Zanzibar: No passport - no entry!

zanzibar beach tanzania
An impossibly beautiful beach in Tanzania...

'Show me your passport!', said the man at the passport control.

I had just reached the island of Zanzibar after a two hour long boat ride and was super excited to get into the old town and have a great time. However, I was not prepared to get my passport stamped again! I had very conveniently assumed that Zanzibar was a part of Tanzania and would not require any passport to enter. Also, I had checked with my hotel in Dar-es-Salaam in the morning if I needed to carry my passport all the time and they recommended me not to, so for first time here I was without my passport. And here I was at the passport control with my backpack and camera, staring at the possibility of being turned back to the mainland...

I showed the officer what I had - a copy of my Indian passport (not even my Tanzanian visa) and pleaded with him to let me in. I am not at all sure if he understood anything but after making some grumpy noises and asked me again - 'You have no passport??' and I pointed to the photocopy. As luck would have it, he was a kind man. He threw the paper back at me and waved me off into Zanzibar (and not towards the boat as I had suspected). No explanation given at all!

Hurray! I was finally in Zanzibar :)


Here are my personal tips if you plan to come to Zanzibar:
  1. Carry your passport with you - a copy won't do as they have to stamp it at the entry. Zanzibar is very much a part of Tanzania but has a very autonomous status and they like to keep it that way - this means keeping a tab on all those who enter (you also need to fill an immigration form at entrance)
  2. Take the first ferry out of Dar-es-Salaam - it starts at 7am and reaches around 9am. The companies which runs it is called Kilimanjaro or Azam and the boats are really good.
  3. As a foreigner, you need to pay a minimum of $40 for one-way ride. You also have an option of paying $5 extra to take the business class ticket and I strongly recommended that you do that  - the seats are way better and have really good leg space
  4. If you get sea-sick, I recommend taking your medicines before you start or at least carry them along. The sea got extremely rough when I went there and many many people puked in the boat
  5. Do not forget to carry your swimming trunks, even if you are going just for a day :)


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