Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Zanzibar, day 3: Safari Blue

When we were planning our trip to Zanzibar, the one thing I knew I wanted to do when we were there was to spend a day with Safari Blue -- the company who originated the "blue safari" experience.

The driver sent to collect us was early, which was lucky because we got caught in port traffic as a ferry was loading and unloading, so we arrived 5 minutes late.

But no worries, we got there, got our wristbands, and a brief introduction before climbing aboard our dhow:

Our boat had 15 passengers, including two little girls with their parents.

Our trip would take us around the Menai Bay, a nature refuge.

image from Google Maps
Off we motored across water an impossible shade of turquoise.

First we went to a "mangrove swamp" ... not sure if that's really what it was, as I didn't recognize the mangrove trees, but it was a nice sheltered spot to float around for a while.

Then back on the boat for a little bit, as we motored out to a coral reef for our first snorkel of the day. This was the first time I have snorkeled for, well, over a decade.

I learned that if I stayed very still, the fish would come to me. Not that I managed to take many good photos of them!

I also learned that waves would fill my snorkel with salt water (gulp!) and that I'd be moved around so much that I would get nauseous in the water. How nauseous? I swam over to Wil, said, "I don't feel good ... I think I'm gonna ..." and threw up. In the water. I'm THE BEST.

I started swimming back to the boat, and felt like I'd been bitten or poked or scraped by something... then thought I was just imagining it. Turns out there were some tiny jellyfish in the water, and lots of people got stung. Someone said, "I felt like I got bit by something" and there was a chorus of "Me too!" "Oh! Me too!" My first jellyfish sting!

Then we motored to a small sandbank.

image from Google Maps
Some people, myself included, were dropped off there to relax on the beach. Others -- including Wil -- headed out to a nearby reef for another snorkel. I enjoyed sitting on the sandbank, splashing in the water, walking along the sand, and just chilling.

The sandbank from the water -- we weren't the only boat there, clearly!

One end of the sandbank -- this would later disappear under the tide.

There's Wil's boat at the reef!

Of course, I managed to get a TERRIBLE sunburn, just sitting in the sun for 45 minutes. Oops.

Then the snorkelers came ashore and we piled in an outrigger canoe for a short sail. (This seemed like a strange part of the trip; and the one thing I didn't think was super cool. We could have skipped it.)

Then back on the dhows for the short sail to nearby Kwale (Kiwale?) island.

image from Google Maps 

We arrived on the beach and walked to our shaded lunch spot.
image from Google Maps

Lunch had been freshly prepared, and had a lot of options:

And, of course, since it was a BUFFET, I ate too much...

We sat with an american couple and a South African couple and talked about traveling. Yeah, we won, having just climbed Kili...

After lunch -- and after a cup of coffee with Amarula liqueur -- we went to explore the island and see the baobab trees. Two large ones are near the beach; one standing tall:

... while the other blew down in a storm but keeps on growing:

We also came across this gym, which made me absurdly happy:

Then we headed into the water to explore some more.

Then we headed back to our dhow and sailed back toward the sandbank.

Humpback dolphins, to be precise. Humpbacks are more shy that bottlenose dolphins, so they didn't come very close to the boat. But we still got to see them! My photos make the "Nessie" photographs look high-res ... let's just say I was too busy squealing to press the shutter button!

Then Wil and I and several others got dropped off at the sandbank again, while a few hardy souls did another round of snorkeling. We splashed around in the water a bit more, feeling happy with our day. 


But then we all got back on the dhow and sailed -- that's right, sailed -- back to our starting point.

The beach was so shallow and the tide was so far out that we had to splash for about 100 feet back to dry sand -- but it seemed a fitting way to end a water safari!

We may have been the first people on the beach -- and instantly spotted our driver -- and were on our way back to Stone Town within a couple of minutes. 

When we got into town, we told the driver he didn't need to get us super close to the hotel, that we knew how to get to Emerson Spice, and that he didn't need to get stuck in traffic. I think he appreciated it! 

Back at the hotel we had hot showers and then headed out to Forodhani Gardens for the sunset and the night market. 

After perusing all the stalls, we chose a chef who was friendly without being pushy. We got a chapati, two vegetarian samosa, and a big softball-sized falafel for 10,000 TSh. We ate on the seafront, then walked back slowly toward the hotel. 

We had had the idea about having a nightcap in the Secret Garden ... but sadly their closed on Wednesdays! We considered heading up to the roof instead, but I was tired and sunburned and just beat. So we went to our lovely room, drank a bunch of water, and went to bed -- me with my skin ON FIRE.

P.S. - I've noticed a lot of cats like this one we saw on the waterfront -- short haired, but with a fluffy tail. So pretty!

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