|Well what an amazing time we've had since our last posting. Tanzania just seems to get better and better.
We left the Tanzanian mainland for our stint in the famous Zanzibar archipeligo on a small 10 seater aeroplane with the safety briefing given by the pilot from his chair - fortunately the flight was only 20 minutes. Our first destination was Pemba Island, known for its world class SCUBA diving. Known in diving circles for its massive drop-offs (some over 1000 metres) and pristine coral reefs (amongst the best anywhere in the world).
We certainly were not disappointed. In total we had 4 dives and were completely blown away both under and on the water with the beauty of this place. Made up of hundreds of tiny islands with talcum powder fluffy white sand, turquoise waters and local fishermen cruising around in their dhows, the trip out to the dive sites was beautiful in its own right. Each morning we saw dolphins and even tuna jumping from the water - the tuna got Doiv particularly excited although there weren't any rods on the boat...
The diving was just amazing - 29 degree water with plenty to see and huge visibility. It was like descending into a tropical aquarium with thousands of fishies, corals (soft and hard) and massive clams. Son described it as like diving in a magical flower garden with fish. But it was the drop-offs that were really spectacular. When diving we drifted with a small current, with the coral wall on one side and perfect blue water abyss on the other. It was completely surreal looking down and seeing corals and clear blue water stretching away with no bottom in sight.
One of the highlights of our diving around Pemba was swimming with huge schools of fish. We had a lot of fun waving our arms around like an orchestral conductor watching the school react as one and change direction.
All dived out, we caught the ferry to Stonetown on Zanzibar Island. Birth place of Freddy Mercury, Stonetown is an ancient city with a heady mix of arabic, african and colonial cultures. As a result, it has a unique feel and amazing atmosphere with street sellers, narrow alleyways and beautiful faded architecture. In the evenings the local park transforms into a huge outdoor seafood grill with dozens of local vendors cooking up the daily catch. We became addicted to one of the local treats - Zanzibar Pizzas - coming soon to the block...
From here we headed to a remote corner of the island for our Christmas and New Year treat - Pongwe Resort. A small number of cute little bungalows situated on a perfect beach, it was everything and more we could have hoped for. We spent 9 days in total lazing about, snorkeling, enjoying fine food and generally pinching ourselves that we were in such a la-dee-dah place. One of the other highlights was meeting some great (and crazy) people that we plan to see again. Son also introduced Doiv to scrabble and some epic games (and questionable words) followed.
The dinners put on for Christmas and New Year's Eve were also simply incredible with chef managing to dig up pork in a muslim community - funnily enough a welcome alternative to all the seafood we'd devoured. After dinner a local african dance troop were on show providing a memorable hip grinding and grooving experience. With music provided by two guys (one with bongos; the other with a bit of corrigated iron), Son also got into shaking her booty. It was an impressive effort as (to Doiv's delight) she was almost able to wiggle like a local.
Only 10 days left to go in East Africa before we head off to South Africa and the last major leg of our journey.