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Yachting and Safari in Tanzania. January 2019

Motor Yacht: Over The Rainbow of London – 35 m
Type of experiences: Cultural, Socially-responsible Expedition, Underwater Adventures, Yachting & land Safari, Fishing.
Organised and supervised by:  Captain Tim Cooter, Sytske Kimman (Camper & Nicholsons)  and Maria Alekseenko (Maria Yachting / Experiential Yachting).

Pre-adventure organisation

  • Tanzania is one of the very few destinations where it is possible to combine yachting experience with inland safari experience.

  • Planing a trip from November to March, it would be best to start with safari experience in the Serengeti area in the lodge One Nature Hotel Nyaruswiga Serengetti and to continue with a cruise on board a 35m high-standard historical motor yacht, Over the Rainbow of London.
  • Lodge One Nature Hotel Nyaruswiga Serengetti is very conveniently located. The area provides a rich diversity of resident wildlife as well as migrating animals that pass through.

  • M/Y Over The Rainbow of London is a vessel with a rich history going back to the early 1930s, witnessing World War II, being a floating platform for a popular casino, and welcoming many celebrities throughout her life, including Winston Churchill and Madonna.

  • Three full days in the safari camp is a sophisticated safari “tasting” experience that allows you to savour every moment of the journey because of its intense adventurous activities limited in time.
  • Then the flight is scheduled from Nyaruswiga to Dar El Salaam to embark on the yacht for five days, cruising Zanzibar Archipelago.

Day 1 – Dancing in Dar El Salaam

  • If, for any reason, the safari experience is excluded, it would still be highly advisable to arrive at the destination a few days early to smoothly “plunge in” to the country, its traditions and lifestyle.
  • Staying at the Hotel Hyatt Regency Dar El Salaam for two nights on the weekend is the best option to discover the traditions of the locals.

  • Sunday brunch in the hotel has united about twelve groups of local friends and families. Each of them was there to celebrate the birthday of one of their members. The local band played, people danced and the hotel staff constantly played the Happy Birthday song, bringing different types of cakes. The energy and joy were in the air, fulfilling everyone with vibes of the African dolce vita.

  • However, in the evening, another type of dancing captures the capital of Tanzania: a social dance called Baikoko, which is a sexual and very sensual dance that is performed in some bars and private dance parties. It is not to be missed if you are lucky enough to be accompanied by the right people.

Day 2 – The contrasts of Zanzibar

  • Embarkation at Dar Es Salaam Yacht Club. To provide the harbour office workers with some jobs, the captain requires the service of local “tenders’ to serve the guests, so be prepared to feel the contrast of an old local wooden boat that brings you on board the yacht, where the stewardess and crew will greet you with refreshments and canapes.

 

  • After embarkation and safety instructions, the yacht heads to Zanzibar Island.
  • Ideally, on the way to Zanzibar, it would be best to stop at the inhabited Fungu Island to step on the beautiful white sand beach to dive into your first swim in the warm Indian Ocean and to enjoy a light lunch, during which the chef will introduce the tastes of the local cuisine, i.e. fried fish with fried bananas and delicious banana cake.

  • It’s important to reach Zanzibar City and to go onshore before sunset, when mosquitoes start to “party” in town. Even Zanzibar Island belongs to Tanzania, you will still have to pass custom formalities there again, which might take some time.

  • Reading the history of Zanzibar Island before stepping out to discover Stone Town (the older part of Zanzibar City) will allow you to feel this place from a different perspective. The town’s energy is still filled with the pain that came from the aggression and suffering of previous generations. It used to be one of the cruelest slave-trading ports in the world, followed by the genocide of Arab and Asian communities immediately after the Zanzibar Revolution. Nowadays, the tourists are invited to visit a former slave market on the same tour in which they visit Freddie Mercury’s house. The insanity of humanity feels very strong here.

