My adventure in Zanzibar begins in just a little over a week

As the venerable Swahili proverb instructs, “Bahari haivukwi kwa kuogelea” (You cannot cross the ocean by swimming). Following the sage advice, I’ll soon be flying Emirates out of Newark, via Dubai, arriving Zanzibar’s Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. I’ll be in Zanzibar from early June through early August and I am really looking forward to it.

Zanzibar is off the coast of mainland Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean, and is semi-autonomous part of Tanzania. Zanzibar and Tanganyika combined in 1964 to become Tanzania. Zanzibar is properly known as Unguja and is the largest island of the Zanzibar archipelago. It runs about 53 miles north-south and 19 miles east-west at its widest, with an overall area of about 643 square miles. The history is rich and complex so I’ll get into that later this summer.

I’ll be learning Swahili, or Kiswahili, or to be exact in terms of dialect, Kiunguja, which means “the language of Unguja”, which is the dialect of the language used as the model for standard Swahili. I’ll be studying at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), School of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages, in the Department of Kiswahili (see which is located right in the heart of Stone Town of Zanzibar. Stone Town is on the western coast of Unguja and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Three potentially useful notes on my pre-departure planning:

VISA: applied and received by mail from the Tanzanian embassy in Washington, DC. Required visa application, passport, 2 passport photos, letter from State Univ. of Zanzibar (SUKA) where I’ll be studying, copy of flight itinerary, pre-paid return envelope, and $100 money order. It was fast and easy. The visa lasts for 90 days from date of entry and is multiple entry/exit.

MEDICAL: I read all the WHO and CDC advice for travelers so am good to go. I have a Yellow Fever card, which I’ll take, although it isn’t required for entry (for those arriving from certain countries, including the USA). I have a 3 month supply of the malaria meds called Malarone.

PACKING: Zanzibar is of course a Muslim culture, so I’ll keep that in mind. I’ll aim to take clothes for the weather too, which in June/July/August will be about a high of 84° degrees during the day, a low of 70° degrees at night, with lots of blue skies, little rain, but still pretty humid. Zanzibar requires 240/120 voltage adapter for phone. I’ll be able to text locally and internationally for free, probably using Whatsapp whenever I can get a wifi.

That concludes my first blog post.


The Swahili proverb above is taken from the collection of the Center for African Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The map of Zanzibar is fromOona Räisänen (Mysid), Map of Zanzibar Archipelago-en, CC BY-SA 4.0 httpsen.wikipedia.orgwikiZanzibar