Safety in and around Zanzibar Town
Theft from hotel rooms is very unusual, but we've heard from some readers of a scam played by staff in one of the less reputable hotels in Zanzibar Town. Apparently, the guests left a small bag of valuables (passport, air tickets, money, etc) in the hotel safe, only to find items missing when they returned to collect it. It seems that a member of staff had a duplicate key to the safe and removed a few US$20 bills in the hope that the theft wouldn't be noticed. The only way to prevent this happening to you is to store your valuables in a lockable bag or pouch, to prevent tampering when it's out of your hands, or count and write down everything you have in the presence of the receptionist (although this can be embarrassing and possibly a bit too tempting). This is not a problem at hotels in the middle and upper price ranges, because most offer individual safe deposit boxes, either at reception or in the rooms, and several of the budget hotels in Zanzibar Town now run an organised system with a book for guests to write in exactly what they leave.
More serious robberies (sometimes with violence) have occurred on some of the beaches in and around Zanzibar Town. You should not walk here alone, particularly after dark. Other notorious parts of town include the port, and the area around the Garage Club and the Bashasha Bar, especially late at night when drunken youths wander the streets looking for kicks (just as they do in many other parts of the world). Another time to be wary is the hour or two just after sunset during the period of Ramadan, when everybody is inside breaking their fast, and the streets are absolutely deserted.