Tanzania and Zanzibar: Final Facts and Trivia……..


  • Official name is the United Republic of Tanzania, located in East Africa in the African Great Lakes region
  • Tanzania_in_Africa mapTanganyika and Zanzibar merged on 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, it was renamed United Republic of Tanzania on 29 October 1964
  • Bordered by Kenya and Uganda in the north; Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo to the west; Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south; and the Indian Ocean on the east coast
  • Tanzania covers 365,800 sq miles, it is the world’s 31st largest country and the 13th largest in Africa.  It lies just south of the equator.
  • Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, is in north-eastern Tanzania; and 3 of Africa’s Great Lakes are partly within Tanzania – Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa
  • Tanzania contains many large and ecologically significant wildlife parks and reserves – Ngorongoro Conservation Park, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Mikumi National Park and Gombe Stream National ParkTanzania_parks_map
  • The official capital of Tanzania since 1996 has been Dodorma, with the National Assembly and some government offices located here.  Pre-1996 Dar es Salaam was the political capital; it remains as Tanzania’s principal commercial city, is the main location of most government institutions and is the principal port of the country
  • The indigenous populations of East Africa are thought to be the Hazda and Sandawe hunter-gatherers of Tanzania who speak languages with clicks.  The first migrants were the Southern Cushitic speakers who moved south from Ethiopia to Tanzania about 4,000 years ago.  Southern Nilotes and the Datoog moved south from the present day Sudan-Ethiopia border region into central northern Tanzania between 2,900 and 2,400 years ago.  At the same time the iron-making Masharki Bantu settled in the Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika areas, bringing with them the west African planting tradition, the main staple of which were yams.  The Masharki Bantu subsequently migrated across the rest of Tanzania between 2,300 and 1,700 years ago.  The Eastern Nilotes, including the Maasai, are a more recent migration from present day South Sudan within the past 1,500 and 500 years ago
  • The people of Tanzania have been associated with the production of steel since more than 1,500 years ago
  • Travellers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and west India have visited since early in the first millennium AD
  • Colonistaion:
    • Late 19th century – Imperial Germany conquered Tanganyika and incorporated it into German East Africa
    • Post-WW1 accords and the League of Nations designated the area a British Mandate, except for the Kionga Triangle, a small south-east area which was incorporated into Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique)
    • British rule ended in 1961 after a relatively peaceful transition to independence
  • Economy:
    • From the late 1970s Tanzania’s economy declined
    • Mid-1980s saw the regime finance itself by borrowing from the IMF and it underwent some reforms
    • Since then Tanzania’s GDP per capita has grown and poverty has been reduced
    • The economy is heavily based on agriculture which accounts for more than 25% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the workforceTansanit_cut
    • Tanzania has vast amounts of minerals including gold, diamonds, coal, iron,uranium, nickel, tin, platinum, coltan, niobium, and natural gas; Tanzanite is a precious gemstone only found in the Merarani Hills near Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Politics:
    • One party dominant state
    • Elections for the president and all National Assembly seats are held every 5 years, the last elections were October 2010
  • Albinos: There has been an increase in attacks on people with albinism.  It is believed the white skin of Albinos make their body parts magical in potions, they are used in witchcraft
  • Child labour is common with millions working, more common with girls than boys.  Girls are commonly employed as domestic servants, sometimes by force.  There is also internal trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation
  • Education:
    • The literacy rate is estimated to be 73%
    • Education is compulsory for 7 years until children reach age 15.  However, many children do not attend school this long, and some none at all
    • All Tanzanian youth completing secondary education are required to participate in a compulsory 1 year National Service before they can enter higher learning institutions.  Participants receive standard military training as well as a programme which provides training on human rights, civics, history of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, and aims to impart to students a sense of unity and patriotism
  • Tourism:
    • Wildlife game reserves
    • Kalambo water falls near southern tip of Lake Tanganyika
  • Climate: Tropical; hottest period is November-February, coldest May-August.  October-December rains are known as the short rains, the March-May rains are the long rains
  • Demographics:
    • 45 million (2012 census), with the under 15 population representing 44.1% of the population
    • Population distribution is very uneven, more than 80% of the population is rural
    • There are more than 120 ethnic groups; the majority of Tanzanians are Bantu
  • Culture:
    • Music – traditional African music, and its own distinct African rumba music
    • Tanzania has many writers
    • It also has 2 art styles that have become world known – Tingatinga and Makonde.  Tingatinga are the African paintings painted with enamel paints on canvas; Makonde is a modern sculptural style known for the Ujamaas (Trees of Life) made of the hard and dark ebony tree
  • Language:  Swahili is the national language, with Swahili and English the official languages.  English serves the purpose of providing Tanzanians with the ability to participate in the global economy and culture
  • Religion:
    • Islam has been practised on the Swahili Coast since the 8th and 9th century AD
    • Current statistics are unavailable because religious surveys were eliminated from government census reports after 1967
    • It is estimated that 30% are Christian (mostly RC), 35% Muslim (majority are Sunni) and the remaining 35% practice Traditional African religion, or are Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i or have no religion
  • Health:
    • In 2013 life expectancy was estimated to be 60.76 years
    • The under-5 mortality rate in 2010 was between 76-81 per 1000, the leading cause of death is pneumonia, also malaria, diarrhoea and prematurity
    • HIV/AIDS is significant in Tanzania with the prevalence in 2009 estimated to be 5.6% of the adult population.  The 2011 UNAIDS Report stated that HIV prevalence has declined in pregnant women attending antenatal clinics, young people (15-24 years), and men in the general population
    • 2006 data shows that 55% of the population had sustainable access to improved drinking water sources and 33% had access to improved sanitation
  • National symbols:
    • National animal – the giraffeDSC03641
    • The Uhuru Torch – symbolises freedom and light, it was first lit on top of Mt Kilimanjaro in 1961.  There is an annual Uhuru Torch race starting from different regions in Tanzania to remind Tanzanians of their duty to jealously guard their cherished freedom, unity and peaceuhuru torch
    • The national flag is black (the people), green (the land), blue (the ocean) and yellow (the mineral wealth)Flag_of_Tanzania
    • The Tanzania National Coat of Arms – the central Warrior’s Shield bears a golden portion (minerals available in the country) on the upper part followed underneath by the United Republic of Tanzania flag and a red portion (the red soil of Africa) under which there are wavy bands of blue and white (the land, sea, lakes and coastal lines of Tanzania).  Superimposed are flames of a burning torch (freedom, enlightenment and knowledge), a spear (the defence of freedom), a crossed axe and hoe (the tools people use in developing the country).  The shield is set upon a representation of Mt Kilimanjaro, with an elephant tusk on each side supported by a man on the left and a woman on the right; a clove bush at the feet of the man and a cotton bush at the feet of the woman (represents co-operation)tz_court_of_arms
    • The Tanzania motto ‘Uhuru na Umoja’ means ‘Freedom and Unity’.


