Zanzibar Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
The research for this website was carried out mainly in 2011 and 2012. Therefore there is a good chance that much of the information may now be out of date. This is particularly true of countries in the developing world, especially Asia, Africa and parts of South America where conditions can change often. Also, the political climate in many countries has changed a lot in recent years. Therefore the information on this website should be treated with caution. You should always check with your Government’s website or the UK Foreign office travel advice website before finalising plans to drive abroad.
Driving in Zanzibar
Stone Town is something of a maze, especially the old town where most of the hotels and rental companies are. I would suggest you ask the rental company to drive you to the outskirts and meet you when you return to avoid getting lost. Out of Stone Town, roads are in variable condition. Most are sealed but some minor roads to beach villages are dirt tracks which will deteriorate after rain. I would advise renting a 4WD to ensure you’ll be able to get where you want. Even the tracks to some hotels in resorts like Kendwa have steep, pot holed gravel roads which would be unpassable in a normal car. Driving standards are variable and you should proceed with caution at all times. Be especially careful of pedestrians and animals in the road as you pass through villages. Road signage is poor and you should expect to have to stop and ask directions regularly. Its likely you may be stopped at police check points when driving abroad in Zanzibar so avoid drinking at all when driving. Roads away from Stone Town are unlit so you should avoid driving at night. In Stone Towns old town its unlikely your hotel will have parking so you should ask the rental company if they can store the car for you overnight or recommend somewhere safe to park.
Zanzibar Car Rental
There are a number of companies in Stone Town who rent vehicles. Renting from these companies is a million miles away from the slick online experience you have renting from one of the big international companies. You will generally need to email the company, tell them what you want and see what prices they offer. I generally use companies who respond quickly and can communicate in your language. The vehicles you rent on Zanzibar will tend to be well used. I rented a 4WD vehicle which looked like it had been attacked with a hammer. It also had an ants nest in the boot. However, on Zanzibars rough and tumble roads, the last thing you want is a pristine brand new model, so as long as the car works, you should be fine.
These are some websites of local companies. Most seem to lack imagination in coming up with a domain name!
Zanzibar Self Drive Rules
All companies will have different rules. Some may allow you to take cars over to Daar es Salaam should you want to, but you would need to check that with them.