Zanzibar is a legendary archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 35 km off the coast of mainland Tanzania, just six degrees south of the Equator. Comprising the islands of Unguja and Pemba, along with a number of smaller isles and coral atolls, Zanzibar is one of Africa’s most enticing destinations, an exotic laid-back paradise, miles and miles of white sandy beaches and translucent turquoise warm waters.

The word Zanzi-bar comes from Arabic Zanjibār, or from Persian Zang-bār , a compound of Zang (“Black”) + bār(“coast”).


Unguja (also referred to as Zanzibar) is the largest and most populated island of the archipelago. Unguja is a hilly island, about 85 kilometers long (north-south) and 30 kilometers wide (east-west) at its widest, with an overall area of about 1,666 square kilometers and separated from Tanzania mainland by the Zanzibar Channel. Surrounded by a number of small islets, with only two of them, Tumbatu and Uzi, being inhabited, the archipelagos population including Pemba island is in total just over 1 million.

The capitol Stone Town, on the west coast of Unguja, is the islands cultural and historical heart. Here you can see and feel the fascinating and turbulent history in its labyrinth of narrow twisting streets, bustling bazaars and historical monuments like The Old Fort, Sultan Palace or House of Wonders. UNESCO declared Stone Town in 2000 to a World Heritage Site with the words “it is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization”.

But of course Zanzibar offers a number of other attractions to fill a week’s program – visiting the famous Spice Farms, Jozani Forest with its Red Colobus monkeys, beautiful atolls for scuba diving and snorkeling or chilling cruises on a local Dhow.

Generally the climate in Zanzibar is warm all year round. The heat of summer (corresponding to the Northern Hemisphere winter) is often cooled by strong sea breezes associated with the northeast monsoon, particularly on the north and east coasts. Rains occur in November but are characterized by brief showers. Longer rains normally occur from March to May in association with the southwest monsoon.

Zanzibar Archipelago - Unguja and Pemba

Pemba – Zanzibar

Pemba Island, known as “The Green Island” in Arabic (الجزيرة الخضراء), is an island forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, lying within the Swahili Coast in the Indian Ocean.

With a land area of 988 square kilometers it is situated about 50 kilometers to the north of Unguja, the largest island of the archipelago. In 1964, Zanzibar was united with the former colony of Tanganyika to form Tanzania. It lies 50 kilometers east of mainland Tanzania, across the Pemba Channel. Together with Mafia Island (south of Unguja), these islands form the Spice Islands (not to be confused with the Maluku Islands of Indonesia).

Most of the island, which is hillier and more fertile than Unguja, is dominated by small scale farming. There is also large scale farming of cash crops such as cloves.

There are many excursions which ZanTours can provide while visiting Zanzibar. Please visit our Excursions page to see what we offer.

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