Published: October 11th 2009October 1st 2009
9/9 - 18/9
Our 7 hour bus trip from Arusha to the coast was going relatively smoothly (well, as much as is possible in Tanzania …lots of unsurfaced roads, driving on the other side for no apparent reason and hair raising overtaking) until just outside Tanga when the bus gave up the ghost. We waited for a while but lost faith in the guy wielding a rusty looking wrench so decided to jump on a dala dala - a kind of mini-bus that drives even more crazily than the main buses and takes anything that breathes - ie people, chicken, goats… From Tanga then, we caught the last bus from Tanga to Pangani River. We stayed at a very tranquil little place just north of Pangani called Peponi’s. It’s run by Jilly and Denys who are friends of David Reid who we had met at D&D’s. We rented a little banda (a wooden cottage) right on the water and although we had only booked for 2 nights, we ended up spending 5 as it was just so relaxing! There’s not a lot to do there other than sunbathe, read, swim and eat the yummy (and pretty cheap) seafood that they serve
in the restaurant. There was a bit of excitement when a group of medical students arrived to kick back and throw up their heels. We left them playing drinking games at about 10 and apparently they kept going until all hours, skinny dipping in the pool and causing mayhem. We actually didn’t even hear them but they may have kept one or two awake as there were evil looks the next morning …hee hee, reminded us of our younger years!! More about one of these guys in the next blog
We did take a dhow out to a little sand island on one of the afternoons which was a nice diversion. The captain also took us snorkeling and managed to point out all sorts of tropical fish including the very impressive looking lion fish. He did however give us a fright when he caught and killed an octopus under water…there I was, floating along in the blissful underwater world watching all the fish appear as he gently waved a long stick under lumps of coral. The next minute, he jammed the stick into a hole and big long tenticles wrapped around the stick. A struggle ensued and then he
was wrestling with this creature before finally spearing the poor thing in the head and releasing all the ink ……eeeeuuuuggghhhh.
The other drama of the day was when one of our lovely Swedish girls stood on a sea urchin. Matt advised that the only available cure was to pee on her foot. As he had just gone (very convenient), he managed to convince poor Max (a lovely Canadian guy) to do the honours in a bottle. Our Victim took it all quite graciously and even said that it seemed to work ...I think she was just being brave.
We were trying to figure out the next part of our trip as we wanted to head down the coast and eventually to Mozambique. Denys the owner suggested that rather than getting the bus back to Tanga and then another long bus to Dar es Salaam, that we take a boat directly to Zanzibar from Pangani and then continue from there. So, we were very chuffed with ourselves as we were sitting in our privately chartered boat (it actually works out about the same price as bus to Dar and then ferry) and congratulating ourselves on how we had skipped the
nasty buses and were travelling in style. That was of course until we had left the safe waters of the harbour and headed our rickety little boat into the rolling waves of the open ocean. I’d like to say it was smooth sailing but no, we were both green within 10 minutes of leaving and had another 3 hours of it until we reached dry land again! The saving grace though was that we crossed paths with a huge pod of very playful dolphins and they stayed with the boat for a little while, whizzing along and jumping up alongside us. Still, we were very happy to sail into the turquoise waters of the north of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is absolutely gorgeous! We had heard that we might be disappointed as we had already been to Lamu island (Kenya) which is like a smaller, less spoiled version of Zanzibar. There’s definitely similarities - both Swahili settlements, both have a stone town etc but we found them very different. I think we were lucky as we went during Ramadan so the whole place was much more quiet than normal. We ended up stayed in Nungwi Beach which is supposed to be
Beers with Paul and Shelley
Matt's friends from SA who he met on the Kili trip
the party capital. We were expecting a Phuket style ram packed resort with pumping dance music and throngs of backpackers. Whilst it’s certainly busier than Lamu or Pangani and there’s a few obnoxious looking luxury complexes as you go east, it is stunning - white sandy beaches, beautiful clear water, chilled out Regae style bars and we managed to get a nice little room in a backpackers called Jambo Brothers right on the water. We bumped into two of Matt’s Kili friends - a very fun couple from SA called Shelley and Paul. They gave us lots of advice on what to do there as well as advice for going to Vic Falls and South Africa (if we go that far). We spent the next day on a snorkeling trip out to Memba island, met a lovely couple of med students from Oz and had a bbq on the beach …I got a bit bbq’d too and was very pink by the end of the day!
We spent our last day and night in Stone Town. After a pretty frustrating morning trying to organize our boat to Dar and then train from there, I was absolutely ecstatic to find
Relaxing in Zanzibar Coffee House
the cafe is hard to find. It is discreetly hidden behind curtains as we were there during Ramadan so locals weren't eating or drinking during daylight hours
the Zanzibar Coffee House which serves fabulous coffee and delicious food (and is behind pretty billowing curtains so we could eat during the day and not offend the locals who are observing Ramadan). There’s such an exotic feel to wandering through the outskirts and inner winding streets of the old Stone Town - The jam packed local market that sells everything from fresh fruit to car parts, the Anglican church which used to be the site of one of the main Slave markets in Africa, the bijou gift shops shoulder to shoulder with aromatic spice shops, Tradespeople making furniture outside and of course the very diverse and colourful locals (because of the colonial and spice trade history, there’s an eclectic mix of Arabic, Indian, European and African people). We had a wander through one of the main museums which is called the House of Wonders, had a look at the old fort and then watched a very beautiful sun set whilst having sun downers in the ultra luxurious Serena Hotel. We popped into Africa House which is a beautifully restored building now housing a hotel, bar and Restaurant (it used to be the British Base) and this is where we
met our travel agent and ended up booking our train to Zambia - more on that in our next blog. We ended the evening by eating in the outdoor food maket in the Forodhani Gardens - a tempting array of fresh fish and seafood, chapattis, Zanzibar Pizzas (yum!) and sweet pancakes. We filled our tums for about $3 each and headed back to our hostel for what was to be our last sleep before the epic journey ahead.
There are more photos below