iSTEP Tanzania

Zanzibar Part I

Posted on: June 25, 2009

Last weekend’s trip to Zanzibar was, in a word, awesome. Even though we were only there for two nights, there’s a ton to talk about – from stumbling around in Stone Town to mysteriously running into fellow UDSM students from Georgetown at Nungwi – but I’m going to focus on Sunday.

Sunday we woke up early to a packed day: a trip to Jozani forest followed by an excursion to the north coast at Nungwi. Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar’s only national park, is home to plenty of wildlife, including two species of mongoose, squirrels, pythons, antelope and two species of monkeys. As I excitedly pointed at the various fauna on the board and asked our guide which we would see, I learned that they’re pretty much all nocturnal. Bummer. On the plus side, he assured me that we would see monkeys. And oh, did we ever see monkeys.

The highlight of the trip was definitely the monkeys. We saw two species: the Zanzibar red Colobus monkey, which lives only on Zanzibar (although there are other species of red Colobus monkey elsewhere), and the Sykes’ monkey. The Colobus monkeys spent most of their time jumping from tree to tree, which was not always entirely graceful. In fact, I saw one land on a branch, which promptly snapped off, dropping the monkey a good seven or eight feet to the ground. He seemed fine.

Besides the monkeys, we were treated to a few other sights, including, but not limited to, lizards, giant African land snails, mangroves, tons upon tons of crabs, and me furiously scratching my leg after I brushed up against a stinging nettle. As we left, we all agreed that Jozani forest had been a great idea.

Next up: Nungwi. Nungwi is a town on the north coast of Zanzibar, roughly and hour away from Jozani or Stone Town. Upon our arrival, the weather was a nice shade of overcast, and the resorts apparently abandoned. We went to lunch at a local joint, where a drunk man proceeded to eat some of Hatem’s food before being reprimanded by the restaurant owner. Following lunch Brad and I set out on our quest to go snorkeling.

After almost five minutes of walking on the beach, we found a place that agreed to take us out for 17,000 Tsh (or about $15). Sweet deal. They rig up a Dhow (a traditional sailing boat) with an outboard motor, invite us on board, and we slowly but surely make our way out to a local reef. Twenty minutes later, Brad and I are in the water marveling at the fish and the coral.

After thoroughly checking out the first site, we move to another, complete with an entire school of zebra fish (a good two hundred of them all by the boat). Oh, and I almost forgot, they let us dive off the top of the Dhow, which is about eight feet high. On our return journey, our fearless captain forwent the outboard motor and chose instead to rig up the sails. As such, the journey took a bit longer, but it was cool to be sailing on a real Dhow.

And that was our Sunday in Zanzibar (well, there was a little bit more about how we got lost trying to find our way home from the night market, but that’s a story from another day). The next day we went home (also a story for another day), and Tuesday back to work. This week we’re meeting with the ISW to hopefully schedule interviews for our needs assessment team, so we can figure out exactly what the challenges are and how we can best address them. Of course, I’ve been working hard (and continue to), developing a product that we think might be useful based on our current information, so that hopefully we can get some feedback on that too (that’s a little further off, hopefully next week).

PS – I’ll get some pictures up later today.

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