Organized Tour in Zanzibar: Dolphins and Colobuses
Русская версия We spent several wonderful days in Zanzibar and we enjoyed our time a lot! At some point of time we had such a euphoria moment that we even booked the organized tour to see dolphins and colobuses. This experience showed again that there are very few really professional tour companies and even fewer good guides in them. That is why if you have an opportunity to see something independently, it is better to rely on yourself.
Tours and excursions.
In Zanzibar, they offer several tour destinations. Spice tour is said to guarantee to awaken your senses after visiting the spice plantations with the opportunity to pick, smell, and savor fruits and spices which you have probably never seen at the supermarket shelves. It also includes the ruins of Marahubi Palace, the Kidichi Persian Baths, and rural areas (it is in the latter that you may see and try cloves, tangerine trees, lemon grass, mangosteen, ‘lipstick trees’).
Prison Island visit requires a boat. The place earned its name as a former prison; the island is one kilometer long and a quarter kilometer wide. The location is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, the waters are said to be crystal clear.
Stone Town by vehicle is a 3.5-hour tour for mzungu which includes the guided tour on town history and the visit to the market – something we did for free and on our own.
We chose the Dolphin Tour which also included the Jozani Forest visit. As the tour description promised, it takes one to Kizimkazi fishing village to see the bottle-nose dolphins in the open sea. According to the tour description, if you are lucky, you may swim close to the dolphins. The description of the tour company employee was even more bright: as she promised, as soon as we see the dolphins we should take on the snorkeling equipment, jump into the water, grab the dolphin’s fin and swim together with it. Not only this description but also the very low price of the tour (about 17 euros for the whole day) should have put us to thinking, but, as mentioned above, the island is too heavenly to think. It is also said that Kizimkazi is a site of a 12th century mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa, and is thus worth a visit for both natural and cultural reasons. Jozani Forest is to be visited to see Red Colobus Monkeys unique to Zanzibar, as well as civit cats, leopards, jumping shrew, red and grey squirrels, to mention the least from the description.
Next morning the guide picked us up. During the day he uttered about 5 sentences altogether, most of them were like “Go”, “Get into the car”, etc. Certainly, we did not learn anything about the village mosque or anything else, but Kizimkazi turned out really beautiful (although, to be honest, this beauty is accessible by daladala on your own).
Dolphins and snorkeling.
The boat driver pointed at snorkeling equipment and gave the briefest instructions ever: “Do not lose this, otherwise you will pay a lot”. Our boat departed seeking for dolphins and we were all ready to grab the dolphins’ fins and swim with them in the open ocean (shame on us, but we quite believed this). Our boat was riding through the ocean for one hour and it is needless to say that we did not see even a single dolphin. «Not a dolphin day”, the boat man said with a shrug.
Indeed, the nature in unpredictable and it is hard to organize the meeting with dolphins. Snorkeling was the next activity. Perhaps, our readers are more advanced, but it was our first time snorkeling and we had not been born with this skill. Nobody explained to us how to put on the mask or the tube. No matter how we put them on; when we disembarked into the open ocean, Victor swallowed some water and understood that it is not only that he was wearing his tube in the wrong way, but also that it leaked. He got really scared and started to clear his throat and swimming towards the boat (needless to say that the boat driver did not even look that side). The guide and the boat driver looked at Victor and started to laugh, “Is this your first time?” Obviously, this was not too funny for us.
Finally, this horror finished and we stopped for the lunch. On the way, they showed some representatives of the ocean fauna to us.
While we were in the ocean, the water went low-tide, and that is why we also recommend to photo everything when you see it: the landscape may change dramatically within several hours.
. Then they brought us to Jozani Forest inhabited by very rare Zanzibar red colobuses. Half of them (a bit more than 3000 monkeys) live in Jozani. Since Zanzibar red colobuses had been isolated from their big land friends for 10-15 thousand years they are also very different. Anyway, the monkeys are hard not to be noticed in the forest.
The forest itself, or the jungle, to say the truth, is also very impressive.
To be honest, you may visit the forest independently coming here by daladala and buying the ticket which also ensures you will get a guide. Moreover, you may enter the park for free from the road. Colobuses are on opposite side from the office.
This was the end of our strange tour, which was a learning experience. It is not only that the tours promise much more than you see: there is no actual guided tour and there are no any safety measures undertaken for you as in the case of snorkeling. The tourist and guiding services in Zanzibar are so underdeveloped and it is so easy to see everything with your own eyes and for free that you should think more than twice before going for the tour. Perhaps, it is not good to overgeneralize, but, as another example, do not you find stupid going to the night market with the tour while you may simply enjoy it on your own communicating with the locals and doing whatever you want?
This was also the end of our adventurous trip in Africa. Perhaps, we should admit that this trip was the most amazing ever. Many places are far beyond Africa in safari and animal watching (Latin America), the beauty of landscapes (Kamchatka) or the kindness of people (Pamir). Yet, Africa is a completely different world, still terribly colonial. Most of the mzungus (as locals call white people) come here for safari, move only by 4WDs and taxis and live in lodges and expensive hotels. At the end of our trip, relaxing in Zanzibar, we were sharing our impressions with a German couple which had come for a tailored safari-tour. Listening to our stories, the girl whispered to her boyfriend: “But they did not see Africa, you cannot see the animals from the bus window!” We were similarly surprised: they had seen nothing! Our Africa was not about safari, but about crowded buses, tribes and alcoholic chiefs, witches, orphans and kids with huge hunger bellies. This is not something you may see from your jeep hunting for the lion. Before you go to Africa, think twice which Africa you want to see and how colonial you want to remain. After all, there are many ways to go for safari in a responsible and non-mzungu way.
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