  • A city in northern Tanzania situated below Mt Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley.  It is close toArusha map Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Arusha National Park on Mt Meru
  • It is situated at an elevation of 1,400m/4,600ft so temperatures remain relatively low despite its proximity to the equator, and humidity is alleviated – average temperatures are around 25c
  • A multicultural city with a population of 1.28 million; it has a majority Tanzanian population of mixed  backgrounds – indigenous Bantu, Arab-Tanzanian, Indian-Tanzanian, plus a small white European and white American minority population
  • Major international diplomatic hub which is regarded as the de facto capital of the East African Community
  • Arusha was founded in 1900 by German colonists when the territory was part of German East Africa.  It was originally a garrison town and named after the local tribe Wa-Arusha, known as Larusa by the Maasai
  • From 1903 Arusha quickly developed into a significant administrative and trading centre
  • Tanganyika independence documents were signed by the UK at Arusha in 1961; the Arusha Declaration was signed in 1967; the Arusha Accords were signed on 4 August 1993 by representatives of the competing factions in the Rwandan civil war
  • Since 1994, Arusha has hosted the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
  • The hosting of this tribunal with its foreign employees has influenced the local economy of Arusha, increasing the cost of living for residents
  • The tribunal will close in 2014, but its legal successor, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, will continue with its branch which opened on 1 July 2012  in Arusha
  • Primary industry in the city is the service sector; Arusha also hosts numerous businesses, banking, retail and commercial enterprises
  • Tourism is a major contributor to the economy
  • Education: There are 4 international schools and public schools located in almost every ward of the city for Arushan children


