Travel Guides

Travel To Zanzibar By Sea, Plane And Bus: What You Should Know

Visiting Zanzibar
Written by See Africa Today

Travel to Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a dream holiday destination. Now that the world is opening up you should consider making a trip. But how can you travel to Zanzibar?

You can get regular flights to Zanzibar from Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Mombasa. Also, many foreign airlines fly directly to the island. This makes travel to Europe, Asia, and North America quite simple. A large expansion project is now underway, with a new airport likely to be complete soon.

Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Island. [Photo: Samysassou]

How to Get to Zanzibar

The only way to go to Zanzibar from outside of East Africa is by air. There are few direct flights. But it’s not difficult to arrange a short-haul trip to Zanzibar or Pemba from Dar es Salaam.

There are frequent boats. Some are old and slow and worryingly un-seaworthy to the eye. There are some fast and modern though more expensive. Be aware that luggage loss or delays are more prevalent on flights to and from East Africa. It’s especially important if you’re making a lot of transfers.

If you’re in Arusha for a safari

If you’re in Arusha the Kilimanjaro‘s base camp, it’s also the starting point for many safaris and if you wish to visit Zanzibar, you have a few possibilities. It is feasible to go by bus from Arusha to Dar es Salaam and then by ferry to Zanzibar from Unguja or Pemba. I recommend flying.

A bus trip of more than 650 kilometers can take upwards of ten hours. When you add in the peculiar driving behaviors of local bus operators, you’re in for a bumpy trip. Internal flights are a significantly more comfortable and time-efficient alternative.

Alternative Airlines can help you book flights. Flights from Arusha cost approximately GBP 100 / USD 150 / EUR 120 one way. The flight takes about one hour and fifteen minutes.

Air travel from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar

There are regular flights to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam. Flights are approximately GBP 70, USD 100, and EUR 90. Alternative Airlines appears to be the most cost-effective and straightforward solution. Although handy, Zanzibar Airport may be a headache for Western travelers. The airport has a chaotic and haphazard feel about it. The security procedures, particularly when it comes to baggage reclaim, are virtually non-existent.

Ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar

From Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar and return, there are numerous boat choices. Each provider charges differently, with one-way tickets ranging from USD 20 to USD 50. I recommend that you take one of the quicker, more modern boats. Many of the ferries appear to be unseaworthy. While there have been few incidents, safety and peace of mind are, of course, essential.

Travelling from Nairobi to Zanzibar

Some travelers may opt to plan their return flights to Nairobi because they are less expensive. You can find return flights to NBO from the UK for under GBP 300 / USD 450 at the time of writing. Alternative Airlines can arrange internal flights within East Africa from Nairobi (NBO).

Getting to Zanzibar from South Africa

Weekly direct flights from Johannesburg to Zanzibar are by 1Time. The flight takes about three and a half hours and costs about ZAR 4,500 round trip. South African Airlines also flies to Dar es Salaam on a daily basis from Johannesburg. Its about ZAR 5,000 or Cape Town around ZAR 5,000, (approx. ZAR 7,500). These planes, can arrive late, necessitating an overnight stay in Dar before transferring to Zanzibar.

Arriving In Zanzibar From The United Kingdom And Ireland

Only Kenya Airways offers direct flights from the UK to Nairobi. The cost of the flight starts at GBP 625. A second onward flight from Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, or Mombasa is also an option.

Precision Air flies to Zanzibar from all the mentioned destinations. Alternative Airlines is the most convenient way to book them. Emirates is usually the cheapest airline to Dar es Salaam. It flies through Dubai. British Airways flies direct from Heathrow. KLM flies overnight (usually with a stop in Amsterdam). Flights can cost up to GBP 540.

Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar all offer flights to Nairobi, with Virgin Atlantic providing a direct service. Return flights might cost up to GBP 400. (off-peak). Kenya Airways, Air France, Ethiopia Airlines, and KLM offer indirect flights to Mombasa for around GBP 500 round trip (off-peak).

A holiday at the ‘Spice Islands’ of Zanzibar

Mafia Island Zanzibar. [Photo by Sima Safari]

How to Get to Zanzibar from the United States and Canada

Tanzania has no direct flights from North America (at time of writing). The best option is to find the lowest indirect trip to Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, and then book a separate flight or ferry from there. From JFK to Dar, Emirates, KLM, and British Airways all operate indirect one-stop flights. In high season, return fares can reach USD 1,900. Swiss Airlines flies from Canada to Nairobi or Dar es Salaam via Zurich. In high season, flights can take up to twenty-one hours and cost up to CAD 2,000.

From Australia and New Zealand, how to get to Zanzibar

The voyage from Australia to Tanzania is long and expensive, requiring at least one stop, possibly two or three, and taking up to 35 hours. You can find deals can on Qatar Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines. Flights from Australia to Dar es Salaam cost around AUD 2,200 and NZD 4,000 from New Zealand. Please note these costs are on the basis of the cheapest return flights during peak season).

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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