Zanzibar is a legendary archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 35 km off the coast of mainland Tanzania. It is six degrees south of the Equator. Moreover is Zanzibar comprising the islands of Unguja and Pemba, along with some smaller isles. But, it is one of Africa’s most enticing destinations and exotic laid-back paradise. Zanzibar has miles and miles of white sandy beaches with turquoise warm waters.
Generally the climate in Zanzibar is warm all year round. Yet, the heat of summer (November to March) is often cooled by strong sea breezes. As a result is this time of the year the time of the northeast monsoon, particularly on the north and east coasts. Rains occur in November usually with brief showers. Longer rains occur from March to May in association with the southwest monsoon.
UNGUJA – ZANZIBAR
Unguja is the largest and most populated island of the archipelago. It is often referred as Zanzibar, hilly, about 85 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide.
The area is about 1,666 sqm and separated from Tanzania mainland by the Zanzibar Channel. It is home to the only international Airport of the Archipelago, Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. Surrounded by some small islands, with only two of them having inhabitents. Hence is Unguja the heart of the Archipelago.
CAPITAL – STONE TOWN
Unguja is also home of the capitol Stone Town. Here, you feel here the fascinating and turbulent history. Moreover, it is a labyrinth of narrow twisting streets. A must visit are the bustling bazaars, The Old Fort, Sultan Palace or House of Wonders. UNESCO declared Stone Town in 2000 to a World Heritage Site. Moreover they used the words – “it is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization”.
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PEMBA – ZANZIBAR
Pemba Island, known as “The Green Island”, is an island forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago. It lies within the Swahili Coast in the Indian Ocean. With a land area of 988 sqm, it is about 50 kilometers to the north of Unguja. However it has only a small domestic airport, from where you reach mainland and Zanzibar. Most of the island, is hillier and more fertile than Unguja and dominated by small scale farming. There is also large scale farming of cash crops such as cloves.
On the whole, Pemba is quite the opposite of Unguja as it is still very remote, pristine, few tourists and a hand full small hotels. Above all, it is very well known for diving and deep sea fishing.
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MNEMBA – ZANZIBAR
Mnemba Island is a small island located about 3 km off the northeast coast of Unguja. The beach opposite of it on Unguja side is called Muyuni Beach. The surrounding reef is a Marine Conservation area.
Mnemba Island is a popular scuba diving site, with a wide variety of corals and associated species. Furthermore occasional sightings of larger species such as turtles and dolphins. Calm conditions are most frequent in November and March, with best visibility. However, as Mnemba is a private island, non-guests are not permitted to land on the island. A 200-meter exclusion zone is surrounding the island within non-guests are not permitted.
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THANDA – TANZANIA ARCHIPELAGO
The island is nestled within Tanzania’s Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve. It is 8 ha in size. The location is 30 km east of the mainland of Tanzania and opposite the Rufiji River Delta.
Thanda Island is 7 degrees south of the equator located in the open sea. Hence coral reefs are surrounding it, which protects it from massive waves and heavy seas.
MAFIA – TANZANIA ARCHIPELAGO
Mafia Island (“Chole Shamba”) is an island in Tanzania. Moreover, it is one of the six districts of the Pwani Region. Hence, Tanzania governs Mafia Island and not Zanzibar.
According to the 2002 Tanzania census, the population of the Mafia District was 40,801. Fishing, agriculture and the Kilindoni market are the base of its economy. However, only few tourist, mostly scuba divers and fishermen, are visiting the island.
The Mafia archipelago consists of one large island with 394 sqm and several smaller ones. Hence you find only on some of the smaller ones inhabitants, such as Chole Island (2 km²), with a population of 1415. Chole Bay, Mafia’s original harbour, is studded with islands, sandbanks and beaches. The main town is Kilindoni. The stretch of water between the deltas of the Rufiji River and the island is the Mafia Channel.