I have been lucky the last year, I think I traveled more in the last 12 months in Tanzania than in any year of the past 12 years.
That is partly due to work but I have also traveled a lot with the girls.
The last trip however, was alone. There was not really a lot of time to feel lonely though, I had a flight every day. I needed to do a bit of an orientation round of the Tanzanian coast and I ended up seeing the most wonderful things, some of which I did not expect to be so overwhelmingly beautiful.
Saadani National park.
I had been to Pangani and Zanzibar and I kind of expected it to be less interesting and beautiful than it was. Not because I am cynical (well, I am but that was not the reason) but because it is difficult to know what to expect when people talk about bush-and-beach, safari-and-sun-and-sand.. But it is truly an experience without equal: wild cats, monkeys, hippos all some meters away from the Indian Ocean.
Dar es Salaam
Okay, so this is not a new place for me, I have been here. I must admit I alwasy try and leave as soon as possible, the traffic is the worst (and I have seen Asian traffic). But this time I was guided by an expat that lives there and I had two great evenings out and superb food, that counts for something.
I have read about the history of Tanzania, and Zanzibar does give a glimpse of the era of Sultans, slaves and spice. But Kilwa Ruins is something else. An island with structures of which some are still standing for more than 50%. I must admit that the classicaly schooled geek in me loves history, and I miss that I cannot visit the occassional museum here. But this place was such a timewarp, really impressive.
I have seen tropical islands and white beaches before, but Fanjove is the photoshopped version of the prettiest island I have ever seen. What amazed me most was the fact that all those things that brochures say to sell something, are in this case true: unspoilt, natural, beautiful, wild, mesmerizing colors.. I have a mouth full of words to describe this place and still I will not find the right ones. What struck me most is how incredibly amazing it is to experience the natural elements so close up: the blue-est blue, the most relaxing sounds, the skin-stroking sun..
Just an example so you would have an idea what I am talking about.. Normally when we go to the coast, my girls try and find pretty shells on the beach. Usually they find small ones or damaged ones. On Fanjove you are surrounded by such an incredible amount of huge, beautiful, gorgeous, impressive shells that you do not know where to begin if you even wanted to pick one up. So you just kind of give up and think “I should just try to take this all in and don’t touch anything” and then you see this one big shell that lifts itself and walks away! And you are happy you did not touch it.. Might be a silly anecdote, but it left me feeling very modest and in awe.
Another aha-moment came when the sun went down. I have already noticed that in Africa the skies seem to have more stars than in any other part of the world – as far as I have seen at least. But at Fanjove, it almost seemed like the sky had more stars than blue. Again, one can feel so little and so grand at the same time. Utter beauty.
Now I only have one more place on my coastal list left to tick: Mafia. One always need something to wish for..
SAADANI SAFARI LODGE
(I am a sucker for an outdoor shower..)
By car and riverboat to SAADANI RIVER LODGE
(you gotta love the tree in the wall..)