Hakuna Matata – No Worries! A Swahili phrase which sums up the laid back nature of people, their lifestyle and attitude on Zanzibar, the last port of call on our African adventure.
We arrived late into Zanzibar after a mid evening flight from Nairobi. Then another hour to drive south towards our rather plush accommodation at Bwejuu set beside a shallow Indian Ocean reef. And that was the main purpose of the trip; to allow the younger members of our party to indulge in a spot of diving, a discipline they had recently taken up.
This was all about R&R, but when there’s wildlife to be found Madden cannot rest. However, as luck would have it on this first perfectly sunny and tropical morning I didn’t need to strain myself too much. In fact strolling to and from the beachside provided plenty of colourful birdlife. A colony of African Golden Weavers were busy building their nests. They provided a colourful and vibrant scene with the males hanging upside down and shaking their booty in an attempt to woo a passing female. The nests, an intricate ball of tightly woven grasses, seemed to almost be suspended in mid air until you realised they had been cleverly constructed around fine twigs. Could have watched them for hours….and probably did!
At the beachside, the stump of a coconut palm, now used as a volleyball support post, played host to a nesting pair of brilliantly coloured Lilac-breasted Rollers. This pair, one of which had lost its tail feathers, were busy feeding their young with various large insects and lizards. All I had to do was order a cocktail and wait!
Much of the wildlife of Zanzibar has been eradicated through the activities of man, and precious little pristine habitat remains. The ocean holds the most interesting life and on our second day we signed up for a spell of swimming with dolphins. I mused that health and safety was not a twinkle in anyone’s eye as we piled aboard small motorised canoes to ply the warm waters in search of the regularly encountered dolphin pods. We were not to be disappointed, although my ignominious first attempt at exiting the boat had me floundering on my back flapping my limbs wildly in the air as the youngsters eagerly pushed their way to the front. I made a better attempt second time around.
In the afternoon we visited Jozani Forest, the largest remaining area of endemic forest on the island, home to groups of Kirk’s Red Colobus monkeys as well as some birds hard to encounter elsewhere.
Envious of all these young fit folk trooping around with their diving gear, I thought I can do that. Without further hesitation, and before Mr Sensible once more held sway, I booked a learning session with the on site PADI approved instructor. The following morning at the appointed hour, I was kitted out and by the expedient of jumping into the hotel swimming pool taken through the basics of diving.
An hour later I was whisked away to a beautiful beach, boarded a small boat which chugged out half a mile offshore and there I was let loose. Well, not exactly abandoned because I had two instructors to myself being the only person to enrol on this particular session. Despite being quite nervous as to whether I would be able to cope with not actually being able to breathe fresh air, I plunged in. Would claustrophobia kick in? Would I sink like a stone? The answer to one of those questions is no, which happily meant I could flip my way around the glorious reef full of weird and wonderfully coloured marine life. One of the instructors took my camera and managed to obtain some good video of the event. Here it is, I hope you like it.
Not a bad way to end the African experience at all. For more adventures from this particular holiday click here. HAKUNA MATATA – NO WORRIES!