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South Coast Zanzibar Beaches

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Jambiani Beach - South Coast ZanzibarTo the south of Paje you'll reach Jambiani, a good size beach village running several kilometers along the coast. There are many small guesthouses here but there are no large resorts. There are many places to buy food (including a bakery!) and other basics. The Jambiani Beach Hotel and the Shehe Guesthouse are two of many recommended guesthouses. The room rates are modest and the rooms are clean. See Listings Section for more information.

Jambiani Beach - Zanzibar TanzaniaOn the southernmost point of the island are two major villages. Directly south from Jambiani on the same road you'll find Makunduchi, the largest village of the south.

Makunduchi is a long drive, but the village has most of what you may need including a small post office, a bank, and quite a few little shops.

It is also where the yearly Zoroastrian Mwaka Kogwa festival is celebrated most wildly.

Along with some ZTC Bungalows there is the Kigaeni Reef Lodge which offers rooms of different sizes for reasonable rates.

In addition to budget accommodations, the Lodge can arrange for snorkeling trips as well as rides to and from town that include tours of local sights along the way. Check with any tour operator in town and they'll help you with the arrangements.

Kizimkazi Bay - South Coast Zanzibar , TanzaniaKizimkazi is the on the southern tip of the island. It is home to the oldest mosque on the island and possibly in all of East Africa. The Kizimkazi Mosque has inscriptions that date back to 1107 AD There are Kufic inscriptions on the east wall of the mosque where the muezzin says the call to prayer. The mosque has been remodeled several times and the small part that survived from 1107 is the trefoil and the inscriptions on each side at a height of about three feet.

The outside of the mosque doesn't look at all old since it has a corrugated metal roof and new walls. You'll have to ask a local resident where it is because it doesn't have a sign. You may also have to rustle up the keeper, because if you go when the mosque is closed, he'll have to unlock it for you. The mosque welcomes visitors, but please remove your shoes before entering and have your shoulders and knees covered. Women are allowed in the mosque and all visitors are asked to leave a small donation for upkeep.

Kizimkazi (broken into two villages just down the road from each other) is well known for the dolphins that live off the shore. There are only two guesthouses in Kizimkazi and they both play host to visitors who are there in hopes of seeing dolphins. There are many boats and captains who will take you out on a dolphin safari. Dolphins are social creatures and will not shy from the boats unless there's a baby with them. Most dolphin safaris result in a good viewing but it is not guaranteed. There are also resident dolphins off the Mnemba Atoll if you don't get a chance to get to Kizimkazi, you may be able to spot them from Matemwe or on a snorkeling trip from Nungwi. Paje also has a boat that goes down to Kizimkazi to see the dolphins.

Things to watch out for when snorkeling or walking to the reef: sea urchins (easy to spot because they are black and spiky), sponges (can cause skin irritation), coral (can cause nasty infections as well as damage the coral), jelly fish (sting, sting, sting), and anemones (sting and sting again).

If you are going to snorkel at a reef, but sure to read up on the local wildlife beforehand; things are much more interesting if you know what you're looking at and it will be much safer to know what to avoid. A good rule of thumb is 'don't touch anything on the reef'.

Diving & Boating

The Zanzibar Islands have excellent locations for diving because living reefs surround many of the islands. There are plenty of places where the water temperature is warm, visibility is usually excellent, and currents are weak, all of which contributes to an ideal location for first time and novice divers. In addition to the warm and still waters full of colorful fish, there are many challenging dives as well.

If you want to surf the current through a ravine, go for deep water, or search for wrecks, there are dive companies that can make it happen for you. Many of the larger resorts on the north and east coasts have professionally-run dive shops as well. See the Listings Section for complete listings of dive shops.

Top Dive - Snorkel Sites in the Archipelago

Two Manta Rays in Mnemba Island South Coast Zanzibar The walls of the Mnemba Island Atoll vary in height from 20 to 60m. A large variety of reef life is on permanent display at Mnemba; from grouper to green turtles to whale sharks, you can see it all at Mnemba Atoll.

Snorkeling and diving are so exceptional here that boats from dive centers at Nungwi to Kiwengwa are found daily at various points off the atoll.

With site names like 'The Aquarium' you get an idea of the water clarity and the specimens to be spotted. Best diving off Unguja, for both novice and advanced divers).

Leven Bank is a dive only for the experienced.

Deep water and strong currents provide a challenging dive but the effort pays off in the form of large and plentiful fish that are always there. This location is in the Pemba channel (open sea) and swells can be large.

Sand Bar Island (Pange Sand Bank)
Bawe Island DivingLocated just south of the Serena in Stone Town, the Sand Bar is only about a 30-minute boat ride from town.

An excellent location for snorkelers because the reef starts at about one or two meters.

Maximum depth for diving is no more than 20m.

There is plenty of marine life to satisfy snorkelers and divers.

Bawe Island is another excellent choice for offshore dives within a few minutes of Stone Town.

The coral formations include quite a bit of brain, staghorn, and other distinct shapes. There are also plenty of sea cucumbers, giant clams, and anemones. There are many fish, the current isn't strong and the depths are good for novice level divers.

Prison Island, located just 15 minutes from Stone Town, is a popular location for novice diving and snorkeling because of the shallow depths, variety in coral and marine life, and lack of strong current.

The Great Northerner is a must for wreck enthusiasts. Located between Bawe and Pange Sandbar and just about 30 minutes from town, she's lying about 12m under the surface right on the edge of the reef. She sank on New Year's Eve in 1897 while laying electrical cables that were to connect Zanzibar to the mainland.

The wreck is in pieces but there's plenty of it and plenty life around it. Sometimes known as "Clown City" because of the number of clown fish, the Great Northerner is ideal for diving but snorkeling is not recommended because of the depth.

Fumba is a peninsula on the southwest part of the island. It is nearly virgin territory because the government has not yet issued permits for tourist companies to operate on that part of the island. One company, Adventures Afloat, operates a day trip to Fumba that includes an onboard barbecue and fishing. The boat doesn't moor at Fumba and departs from another part of the island. Fumba is only 15 km from Stone Town and the village does welcome visitors just don't expect to find a dive shop in the region.

For deep-sea fishing or boat trips to any of the outlying islands around Unguja or Pemba, contact a local tour operator. There are some luxury boats for hire as well as boats that are meant only to get you there and back with no meals served.

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Sanchez Sorretino

Our party of 6 (2 from USA & 4 from Lithuania) returned from a week's safari on Saturday August 11, 2007 - our first time in Africa and first safari. Our first exposure was the game drive after our guide Robert Kutu and Jack Wanjala picked us up at the Amboseli airstrip. We were astounded at the numbers of animals and birds that we saw that first day. This was followed by a night drive that evening. The following day was a 2-hour walk with Mike, followed by an afternoon visit to the Maasai village, sundowner and another night drive. Our entire experience, including the accommodations at the camp, was truly memorable, including the campfire and beautiful starry sky (and the early morning drive to the airstrip wrapped in ponchos against the morn...

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