  • Serengeti is derived from the Maasai language, Maa-Serengit means ‘Endless Plains’
  • The Serengeti is located in northern Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya; it covers an area of 30,000 sq km/12,000 sq miles and contains the Serengeti National Park and several game reserves.  The Kenyan part of the Serengeti is known as the Maasai Mara
  • Hosts the largest territorial mammal migration in the world thus making it one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and one of the 10 natural travel wonders of the world
  • Renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to see prides in their natural environmentDSC03852
  • The Maasai, known as fierce warriors, live alongside most wild animals and have an aversion to eating game and birds, they subsist exclusively on their cattle
  • It was the strength and reputation of the Maasai that kept newly arrived Europeans from exploiting the animals and resources on most of their lands
  • A rinderpest epidemic and drought in the 1890s reduced the numbers of both Maasai and animal populations
  • In the 20th century the Tanzanian government resettled the Maasai around the Ngorongoro Crater.  Poaching and the absence of fires then allowed dense woodlands and thickets to develop over the next 30-50 years.  Tsetse fly populations then prevented any significant human settlement in the area
  • The Great Migration:
    • The circular great migration of the wildebeest occurs each year at around the same time, it begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern SerengetiDSC03650
    • A natural phenomenon determined by the availability of grazing and lasts from January-March
    • During February, the wildebeest graze on the short grass plains of the south-eastern Serengeti and give birth to approximately 500,000 calves within a 2-3 week period.  Calves born ahead of time rarely survive as they are more noticeable amongst the previous years larger calves and make easy prey
    • When the rains end in May the animals start moving north-west into the areas around the Grumeti River and stay here until June
    • In July there is the main migration of the wildebeest, zebra and eland heading north and arriving on the Kenyan border late July/August for the remainder of the dry season
    • The Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles only move east-west
    • In early November when the short rains begin the migration starts moving south again to the short grass plains, arriving in December
    • Approximately 250,000 wildebeest die during the journey from Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya, 800km/500 miles.  Death is usually from thirst, hunger, exhaustion or predation
  • Over 80% of the Serengeti has legal protection in the form of parks, conservation areas, game reserves etc


  • The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 180km/110 miles west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania.  The Ngorongoro Crater is a large volcanic caldera and is claimed to be one of the seven wonders of Africa
  • Fossil evidence at Olduvai Gorge indicates that hominid species have inhabited the area for 3 million years
  • The hunter-gatherers of the area were replaced with pastoralists a few thousand years ago, Mbulu and then the Datooga, who were then both driven from the area in 1800s by the Maasai
  • The first known European to set foot in the Ngorongoro Crater was Oscar Baumann in 1892.  Two German brothers (Adolf and Friedrich Siedentopf) leased the land from the administration of German East Africa and farmed in the crater until the outbreak of WW1.  They regularly organised shooting parties to entertain German friends and attempted to drive the wildebeest herds out of the crater
  • 1921 – first game preservation ordinance passed which restricted hunting to permit holders throughout Tanzania
  • 1928 – hunting prohibited on all land within the crater rim, except the former Siedentopf farms
  • 1948 – the National Park Ordinance created the Serengeti National Park (SNP).  This caused problems with the Maasai and other tribes and resulted in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) Ordinance in 1959 that separated the NCA from the SNP
  • 1976 – the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority established and owns the majority of the NCA land, including the crater
  • 1979 – area became an UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Land in the conservation area is unique as it is the only conservation area in Tanzania that protects wildlife whilst allowing human habitation.  Land use is controlled and cultivation is prohibited at all but subsistence levels
  • Ngorongoro Crater:
    • The world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic calderaDSC03890
    • Formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself 2-3 million years ago; 610m/2,000ft deep; its floor covers 260 sq km/100 sq miles.  The crater floor is 1,800m/5,900ft above sea level
    • The seasonal salt water lake, Lake Magadi, is in the centre of the crater.  The Ngoitokitok Spring is the other major source of water in the crater, there is a picnic site for tourists here and a huge swamp fed by the spring
    • Since the year 2000 drought, there is an annual or biannual controlled burn of up to 20% of the grasslands and Maasai are now permitted to graze their cattle within the crater but must enter and exit daily
    • Approximately 25,000 large animals live in the crater – black rhino, hippo, lion, wildebeest, zebra, eland, gazelles, waterbuck, servals and Lesser Flamingoes on Lake Magadi; cheetah, African wild dog and leopard are rarely seen.  There are no topis, oribis, crocodiles, impala or giraffe in the crater
    • Although the crater is a natural enclosure for many animals, 20% or more of the wildebeest and half the zebra populations vacate the crater in the wet season.  Buffalo and eland do the opposite with their highest numbers present during the rains
  • The Nduti Lake area in the west of the NCA borders the SNP and has strong lion and cheetah populations.


