How to Pick Where to Stay in Zanzibar – Location Matters a Lot

Normally when we visit islands, particularly islands known for their beaches, figuring out where to stay is rather easy. We often find a property we like and can afford on the best beach and go from there.

But Zanzibar is a little bit different. On the beach side, there is no standout winner of “best beach” to us if only because every beach we visited was stunning. Likewise, you'll be enjoying the island for far more than the beaches with options like exploring the spice farms and historical Stone Town to name a few. As this island is small enough to be explored in day trips but large enough that those trips will take the bulk of an entire day, figuring out a prime location takes on a few more layers than you would otherwise think.

In another post, we discussed how many days in Zanzibar are really needed (and whether to visit the island before or after a safari). So in this one, we wanted to take a different look and discuss the top locations for visitors outright.

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What to Expect During a Great Migration River Crossing

When we decided to go on safari in Tanzania, we realized we would be visiting during prime river crossing times during the Great Migration (with best times to view the migration typically being mid-July to early-September).

While the mass wildebeest migration is an on-going event year round as the herds follow the rains in a never-ending loop (primarily throughout Tanzania), the Mara River crossing event occurs at a limited window when the herds head north to Kenya during the dry season and then return a few months later when the rains move south.

This event is exciting for visitors (particularly photographers) as river crossings are incredibly dangerous and chaotic. The water is rushing, rocks underneath the surface can cause the animals to break limbs, and the large volume of crossing wildebeests (think thousands if not tens of thousands at a time) make for targets for predators including crocodiles, lions, and more. If there is any experience that illustrates the raw beauty of Africa of life and death, it would be a river crossing- and we really wanted to see one.

As we successfully witnessed a river crossing migration event during our trip to the northern Serengeti, we thought we'd share a bit more about what you can expect!

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How Many Days in Zanzibar – Visiting Before or After Safari?

When we planned our safari in Tanzania, we saw that Turkish Airlines flew into/out of both Kilimanjaro International Airport and Zanzibar International Airport. As we were flying on the airline due to winning tickets at a conference, and that domestic flights on Tanzanian carriers were rather cheap, we knew we had to spend some time in Zanzibar during our trip.

But, much like we struggled with how much time to go on safari in Tanzania, we had the same question for Zanzibar. But not only did we struggle with how many days you need in Zanzibar, we also had another challenging question to answer too- do you visit Zanzibar before or after safari?

So in this one, we thought we'd share more about our thought process and how we settled on five days in Zanzibar before going on our safari.

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How Many Days Do You Need on Safari in Tanzania?

You've decided to go on a safari in Tanzania. Excellent, you are going to have an amazing time! Now you are left with a much harder question- how many days should you go on a Tanzanian safari?

To us, this is probably the hardest question of all because there is simply far too much to see in this country. How much time you decide to spend on your visit has many caveats worth thinking about.

While the best answer is simply “as much time as you can possibly give”, simply stating that and walking away would be doing you a disservice. So in this one, we thought we'd break down some of the most important elements you may want to consider to ensure you have enough time to enjoy your safari around Tanzania!

  • Note: We are only discussing minimum nights required in this analysis. If you want to increase your odds of spotting a rare animal, like a black rhino at Ngorongoro or a river crossing in the Serengeti, you may want to add on more days in those respective locations. We got lucky on both, but many others did not. But on the flip side, it took us dozens of game drive outings over six countries to spot a leopard and cheetah. Nothing is guaranteed on safari and the more time you can allow yourself the greater your odds of success will be.

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