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Zanzibar Safari & Beach: what you need to know

Many African destinations sell themselves as a safari and beach combination but few do it with such scale and authenticity as Tanzania and Zanzibar.

On mainland Tanzania you have some of the greatest wildlife reserves in Africa to choose from: the Serengeti and Tarangire, the mighty Selous and the Ngorongoro Crater. And on the island of Zanzibar there are idyllic Indian Ocean beaches with colourful coral reefs, private islands and a cobbled-street old city.

Lion spotted in Tanzania Selous Reserve

Home to abundant wildlife, Tanzania is one of the best safari destinations in Africa.

The two experiences are linked by a short domestic flight, making it one of the most seamless safari and beach combinations in Africa, and to sweeten the deal even more, many Zanzibar beach resorts offer long-stay specials, giving you great value for money.

Typical fishing boat in Zanzibar

Treat yourself to a piece of Indian Ocean paradise on the island of Zanzibar.

It’s an appealing proposition, especially after a bumpy and dusty safari. There’s something for everyone here – scuba-dive lodges, family resorts, luxurious hideaways – and Zanzibar is simply ideal for honeymooners, especially given its wide range of accommodation. We’d recommend the Z Hotel for the best honeymoon deal but you can max the luxury at lodges like Zuri Zanzibar and Kilindi, and top out at fabulous Matemwe Lodge or even Mnemba Island, a slice of private paradise with pristine reefs and turtle breeding beaches.

Zanzibar luxury accommodation and traditional boat fishing

Kilindi’s luxurious pavilions are individually set in lush tropical gardens – perfect for privacy.

The trick, however, to the perfect Tanzania and Zanzibar safari is to know when and where to go. The safari experience, for example, will be determined by the time of year you visit, and Zanzibar is an island with distinct regions and weather patterns. For the visitor, this means the year is divided into high, low and shoulder seasons which are priced accordingly. The highest prices are paid for the optimum combination of wildlife viewing, climate and location.

Let’s take a closer look at Zanzibar Island. It is actually the biggest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, a cluster of Indian Ocean islands lying off Tanzania in East Africa. With a long history as an interface between Africa and Asia, Zanzibar is characterised by its cultural diversity, something reflected in its coastline – it is quite different depending where you are. That in turn affects the kind of activities offered and experiences available.

Activities offered and experiences available in Zanzibar

Warm, clear water & safe swimming means Zanzibar is ideal for water lovers of all ages.

The general rule is that the further north you go on the island, the more exclusive the beaches and resorts become. This means fewer other visitors and more privacy, especially on Zanzibar’s prime north-east coast where you’ll find the island’s top accommodation as well as its best scuba diving and snorkelling. The north is also least affected by the ocean’s tidal range, making water activities more accessible here; it’s also where you’ll find Mnemba Island and Matemwe Lodge.

Zanzibar is perfect to learn and go scuba diving

Northern Zanzibar has the best scuba diving, especially on the reefs off Mnemba Island.

Travel east and you’ll find Zanzibar’s best beaches with a wide range of accommodation but note that this is where the tidal range is the greatest; you may need to walk out a bit to reach the ocean at low tide. The tidal range peaks on the south-east coast but the beaches here are idyllic and there are many lodges to choose from.

Child friendly accommodation in Zanzibar

Several resorts welcome families with children, offering kids’ clubs, pizza nights & age-appropriate activities.

Zanzibar’s south is where most of the population lives and this is where you’ll find the better cultural experiences, whether spice-farm tours or local excursions. Swing to the west and you won’t find many beaches but there is Stone Town, the old capital of the island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drawing on its historical importance as a Swahili trading city, Stone Town retains its old charm and character but has also embraced the modern world with boutique hotel accommodation and fine dining.

Stone Town market in Zanzibar

Walking the streets of Zanzibar’s Stone Town takes you into a world barely changed over the centuries.

As for when to go, then December, January and February are some of the best months to visit: the weather in Zanzibar is warm and mostly dry, the scuba-diving is at its best and you’re right on time for the calving season during the Serengeti wildebeest migration – great for predators.

Wildebeest migration in front of safari camp

Choose the month of your visit carefully if you want to see the Serengeti wildebeest migration.

July and August are also excellent months to visit; it’s dry, cooler weather on the island, the diving is good and the Serengeti wildebeest are at the dramatic river-crossing stage of the migration. And if you can’t manage either of those times, try November: there’s some rain on Zanzibar but you’ll get the thundering start of the wildebeest migration.

Sounds like a safari and beach combination worth exploring? Browse our best-sellers below and contact us for further information and advice.

11-Days Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar

Serengeti safari and Zanzibar beach combo

11-Days Northern Tanzania & Zanzibar – Starting with a luxurious tree-top suite at Lake Manyara, this journey takes in Big Five game viewing at the Ngorongoro Crater before three nights in the western Serengeti. Finishing with a grand flourish on private Mnemba Island, this is an itinerary for special occasions; go between July and October for the river-crossings in the Serengeti but book early.

14-Days Tanzania Safari & Beach Combo

Tanzania safari and Zanzibar luxury beach accommodation

14-Days Tanzania Safari & Beach Combo – Combining the varied landscapes and wildlife of Tarangire, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti results in a highly diverse safari experience – ideal for nature photographers. Accommodation at each is excellent, ranging from a raised wooden chalet with its own pool, a manorial homestead and a luxurious tented suite, and the itinerary ends with 5 nights at an ocean-side villa on northern Zanzibar.

10-Days Ngorongoro, Serengeti & Zanzibar

Selous safari and Zanzibar beach combo

10-Days Ngorongoro, Serengeti & Zanzibar – Eye-popping accommodation opens this safari from which you’ll enjoy Big Five game viewing at Ngorongoro before flying into the south-central Serengeti for three nights; there’s always great wildlife to see here but if you can choose, then go between December and March when the wildebeest migration is there. The safari ends on Zanzibar’s northern coast at lovely Matemwe – one of the island’s best destinations for scuba diving.

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Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)
Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)
It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)
Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)
Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)