  • Zanzibar is a Persian word and means ‘Coast of Blacks’
  • A semi-autonomous part of Tanzania composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean 25-50 km/16-31 miles off the coast ofZanzibar the mainland.  It consists of numerous small islands and 2 large ones – Unguja (main island referred to as Zanzibar) and Pemba
  • Unguja is 53 miles long and 24 miles wide, it is low-lying with its highest point at 120m/390ft.  Unguja has sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs which are rich in marine biodiversity
  • Capital is Zanzibar City on Unguja and its historic centre is known as Stone Town.  Stone Town is a World Heritage Site and is claimed to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa
  • Persian traders used Zanzibar as a base for voyages between the Middle East, India and Africa.  Unguja offered a protected and defensible harbour which is why Persians settled at what became Zanzibar City
  • Independence was gained in 1963.  The Zanzibar Revolution in January 1964 overthrew the Arab dynasty and on 26 April 1964 Zanzibar and Tanganyika merged to form a United Republic.  The union of these two previously separate regions was controversial among many Zanzibaris but was accepted due to shared political values and goals between the 2 countries
  • Industry:
    • Main industries are spices, raffia and tourism
    • The islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper – hence their name of the Spice Islands
    • Farming and fishing – especially people who live in the small villages outside of the town areas
  • Economy:
    • Exports spices, seaweed and fine rafia
    • Large fishing and dugout canoe production
    • Tourism is a major foreign currency earner
    • Zanzibar imports much of its staple requirements i.e. petroleum products and manufactured articles
    • There is the possibility of oil availability on Pemba
  • Zanzibar is home to the Red Colobus Monkey, the Zanzibar Servaline Genet and the possibly extinct Zanzibar LeopardDSC04236
  • Colonisation and independence:
    • 1498 – Vasco da Gama visited and marked the beginning of European influence
    • 1503 0r 1504 – Zanzibar became part of the Portuguese Empire when Captain Ruy Lourenco Ravasco Marques landed and demanded, and received, tribute from the sultan in exchange for peace.  Zanzibar remained a Portuguese possession for almost 200 years but the Portuguese did not have any forts or garrisons on the island, the extent of their occupation was a trade depot where produce was purchased and collected for shipment to Mozambique
    • 16th century – strong power base by Arabs who ruled with the aid of the tributary Arab sultans
    • 1631 – the Sultan of Mombasa massacred the European inhabitants
    • 1698 – Zanzibar fell under the control of the Sultanate of Oman
    • 1840 – Omani Sultan, Seyyid Said, moved his capital from Muscat, Oman to Stone Town in Zanzibar City.  During this time Zanzibar became the centre for the Arab slave trade.  Malindi in Zanzibar City was East Africa’s main port for the slave marker between Africa and Asia, including the Middle East.  In the mid-19th century 50,000 slaves passed annually through this port.  One of the most famous slave traders was Tippu Tip, a notorious Arab slave trader and ivory merchant who was himself the grandson of an enslaved African.  Between 65-90% of Arab-Swahili Zanzibar was enslaved
    • 1873 – Anglo-Zanzabari treaty signed which abolished the slave trade in the sultan’s territories, the closing of all slave markets and the protection of liberated slaves
    • 1886 – GB and Germany plotted to obtain parts of the Zanzibar sultanate for their own empires
    • 1890 – Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty formalised the relationship between GB and the German Empire and Zanzibar became a (not a colony) of Britain
    • 1890-1913 – traditional viziers were appointed to govern as puppets
    • 1913-1963 – British governors system of rule
    • 1963 – Zanzibar gained independence from GB on 10 December
    • January 1964 – Zanzibar Revolution in which up to 20,000 Arabs and Indians were killed in a genocide and thousands more were expelled.  This led to the establishment of the People’s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba
    • April 1964 – the Republic merged with Tanganyika becoming the United Republic of Tanzania.
  • Politics:
    • Zanzibar has a government of national unity
    • Ruling party is Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the opposition party is the Civic United Front, and with many other political parties.  Since the early 1990s there have been repeated clashes between the ruling and opposition parties; contested elections in 2000 led to a massacre on 27 January 2001; another contested election in 2005 again led to the death of 9 people
    • Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar is made up of the Revolutionary Council and the House of Representatives
    • Members serve 5 year terms
  • Demographics:
    • 2002 census is the most recent data  and reports a population of 984,625.  The population of Zanzibar City is 205,870
    • Two thirds of the population live on Unguja with most in the densely populated west
  • Health and standards of living:
    • There are disparities between the inhabitants of Pemba and Unguja as well as between urban and rural populations
    • The average annual income is US$250
    • Approximately half the population lives below the poverty line
    • Infant mortality is 54 per 1000 live births, 10% lower than mainland Tanzania; child mortality is 73 per 1000 live births, again lower than the rate in mainland Tanzania
    • Malnutrition affects 1 in 3 Zanzibaris
    • Life expectancy is 57 years
    • Prevalence of HIV/AIDS is 0.6% – higher in females, 0.7%, than males, 0.5%.  The rate for divorced women is high at 10%, IVDUs 16%, MSM 12.3%, female sex workers 10.8%
  • Religion: 97% Muslim, with the remaining population mainly Christian
  • Education:
    • 207 government schools, 118 privately owned schools, 2 universities and 1 college
    • Like Tanzania, 7 years of primary education is compulsory but in addition 3 years of secondary education are compulsory and free.  Students on Zanzibar score significantly less on standardised tests for reading and maths than students on the mainland
    • National service in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s after secondary education was compulsory, it is now voluntary and few students volunteer
  • National flag:


    • Adopted on 9 January 2005, it is a horizontal tricolour of blue, black and green with the national flag of Tanzania inset
    • The flag represents the culture, environment and people of Zanzibar.


