An African Safari- Part II by Col Jay Mishra
Contd from the previous part which can be accessed at this link
Early morning of 5th Feb 2012, we got up at 0530 as our flight for Dar es Salaam , via Kilimanjaro was to leave at 1230 hrs. We all dressed up in a hurry , went for the “King Breakfast” and were ready to move out by 1000hr, when we remembered that we have given our clothes for calendaring and they have not been delivered yet. Lot of frenetic calls were made to the house keeping but nothing seemed to be moving , after lots of shouting and persuation we were able to get our clothes back and we rushed towards the ENTEBBE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. We were in time for the check –in and heaved a sign of relief once inside the immigration window.
The flight was very comfortable, airhostesses were very cordial and looked us after us too well, meals were served to include sandwiches, nuts and beer/juice. The Precision Airlines as the name suggests was to be precise on schedule and we landed at Kilimanjaro Airport, TANZANIA around 1345hr for a short halt and took off again with the onboard service and same snacks again served. We landed at Dar Es Salaam Julius Nyerere International Airport around 1535hr.We rushed ahead of everybody as our next flight was less than 40 min to take off for Zanzibar from here. We went through a routine of checks and paper work only to be told that it was not required as we were to board the Precision Airlines flight again, but in the security check one of my gem had to gift his deo’s, sun’s screen lotion and a swiss knife as they were not allowed in the hand baggage.
The Precision Airlines flight from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar is all of fifteen minutes and the view from the top is awesome. We landed at the Zanzibar International Airport also called Kisauni Airport around 1645hours. The Airport is too small and the frills of an even basic Airport are missing, like there is no conveyor belt for your luggage, it is lugged by the persons and handed over to you. The people are very friendly and the language commonly spoken is Swahili. We came out of the Airport and headed in the direction of the waiting cabs. The view outside the airport is similar to any of our small places in INDIA. We hired a cab and asked him to take us to a place called Kendwa Rocks , on the other end of Zanzibar Island.
Zanzibar was primarily under Portuguese Empire , which ruled it for more than 200 years. In 1698 Zanzibar fell under the control of the Sultanate of Oman . In 1890 Zanzibar became a British protectorate. The death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25 August 1896 and the succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash of whom the British did not approve led to the Anglo-Zanzibar War. On the morning of 27 August 1896, ships of the Royal Navy destroyed the Beit al Hukum Palace. A cease fire was declared 38 minutes later, and to this day the bombardment stands as the shortest war in history. The islands gained independence from Britain in December 1963 as a constitutional monarchy. A month later, the bloody Zanzibar Revolution, in which several thousand Arabs and Indians were killed and thousands more expelled and expropriated, led to the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba. That April, the republic merged with the mainland Tanganyika, or more accurately, was subsumed into Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region. Zanzibar was most recently in the international news with a January 2001 massacre, following contested elections.
KENDWA ROCKS is located on the north coast of Zanzibar, 55 km from Stone Town and just a few km south of Nungwi village. The roads were smooth and drive was a treat in a Toyota mini van but suddenly the driver stopped the van and requested us if we will allow him to run over to the nearest filling station and get an extra jerricane of diesel for himself as the crisis of the same was hitting the town due to recession. We told him to go ahead . We waited for twenty minutes when finally he showed up and we started moving again. It was already dark and I told him with surprise that he should turn the head lights, when he informed me that they were not working. We were dumbfound for some time and started praying as the road was narrow and he was not driving slow. We kept on looking out for the any kind of vehicular movement on the road and cautioning the driver. To our rescue a car came up from the rear and I told him to let it pass and to follow on its tail as it would help us move with its headlights for a support.
We reached Kendwa Rocks around 2000hr and scouted for a room . We went to the reception of Kendwa Rocks resort and were told that the room will be available for three personon sharing basis for a price of $120/ ni. The deal was way above our budget but we needed a place to put up for the night. We asked the receptionist if we could be shown the room before we decide. She obliged and went with us .The room was a very unique one, with a single room , three beds in that , with mosquito nets hanging on them, toilet and bath seprate which was adjoining to it with open roof, no air conditioner and lights too drab to look any way inviting to us. We came back to the receptionist and asked her to lower the prices as it was not worth the price which she was asking. She did not budge on it and we took our call and went to look for some other hotel in the vicinity.
We drove for ten min as the road at the Kendwa Rocks area is really pathetic and came across a sign board saying White Sands Resort. We went to the reception which was like it had been left in a hurry, a man who was sleeping inside it. We woke him up and asked for a room for ourselves, he showed us the room which was neat and clean, bright light, with air conditioner and a chiller to boast and toilet very nicely done, although a new concept was seen everywhere that no doors were provided to any of them, in any of the hotels we saw. We said we will take it as it was for $70/ni , which was in our budget. We quickly paid off the cab chap $30 for his efforts and made ourselves comfortable in the room. After ten minutes we went to the restaurant and ordered our dinner. By the time it was getting prepared we went for our first visit to the beach.
