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Zanzibar and East African wildlife: Tanzania

sunny 30 °C

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We had two long drive days to get up to Dar es Salaam, on the Indian Ocean. On the night of one bush camp, there was a total lunar eclipse.

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From Dar, we all went our separate ways for a few days. The truck stayed in Dar and we had five days to do whatever we wanted. A 'holiday from a holiday,' most of us caught the ferry over to Zanzibar. The Zanzibar archipelago is trying to gain independence from mainland Tanzania so you need to get your passport stamped in and out. Culturally, the islands are very different from the mainland. Predominantly Muslim, they have been greatly influenced by the Arab merchants who settled here.

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Stonetown, the capital of Zanzibar island, has a fantastic seafood market in the evenings down by the harbour. Octopus, calamari, shellfish, lobster and many different types of fish, as well as naan breads and falafel, are cooked to order and you sit around enjoying the atmosphere and feasting.

Kat, a German girl on the truck, and I wanted to do similar things on the island so decided to join forces. We caught a bus up to Kendwa, on the far north shore, which is reputed to have some of the best beaches in the world.

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Brilliantly white sand, crystal clear, turquoise water and largely unspoilt, it was a real tropical paradise. Just what we needed after many weeks spent on bumpy, dusty roads. (Well, Malawi was also pretty chilled, but a few days on a beautiful, empty beach always goes down well.)

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We had a lovely room; thatched roof, Afro-Arabic d├ęcor, overlooking the ocean.

The night we arrived, there was a full-moon party a little way down the beach. Pretty wild. I missed a snorkelling trip I'd booked for the next day as a result. Still, it was worth it, plus the snorkelling was easily re-scheduled for the day after.

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The snorkelling trip involved a few hours sailing on a traditional wooden dhow to Mnemba atoll, a marine reserve. The snorkelling here was incredible - thousands of fish; colourful, live corals; a morey eel. The water was so warm and clean, it really was like swimming inside an aquarium.

Since I don't have an underwater camera, the following photos are Jono's:

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After the snorkelling, we stopped off at a secluded beach and had a delicious lunch of barbequed kingfish and tropical fruit.

Kat and I went on a dolphin cruise off the southern tip of the island. If we'd seen bottlenose dolphins, we could've swam with them, however we only came across a pod of humpback dolphins. These are very shy and not suitable for swimming with, but we did jump off the boat and swim around among shoals of tiny fish. We both got stung quite a bit by jellyfish however; they really itched.

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On the way back, we visited a forest home to the extremely rare Zanzibar red colobus monkeys. Inquisitive little things, they sprang from branch to branch and darted around our feet.

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Giant millipede in the jungle.

Back in Stonetown, we met up with a few people from the truck and did a 'spice tour' of the old town and surrounding spice plantations.

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There is a church built on the site of the old slave market. Stonetown was where Arab slave merchants came to buy and sell slaves taken from their villages on mainland Africa. Part of the tour took us to a museum showing the holding areas in which they were kept; cramped basements with appalling living conditions. It was truly horrific what these slaves had to put up with; many died of diseases or suffocation while in transit or in these fetid cells.

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Fish market and a spice seller's shopfront.

In the spice plantations, our guide showed us the many uses spices and plants grown on the islands have.

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Natural lipstick.

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Red bananas. Like regular ones but richer and slightly creamy.

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Vanilla.

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Fresh nutmeg.

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Cloves.

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Giant snail, back on the mainland at a campsite in Dar.

Once everyone had returned to the truck, we set off all together again.

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Ferry between the two peninsulas in the city.

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The consequences of some very bad driving. You see quite a few overturned trucks on the roads.

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Scary looking spider at a pee stop.

After driving through Moshi (where you can normally see Kilimanjaro - when there's not thick, low hanging cloud), we reached Arusha. Here we stayed at a camp site owned by a South African couple who farm snakes for their venom, used to treat snake bite victims in their on site clinic. Hundreds of local Masai villagers are treated every year for free in the clinic, funded largely by profits from the campsite and bar.

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They also had some Nile crocodiles, babies and big bruisers.

The guys who almost trod on deadly snakes in Namibia were able to see them behind glass here and read about how horrific their bites can be.

Included in the cost of our overland trip, we did a two day safari in Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro National Parks.

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Wall of the Great Rift Valley.

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There are so many kites in East Africa.

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Rim of Ngorongoro Crater at dawn.

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These lions were the first animals we saw in Ngorongoro NP (aside from the always-present bands of baboons.)

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Count the lions.

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Hippos in the lake.

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Dust devil.

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Birds back at the snake park in Arusha.
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Posted by AlTiffany2 04:58 Archived in Tanzania

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