ZanzibarWritten by admin on January 11th, 2009
Wednesday 17 December
We wanted to catch the fast ferry to Zanzibar this am, but the driver was a bit late. However, we got lucky and after a quick negotiation and small tip (bribe) for the Captain we were rushed on and sat out front with the luggage – actually quite a cool spot to enjoy the ride.
We spent the afternoon exploring the narrow, winding streets of Stone Town and then had a delicious seafood dinner on the beach with a sideshow of the guys trying to load a few vehicles on to the ferry. Seeing that they must have to do this for a few ferries daily it was the most disorganised shambles you could imagine, but very very good dinner entertainment! The vehicles, from small cars to big loaded lorries, had to be driven down a stretch of beach and up quite a steep loading ramp; maybe 1 in 10 made it first go. The best was the final lorry, which after hours of digging, pushing and pulling to the point that the guys stood in the trench digging were waist deep was abandoned on the beach for another day.
Thursday 18 December
We caught the 08.00 sharing bus to Jambiani and after visiting a couple of places chose a reasonable and comfortable bungalows on the beach called Shehe to stay at. When we arrived we donned swimming costumes and trekked the couple of miles out to where the sea was deep enough to swim – the tide goes out a long way on the east coast.
Luckily we had ordered lunch before we set off, as you need to give two or three hours notice to most places in Zanzibar, so that they can get the order from the fishermen and this worked perfectly with the 2 or 3 hour walking time to and from the sea!
The long white beaches are amazing in Zanzibar, the sea a clear turquoise that would rival most exotic locations, the water very warm and the pace decidedly laid back – a very welcome relaxing day was had, finished off for Felicity and Katie with a massage on the beach.
Friday 19 December
Today we moved the few hundred metres up the beach to stay at accommodation for one of the projects that we were visiting and walked around the small village, taking a look at the schools and nurseries. Quite an idyllic location to volunteer!
Saturday 20 December
We were picked up in the morning to go slightly north of Jambiani to a smaller village called Paje to meet with some other partners there.
When we saw the hotel where we would be staying the night and our luxury room, again right on the beach, and walked out on to the even more postcard perfect beach and saw the kitesurfers pulling off tricks in the shallow bay we realised our Christmas plans for Selous may be in doubt and kitesurfing a possible replacement for snowboarding this year.
Sunday 21 December
We left Paje and headed to Kizimkazi on the South coast; another beautiful spot. After breakfast we boarded a boat and the plan was to see the dolphins and hopefully swim with them and then go for a scuba dive. However, on this very RARE! occasion the dolphins had gone for a day out we think, as they were nowhere to be seen.
We were able to dive though. Marc buddied up with Muhammed, the owner of the hotels we were staying at, while Felicity and Katie, as they were new to diving stuck with the instructor. Once in the water, the instructor was indicating to everyone to start swimming down, however Felicity and Katie were both struggling with this, due to F’s ears not equalising and Katie apparently just liked bobbing around on the surface for a while! Once both were finally down at the bottom they had been told not to touch the coral. However, as beginners they found it quite hard to control their buoyancy, so at some points quite challenging to avoid any contact. At one stage Katie was touching the coral, or more like lying face down on the coral completely motionless, because she was so nervous about moving and damaging it.
Somehow we had been given the two best rooms in the hotel, right at the front and very close to the beach and we spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the facilities and beach.
Monday 22 December
Aboard the dolphin boat for a second try we set off in search of the dolphins again. After about half an hour we saw their fins gliding out of the water, donned our masks and fins and joined them for a swim. There were around 20 bottle nose dolphins and it was amazing to see them so close, especially when they dived down to the bottom and then came up to the surface again right in front of you. If you kept fairly still, or swam normally, the dolphins would come to you, however most of the tourists would frantically splash around and front crawl as fast as they could after the dolphins!
A project has been set up to try to educate the boat captains and the tourists about the dolphins to minimise their impact and any stress to them.
We then headed to Stone Town, had a bit of a wander round the old streets and enjoyed our last meal with Katie on the beach. We sampled the local nightlife in Stone Town, with the prostitutes at one bar staring in disbelief at the white people trying to dance. Think we may have been on their patch!
Wednesday 24 December
We said goodbye to Katie early yesterday and then got our transfer back to Paje where we had managed to cut a great deal for staying and kitesurfing over Christmas.
Today we started our kitesurfing course with Jan from Airborne kites. Half the day was spent on the beach perfecting our kite flying skills and learning how to set up the kite ready for action. We then went into the water to get more of a feel for things with the kite and the positions for flying it and also what to do in an emergency if you need to pack down your kite in the water.
We had bought a few decorations in Stone Town to make it feel more Christmasy and decorated our room with these ready for Father Christmas.
Thursday 25 December
Santa still comes to Zanibar! We woke up and sure enough there were a few presents to open from our parents who had sent them over with Katie. Lovely presents and great to have a few xmas treats such as a little Christmas pud and cake to make it feel more like home!
After a chilled out morning, we cracked open a bottle of sparkling wine in the sea and began our drinking for the day. We had a lovely fish dinner in the evening overlooking the sea and finished it off by getting them to cook the Christmas pud in the microwave for us!
Friday 26 December
We had our second kite surfing lesson today and by the end of the day we had the board on our feet! At one point after Felicity had crashed the kite into the sea, she then got dragged further and further down the coast as she battled to relaunch the kite. This resulted in the instructor having to run along the beach after her and rescue her and Felicity being totally exhausted!
We both had several goes at getting on the board, many of which involve getting up for a few seconds and then face planting into the water! Had a lot of fun and now just need to practice!
Unfortunately the wind was not great the following day, so we didn’t have much opportunity to perfect our new found skills on the board.
Monday 29 December
We caught the ferry back yesterday to Dar and left early for Diani, Kenya today.