  • Konyagi – ‘the spirit of the Nation, is a drink that brings many people from many places together with one rhythm and one spirit’Konyagi
  • A Tanzanian liquor, a white spirit with a strength of 35%
  • Drink it straight, on the rocks or with a mixer of your choice
  • Cheap and liked by Mr L!


  • Swahili, or Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and is the mother tongue of Swahili people, about 5 million people.  It is spoken in Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The total number of Swahili speakers exceeds 140 million
  • Kiswahili is the Swahili word for the language and means ‘coastal language’
  • Swahili is the national language of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo
  • It is seen as the unifying language of Tanzania between people of different ethnic groups who each have their own language.  There are over 100 different tribal languages spoken in Tanzania.
  • Since 1984 Swahili is the language of the Tanzanian social and political sphere as well as primary and adult education, with English the language of secondary education, universities, technology and the higher courts
  • Some Swahili vocabulary is derived from Arabic and also incorporates German, Portuguese, English and French words through contact with empire builders, traders and slavers over the past 5 centuries
  • There are numerous Swahili dialects, Kiunguja is the dialect spoken in Zanzibar City

So, that brings this holiday blog to an end.

Kwaheri until next time!


Day 14: Homeward Bound

So if it was our last supper Friday night, Saturday was our last breakfast sitting watching the beach, the ocean, the waves, the dhows and other boats here at Amaani Bungalows.  Last swims in the pool and back to our favourite beach restaurant, Waves, for a leisurely lunch.

Mr L at Waves

Mr L at Waves

We should have checked out at 10am but as we were not being picked up until 4pm we asked if we could have a later check out time – it is all very quiet here and we are the only people in our block.  They agreed extend check out to 12md for free or 4pm for a payment of $20 – we checked out at 12md.

Zanzibar International Airport…….has seen better days certainly.  Once through the door having had our flight details and passports looked at we then had to go to a long table where one man was making everyone undo their suitcases so he could look and poke about – not a very scientific method of luggage screening!  Then for check-in which was relatively painless with next stop having to pay a departure tax, $48 per person, they do accept TSZ but at an extortionate exchange rate – not many choices there!

Next stop was Nairobi for our connecting flight to the UK, we were all aboard and ready for the scheduled departure at 11.50pm.  We were still sitting on the same bit of runway 1 hour later when the Captain informed us there was a technical problem with the plane which engineers were working on, “Kenya Airways have your safety as our main concern so we will not leave until the problem is sorted”, he says.  Well that’s good to hear then……Mr L not really impressed by all this, taking off is not his favourite part of flying so he did not appreciate delays of this nature…….the comment ‘I am not flying Kenya Airways again’ passed his lips!

The flight was ok, not fantastic, but good enough and we still arrived on time, 5.50am, despite leaving an hour late.  We must have been one of the first flights into Heathrow this morning as there were no stacks over London.

Mr L made the 8.30am train to Norwich and Mrs L was back at her flat by 8.40am.

Where will Mr and Mrs L’s next trip be………..

Day 13: Lasts and Penultimate Lasts

Blue skies and sun for our last full day of this African adventure.

Beach View

Beach View

Mr L had hoped to do a full day trip out on a dhow to go snorkelling at Mnemba Island but the winds are still too strong. There have been no sunset cruises or snorkelling trips from Wednesday until now…..only the diving trips are still happening. Back to the pool then…..Mrs L finished her second book – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – great read about the German occupation of Guernsey in WWII, all written through a series of correspondences. Mr L finished his book on his kindle – J K Rowling’s ‘A Casual Vacancy’. Mrs L is now reading this – it is her first read of a kindle book, so far so good! It is now definite, Mr L has cast iron guts – he eats what he likes including salads, burgers, seafood, ice cubes etc etc and not an upset in sight; yet Mrs L who is meticulous in what she will and won’t eat is now suffering her second bout of digestive distress – simply not fair!!  imageLoperamide to the rescue but best to stay safe so it was lunch here at Amaani…….despite previous comments about lunches here, the one we had today in the Marine Blue restaurant was not too bad – not brilliant but better than the experience of the Sunset Grill lunch on our first day here.

