji Hotel - it is a small, cozy and very clean place run by a Dutch woman and her Zanzibari husband, very friendly staff.
You´ll be more likely to find small beach guesthouses at Jambiani and Paje beach in the East than at the Northern beaches. when it comes to Pemba, you have to know there is not a single backpacker placve. The cheapest accomodation of the three available - and not at the beast beach takes over 100 a night. The others start around 200$ and up....
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September is a peak season in the tourisn calender in most of east africa countries therefore its adviseable to book in advance to avoid last minute rush.
Most good hotels in Zanzibar are fully booked from august to early next year.
All the best!
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