We got up late on the 6TH Feb as it was the day to relax. We went for the breakfast which was again a lavish one , off course , on the house or included in our room rent. We had fruits, cutlets ,bread and egg to order ,juice and coffee. We decided to explore the beach as it was early in the day and the sun was pleasant . We saw a number of foreigners, singles and groups all over the beach and while we were moving around we came across a person who was directed by the receptionist of White sand to enroll us in the diving programme. We decided to take a two day dive course which would cost us $150. We were told to come for the evening classes at the SPANISH DANCERS DIVING club for the introduction and rehersal for our main diving the next day. Having taken careof our first agenda of diving we were really looking for a place for our lunch.
We came to a place called the Essence inn and went inside the grand shelter which was beautifully decorated and looked just like it was set for some movie shoot. A person came to our table and introduced himself to us, his name was Mr Sauravan, he was from India and was the manager of the Inn. He informed us that the inn was basically for the Italian tourists’ stay but the restaurant was open for the general public. We ordered the Sea Food Platter and mocktails. We were amazed to see the presentation when the sea food platter was kept in front of us. The items on the platter were octopus, king crab, kalamari, shrimp, etc . We did not waste a moment longer and went for the sumptuous meal at once, which complimented the presentation. We thanked the staff for the great meal but the moment we gave our card for settling the bill it was returned with a smile that it was not accepted as it was a Debit card. The payment was made in cash from our side only after the manager agreed to let us go and do it later that evening.
At around 1530 hr we were woken up from our slumber , which we were taking in our respective hammocks, and told to take a boat ride to the Nungwi Beach for the evening classes for Diving. We were greeted by Mr Shy, Mr Alvaro, Mr Nick at the Spanish Dancers Diving. We were quickly asked to fill our forms and pay the fees in full in advance. Done that, we were taken to the place of our briefing and demonstration. The scuba unit consists of a tank, a regulator, and a buoyancy control device (BCD ) . A BCD is inflated or deflated, allowing the diver to float or descend in the water. The regulator supplies air from the tank to the diver via a hose, gauges and a mouthpiece. We were told about the mask, scuba fins, wet suits, weight system or weight belt, the underwater communication ,etc.
We were ready to go to the ocean the moment we were being told about the equipment so much that the minute we were given our wet suits we tried to put them on, and we did it so with lots of efforts only to be laughed at by everybody as we had put them on with the zipper in the front. We had to remove them and put them on again , after dipping our feet in the water to lessen the friction . We were ready for the ocean and the scuba lessens in a few minutes and looked like real divers with all the gear we had worn. We were taken for the half an hour of our first lessen in the water and we came back exhausted with the experience and learning for our life. That night we all fell asleep minutes after our dinner.
07 Feb 2012 came with a bright sun which was a good news for us we were to go to the wall in the Indian Ocean for the first diving experience of our lives. But before that we had to get dressed for our breakfast. We went for our breakfast and found a unit was shooting some stunning beach models just in front of our breakfast table. With our jaws dropping we kept on watching the bikini clad models for good one hour when finally I mustered enough courage and asked one of them if we can take picture of them . She obliged to the request and we went clicking on from that moment.
We had decided to shift to the Nungwi beach as all our activities were centered around that place. We moved in the Nungwi Resort , took a room there and quickly went to the Spanish Dancers Diving for our first diving experience of life. We were taken to Mnemba atoll , near the Mnemba Island which is a mere 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) off of the north–eastern tip of Zanzibar .The pristine water and the surrounding was so beautiful that we were speech less for a good one minute. We put on our suits , checked our equipment and lowered ourselves into the clear water. It was nice and warm . We remained inside for about half an hour. It was worth every minute, the life which we saw was beyond words, everything was colourful, alive, mysterious, thrilling and enchanting. We surfaced and after a break of half an hour , which included refreshments like pineapple, banans & donuts, we again went for a second dive near by.
We returned to our room by 1900hr and freshened up, got dressed and went to look for a place for drinks and dinner. We walked for half an hour, saw the entire beach and all the eating joints, and finally decided to try out the BARAKA Restaurant . We saw an assortment of Lobsters, kingfish, calamaries – prawns, octopus, crabs and squid freshly brought from the oceans displayed for the customers to choose for meals. We ordered Rock Lobsters , rice and chips and our staple diet, Kiliminjaro and Sernengity beer. We relished the beer and meal with the tides touching our feet’s with each bite.
08th Feb 2012 was a relaxed day, we got up late and went for our on the house Breakfast around 1000hr. We took fruits, ham, bacon and ordered for Spanish omelet, with coffee and juice . We ate with all the time in the world to spare and kept our eyes glued to a group of lovelies who were sun tanning about ten meters from us. We decided to take a cab and go over to the stone town , in Zanzibar as the most famous music festival of Africa , SAUTI ZA BUSARA was starting.
Finally after days , of adventure , fun and frolic,our holiday drew to a close
. But by jove, we needed that break to bring a new vigor in our life and also those moments to savour a lifetime .
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