Zanzibar Tours & Safaris
Combine idyllic Zanzibar island with a safari adventure in East Africa with our range of Zanzibar tours and safaris.
With beautiful beaches and the azure Indian Ocean, Zanzibar island is a little slice of paradise and has many stunning beach resorts including Kiwengwa on the east coast and Nungwi to the north. It also offers some of the best diving in the world, with lush coral reefs and a diverse range of sea life to spot on a dolphin tour including dolphins, turtles, whale sharks, and manta rays. The capital of the archipelago is Zanzibar City, and its old quarter of Stone Town is also an excellent place to discover the local culture, best seen on a Stone Town tour. A visit to a spice plantation is a must. And for a unique wildlife experience, head to Prison Island, home to endangered Aldabra giant tortoises.
Most of our trips to Zanzibar island are part of longer overland safaris in East Africa, where we stop for a few days of R&R on this idyllic island. We also offer a 5-day beach break in Zanzibar and holidays combining the best of Tanzania's national parks with a few days at the end in Zanzibar.
It's the perfect culture, beach and wildlife adventure. From the wildlife-rich national parks of Kenya and Tanzania, meeting Maasai warriors and rounding it all off with a few days on the beaches of this tropical paradise. Explore Zanzibar island with On The Go Tours.
The majority of our tours stop in Zanzibar for a few days of R&R as part of one of our longer overland camping safaris. These tours cross East and Southern Africa in a rugged overland truck, escorted by a two or three-person crew and staying in twin tents. Everyone in the group helps with setting up camp and cooking. We reach Unguja (Zanzibar island) by ferry and stay in a campsite right on the beach, perfect for spending your time here lazing by the Indian Ocean coast, and for heading out to explore Stone Town. Some of our Zanzibar tours also offer an Accommodated upgrade, if you'd prefer to stay in simple chalet accommodation, rather than camping!
Frequently asked questions about our tours to Zanzibar
Where is Zanzibar?
Zanzibar archipelago is located off the coast of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. It comprises two large islands (Pemba and Unguja) and numerous smaller ones. Unguja is the main island, often referred to as Zanzibar Island. The capital of Zanzibar is Zanzibar City, on Unguja. And our tours focus on the older part of the city, known as Stone Town. Although part of Tanzania, Zanzibar is semi-autonomous, with its own government and national assembly. Spices and tourism are the main industries of the archipelago, which is also renowned for its marine ecosystems and endemic wildlife, plus the rare Aldabra giant tortoises of Prison Island.
How should I spend my time in Zanzibar?
On our overland camping tours, we deliberately include lots of free time for you to explore the island as you see fit. There is an included spice tour and a sunset dhow cruise, but other than that, you're at leisure!
Some of the many activities we recommend are a visit to Prison Island and a dolphin tour to take in some of the region's marine life. You could also go for a hike in the archipelago's only national park - Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. This is the largest surviving intact area of forest in Zanzibar, home to the endemic Zanzibar red colobus monkey and the Zanzibar servaline genet. It is also an Important Bird Area, as designated by BirdLife International. If the heavily persecuted Zanzibar Leopard (sadly presumed extinct) does persist, it is likely to be here.
When is the best time to visit Zanzibar?
The peak season for visiting Zanzibar island is June - October. These months offer the most reliable weather for exploring Stone Town and relaxing on the beach, with little or no rainfall and warm but not stifling temperatures. There is more information in our guide to visiting.
What do I need to pack for my camping safari to East Africa?
If travelling on one of our camping trips, we recommend you read our guide to overland camping safaris. You can also see a detailed packing list in the Trip Notes for each tour.
Some of the important items to remember are: sleeping bag, travel pillow, towel, Mosquito spray (with active DEET ingredient), your own personal first aid kit, torch, antibacterial wipes, a photocopy of your passport data, and your Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate.
What is the local payment for on your Zanzibar camping tours?
The local payment is a cost per person that needs to be paid in US Dollars cash only. It is this payment that in part covers the park fees and other inclusions such as meals as detailed on each tour page. The local payment also covers your arrival transfer and first night’s accommodation.
Please note that due to exchange rate fluctuations in the US dollar, the local payment amount may be subject to changes. This payment will be collected by your tour leader at the Welcome Meeting on day 1 of your escorted tour. Our Reservations team can give you more information about the local payment, the cost of which can be found on each tour page.
How big are the groups on your Zanzibar tours?
On our Zanzibar overland camping safaris, the maximum group size is 30, and these tours depart with a minimum of 4 passengers.
