The purpose of this blog post is to try and provide Zanzibar travelers a realistic idea of what to expect when they travel to Zanzibar. Zanzibar airport isn’t OR Tambo, Cape Town international or King Shaka International. Things work very differently here. We hope that our arrival guide will be of some assistance when arriving at the airport.
Whether you are flying using Mango Airlines, Kenya Airways, SAA or Ethiopian air. Before you embark your flight, ensure that you have had a decent meal. Although you will be able to eat during your flight, chips chocolates and nuts are hardly going to get you through the day. A considerable amount of time will have passed before you actually reach your resort. On the direct Mango flight that departs at 7 o clock in the morning, you will only arrive at your resort 5 to 6 hours later. That’s a very long time to be hungry! Of equal importance would be to ensure that you take along a pen. Buy a pack of 10 and take them along in your hand luggage. You will be given a white medical form that needs to be completed in flight before you land in Zanzibar.
The moment you disembark at Zanzibar airport you will be greeted with hot and humid Durban like the weather. You have arrived! Fabulous! Dress sensibly and comfortably. Capetonians even when you travel in mid-winter. Avoid the urge, take the plunge and check in with a pair of shorts. You will thank us.
Our advice to you. The moment you set foot outside of the aircraft and your toe touches Zanzibar soil, light up and double clutch. A very small window of opportunity presents itself to you here in this moment. The airport is very small. You have two choices depending on where the aircraft lands. Walk to the main building – that buys you a good few minutes of smoking. Get on the bus that will drive you to the main building that’s not even 200 meters. This option cuts your smoke break in half. Miss this entire window of opportunity altogether and wait another 45 mins before you can actually smoke. Life is harsh.
Check Point 1. The Zanzibar Airport Adventure.
The scene when entering the main building can be a bit chaotic. There is no air conditioning. You will be given a blue form that needs to be completed. Lots of people will be looking for pens and it’s at this moment you will be thanking us silently for reminding you about the pens. Expect some minor pushing and running. Just complete the blue form and head for the Passport control counter right in front of you. Enter armed and prepared with a pen and expect to be through in about 10 mins. Arrive unprepared and you could take up to 20 mins before you get through.
Check Point 1. Stack em Suite Cases.
After passing through the immigration’s official you will enter the next stage of the Zanzibar airport adventure. You will enter a room with three holes in the wall facing the outside airport. In the middle, there will probably already be a growing pile of luggage. There are no fancy conveyor belts and large plasma TVs. When you enter this room two things are very important here.
- 1. Get over the denial immediately – yes it’s happening.
- 2. Pray your luggage isn’t at the bottom of the pile.
The only advice we can give you here – patience is a virtue. If you are lucky your luggage will be available within 5 mins. Bottom of the pile travelers will have to wait a bit longer. Approximate duration? 5 o 20 mins.
Check Point.2 Security Check
This is the most painless part of the Zanzibar airport adventure. You will be waiting in a small queue. Once it’s your turn you and your luggage will be scanned. Once cleared you are free to leave the airport.
Check Point 3. Don’t make eye contact.
This is the last leg of the Zanzibar airport adventure. The objective of this round? Avoid the porter boys and get to your transfer vehicle without spending any extra cash.
The moment you enter the front reception area of Zanzibar airport you will be greeted by a large number of friendly Zanzibar’s, each of them holding a large greeting card with their client’s name and surname. Look for the person holding a card with your details, smile, and wave like the queen.
The person holding your card will a, so be your driver. Only give him your luggage. There will be very friendly porter boys that will be extremely helpful. You might even think that they are part of the company providing your transfers. Nothing in life is ever free and you will have to pay them for carrying your bags to the car.
It is possible for your driver to stop in Stone Town for you to draw money and grab a quick bite to eat if you really have to. Try and get to your resort as soon as possible instead.