 

  • After experiencing the contrast of the crowded labyrinthine streets of Stone Town, where people are drinking coffee and playing a game of bao, the comfort of the luxury yacht feels even more relaxing.

  • Back on board for dinner and a meditation about life under the incredible sky dotted with stars.

Day 3 – Giant tortoises, spice farm and cheetahs

  • After breakfast, the yacht approaches Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island. Another contrast awaits you there: again the combination of historical human suffering and the incredible beauty of nature.
  • The facilities of this island were used as a place for rebellious slaves prior to shipping them abroad or selling them at the slave market. Later on, this island became a quarantine island, where the ships disembarked people with deadly diseases.
  • Today, the quarantine buildings have been converted into guesthouses. The prison ruins offer entertainment for visitors, and the island itself has become a sanctuary for giant tortoises.

  • Turquoise waters, a white beach and pompous green vegetation – this is a beautiful reserve to observe, feed, and interact with hundreds of giant turtles, as well as peafowls, which also live there and walk in between the trees.
  • We climb back on board for lunch, slowly cruising to Zanzibar.
  • An intense afternoon offshore is planned, starting with discovering one of the local spice farms that grows different spices, medicinal and ornamental plants, and tropical fruits.

  • We are learning about the historical engagement between the island and spices. We are tasting  plants and drink fresh coconut milk. The local farmer climbs a tree to get it fresh for us, singing Akuna Matata songs and making everybody sing and dance and feel the existence of the moment.

  • The next stop is for those who could not manage doing a safari but still want to see lions, cheetahs, zebras, and other wild animals. It is a great activity for a family with children, but probably not for a group of adults. Cheetah’s Rock is a unique place where people can interact directly with wild animals, learn about the protection and conservation of endangered species and about their behaviour. However, the visits are available only in large groups (about 30 people). No private visits are available to protect the animals from “unscheduled bothering”.

  • Then it’s back again to the comfort of the yacht facilities for dinner and star gazing.

Day 4 – Thanda Island, Pemba Island, fishing and underwater adventures

  • The plan is to cruise south to Mafia Island to experience deep-sea fishing in the area, which are the best game fishing grounds in East Africa, with possible catches of sailfish, blue, black and striped marlin, barracuda, wahoo, kingfish, giant trevally, yellowfin, dog-tooth tuna, dorado, five-fingered jack, rainbow runner, red snapper, rock cod, etc.
  • Another option would be to experience spear fishing, diving, an snorkeling.
  • The end of the day would offer a contrast that is well balanced with previous activities: enjoying a sunset on the beach and an entertaining beach dinner at the unique and privately owned Thanda Island, which is known as one of the world’s most exclusive island getaways. Besides providing its guests with a mix of rejuvenation and adventurous activities, this island boasts a single luxurious villa and two traditional beach chalets situated in a marine reserve, which has become a place where guests, owners and staff can become part of diverse programs related to the social and environmental commitments to marine conservation and a range of uplifting initiatives in local communities.
  • https://www.thandaisland.com

  • The plan changes and instead of cruising to Thanda Island we head north to Pemba Island. Experiential yachting always requires an open-minded attitude: All can be well planned months in advance, but may change in hours due to weather conditions or other circumstances. There is no better possibility to feel and be in the moment than yachting.
  • Waking up early in the morning, we pass by a small fishing village and explore how locals start their daily activities. Local fishermen don’t like to have their photo taken.

  • A surprise is waiting near Pemba Island: The captain has discovered a small shipwreck in the northern part of the island. Seabobs take us there for a great snorkeling experience. It is also possible to engage in spear fishing in the area.

 

  • For wreck-diving admirers, Zanzibar archipelago is one of the best places in Africa: A 100-meter-long sunken vessel can be explored in the southern part of Pemba Island. It has not sunken very deep and is easy to access.
  • In the evening, the crew prepares another surprise: the beach table set to enjoy an aperitif and to watch the sun set on the inhabited island. The island is a home for hermit crabs and vervet monkeys. Walking along the white sand beach with a cocktail at sunset and swimming in the warm Indian Ocean is the perfect balance before heading out for an intense day tomorrow.