Mr L

Mr L

Mrs L

Mrs L

The afternoon was a continuation of the morning……..and we still have tomorrow morning by the pool, or beach, as we don’t leave until 4pm. But it was last cocktails at Cholo’s watching our last Zanzibar sunset…….

Final Sunset

Final Sunset

……..and our last dinner at Langi Langi with a table looking over the ocean……..only a few more hours left and we will then be homeward bound.

Day 12: Hot, Humid, Grey

The winds have eased off but the sky has remained grey all day……nevertheless still hot and humid.

Grey Skies

Grey Skies

A very lazy day for Mr and Mrs L spent reading books and kindles on our ‘grey skies’ beds by the pool.

Mrs L had an assignation with Cliff by the bottom of the steps at 2pm but he was not there, and as he hadn’t appeared by 2.20pm it was time to head off to Waves for lunch. Walking up the beach to Waves represents the most exercise we have had all day, and Mr L has a new best friend………

Mr L's New Best Friend

Mr L’s New Best Friend

We first met this little cat on our first evening when we had our candlelit meal on the beach at Waves…..he made himself known to us in a very polite way and then turned his nose up at the piece of lobster Mr L dropped on the sand for him. He did return later to eat it though, presumably as there was nothing better on offer!! He didn’t hesitate today about eating the bits of burger Mr L just happened to send his way……obviously a cat without expensive tastes!!

A brief stroll along the beach to explore the Hilton’s resort which was not to Mr and Mrs L’s tastes…….much prefer ours and some of the other more personal type resorts. On the way back we bumped into our old friend Bacardi of sunset dhow cruise fame and had a chat with him, and assured him we didn’t need to go on any more trips!

Back then to the pool to carry on reading…….Mrs L then got a message that her missing person, Cliff, was looking for her……..so he hadn’t run off with her $10 but was simply working on African time – pole pole – so hakuna matata. Mrs L is very pleased with the 2 ebony key rings he has carved for her, Cliff is very happy with the payment as it buys the next meals for his family. All good then, Cliff and Mrs L both happy – if Mrs L happy, then Mr L happy!

Mr L dressed for dinner – nice shirt from Thailand – Mr G please note.

Mr L in his Thailand Shirt

Mr L in his Thailand Shirt

Evening tradition is now to start at Cholo’s before heading off for a meal looking over the ocean – we can never get tired of this view. Grey skies are not cocktail weather so it was beers tonight. Bacardi was also there at Cholo’s – he same up and said hello to us; Hammish came by and said hello also – Mr and Mrs L clearly are part of the Zanzibar scene!!! Pizza was the preferred dining choice of the evening, so back to the excellent Mama Mia restaurant.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Africa before having to head home to a cold UK and the world of work 😦

Day 11: Mnarani Marine Turtles

Mrs L is somewhat frustrated…..all was going well with writing her blog directly onto the blog site and then the connection was lost and auto save had not saved Mrs L’s musings of the past 30 mins. So now got to write it all again – humph!!!

Cloudy skies and very strong winds greeted Mr and Mrs L upon their wakening this morning…….but we are at the end of the short rains season (hence low season) with long rains due mid-March to end May when many places close. We decided to have a walk northwards along the beach. We walked past other resorts all very nicely embedded into the local scenery. We then had the opportunity to observe the working lives of some of the local people. Men were working on their fishing boats, repairing them, removing seaweed and barnacles etc from the hulls; women were out in the very shallow waters of low tide bending over collecting something, we don’t know what, from the waters. There were then a huddle of cows on the beach – why?!!!

We finally made it to the northernmost tip of the island complete with lighthouse. This is where the Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Ponds are also based. This is a conservation project to protect the local Green turtle that has been going on since 1993 and is staffed by local volunteers. When fishermen accidentally catch these Green turtles, big and small, they bring them to the project. Baby turtles have their own pond and are grown on until more mature and able to be released back into the ocean, likewise the bigger turtles are also looked after and then prepared for release back into the ocean. They also had a Monitor lizard and some baby Nile Crocodiles there – people had brought them to Mnarani and so they are now looking after them. They also had information and some of the skulls of the 400-600 dolphins that were tragically washed ashore dead back in 2006. The research into these mass dolphin deaths indicates that it was most likely caused by a sea quake which caused disabling barotrauma to them and killed them.

We proceeded on around the top of the island where the sand had turned to rocks with many little rock pools to be seen.

Mr L Looking for Sealife!

Mr L Looking for Sealife!

There were starfish to be seen and many many sea urchins, some of which had tried to cover themselves with pebbles.

