Is it safe to self-drive in Zanzibar Island of Tanzania?
Driving around Zanzibar can make or ruin a fairy-tale holiday. There are pros and cons to self-driving but there are also some serious pitfalls which could get you locked up in a Zanzibar jail.
Hiring a car for a self drive in the island gives a feeling of adventure and freedom. It allows you to explore the island and stop at will to take photos of the beautiful sunsets, amazing beaches and anything else of interest.
Driving around Zanzibar is an adventure in its own right, amazing exploration on the shores of the Indian Ocean with roads that are a microcosm of the island itself. Stone Town, an artistic town on the island is usually bustling with people and a lot of business activity going on.
On a visit to the island, stone town is an amazing place to explore, especially the old town where most of the hotels and unique architectural buildings are. In case you are on a self-drive tour on Zanzibar Island and need help getting around it is advisable to communicate when booking your safari vehicle with us such that we help you get a guide or driver to take you just around the town.
Out of the beautiful Stone Town, roads in Zanzibar are in variable condition. Most are sealed but some minor roads to beach villages are dirt tracks which will deteriorate after rain. It is advisable to rent a 4WD to ensure you’ll be able to go through any terrain. Driving standards are variable and you should drive with caution at all times. As you drive always be especially keen of pedestrians and animals in the road as you pass through villages. When driving, road signage can be poor and you should expect to have to stop and ask for directions regularly. It is okay to request for directions from people around.
It’s likely you may be stopped at police check points when driving in Zanzibar so avoid drinking at all when driving.
Roads away from Stone Town are rugged so you should avoid driving at night. Also always make sure you park the car at a safe place, contact your hotel prior to inquire whether they can provide secure parking. You may not like the fact that you have to incur extra costs to repair or replace a hired vehicle.
If you are up for the self-drive adventure in Zanzibar, then there’s one more thing you need to be very aware of; police road-blocks. Zanzibar has a lot of policemen on low wages and the island is littered with police manned road blocks.
When you get into a road block, the first thing they will ask for at a road block is your Zanzibar driving license. Always ensure that these documents are pre planned for when you are hiring the vehicle to ensure you have a safe self-drive in Zanzibar experience. Do not drive while drinking as you will be stopped and fined. It is important to not only always carry your original Drivers License, but also all the necessary driving permits for Tanzania. Be careful when driving up to road blocks because any minor traffic violation could get you questioned by the police.
Travelers on self-drive safaris in Tanzania are also recommended to obtain a map and direction app on the phone and also obtain a SIM card. This will hopefully help you in knowing where you are and avoid getting lost on your adventure.
Still wondering whether it is safe to self-drive in Zanzibar, then the answer is Yes, if at all times one follows the simple rules and regulations at the island and you will have an adventure that you will live to remember.