Zanzibar and Malawi
Chitimba Travel Blog› entry 9 of 12 › view all entries
Alright so last time I wrote I was in Dar es Salaam, on the way to Zanzibar! We stayed the night in Dar, right on the beach at Kipepeo Beach Resort/Campsite, and got to swim in the Indian Ocean for the first time! I was ecstatic to be reunited with the ocean. I finally finished my book, Eat Pray Love (which I did in fact, love) and traded for a new on in Arusha. We picked up a couple new passengers on the bus in Dar and Zanzibar, two Irish boys, an American and our friend Grant who volunteered in Rwanda with Robin and I.
The next morning, bright and early, we caught the small Coastal Fast Ferry to Zanzibar; it was a two hour ride in which I was confined in the lower cabin which I can only describe it as being trapped inside a furnace. One of the other girls, Laura and I, managed to find our way out onto the deck in the last half an hour, where we struggled to find space on the deck where the people were crammed like sardines and a gigantic Indian family seemed to be sleeping all over the floor. Regardless, we seemed to have discovered a little bit of paradise – we felt the cool spray of the ocean and licked the salt off our lips while we navigated around islands solely composed of white sand with not a tree in sight. We arrived on Zanzibar, a beautiful island full of narrow alleys that seem to erase all sense of direction and plenty of historic architecture and ocean views.
We checked into a little inn in Stonetown where we would be for the night and then head to Kendwa near North Beach. When we arrived we found some of our friends from the DWC Rwanda portion of our trip, in the lobby! They had been waiting for us, to say hi and bye as they were on their way to ferry back to the mainland to continue adventures in Africa, and some would return back to Canada. With them was Grant, who convinced us to check out of the hotel, take the local bus (the dolla-dolla) to Nungwe, the most northern part of the island to hit the beach and the Full Moon party that would be happening that night. We found accommodation at a great bungalow type place called Casa Umoja, picked up some local drinks, swam at sunset and had dinner on the beach. We drove with some local friends to the Full Moon party at another resort that turned out to be completely mzungus until about 12 when all the locals showed up after the World Cup game, Ghana vs. USA. From there it turned into a full on dance party that spilled out onto the beach and it was a great time! We stayed out dancing till about 3 then decided to try walking home along the beach which turned out to be unsuccessful and extremely difficult. We had to backtrack through the bush which was full of prickles and the ground was all coral – a terrible situation because Grant had decided to be a hippie and not wear shoes at all in Zanzibar, so he cut up the bottoms of his feet and spent the two hours walking home cursing and regretting the no shoes decision which I found hilarious. We also came across an angry cow and two snakes that hissed at us which our local friends assured us, were only vipers. No big deal. After a epic adventure, we arrived back home safe and sound.
The next day we met up with the rest of the group in Kendwa where we would stay the next two nights. I headed straight to the dive shop where I booked 2 dives for early the next morning. I lay out all day in the sun in an attempt to even out my terrible farmers tan and was completely unsuccessful, which I am still confused by. Of course, the next day on the dive boat I burnt my knees into toasty crisps and earned an awful shorty wetsuit tan. Spent the evening hanging out on the beach in the hammocks and drinking the local beer. Just to confirm my extreme bad luck for flip flops on this trip, a stray dog stole one of my sandals while I unknowingly lay drinking in the hammock, ran off with it and now I only have one shoe. Typical. I was shoeless for 2 days until I managed to sprint around Stone town barefoot to get a new pair, before we caught the ferry back home.
Ok, now comes the awesome diving in Zanzibar! In the morning I did a two tank dive with one other girl from Germany and our dive master, Juan. The first site we dove was called Nankivell, where we saw tons of fish including a red fire gobie, clown triggerfish, tons of nudibranches, moray eels, bat fish (yes, named after Batman), and about a million different types and colors of stunning coral reefs. The second site was called Penglene and it turned out to be my favorite dive of the trip! We spotted a thorny seahorse (SO cool!) which I got a photo with, because Juan had a camera and we bought a CD of them. We also saw a blue spotted stingray (my first!), pipefish, lion fish, crocoile fish (so creepy but awesome), peacock flounders, ribbon eel and I even found a species that doesn’t even have a common name yet, just its scientific one, nembrotha purpureolineata. This site was awesome, great topography and so many strange and magnificent creatures. In the afternoon I dove with two friends from our safari, Murray from England and Jen from Scotland and we saw more angel fish, geometric moray eels, peacock mantis shrimp, barred thicklip wrasse, bluefin trevallies, all on the incredible hot plate coral beds that go as far as the eye can see. Diving in Zanzibar was extremely affordable based on the quality of the diving; I would highly recommend it to all visiting Zanzibar! The next day we headed back to Stone Town and all the way back to Dar es Salaam for the night. From there we had two twelve hour days of driving to Malawi.
Currently I am sitting here in the bar at a Chitimba campsite in Malawi, sleeping alongside Lake Malawi; it’s pouring rain outside so everyone has congregated at 10am to have hot chocolate at the bar, catch up on journal entries and hide out from the rain. I have borrowed the laptop of a wonderful Irish bloke, Jack, upon the condition that I mention him in my blog, so here’s your five seconds of fame! Some people, including my tent mate Robin, went on a 30km hike up Livingstonia Mountain at 6am this morning. At 6:45 I awoke to the pitter-patter of rain on the tent roof that we had poorly decided not to put the rain cover on the night before; quickly, I jumped out of my sleeping bag and ran out into the rain as it really began to come down and had to find our cook who had the key to the tent locker on the truck. A couple other girls were close behind, having made the same mistake as us. It started coming down the hardest it has ever rained since we have been in Africa here. I made it back to the tent, soaked to the core and covered in sand and mud. I hid out there for about an hour and a half, listening to it coming down so hard and watching the little pools of water enter the corners of the tent, moving our belongings as required and writing in my journal.
We had pancakes for breakfast (YUM! What a treat.) and today some people are going to see the local witchdoctor for a “reading” to predict your future, while others will go up Livingstonia Mountain to see the waterfalls, the local hospital, one of the best viewpoints in all of Malawi. The lovely campsite we are at is beautiful, right on the beach with we can unfortunately not walk on or swim in the lake because of the Bilharzia parasite which burrows into your foot when you step on its shell, infects your liver and without treatment you’ll die within 50 days, so no beach for me. We will be moving to a campsite down the lake where you can swim and walk on the beach, tomorrow. Last night we all celebrated Canada Day with beers and card games till the wee hours and in a couple days we’ll celebrate some more birthday and American Independence Day on July 4. I can’t believe my days are becoming so numbered here, I do not want to leave at all! I still have so much to see in the next 12 days but I will be very sad to have to leave this amazing continent. Happy Canada Day to all! Next update will probably be Zambia/Zimbabwe right before I come home. Boo. Love from Malawi!