Will I have a tour guide in Zanzibar?
On our overland African safari tours in Zanzibar, you will be escorted by a three-person crew comprised of a qualified tour leader who will act as your guide, as well as a driver and cook.
Is Zanzibar a safe destination for travellers from the LGBTQ+ community?
According to the 2022 LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index, Tanzania scores an F rating for LGBTQ+ traveller safety, ranking 185th out of 203 countries.
Same sex marriage is illegal and there are no constitutional or worker protections in place for the LGBTQ+ community, although there is limited criminalization of violence against LGBTQ+ individuals. 0 - 25% of consulted citizens consider Tanzania a good place to live for gay and lesbian people. Any acts of homosexuality are liable to imprisonment from 30 years to life, and indecent behaviour in regard to homosexuality earns up to 5 years in prison. Please note that as Zanzibar sets its own laws, the punishments for homosexual acts are slightly different to mainland Tanzania, but they are still imprisonment.
This does not mean members of the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t visit Tanzania or Zanzibar, but precautions should be taken when travelling. As long as you use common sense, travelling in Tanzania and Zanzibar shouldn’t be a problem.
The LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index is designed to provide a good overall picture of attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in each country and may not reflect the experience of foreign travellers to the country.
Can I drink the tap water in Zanzibar?
The tap water on Zanzibar island is not safe for travellers to drink and should be avoided as it could make travellers unwell, including in Zanzibar City and Stone Town. This includes avoiding drinks with ice, and eating salads that may have been washed in the tap water. Stick to filtered and bottled water, making sure bottles are sealed.
I heard that there is a strict plastic bag ban in Tanzania?
You heard correct. Single use plastic bags were banned in Tanzania in 2019, to help reduce pollution and conserve Tanzania's incredible environment. This ban also extends to Zanzibar. Passengers arriving at any airport can face on-the-spot fines for bringing plastic bags into the country. This includes plastic bags in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage, as well as duty-free plastic bags.
We strongly recommend avoiding packing any plastic bags in your luggage before you travel to Tanzania. You should also remove any items purchased at departure airports from your bags before boarding. Double check your luggage before disembarking in Tanzania and leave any plastic bags on the plane. There is an exemption for ziplock bags used to carry liquids for travelling, though you must make sure not to discard these in Tanzania.
Will I have to pay more as a solo traveller to Zanzibar?
On our overland camping tours, solo travellers will be matched up with another solo traveller of the same sex, with whom they will share a tent. If there is no other solo traveller of the same sex on the tour, you will have a tent to yourself at no extra cost.
What is the current travel advice for Tanzania and Zanzibar?
As a United Kingdom-based company, we follow the latest up to date travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO). You can see the latest travel advice and local laws for Tanzania and Zanzibar island and archipelago here.
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The Best of Zanzibar
Famous for its tropical beaches, biodiverse marine ecosystems and vibrant spice markets, Zanzibar is the perfect place to while away a few days after a bucket-list safari to Kenya and Tanzania. Here are the highlights of a visit to the archipelago, from the tortoises of Prison Island to a memorable spice tour.
You'll definitely want to visit Stone Town, the old part of the archipelago's capital and the cultural centre. It's a warren of narrow streets and historic buildings in which to lose yourself on a walking tour. The smells of local spices punctuate the air as you stroll through bazaars on a Stone Town tour, and Zanzibar's multicultural heritage is evident with African, Indian, Arab and European influences mingling.
Spice Farm & Spice Tour
Spices are Zanzibar's most famous export, and much of the archipelago is given over to spice plantations. One of the most popular activities for travellers to the region is to visit a spice farm or plantation. Cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg are just some of the spices grown, and it's also a good opportunity to get out into the countryside to see a different side of Zanzibar.
Coastal dhow cruise
Dhows are elegant Arab sailboats that have become symbolic of Zanzibar and the laid-back way of life here. Sailing serenely around the archipelago, they have also become popular with tourists, who can book a peaceful cruise. Engines are used to take you around 1km from shore, before the sail is erected and you can enjoy a serene sunset - such an amazing experience!
A former slave prison with a troubled history, Prison Island is now a particularly beautiful slice of Zanzibar and a good place to visit on a Zanzibar day trip. A 30 minute ferry from Stone Town, it is characterized by crystal clear, calm seas that are perfect for snorkelling. And Prison Island is famous for the large population of Aldabra giant tortoises - second only in size to their cousins of the Galapagos. Native to the Seychelles, they were first brought to Zanzibar in 1919 and are now protected.