Zanzibar

Is Zanzibar Safe?

Zanzibar is known to be safe for tourists and visitors alike. However, volunteers will need to be aware of certain risks.

At night, in certain streets of the old town, you must pay a bit more attention to yourself and to your belongings, but no more than in any city anywhere. We do not recommend that our volunteers walk alone at night, and please make use of taxis when going out.

Some added precautions: avoid walking alone (especially if you're a woman) on the beaches around Stone Town, during day or night. Be careful with your bags or cameras, but do not be paranoid either as your own behaviour will minimalise possible risks.

Is there a dress code in Zanzibar while volunteering?

Zanzibar’s population is 95% Muslim. With this in mind, volunteers must be prepared to dress conservatively and cover up. Shoulders and knees need to be covered at all times for women, and bring a scarf to cover your hair when you are in the community and out on the streets. This may feel odd to you at first, but you will earn respect when you conform to the local rules and expectations. You are a guest in Zanzibar, so you need to adapt to its customs, not the other way around!

Sunbathing in swimwear is allowed on the beaches, but please be aware that the tropical heat is not a reason to walk around in a bikini or bare-chested in town; it is considered very offensive if you do so.

Ask your volunteer coordinators what is acceptable, be adaptable and respect the local customs and culture.

Which languages are spoken in Zanzibar? 

The people of Zanzibar are of diverse ethnic origins.

Zanzibar is today mostly inhabited by ethnic Swahili, a Bantu population. There are also a number of Arabs, as well as some Indians.

Zanzibaris speak Swahili (Kiswahili), a Bantu language that is extensively spoken in the African Great Lakes region. Alongside English, Swahili is one of the two official languages of Tanzania. Many local residents also speak French and/or Italian. Volunteers should be able to communicate with the locals without too much trouble.

Medical needs in Zanzibar: what can I expect?

Accidents or illness can happen to anyone, regardless of planning and carefulness. Zanzibar has several clinics and hospitals that will be able to help you, but expect things to operate differently to your home town.

Volunteers will need to have patience like all the other patients and wait your turn. Time is a different concept in Africa, nothing is rushed!  We will ensure that you are helped but it could take a while.

Most medications are available on Zanzibar, but please be aware that your personal medication, e.g. chronic meds, should be brought with you into Tanzania, to ensure that you have sufficient supplies.

Our volunteers coordinators are there for you in case of an emergency and they will make sure you will get the service you need.

What vaccinations will I need before coming to Zanzibar?

Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your travel to get vaccines or medicines you may need and make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip.

Hepatitis A

This vaccine is recommended because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Tanzania, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Typhoid

You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Tanzania. We recommend this vaccine especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas.

Malaria

Talk to your doctor about how to prevent malaria while traveling. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, especially if you are visiting low-altitude areas.

Hepatitis B

You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so this vaccine is recommended if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.

Rabies

Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Tanzania, so this vaccine is recommended for the following groups:

  • Volunteers involved in outdoor and other activities (such as camping, hiking, biking, adventures travel, and caving) that put them at risk for animal bites.
  • Volunteers who will be working with or around animals
  • Volunteers who are taking long trips or moving to Tanzania

Yellow fever

You might consider this vaccine if you are staying a long time or will be heavily exposed to mosquitoes.
Country entry requirement: The government of Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever.

Other advice:

Drink only bottled water and eat fresh produce properly washed or cooked.

On site, be sure to protect yourself against mosquito bites and tsetse flies (mainly present in animal reserves and vicinity) by repellents, mosquito nets and clothing covering arms and legs.

The HIV rate is 6% in Tanzania. Take all the necessary precautions.

What is the Zanzibar climate like? 

As Zanzibar is tropical and the weather and seasons dictate everyday life, volunteers should bring clothing that is non-synthetic (cotton or linen is more comfortable), plenty of shorts, and flip-flops.

For working hours however it is strongly advisable to bring smart casual clothing with long sleeves and trousers/skirts that cover the knees and a white doctor’s coat. Wearing a scarf to cover your hair and arms is also very much appreciated for women as that is what the locals wear. The more you adjust; the easier people will accept you.

Do I need a visa when I am volunteering?

Most nationalities will be able to obtain a ‘visitors permit’ or ‘holiday visa’ upon arrival at Dar Es Salaam and Kilimanjaro International Airports. The costs for this visitor's permit is 50 USD. This visa allows you to be in Tanzania as a visitor for a maximum of 3 months but will not allow you to do any work, even volunteer work. You will need to obtain a Class C Volunteering Permit to legally be allowed to take part in volunteering activities.

Our coordinator will be able to take you to the Home Affairs office after arriving in Arusha to obtain the legally required Class C Volunteering Permit. Unfortunately this permit costs 200 USD, but this will allow you to legally volunteer at our projects.

Obtaining this permit can cost 2-3 days on average. Luckily you will be able to volunteer after requesting for the permit. Without this permit you will not be allowed to work as a volunteer at any of our projects.

 

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