Day 5 – Socially responsible yachting

  • If the vessel had been in Mafia island instead of Pemba Island, as was planned, today’s activities would include sailing to Kilondoni Port to go for a whale shark swim. These slow-moving, filter-feeding sharks are the largest known existing fish species.

  • A swim with whale sharks would be followed by a BBQ lunch on an exposed sand cliff.

  • After lunch, the yacht would cruise to Boydu Island for an intercultural experience, where we would meet with locals, discover a non-touristic wicker village, and learn how to make wicker baskets and home accessories and get involved in socially responsible projects run by a local foundation in collaboration with Thanda Island.

(Boydu Island photos-credit: Tim Cooter)

  • However, we are on Pemba Island, and the activities of the day have been arranged differently.
  • Morning starts with tender-sailing in the Mangrove Forest and seabob snorkeling in the coral riffs.

  • Mangroves are a vital part of the coastal ecology: They provide shelter and nursery areas for many marine species; they filter the water; and they stabilise coastlines by providing a buffer against wave action. But they are also a convenient source of wood for building houses and boats, a source of charcoal, and are also used as seaweed farming stakes.

  • After lunch, we go to explore the island, guided by Nassor, a local managing director of the Pemba Foundation.
  • The Pemba Foundation works to develop lives and livelihoods on the island of Pemba. The foundation’s programs encourage the creation of new business through small loans, support sustainable seaweed aquaculture, help farmers to install drip irrigation, and raise the funds to build schools and public toilets in the remote villages on the island, where cholera still takes the lives of inhabitants during the rainy season.

  • Driving around the island, we stop to visit a local furniture workshop and local fishing village.
  • A hand-crafted furniture shop is a good example of small-scale entrepreneurship activities on the island.

  • On the way to the fishing village, we pass the alley that is home to thousands of flying foxes. The Pemba flying fox has a wingspan of 1.6 m (5 ft 3”) and is one of the largest species of fruit bat. They live only on Pemba Island and nowhere else in the world.

  • After visiting the fishing village, we stop at the local market and buy some local fruits and vegetables.

  • Furthermore, we are visiting the local chef, who obtained a loan from the Pemba Foundation and launched his cooking business for village events. Inviting him to join us on the yacht and to cook for us might be a reciprocal experience; however, we are realising that this chef is used to traditional cooking on fire and might not appreciate the kitchen facilities of the yacht.

  • Just one hour later, we are back on the yacht. Our chef is preparing Mahi-Mahi and fried bananas for dinner, such a contrast.

  • Encouraging socially responsible yacht charters in cooperation with the Pemba Foundation, we supported two local entrepreneurship projects: a small milk farm and a small T-shirt printing house. The large-scale projects related to sanitary or educational development of the island require higher funds. For more information : http://pembafoundation.org

  • At sunset, we start to cruise slowly back to Dar El Salaam, trolling in the hope of catching some tuna. No luck this time for tuna; however, a barracuda was caught, photos were taken of it, and it was released back to the sea.

Day 6 – Disembarkation in Dar El Salaam

  • Tanzania is one of the very few destinations in the world where it is possible to mix land safari with yachting. Thanks to the owner of M/Y Over The Rainbow of London and its captain, who is bold enough to bring the yacht all the way back from the Mediterranean Sea to this destination, cruising a high-risk areas near Erithea, Yemen, Somalia, and Kenya, being obliged to take special insurance and security guards, the Tanzania can now be a part of the most unique experiential yacht travel.

  • “Special thanks to my family and to my close people, who support Experiential Yachting and its core purpose to explorer, to discover, to feel the contrasts of life and to ameliorate this world through yachting by being engaged in socially- and environmentally- responsible commitments”,  Maria Alekseenko, January 2019