Getting there and around
Visas and compulsory documents
Visitors from the USA and Europe require visas to enter Tanzania. These last for three months and cost around $30. Multiple entry visas, allowing you to leave and return to Tanzania as many times as you like in the three month period, cost around $50. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state within Tanzania, so although you don't need a separate visa to visit the islands, you will need to show your passport. Also compulsory is a certificate to show you've been vaccinated against yellow fever. A $20 departure tax is levied if you're leaving by air, and a $5 port tax applies when you book a ferry ticket. This is payable in US dollars only.
Frequent ferries - four or five a day in both directions - make the crossing between the port of Dar-es-Salaam on the mainland and Zanzibar. The fastest journey time is around 75 minutes on the hydrofoils operated by Sea Express; the slowest is the overnight trip made by the Flying Horse passenger ship. Fares on the faster services average around $35 for non-residents. Ferry tickets can be bought on the spot or in advance from the row of booking offices next to the port in Dar-es-Salaam. Non-residents must pay in US dollars rather than Tanzanian Shillings. Timetables and prices are displayed on boards outside each office.
The MS Sepideh ferry runs once a week from Mombasa, Kenya and Tanga, Tanzania to Unguja and Pemba. Fares are around $40.
There are no direct flights from the USA to Zanzibar. KLM, Kenya Airways, and North West Airlines offer fares to Zanzibar from a range of East, Central and West USA cities, which cost from $1600 to $2500 depending on season. Stopovers are in Nairobi or Amsterdam, then Dar-es-Salaam. As flights from Europe - and especially London - to East Africa are among the cheapest around, you may be better off buying two tickets - a cheap fare to London or Milan, then a separate scheduled or charter ticket on to Zanzibar.
From Europe, the principal carrier to Zanzibar is Kenya Airways stopping over at Nairobi. Numerous airlines including British Airways, Sabena and KLM fly to Dar-es-Salaam, from where you can catch a ferry to Zanzibar. Charter flights from Europe, especially Italy, fly into Zanzibar almost daily, and some holiday companies, such as Kuoni, may sell 'seat-only' deals on these.
If your air ticket takes you only as far as Dar-es-Salaam and you're in a hurry to get to Zanzibar, Precision Air (+255 2230029) and Coastal Travel (+255 2233489) both provide scheduled charter flights in small twin-engined aircraft. The flight costs $55 plus $4 tax and takes around 20 minutes.
Travel between Unguja and Pemba
Zan Air, a local charter company, runs a scheduled service between Unguja and the town of Chake Chake on Pemba three times a week. A single fare is $80. Coastal Aviation (www.coastal.cc), another small local company, also runs flights from Zanzibar to Pemba and back.
The MS Sepideh, run by Mega Speed Liners, runs a service five times a week between Unguja and the port of Mkoani, at the southern end of Pemba island. The single fare is $30 for a three-hour journey.
Unguja and Pemba are small islands, and thanks to a wealth of transport and (relatively) good roads, travelling around them is quite easy. The options on Unguja include hiring a vehicle yourself, be it a car, jeep or motorcycle. Renting is cheap (around $25 a day) and easy, provided you have an International Driving Permit - these are checked frequently by police, so don't be tempted to chance it. Drive with extra care, especially if you've hired a motorbike - traffic on Zanzibar is chaotic and pileups frequent. Most tour companies (listed in the Tours and Travel section of this guide) can hire cars, jeeps or minibuses. Honda 250 motorbikes can be hired in Stone Town from Ally 'Keys', a colourful character who can be reached on 0747 411797.