Getting here from overseas
Direct flights to Zanzibar:
Emirates/FlyDubai combo, Condor, Ethiopian Airways, Kenyan Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airlines, Arkia Israeli Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Meridian and Mango. There is talk that other international airlines might get permission to land in Zanzibar in the near future. Other airlines fly to Dar es Salaam.
Getting from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar:
Insider info: The airport is on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam quite a distance from the Harbour/Ferry Port which is in the center of Dar. Traffic in Dar is horrendous, it can take you 2 hours or longer by taxi from the airport to the ferry port (the distance could be done easily in 30 min if there were no traffic). The taxi will cost anything from US$ 30 upwards to the ferry port. Make sure you agree on the taxi fare before you get into the taxi!
By plane: Several local airlines offer flights from Dar to Zanzibar (the flight time is 20 minutes): www.precisionairtz.com, www.zanair.com, www.coastalaviation.co.tz, www.tropicalair.co.tz, http://www.flightlinkaircharters.com, http://www.fly540.com, to mention a few.
Zanzibar International Airport was supposed to be replaced by a new, much larger airport but construction work was halted more than three years ago, nobody really knows why. For the time being we are stuck with the old airport (see photo below), which is completely inadequate, to put it mildly.
Be prepared for some chaos on arrival, take a few deep breaths and be patient.
When you made it to the top of the queue at immigration, your visa is processed and a photo of you as well as fingerprints are taken, this only takes a few minutes. Don’t expect your luggage to arrive on conveyor belts – any luggage is carried in by hand by airport staff. In case you want to exchange money, you can do so while you wait for your luggage although you usually get better rates at the exchange bureau at the parking lot. After all your bags went through an x-ray machine (usually a customs guy is in attendance there) you’ve made it!
In order to avoid any chaos at departure: check in well in advance, minimum is two hours before departure! After the initial queue to get into the departure hall, your luggage/bags are scanned. Now you face long, slow moving queues at the check-in counter (this hall has no aircon, just ceiling fans). If needed, toilets are up the staircase on the 1st floor of the departure hall, at the far left of the restaurant.
Then you join more queues at the immigration counters and finally, your hand luggage is scanned again. Now you made it into the boarding hall, which has aircon units. Here you find a shop and some kiosks where you can do your last shopping. At the end of the hall (walk around the corner) you find a small kiosk for snacks and coffee, fridges with cool drinks and water and around the corner are the toilets.
By ferry: www.azammarine.com is the ferry of choice! You can book online. The ferry takes about 2 hours to reach Zanzibar.
Since end of November 2018, a tourist visa can be applied for online https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa
Visa exemptions for stays of less than 3 months: for a complete list of countries check above webpage, section “guidelines”
You can also get your visa for stays of up to 3 months on arrival at the Zanzibar International Airport. There can be long queues. They are equipped with cameras and laser fingerprint check. The visa costs US$ 50 per person (adults and children), for US citizens US$ 100. Immigration is open day and night.
Payment for the visa is in cash or by credit/debit card*. If you bring cash, they apparently only accept US$ 50 notes, new notes only (NB: US$ notes printed before 2006 are not valid in Tanzania/Zanzibar!). No other currencies are accepted, only US$!
*NB: I heard that sometimes the counter for the credit card payments is closed. And every other day, US$ cash is not accepted, only credit cards… Rather bring both, credit card and US$ cash, just in case.
Please make sure that your passport is still valid for 6 months from the date of departure from Zanzibar!