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Zanzibar, Tanzania

17 September 2007

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After two weeks in the bush it was time for some R&R and I headed off to Zanzibar and the fantastic Matemwe Bungalows to lounge around the pool and do a spot if diving.

Zanzibar is still a magical place, even with the tourist hordes descending upon it, and Matemwe, an hour north of Stone Town near the northern tip of the island, is a luxurious haven with cold beer, white sand and plenty of sunshine.

The first two days were spent diving near Mnemba Island (itself the site of an even more luxurious and exclusive min-resort) and although my underwater photography gear had not arrived (only landing in my room 12 hours before departure) I still had some great moments under the waves with Sea Turtles, forests of Eels and more fish than on nearly any previous dive.

I also had the opportunity to visit the Jozoni Forest to see the endemic and endangered Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey. As they are now very protected they have become incredibly habituated to people and we were able to sit within metres of them as they went about their daily business of foraging, grooming and squabbling. Not really a fully-wild experience, but very nice nonetheless.

One afternoon I also wandered down Matemwe Beach as the dhows returned from their days fishing. They were heading for the central hut where traders and restauranteurs from around the island bid for the best catches. Although I was again unwilling to photograph too much I did get some images.

Two side notes to Zanzibar: firstly my travel problems continued on the way down. When the plane arrived at Kleins airstrip in the Loliondo to transport me to Zanzibar viua Arusha, the pilot (and owner as I later discovered) was surprised to see me as he was only dropping off passengers and had not been informed that he had a pick-up. And furthermore he informed me that they did not even have a flight to Zanzibar on that day! Luckily I was able to produce my ticket, so he shrugged and said OK and I was able to board. En route to Arusha he spoke to his office and they were able (at their cost) to get me a seat on a different plane onwards to Zanzibar

The second problem was nearly much more disastrous. My last morning at Matemwe I found that brand-new top-of-the-line Sony laptop had had a complete hard-disk failure! It had seemed a bit sick over the previous few days and had clearly decided to give up the ghost. Luckily, I had consistently been backing up all my photos (indeed twice) so all I lost was a couple of hours worth of editing. So upon my arrival in Arusha I headed straight for the only real electronics shop and managed to myself a decent Compaq at a surprisingly good price. The afternoon was then spent downloading (at an agonizingly slow 5 kbps) the various applications I use (with the exception of Photoshop, the CD of which is at home in London). So all in all, the disaster was not too troubling (though it did delay multiple of these blog postings).

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