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Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar_-_Stone_Town.jpg

We were sad to leave Mocambique, but we hope to go back some day, especially to spend more time in the beautiful northern areas, which are still undeveloped and quite beautiful from what we saw (and heard). We caught a plane to Dar Es Salaam, and then had some tense moments as our flight was delayed, and we had barely enough time to catch the last ferry to Zanzibar. As soon as we left the airport, we hit traffic, so we did our best to relax as our very competent taxi driver weaved in and out of traffic, off-roadfing at times! We made it to the ferry terminal with minutes to spare, and there got ripped off--the firdst time (at least that we know of...), surrounded by the ticket agents yelling "hurrry, hurry," we were overcharged twent dollars. No biggie--we got over it. The ferry took about three hours, so by the time we arrived it was just about dark, so we didn't get a sense of the place till the next day. Zanzibar consists of two islands--one to the north called Pemba (yes, another Pemba), and the main one, more developed that everyone thinks of when they hear Zanzbar. The islands are about 99% Muslim, due to their history of being the center of the Omani empire that stretched down the coast of Africa from Ethiopia to Mocambique. Zanzibar's main attractions are its beaches and the spice tours, both of which we took advantage of.

Many people go to Zanzibar after they safari, however we did it the other way around, not intentionally...Stone Town is the main port town, and the main town on the island, and has some amazing ornately carved woden doors throughout town:

Zanzibar_-_Door.jpg

The town is a maze of windy, narrow streets, and the main drags are filled with touts and any offers to give tours--what a drag. Later we were told these folks are not from Zanzibar, but are drawn here by the chance to work the tourist crowds, which there were plenty of. We were only there a couple of days, and the highlights were two day trips we took---a spice (plantation) tour and a vist to Jozani Forest.

The spice tour we booked (ten bucks each) was with the classic Mr. Mitu's tour. Apparently he was a taxi driver who would give customers tours way back in the sixties, and his business expanded so that it now has a small fleet of minivans. We really enjoyed the tour, which was at a couple of plantations about an hour from town, and saw vanilla beans, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, as well as various fruits, some of which we had never had, like the jackfruit, a relative of breadfruit, but on the sour side. Having a guide means you get to learn things like that nutmeg makes you horny, cardamom is related to orchids, and cloves are the only spice the government controls the price and sale of, because it's the most valuable. After the tour, we got to go to a small beach and had a lovely swim. Here's a pic of the horny spice:

Zanzibar_-_Nutmeg.jpg

Jozani Forest is an hour from Stone Town, and is fairly small, but very significant in that it has the only remaining red colobus monkey population on the island. Their numbers shrunk because they like to eat coconuts, and the farmers killed them freely. Ther numbers have grown dramatically since the Forest preserve was created. We managed to see a troop of them up close--unlike vervet monkeys who live there as well but are very shy, the colobus could care less if you are near. One actually jumped into the bush we were next to, completely ignoring us as it snacked on some leaves:

Zanzibar_-_Monkey.jpg

We took a trip to the northeast coast and had another incredible snorkelling experience, in the waters off Mnembo Atoll. We spent a couple of days at the beach near Matemwe, before heading back to ther mainland, and the start of our SAFARI!

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Oh, it looks like Zanzibaris are known for their political forecasting:

Zanzibar_-_Obama.jpg

Posted by cleichter 09:53 Archived in Tanzania

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