From Matemwe we took yet another taxi to the town of Pingwe further south on Zanzibar’s peninsula. We stayed at Pweza beach bungalows which was about 100 meters down the beach from the famous rock restaurant which we never did go to as it was too expensive for regular food. Our two rooms were located in the roof, above some other guests rooms, with a seaview. They were basic rooms with not much more than a bed and an attached bathroom. The bed was too short and I’d wake up with my feet dangling over the edge of the wooden frame. Even though it was simple it was plenty enough. However this is the place where we eventually saw our first rat and cockroach on this trip (it was called for).
The beach was a lovely beach with few tourists although as the rock was there it was still busier than Matemwe. When we arrived, several centimeters of seaweed covered the beach (seaweed season) however, miraculously it disappeared overnight and we were left with soft sand only. The sea proved to be a great place to swim, especially around sun set when it was cooler and the sandbank led us out to bluer waters.
There were many boat trips off the beach so after getting prices off several different people (mum promising them each we’d go with them one day) we ended up going with a really nice, loopy but funny guy.
First he drove us to where all the starfish congregated which was just up north. The waters were unbelievably shallow even though we were far from shore and it was crystal clear. Once Jedi spotted the starfish his excitement and curiousity overcame his boat fear.
There were thousands. Red, black, orange, yellow, blue and green coloured starfish rested in the sea.
As I swam round looking at these beautiful creatures I tried not to be mad about the fact that we didn’t have an underwater camera anymore. They were a perfect, exquisite, natural pentagon. After we’d picked some up and put them on each others heads we set off in the opposite direction to snorkel.
I was surprised at how good the coral was. There were so many types such as staghorn, table, brain and blade fire coral along with angelfish, clown fish, parrot fish and schools of so many more. I stayed in the sea for a long time and not for the first time wished I could live in the beauty of the sea. Our driver started jumping on and out of the boat and singing ‘mambo poa, habari,hakuna matata’ in a very high pitch which was highly amusing.
Jozani Chwaka Bay National park is the only National park in Zanzibar. People mainly come to see the Zanzibar Red Colobus which is also known as Kirk’s red Colobus (named after sir John Kirk who was a British resident of Zanzibar and who was the first to bring the attention of zoological science). The forest is also known for the black and white colobus but it isn’t as famous as these creatures also roam other regions of Africa.
So that’s where we went- Jozani forest.
We decided to wait at the side of the road (stupidly at midday) for the dala dala (local mini bus). We didn’t want to get a taxi as it was too expensive and we wanted to try it out.
When it came 20 minutes later (having no fixed time) we thankfully each got a seat. Not much further the bus picked up three tourists, one of them being a young girl with absolutely no awareness of muslim culture as she wore a mini skirt and a sports bra so all the passengers in the bus averted their eyes probably appalled. The other one being an older guy who was appropriately dressed was dripping with sweat and ended up standing above me along with his sweat which dripped onto my arm. I was thankful when they hopped off and enjoyed the ride for another 30 mins smelling of a mixture of sweat and coconut oil. The bus soon got full as they didn’t stop loading passengers on until they were hanging out of the door (typical Indian style).
After they’d argued with us about the fact that you needed a guide at the ticket office of Jozani forest they told us to go off on our own and come back later for a guide although they said we wouldn’t see any monkeys without one-they couldn’t be more wrong.
Jozani forest is beautiful. Tall majestic trees reach for each other in the canope and provide bridges for the amazing black and white colobuses.
Birds sing throughout the thick vibrant foliage and lead you to think you have set foot in a fairytale. We meandered our way through this peaceful scenery (after encountering a mad but surprised guide because we didn’t have one when we were meant to) all the way back to the ticket office.
The guide herded a group of people up and off we went in the opposite direction we had gone- towards the smaller forest. I’ve always hated going anywhere in groups. I feel claustrophobic, you can’t see what you are meant to see unless you push to the front, it’s loud and you can’t go where you want to or ask a question that is on your mind before you forget what it was. It didn’t start off too well when I couldn’t get a good view of the elephant shrew let alone a good picture but after that when I saw my first Red colobus it all went right. These colobuses were even more magnificent than the black and white ones. The monkeys would stop what they were doing and stare at me directly in the eye as if they knew what I was thinking. It was an amazing sight.
After touring more of the forest they transported us to the mangrove forest which bordered the coral forest (which is exactly what it says). Even though I’ve seen a lot of mangroves having been to India in the Sundarbans National Park it was still something special as the wooden walkway snaked its way around the mangroves.
Once it had ended a lovely family who lived in Finland gave us a ride most of the way home where we were then able to catch the dala dala.