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Zanzibar – Travelling Around the Island

Zanzibar is an archipelago that consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Pemba and Unguja, the latter informally referred to as Zanzibar. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 35 km from the Tanzanian mainland coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island is over 100 km long and around 30 km wide, with a total area of approximately 2500 square kilometers. It is famous for its sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs and historic Stone Town said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bush-pigs and small antelopes. There is also a wide variety of birds and a large number of butterflies. The golden beaches of Zanzibar are a real paradise, scattered with picturesque fishing villages, where people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years. During my stay there I have travelled all over the island enjoying beauty of this amazing tropical paradise, meeting local people and learning about their culture.

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Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Zanzibar

 

People of Stone Town

Zanzibar’s local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of Islands long and colorful history. Over centuries different cultures have influenced Zanzibar to become what it is today. Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phonecians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguse, Omani Arabs, Dutch and British have settled here at one time or another. Zanzibaris speak Swahili locally known as Kiswahili, a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Some say that the purest form of this language is spoken in Zanzibar, as it is the birthplace of the language. Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism. Population is estimated at nearly one million people and one fifth of them live in Zanzibar City itself. Some of them I met while wandering through the narrow streets of Stone Town.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Zanzibar

 

The Maze of Stone Town

Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar little changed in the last 200 years. Most of the houses that can be seen there today were built in the 19th century when Island was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean region. The old city is filled with winding alleys, mosques, bazaars and Arab houses whose original owners competed with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. I was especially fascinated by antique wooden doors carved from hardwood often decorated with studs and bosses of iron or brass. As far as I know there are over 500 different examples of this magnificent hand work. I would like to invite you to wander with me through the amazing labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways of Stone Town.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Zanzibar

 

Michenzani Housing Project

Michenzani is a large neighbourhood of Ng’ambo, the more modern part of Zanzibar City. The place is mostly known for a complex of apartment blocks constructed from large, prefabricated concrete slabs called “Plattenbauten” that have been built here in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the aid of East Germany. The Michenzani apartment blocks used to be the pride of revolutionary government of Zanzibar however since virtually no maintenance has been made after the 1970s, the buildings are now in a state of decay. Lack of water pressure makes water services unavailable from the second floors up. As a result many residents have installed their own water pumps, which are not in keeping with the original style of the buildings. What is more despite being the tallest public buildings in Zanzibar, no lifts were installed and all the flats are only accessible by stairs. The effects of socialist urban planning in Zanzibar you can see in the pictures above.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Zanzibar

 

Ifakara and the Kilombero River

Ifakara is a small rural town in the Kilombero district in Morogoro region of south central Tanzania. I spend there a day wandering around this rural market town meeting local people and a few hours floating along the Kilombero River on a traditional dugout canoe. I have to admit it was quite an experience.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Tanzania

 

Hunting in Mikumi

With slightly over 3000 square kilometers Mikumi is relatively small National Park. It lies between the Uruguru mountains to the East and the Rift Valley escarpments to the Southwest, around 300 km west of Dar Es Salaam. It is close to the Selous ecosystem and therefor part of it. Although less spectacular regarding flora and fauna the landscape of Mikumi is often compared to that of the Serengeti. There is a rich variety of bird species (around 400) as well as large animals such as giraffes, buffaloes, elephants, lions, leopards and hippos. You can also see zebras, wild dogs, pythons, hartebeests, wildebeests, impalas, warthogs, elands and antelopes. Most of the mentioned animals I was lucky enough to see myself. Now you can have look at the effects of my photographic hunting in the gallery above. During my stay in Mikumi I also visited local Snake Park and had a chance to see some of the most venomous and dangerous snakes of Africa such as spitting cobras as well as black and green mambas. I certainly wouldn’t like to see those in nature.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Tanzania

 

The Udzungwa Mountains, Sanje Waterfall and Mangula Village

The Udzungwa Mountains are the highest mountains in the Eastern Arc, mountain range which stretches from Southern Kenya to South Tanzania, known as the “Galapogos of Africa”. The Eastern Arc makes up only 2% of the land area in Tanzania however has around 40% of the plant and animal species living in the country. This is a place of beautiful tropical rainforests and sparkling streams of crystal clear water where only walking is allowed. Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania’s newest National Parks and is often described as a “Primate Park” due to the several species of primate living in it’s forests. Most of them are endemic including the Sanje Crested Mangabey and the Iringa Red Colobus. It is relatively easy to see there black and white Colobus Monkeys, Iringa Red Colobus and Sykes’ Monkeys. There are also more than 400 bird species living in the Park and over 2500 plant species of which 25 percent are endemics. One of the park’s main attractions are Sanje Waterfalls. There are no roads passable by vehicle in Udzungwa Mountains so as all the other trails it is accessible only by foot. A relatively short hike of about 2 hours took me to the third stage of Sanje Falls. Although, informally referred to as the Sanje Waterfall, it is in fact a series of waterfalls that plunge over 300m in three seperate stages. The largest section, with a drop of 170m can be seen from the road below, and it is where I enjoyed spectacular view of the Kilombero Valley. I also took a refreshing bath in one of the pools of the waterfall. Straight after trekking I visited nearby village called Mangula. The effect of this visit as well as of Sanje Falls hiking you can see in the gallery above.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Tanzania