Sea Urchins in a Rock Pool at Low Tide

Sea Urchins in a Rock Pool at Low Tide

It was then time to head back as the tide was turning and comes in fairly quickly due to the shallowness of the seabed on this part of the coast – we didn’t want to find ourselves stranded!

Back at Amaani Bungalows and the sun was now shining with a perfect blue sky so time to a find ourselves a sunbed. Lunch was at the Cinnamon Bar next door to us on the next resort – again great views and a good lunch with excellent background music – Bob Marley!

View from Cinnamon Bar

View from Cinnamon Bar

A brief time on the beach with Mr L having a swim in the Indian Ocean and Mrs L having a little dabble, the tide was almost fully in so time to relocate back to our poolside sunbed for the rest of the afternoon. Mrs L finished her book, the Seven Year Hitch – excellent book about a family’s journey around the world by horse-drawn caravan from 1990-1997.

It was back to Cholo’s for cocktails and to watch the Nungwi sunset, there was also a local boys football match underway on the beach – looked fairly chaotic to us but they all seemed to know what was going on and it was great to sit and watch them all having fun.

Sunset over Nungwi Beach

Sunset over Nungwi Beach

An excellent dinner at the Langi Langi restaurant owned by a real character, a local Rasta man with a brilliant sense of humour. We chatted to him during the evening and found out that he had done his chef training at the Hilton near Canary Wharf, initially living in Chingford – the residents of whom regarded him with some suspicion apparently! He knows Walthamstow too, having shopped in the market there – small world.

It has been another perfect day in our Zanzibar paradise.

Day 10: Amaani Bungalows

Today was a pool day, and not a bad view from Mrs L’s sunbed either!

The View from Mrs L's Sunbed

The View from Mrs L’s Sunbed

The pool is lovely, which is more than can be said about the food here at Amaani Bungalows.  We are on a bed and breakfast rate so breakfast needs to be here – but is a somewhat disappointing affair.  Over the past 10 days we have at times battled with flies but as Cosmos used to say ‘this is Africa’, so we expect that; however, breakfast was something else, we were plagued with wasps! The fresh fruit selection was fairly minimal (and covered in wasps) when compared to everywhere else we have stayed; Mr L’s toast failed to toast in the toaster despite the bread being in the toaster for near on 10 minutes; and to add insult to injury there was no fresh coffee, only instant!  How can a hotel not serve fresh coffee, especially when they grow coffee here in Zanzibar?

Breakfast though was an improvement on yesterday’s lunch. Mr L had ordered a crab salad – he got a minimal bit of salad with a few crab shell bits and pieces, no tools to get any crab out but there was minimal crab in the shell bits anyway.  Mrs L ordered the cashew nut stir fry and was asked whether she wanted rice or noodles, she opted for the rice.  What arrived was a plate of beef  stir fry that contained about 6 cashew nuts with chips/fries……..not what she wanted at all.  So other than breakfast we will not be eating any other meals here this week!

Continuing on the theme of food, we walked back to Waves for lunch – probably the most exercise we have had all day!!  Nice salads had by both with a stunning view.

View from Waves Restaurant

View from Waves Restaurant

There is a massage place here at Amaani so Mrs L, thinking of Thailand experiences and prices, enquired about what a Zanzibar massage would cost – an astounding $40 for an hour or $20 for 30 minutes…….not a good price when compared to our 1 hour Thailand massage that used to cost us £6/$10. On the way back from lunch we saw a sign on the beach advertising massages but no price, seeing us looking a big black lady suddenly came rushing towards us who informed us that a massage would cost 30,000 TZS or $20 – still astronomical!  Mrs L has not had a massage and neither has anyone else that we have seen.  This is where we think they need to get to grips with their business model and realise that in fact a more reasonable price of say $10 for a 1 hour massage means more people would have a massage whilst on holiday and probably would return for more – thus making them more money overall.  The tourist industry here really is still very much in its infancy.

