The Island of Zanzibar: Tickling Turtles

GOasis Nungwi Zanaibar

The next stop on our African tour was Zanzibar. Sarah, Nikki, Vicky and I had spent the last week exploring Rwanda and Uganda through driving, camping and hiking and we were looking forward to a bit of luxury, and Zanzibar didn’t disappoint…

zanzibar

Now, we all know the meaning of the wonderful phrase made famous by Timon and Pumbaa, but in Zanzibar it is commonly used in every day conversation. On landing in the airport at 2am, we were greeted by our driver with “Hakuna Matata!” We got in his karaoke cab(!) and took a long drive to Nungwi.

We were staying in one of Goasis’ beach apartments called Simba. It was being built up, so it was very much in the centre of a construction site, but once inside the high gates of the complex, it felt very safe, secluded and comfortable. The exceptionally friendly staff heightened these lovely feelings, and were lovely and helpful for the duration of our stay. They served a fresh breakfast each day, cooked to order with a fresh fruit smoothie. Goasis offers a perfect blend of privacy, convenience and beauty for a very affordable price. The well equipped site has plenty to do, from relaxing in the sun and going for a splash the pool or having a cocktail in the bar. It has a sense of romance; a secluded getaway, which is impressive as it is just a five minute walk to the beach.

Tickling Turtles

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The next morning we went to a natural aquarium to swim with Green Turtles. There are a two natural aquariums but the staff at GOasis recommended that we went to Mnarani Aquarium. The turtles are cared for, rehabilitated and encouraged back into the wild.

We were escorted along the 15 minute beach walk and were stunned by the incredible colours of Nungwi. Despite the fact that it was a cloudy day, the deep greys made a beautiful contrast with the cerulean blue sea and the clean golden sand.  IMG_1868 (2).JPG

We peered through the palm trees, into a giant rock pool and saw massive turtles gliding among a group of paddling tourists. They seemed to enjoy the company, most probably because of the tonne of seaweed they were being fed. We were told that turtles never stop eating! We descended towards the pool. It was cold at first, but that was quickly forgotten as a turtle brushed past my leg! It was very deep so we had to tread the water, but the large rocks in and around the pool provided a good rest point without having to get out of the water.
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We were nervous at first that we might tread on them but I soon figured that they’re better swimmers than us and that they’d get out of the way if they wanted to! It was amazing to be able to feed them. I held up some seaweed for one to snap away at, and all of a sudden, I found myself surrounded by about seven turtles, plus several who were swimming below me. I reached out my hand and gently stroked the glorious, hard shell of one very large turtle and tickled the soft, wrinkled head of another. I watched their flippers pulling them through the water with ease and we had great fun trying to selfie with them before they dived down beneath us.

The sizes of the turtles varied. The smaller ones were about the size of my 30 litre day sack, while the biggest one was too big for me to even fit my arms around (had he let me!). The bigger they are, the older.

This incredible experience is one not to be missed for any visitor to Zanzibar, especially if you’re an animal lover. Even if not, it is easy to appreciate the serenity, peace and beauty of the green turtles, even if they are a bit greedy!


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