Public Transport in Zanzibar: The most popular model is the Toyota Dyna, a vehicle that has been modified to include two benches along the sides, a canopy, a baggage rack, and roll-down “heavy weather” blinds to provide some weather protection. This may resemble the modified pickup truck or Songthaew that can be taken, which is a reasonable comparison, but bigger, for people who are familiar with Thailand. The majority of Dala-Dalas on the road are still of this type, but it appears that minivans and minibuses are becoming more prevalent.
If you have the money, traveling around Zanzibar Island in a private, air-conditioned vehicle is completely appropriate. There is just one thing you can do on Zanzibar Island if privately rented cars are not an option: ride a dala-dala. You should try Zanzibar’s local public transportation system.
WHAT IS A DALA-DALA?
The backs of the dala-dalas, which are either converted trucks or minibuses, are open, and everyone sits facing one another. Although traveling in a Zanzibar dala-dala or minibus is confusing, unpleasant, and undoubtedly stressful, it is an experience and absurdly affordable from the perspective of the traveler.
There are no specific schedules for Dal-Dala buses. The always leave before or after they are full of passengers. There is no way to reserve seats in advance. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the most comfortable ride if you sit up front by a window.
The local buses run usually from 5 AM to 5 PM, stopping occasionally later (until 8 PM) during high season when there are a lot of people on the streets, to get you from Stone Town to wherever on Zanzibar.
FINDING THE RIGHT DALA-DALA TERMINAL IN ZANZIBAR CITY
The dala-dala stop is right outside the airport if you’re arriving by plane. The taxi drivers will inform you that the buses aren’t running, so you must ask the airport officials for directions instead.
There’s also a chance that you take a ferry to Zanzibar and opt to spend a day or two seeing the city’s cultural hub before moving on to explore the rest of the island. Depending on where on the island you want to go, the dala-dala departs from various locations.
The Dala-Dala terminal is located at Darajani Market, which is close to the city center if you wish to travel north. You must travel to Mwanakwerekwe Market, located 5 kilometers to the east of the city, if you are taking the local public transportation to the East Coast or locations like Paje, Bwejuu, or Michamvi. From the area around Darajani Market, take a dala-dala on Karume Road.
There are numerous dala-dalas and minibuses at the correct terminal, and they all typically have a number and a sign indicating where they are headed, making it simpler for you to pick the appropriate one. You can always ask for assistance, so there’s no need to worry, but you should be aware that some people will try to con you out of money by assisting you in finding a dala-dala. Be alert!
PAYMENT FOR THE DALA-DALA IN ZANZIBAR
Minibuses and Dala-dalas are extremely affordable. Any other transport to any location on the island costs 2,000 Tanzanian shillings per person, with an additional 500 to 1.000 shillings for each large piece of luggage. The ones that connect Zanzibar’s several terminals cost 400 Tanzanian shillings per person. Keep your bags on your lap if you don’t want to pay extra for storage!
Do not inquire about the price before boarding because it is fixed; otherwise, they may try to steal more from you. Moreover, neither before nor after boarding should anyone be paid. The ideal time to pay is when everyone else is paying for the ride. Furthermore, be mindful of this!
WHAT TO AVOID WHEN RIDING A DALA-DALA IN ZANZIBAR
One traveler related how when she rode a dala-dala for the first time in Zanzibar, a friendly-looking man offered to show her which dala-dala to take from Darajani Market to Mwanakwerekwe Market. While she got on the correct bus, another man demanded 15,000 Shillings from her, claiming to be the conductor (although she later realized he was not), scaring her and confused her to the point that she ultimately gave in.
They made a handsome profit as well, assuming he must have paid the genuine conductor the exact amount, and he and the pleasant man pocketed the difference,Public Transport In Zanzibar
She was escorted by the kind man to the minibus headed for Bwejuu when she reached the Mwanakwerekwe Market terminal. As soon as they boarded, a man demanded 11,000 shillings for each passenger and an additional 2,000 shillings for each piece of luggage. Thankfully, she was seated next to a charming man who spoke excellent English—a talent that is uncommon in Tanzania. He instructed her to withhold any cash from them and to wait till the dala-dala was moving before paying the exact amount of 2,000 shillings to each person. The con artist and the kind guy gave up and disappeared. He must have been content with the payment from the first journey in exchange for the bother of directing her to the proper dala-dala.
AVOIDING SCAMMERS WHEN TAKING A DALA-DALA IN ZANZIBAR
The conductor, whose name is Konda, is one of the two people who work together on every Zanzibar public transportation system. As the driver is solely responsible for driving, speaking to anybody else is just interfering and may not always be helpful.
The conductor is easily recognized because they are supposed to wear blue shirts. Just inform them that you truly don’t need any of the assistance they give if someone approaches you and you have reason to believe that he might be a con artist.
Paying before getting on the bus is a bad idea because this is probably a fraud. Make sure you are paying the conductor the same amount as the locals, which is 2,000 Tanzanian shillings or less, as you travel.
While it is customary to charge more for large bags, some conductors try to take advantage of tourists by demanding up to ten times the standard fare. If this happens to you, just refuse to pay what everyone else does. Always keep in mind that you must only make payments after everyone else.
Zanzibar’s principal transportation hub is Stone Town, through which practically all trips will pass. There is only one dala-dala required to travel from Stone Town to Paje or Nungwi; most other treks call for numerous dala dalas.
It is not very comfortable to ride a dala-dala in Zanzibar, especially if you have heavy luggage on your lap for an hour, but it is undoubtedly an adventure if you do it correctly. Even if you make every mistake possible, like that guest did, at least it will make for an interesting story to tell your friends and family once you have returned from your journey across Zanzibar.