Weather Overview for Zanzibar
Zanzibar is part of Tanzania
in Eastern Africa.
It is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, just off the east coast of Tanzania
and receives a tropical climate with four distinct seasons: two dry seasons,
one short, one long, and two wet seasons, one short, one long.
From June till September is the long dry
season with all four months seeing low levels of rainfall and average temperatures around 25°C. Night time temperatures are not much
below day time temperatures and the heat can seem inescapable, though it is
unlikely that you would find accommodation without air-conditioning. Year round
Zanzibar sees about
seven to eight hours of sunshine a day. During this period blue skies are
likely to be uninterrupted. Zanzibar
is less crowded at this time of year than in the short dry season in January
From October till December Zanzibar
is a period smattered with short rains called ‘mwaka’. Temperatures rise, often
getting into the 30s, and it generally very humid. The islands still see
tourists at this time of year as while the weather is predictably unpredictable
from moment to moment, periods of sunshine are guaranteed. However, the Muslim
fasting festival of Ramadan falls around December and January, with the date changing each year, and many
local restaurants and shops close during the day. Accommodation choice is also
reduced, though resorts open as usual.
January and February comprise Zanzibar’s
short dry season and this is the most popular time to visit the islands. The
heat soars with average highs at 29°C and while there is very little chance of
rain, humidity remains high. It can get up to 39°C but this happens very rarely.
March till May receive the prolonged and heavy monsoon rains. Zanzibar
is best avoided by tourists during this period as the rain can last for days. Between
rainy periods the sun is bound to come out, days still seeing an average of six
hours of sunshine, but most of any holiday during this time will be spent
sheltering from the rain. This, of course, means that accommodation prices fall
drastically, but the trade off is probably not worth it.
Zanzibar owes its climate to its proximity to the equator
and situation in the Indian Ocean.
It is much cooler than Tanzania’s
mainland as it is surrounded by the sea, off which cooling winds blow. The
short rains are blown in from the north on the Kasikazi winds, and the intense
heat and Indian Ocean
combine to cause the monsoon rains. Zanzibar
and the rest of Africa
have begun to see more and more unprecedented weather. Dry season downpours and
damaging, wet season droughts are thought to be caused by climate change. As
such, no climate guide can predict with ultimate accuracy.