Zanzibar: the end of Safari?

The archipelago of Zanzibar, located off the coast of Tanzania, is a beautiful holiday destination and made a relaxing end to our safari trip. We stayed in a luxury resort on the South-eastern coast, looking directly out over the white sand and turquoise waters into the Indian Ocean.

Aside from being a stunning tropical holiday destination, Zanzibar is rich in culture, history and wildlife. I intend to focus on the latter, but here are a few historical facts you may, or may not, know about Zanzibar:

  • The capital, Zanzibar City, contains the ancient port of Stone Town, once one of the wealthiest cities in the world because of the spice and slave trades.
  • It is the site of the shortest war in history. The Anglo-Zanzibar war lasted 38 minutes on the morning of 27 August 1896.
  • It was the birth place of Freddie Mercury, who was born with the name, Farrokh Bulsara.

The largest island of Unguja has a mixture of tropical forests, mangrove swamps, rocky scrub-land, white beaches and coral reefs. The areas of highest vegetation, including the Jozani Forest Reserve are spectacularly biodiverse.

The wildlife includes the rare and endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey (Procolobus kirkii) with about 1500 specimens remaining in the wild…

The islands are also home to some stunning birds including, the Old World equivalents of the Hummingbirds, the Sunbirds…

The unidentified female above and the male Purple-banded Sunbird (Cinnyris bifasciata), below, were both seen in the garden grounds of our hotel…

I took the photo of this Broad-billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus), below, from the terrace of our suite…

Some of the bird species in Zanzibar have been introduced, or appeared, very recently, such as the very familiar House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)…

… and some of the introduced species, such as this Indian House Crow (Corvus splendens), below, pose a competitive and/or predatory threat to native species…

The sea on the eastern coast of Zanzibar is quite extraordinary. The fisherman and snorkellers below are paddling in very shallow water which extends out about half a mile to where you can see the waves breaking to the upper right and where the darker blue of the oceanic deep water begins…

This can be seen very clearly in a satellite image (Warning! I am about to break my rule, of only posting photos I have taken, for the first time in this blog) with the hotel shown by the red bed symbol (you can even see the swimming pool) and then the turquoise water suddenly stopping to the right…

The long extension of shallow water means that the tide goes in and out by a huge distance every day. During periods of low tide, the sea exposed a sandy/muddy expanse of pools which is fertile feeding ground for wading birds…

Aside from a lot of seaweed, the tide would expose a large number of Crustacea and Mollusca, including crabs. Some of which blended in nicely with the white sand…

… whilst others were brilliantly camouflaged against the green-stained rocks of the water-carved short rocky cliffs, below, (I know I have been failing as a taxonomist by not naming the crabs, but there are at least 4,500 species of crab and very few easy references online to identify them)

Nearly every crevice in the rocks seemed to house a crab or a lizard…

At low tide, the beach was strewn with an array of shells. Frequently, the shells would walk off with their resident hermit crabs (not true crabs at all don’t ya know, but still with around 500 species!) scuttling away…

Every evening I would walk along the beach at low tide watching large numbers of wading birds and gulls feast on the exposed bounty of the sea. Although often taking photos in dusky evening conditions, some of the waders I managed to capture digitally included…

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea):

Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola):

Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola):

… and Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia):

Zanzibar may have been the relaxing end to our Safari trip, but the wildlife watching continued whilst relaxing on our veranda, walking along the beach, and even sitting by the pool…

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8 thoughts on “Zanzibar: the end of Safari?

  1. geoffwatt

    Congratulations on distracting me for an hour from my task of editing a weekends worth of photos and getting me even more excited for my 2 and a half month tour of eastern and southern Africa next year! Great shots by they way, do you mind me asking what lenses you used, I’m currently making myself dizzy (and my wife crazy) trying to decide on which telephoto lens I should buy.

    Reply
    1. iago80 Post author

      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed the posts. Wow! I was just there for two weeks – you will see so much in two months! I was just mainly using my Canon EF 70-300 for all the wildlife. Plus a wide angle for some of the landscape.

      Reply

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