Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Zanzibar - Lurching along the Indian Ocean

Dedicated to Abdullah, who spoke schway English.

Today was spent riding and snorkelling the Indian ocean.

It began as a grey morning with light rain and reasonably choppy water, through which we lurched in a long coconut wood boat with an orange tarpaulin. This was Kikepea, "The Butterfly", and it was piloted by Abdullah, a wiry dark little Zanzibarian boatbuilder.

Although the seas were not comfortable, I've sailed through much worse on fishing trips in Australia. We even once had to deal with more adverse conditions while dragonboating on Lake Burley Griffin! Unfortunately, the two other mates I was with hated it. They claimed to be "in fear of their lives", and ended up making a loud string of complaints to the manager about it afterwards. I hung around afterwards to explain that we clearly had different expectations for the daytrip, as I had a lovely time.

We landed upon an isolated sandbar, where I built a tiny sandcastle to raise its altitude and thus aid the fight against global warming. Not much to see there underwater due to poor visibility and generally sandy conditions. A bumpy ride later and we were immersed in spectacularly colourful fish and corals off Bawi island. There were several types of starfish jellyfish, soft corals, and luminous small fish of too many varieties to list. (Not least because I don't actually know what most of them were called).

At the third island we walked amongst giant tortoises up to 175 years old. They're suprisingly interesting creatures to watch. They don't do much, but they lead you to ponder interesting questions like "How many people could that one feed?" "What's the easiest way to cook something that bloody big?" and "How common could these have been before Humans started eating them?". After that we had a well-earnt lunch on the beach.

I'm back in Stonetown now, as the tortoises didn't provide us with an internet cafe. (Hate to think of their connection speed). Tomorrow we're back up to Dar es Salaam, hen travelling on through northern Tanzania to the Serenget and Ngorogoro Crater. By the end of the week we'll have passed through Kenya's Masaai Mara, and I'll be flying back to Cairo from Nairobi. I'm telling you this now because much of this travel will be done in bushcamps, and there's not likely to be any internet access for a while. But don't forget to send me emails please!


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