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Trip report: Matemwe, Zanzibar

Discussion in 'Africa and the Middle East' started by marpacifica, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. marpacifica

    marpacifica Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Once upon a time in Micronesia, but now bubbling i
    469
    0
    0
    Just got back from two weeks in Tanzania and would like to report that I was overwhelmed with surprises, primarily good. Safari portion with Mark Thornton Safaris to Serengeti, Loliondo and Ngorogoro was the best I've done in Africa. I lived for two years in Malawi and did safaris in Tanzania and Malawi, and I have to say that the animals and vastness of the protected lands in Tanzania are incredible.

    I was also impressed by the diving in Matemwe at Mnemba Atoll. My last few trips have been to the Caribbean, where I was pretty disappointed with the diving because I used to live in Micronesia. I was blown away at Mnemba by the shoals of fish -- trevally, kingfish (I think these were spanish mackerel), largest trumpetfish I've seen, loads of anthiases, groupers a good 100 lbs/40 kgs+, and snappers galore. Did 4 dives over 2 days with Zanzibar Dive Center. I don't remember all the divesite names, but one of them was the Aquarium, and it truly lived up to its name minus the plexiglass and artificial lighting.

    Zanzibar Dive Center had seaworthy skiffs with dual Yamaha engines. Kathy (?), one of the owners, came out with us the first day to check our C-cards. They picked us up at the Matemwe Bungalows at 730a. Great to head out so early. Got back around 10 a.m. Reason for early pick up was the tide, which gets really low, too low to drop us off at the hotel. Took a van back to the hotel -- we had to pay for that, ugh, $20 for two of us, same the next day, just a 630 a.m. pickup and 9 a.m. return. 2nd day our divemaster was Haji, who grew up in the area and knows his stuff.

    I really didn't think the diving would be that impressive there, but it was, and I compare it to a lesser Palau without the colorful soft corals and hordes of pelagics. Next time we will go to Pemba, where the pelagics hang out, or so we hear.

    We brought all our own gear. No discount for that. Would have taken only our regulators had we known that, because we had to pay excess baggage from Arusha to Zanzibar (official, we got a receipt) and unofficial from Zanzibar to Dar (under the table...the ticket agent said that it was our lucky day and that he would charge us only $20 US for our excess 40 lbs. of luggage/scuba gear...he pocketed it, eek). Good thing we didn't take our still and video housings for that point, but bad thing we didn't because we missed out on some excellent fish/turtle/white-tip footage.

    For a sample of topside photos, see my website:

    http://www.marlosarmiento.com/tanzania.html
     
  2. pakman

    pakman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pittsburgh PA
    8,749
    1
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    Marlo, love the topside pics.

    We've been thinking of having our honeymoon in Zanzibar/ Penba. How did you find the island itself? Nice to hear you compare it to Palau to give me some reference. Would love to do the topside safari on the mainland but I think our schedule will miss the big wilderbeast migration.
     
  3. AndyT

    AndyT Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Cape Town , South Africa
    1,689
    15
    38
    Great images and report !!
     
  4. marpacifica

    marpacifica Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Once upon a time in Micronesia, but now bubbling i
    469
    0
    0
    Hey AndyT and Pakman, glad you liked the report.

    Pakman, I would definitely recommend Zanzibar for honeymoon. I felt very safe there, and the scenery above and below water is stupendous. We stayed part of the time in Stone Town, quite a busy place, nice to hang out for 2 days or so or more if you like the busy alleys and Arab/Swahili culture. We then spent three days in Matemwe at the Matemwe Bungalows. The accomodations there were first rate, with a large downstairs with a canopy bed with mosquito netting, and a loft with a twin bed. Twice a day, depending on the tides, the dhows from the village come and go. Great to watch and take photos. The only thing that may concern people is the poverty around the resort. To get there, you have to literally drive between huts, some in not so good shape, and you arrive in an immaculate resort. The guests at the resort, mostly honeymooners, didn't seem to want to mix with others, which may be understandable given why they're there, but the nature of the resort I think fosters that as well. The bungalows are stand-alone units that are screened from view from their neighbors. If you want quiet and privacy, this is the place to get it.

    As for the diving, I was totally amazed at the diversity and number of species at Mnemba Atoll. A bit pricey for dives though. You may be able to find someplace less expensive.

    We will go back in a few years and try Pemba. I hear reports from there of lots of pelagic action, including sharks and manta rays.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  5. Codie

    Codie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
    40
    1
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    We were in Zanzibar over December, and we did 2 dives in the north at Matemwe, 2 dives off Stone Town and 2 dives down in the south at Kizimkazi. We did all our dives with "One Ocean", and I can really recommend them. The staff are friendy, effecient and knowledgable. We also took all our own equipment, only to realise that it is included in the price of the dives, and no luck on a refund. They run 5 boats from different parts of the island.

    Of the 3 dive spots, I found Kizimkazi to be the best diving in Zanzibar, maybe because it is in a protected marine area. There was much more fish life, and more larger schools, including a nice big school of juvenile barracuda. There is also a wreck or two for advanced divers, and apparently some nice drop-off's with regular sightings of hammerhead sharks. I think the costs of the 2 dives were slightly higher though, because of a parks fee added in.

    Talking about 'Aquarium" at Matemwe, I got to see my first guitar shark there :)
     
  6. Dream Weaver Travel

    Dream Weaver Travel Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Boulder, Colorado
    16
    0
    0
  7. Christopher_B

    Christopher_B Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: By the sea
    139
    27
    28
    Pemba is great, there are some links to a couple of articles I have written about it here:

    I cant post the url as i don't have enough posts yet..... google Indigo Safaris and click on Tanzania and the Zanzibar Archipelago to find the links to the articles.

    I have done about 200 dives there over the last few years, and to be honest shark and manta sightings are rare, but the corals are amazing, the walls breath-taking, the reefs are very healthy and the fish plentiful, and the location is great - truly off the beaten track.
     

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