Arriving in Zanzibar

September 30th – Day Six

Please note that on truck cleaning duty last night (the 29th) I managed to dunk my mobile phone in a bucket of water, and so far it hasn’t come back to life. As such any mobile communication is best directed to Keryn’s phone.

Sunrise at the Silver Sands camp site.
Sunrise at the Silver Sands camp site

With a journey to Zanzibar we had an early start. We had to be on the ferry terminal at 9am so left at 8am. The journey wasn’t that far but we had to contend with morning rush hour traffic. We were all up and ready at the required time and it was off into Dar es Salaam. We arrived without any trouble or fane fare and unloaded while Jacques organised our tickets. We all hid under the shade of a tree while we waited, being kept company by map and basket sellers. Jacques arrived back with a time when the tickets would be ready, so we kept ourselves entertained until the relevant time and made our way to the dock gate, collected our tickets from Jacques and went down to the boat landing.

Passing through the customs gate we queued for a while and then the people were slowly allowed on the boat. Our bags were stowed and we attempted as a group to find our allocated seats. Because of a bizarre seat numbering system and people being in the wrong places we all sat together and let other people figure out alternative seating. The trip was uneventful other than some bizarre programming on the boat televisions. A few hours after we started we could see the docks of Stone Town, Zanzibar and it was soon that we found ourselves queuing once more to disembark. Actually, using the word queuing would be a misuse, it was more like a disorganised scrum heaving it’s way to the dock through a group of unmoving people and piled cargo. We made it out eventually and followed the masses towards the exit of the docks.

The island contact was met and he sorted out the passport details while we waited in the provided minivan. Once he was back with the passports we were off heading for Ngungwe at the north of the island. I dosed for a lot of the trip so missed most of the villages and tropical looking vegetation, waking properly as we drove into the resort town that was to be home for the next three days. Accommodation was allocated (bungalows, no tents!) and we all got unpacked and settled in before heading off to a restaurant for lunch. Some of the rooms had a few problems, like leaking toilets, no hot water or copious amounts of ants but we all made do in the end. Today was Will’s birthday so we were having a celebratory lunch for him. A number of us set off for the beach and proceeded to take a wrong turning and end up at the wrong place. Once we realised the mistake we left the bar we were in, taking our drinks, and walked across to the correct venue. Lunch was very nice, good food and drink. Will had a large mixed seafood grill which he seemed to be very happy with. Once lunch was over we all proceeded to do our own things before meeting again for dinner.

First view of the Ngungwe beach.
First view of the Ngungwe beach

Keryn and I went for a walk down the beach heading in a direction that we hoped would take us to a local turtle sanctuary. The walk along the beach was very nice, we passed nice looking hotels, a local boat building and repair area on the beach itself and a large catamaran beached, we guessed for repairs. Playing around the catamaran were lots of local children and in the afternoon sunlight it all looked very good for a photograph. We took my camera out and were suddenly set upon by a number of kids waving their hands and saying “no photo, no photo”. Respecting their wishes we put the camera away, it’s actually nice to meet kids asking for a bit of privacy rather than money, sweets or pens.

While on a walk we found this scene.
While on a walk we found this scene

Not far past the catamaran we came upon the turtle sanctuary just by a lighthouse. The entry fee was $2 each so we paid and were led into a fenced off area that contained a large tidal pool with a wharf leading out into it’s centre. Our guide led us out and started telling us about the turtles and why they were here. Local fisherman bring them in when they accidentally catch them or if they find sick or injured individuals and the sanctuary look after then until they are well enough to be released back into the wild. There were two different kinds of turtles, Green Turtles and Hornbill Turtles. The green variety eat seaweed while the hornbill are carnivores and are feed fish guts and small fish (plus they eat some of the many fish also found in the pool). We watched the turtles swimming around and being fed by some other tourists. Keryn had a go at holding out seaweed for the turtles to come up and eat. We got to touch the turtles as they approached for food, they didn’t seem at all bothered by the attention. A larger group of people arrived so we retreated from the pool and had a look at some of the other younger turtles that were around the area. There were a number of buckets that held very young turtles, a couple of inches long. There were also turtles a few months older, maybe four to five inches long. Keryn got to hold one of these ones. We then were shown some local tortoises to show the differences between the two species (tortoises land, turtles water) and finally a native Zanzibar python. The guide was encouraging us to have a photo taken with the python around one of our necks, we and a couple of other tourists all declined. We settled for each holding a section of the python in our hands, I got the neck. The python was about three metres long and then were three of us holding a different section. The power in the body was quite amazing, as it slowly moved there was little we could all do other than move with it to support it.

A turtle at the sanctury.
A turtle at the sanctuary

Keryn and a baby turtle.
Keryn and a baby turtle

Photo taken we left the sanctuary and made our way back to the bungalows to get ready for dinner. We all met at a different restaurant and had a nice-but-nothing-special meal. There was a DJ in residence and once he had figured out the local mood there were a number of people having a good time on the dance floor. A few people had a dance and then we were up and moving to a new bar. We ended up at a bar at the other end of the beach and had a few cocktails. The bar experience was quite bizarre, the staff being not quite with it and the person who took our order turned out to be a local who had no connection with the venue. It was a strange experience, Helen and Maria both having interesting talks with the bar staff in attempts to get some of the hanging bananas at the bar. There were four different varieties with the small red ones being the most tasty apparently. We stayed for a while, marvelled at the men’s loo (a bath for washing hands, buckets for urinals) and then made our way back towards the bungalows. A few people went back to the first restaurant which was now full of locals and a few tourists dancing the night away, and we went off to bed.

Dhow on the beach.
Dhow on the beach

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