Stone Town

Stone Town is the main city of Zanzibar. After our diving experience we did a day of sightseeing in Stone Town. It’s a nice city with indian and sultan influences.

There are two concepts they still have to learn in Stone Town:
– maintenance on buildings
– cleaning of buildings

There are a lot of buildings that looked really, really nice….. 50 to 100 years ago. But now most are dirty, need paint and a good wash. And a lot of buildings are just crumbling down. Too bad.

But still, we had a nice time. In the evening you can enjoy great street food. One street is converted into a food market, where you can buy fresh food (mainly day fresh fish), which is baked directly for you. Remember to first haggle about a price… don’t wait until you get your food, you will then probably pay the cook more than he normally earns the entire day…. that’s the Mzungu (tourist) price 😉

One bad thing (as in whole Tanzania, but even more at Zanzibar) are the Papasi (Kiswahili for ticks). Papasi are all the men hanging around that want to sell you something (t-shirts, taxi rides, paintings, sun glasses, island tours, etc). Their sales strategy is coming up to you and keep talking to you either until you buy something or until it is 100% clear to them you won’t buy anything (just telling them is not enough). And because it looks like there are more Papasi then tourists, you are continuously bothered by them when walking through the city.

So if Stone Town wants to improve the ‘tourist experience’ the city should clean up and restore all buildings and get rid of all the Papasi.

Breathing under water

The last part of or vacation we spend on Zanzibar. Armand booked a bungalow at Jambo Brothers in Nungwi. The bungalow is basic, but on the beach, in the sun, beween the palm trees, bars and restaurants (dining on the beach) and next to the diving school East African Diving. This is our location for diving! Later we will visit Stone Town, maybe rent a moped and ‘race’ around the rest of Zanzibar. But first…… diving!

Armand already has his PADI, so can join a diving tour right away. Louis and me will follow the PADI course.

Day 1 – Theory
The first day of the course is theory, theory, theory. We watched videos and read the theory (sitting at the beach in the sun).

Day 2 – First underwater excercises
Before you can really go diving you need some practise (like clearing a mask full with water, retrieving your air supply when you loose it, etc). All wend well and we also got to swim around a bit and see some fish.

Day 3 – First real dive
This morning again some excercises and another swim around and the final exam.

In the afternoon, our first real dive! With a boot and other divers (including Armand) we wend about 20 minutes into the ocean towards a reef. After the other group left we dived in and wend down, about 16 meters. Everything wend smooth and we also did some excercises again. And we swam around. What a wonderfull world! Coral and fish, both in lot’s of different species and colors. I decided that diving is cool!

Day 4 – Swimming with the fish
Today we did two more dives. With the boat about 20 minutes to the first spot…. if Chris (our teacher) would not have forgotten compasses for one of our excercises. So now the trip took 15 minutes longer. The dives were about 40 minutes and 12 to 16 meters deep. All dives are at reefs, so always lot’s of coral. And that’s where you find the fish. The second dive was specially cool because there where lot’s of schools with yellow, blue and silver-ish fish.

In the end we finished the course and we are now certified open water divers! Big chance I will do this some times more in the future.

5 days of safari

Day 1 – Manyara Parc
On the first day of our safari we wend to Manyara Parc, a lake parc. It was not so big, but very busy. For each animal groups of cars were checking out the animal. We have seen some elephants from only 3 meters, hippos from a distance, some giraffes and (very special) a tree climbing lion (which was more tree sleeping lion). The parc itself was too much a touristic attraction, something like Beekse Bergen. Fun, but with a strange feeling to it.

Day 2 – Serengeti
Today was a long drive, via Ngorogoro Parc, of which we saw almost nothing because of the clouds. But we will go there later in hopefully better weather. On the way we visited a Massai village. But what a sad story that is. For them it’s only about the money, a fixed program, no enthusiasm. The school kids where programed for the tourists.

We arrived in the Serengeti Parc around 3. What an enormous dry big area it is. We were afraid we would not see too much animals here. But it turned out totally different :). Pretty soon after arriving we spotted a group of 7 lions resting on some rocks. Later we saw some more (group of 3 and 1). There are really a lot of antilopes in a lot of different species. Almost at the end of the day we spotted some elephants and drove towards them. When we were there (as the only car), really quiet, more elehants joined the group. In the end there was a group of 17 elephants, small and big, eating bushes and playing around really close to our Landcruiser. Then it was time te head to the camping in the middle of the reserve. On the way we happened to spot a cheeta, which was really lucky, because they are really difficult to spot, OK, it was not really close….. but we saw one!

Day 3 – Serengeti
Today we started early, without breakfast. We were leaving the campsite at 6:15, because sunrise is a perfect time to spot game. And what a good day it was… zebras, hippos, lot’s of birds, thousands of thompson gazelles, monkeys, lions, hyenas, cheetas, elephants, water buffelos and as if that’s not enough we ha’ve been looking at the really hard to find leopard for half an hour (then it left). The Serengeti is indeed a very cool parc. OK, at the leopard 10 cars were looking at the same time, but that was really something. But most of the time you can enjoy wildlife without too much other people around. After Serrengeti a long drive back to Ngorogoro where we spend the night on a camping. An elephant was visiting the campsite. Of course this needed to be filmed. But Maarten and Armand came too close (idiots) and had to run when the elehant came storming for them. Fortunately it turned around again when they were running away.

Day 4 – Ngorogoro Crater
The crater is only a small piece of the Ngorogoro parc, but it’s the best part for spotting game. This is one of the rare places in Tanzania where rhinos can be found, but there are only 16 left. Unfortunately we did not spot a rhino, and it was our last chance to finish the big 5. But still a good day! We spotted big groups of zebras, wildebeests, flamingos, hyenas, vultures, hippos and water buffalos and some cheetas, lions, ostriches and other birds. It’s funny to see that the zebras and wildebeests are traveling together. The story goes that the wildebeests are too stupid and just follow the zebras 🙂 We also saw hyenas and vultures that were feasting on some left-over food from lions. First we could not see what they were eating, until one hyena walked just in front of our car with a zebra leg in his mouth! Later we spotted a family of hyenas with young ones.

Day 5 – Tarangire
In Tarangire parc we mostly enjoyed the nature. Hills, grass, green trees, a river and baobab trees (up to 3000 years old)!! We saw less animals than in the other parcs, but it was still nice. A group of elephants drinking in the river, big groups of zebras and wildebeests. We also saw a kite (bird of prey) catching a snake, while the snake was strangling a lizzard…. a clear example of the food chain.

That was that for the safari. Now we are going to travel to Zanzibar for a couple of days of diving.