An afternoon of more of the same i.e lying on a sunbed reading a book interspersed with the occasional dip in the pool to cool off before showers and dressing for an evening of drinks in Cholo’s and a pizza at Mama Mia.  The cocktails at Cholo’s were the best of this holiday – not difficult!  A mojito for Mr L and a piña colada for Mrs L, all supped whilst sitting on a sofa looking directly at the ocean – perfect.  Pizza and red wine at Mama Mia’s – we had also told our new friend Hammish that we would buy him a beer there too…..we did.  He was fascinating and really interesting to talk to.  Hammish and his family all come from Nungwi village, he has a wife in the village and 2 young children, a daughter aged 6 and a son aged 3.  He is a chef and him and his uncle previously had a beach restaurant which they had to sell to a South African property developer.  He also told us how the village chief made his deal with the Zanzibar government to sell village land on the beachfronts and allow resorts to be built, but all the monies from the taxes go to the Zanzibar government and none comes back into the village.  As Hammish says, they need better education to understand these matters, they were asleep when the deals were made (i.e didn’t understand the complexities and opportunities they should have explored) and are still asleep now regarding opportunities to be had.  The developers of our resort and several others along this part of the coast are all Zanzibari but have now left the country to develop businesses elsewhere in places such as Dubai, India and Canada.  Nungwi village appears to have been stitched up somewhat.  What is sad is that in order to restart a new restaurant Hammish needs between 1-2 million TSZ which is less than £800…….an impossibility in a country where there is no capital funding opportunities available.  How hard it must be to see resorts being built which cost more than his start-up cost to stay in per week……..  He also told us that the other big impact has been the resorts which are all inclusive, people who stay there do not need to buy meals or drinks from any of the local bars and restaurants so nothing comes back to local people trying to establish and develop their businesses.  Overall though, Hammish says tourism is welcome, but as local people they need to wake up to the opportunities to be made.

It has been a relaxing and interesting day, and really good to be able to talk to a local person.  Asante Hammish.

Day 9: An African Adventure – Part 3

On the move again. We have enjoyed our 3 days in Stone Town and would definitely come back again, but it’s now time to transfer to our final destination of this trip. Mtoo was at the Dhow Palace promptly at 9.30am and we were soon on the road heading north. It was a 70 minute drive through local villages and good fertile land. Once we got to Nungwi and the local village, the tarmac and smooth surface roads evaporated and we were back to our African massage…….the resorts have clearly not invested anything into the local infrastructure!

Our room here at Amaani Bungalows is on the top floor i.e 2nd floor (no high rises here in Nungwi) with a view both across the pool and also the Indian Ocean – not too shabby!! The room is simple and stylish, however closer inspection does show some very shabby finishing off in places…..

View of Indian Ocean from Mr and Mrs L's Balcony

View of Indian Ocean from Mr and Mrs L’s Balcony

Unpacked and sorted we then set off for a stroll on the beach to explore our surroundings.

Mr and Mrs L's Beach!

Mr and Mrs L’s Beach!

Mr and Mrs L were frequently accosted by friendly and polite Zanzibari men trying to sell us trips and other memorabilia. We agreed on a Sunset Cruise in a Zanzibari Dhow and handed over a $10 deposit to Bacardi – would we see him or our money again…….but sure enough, at 4pm, Bacardi was there with a German couple. The men collected snorkelling gear and we finally made it onto the dhow by about 4.30pm……there are 2 phrases frequently used here – pole pole (last ‘e’ pronounced as a long ‘a’) which means ‘slowly slowly’, and hakuna matata which means ‘no problem’…….sums everything up well! After 2 further beach pick-ups we had a full dhow and motored off down the coast to the snorkelling area which Mr L declared fairly unimpressive. Then time for sails up and engine off as we sailed back up the coast past a surprising number of other resorts nestling in amongst the trees. Eating delicious fresh fruits and drinking soft drinks whilst watching the sunset was amazing. It was a good trip.

We had also met Hammish on the beach several times during the afternoon who was very insistent that we come along to his restaurant Waves on the beach……we said we would after we got back from our dhow trip. Mr L checked out Waves on trusty Trip Advisor which rates it as the no. 4 restaurant in Nungwi (out of 19) – that was reassuring!

Dinner at Waves was great, sitting at a candlelit table on the beach just a few metres from the Ocean……..Hammish was pleased to see us too as he thought we wouldn’t turn up. Waves is a local business and not part of one of the resorts, it was recently hit by a big high tide and part of their restaurant was washed away – the evidence of the sandbags is still present. They are dependent on tourists eating there as the money we spend can then be used to rebuild their restaurant and make it more resilient to the elements. I suspect we will be eating there again before we leave this idyllic place.

Zanzibar has only really had its first tourists since 1982 when tourism was third in terms of importance to their economy (after agriculture and fishing). It was only in 1998 when tourism became no. 1 for their economy, so really not many years ago. Nungwi is clearly a resort still in its early developmental years and has huge potential as long as the big international companies don’t move in and spoil it. So far developments are mostly very discrete but access to beaches from local villages located behind them is limited now, let’s hope work is being done to engage with local communities and ensure their lives benefit from tourism.

The internet connection here is dire, makes the Lenwade broadband speed seem gazelle-like in its efficiency.  Blogs will be posted as and when……….pole pole!!