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Tanzania. Peponi Beach Resort near Pangani. Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 December. Week 34, days 254 to 256.

 

"Let go of your expectations and keep yourself open to any and all possibilities. Take pure joy out of finding beauty in simple details. Don’t over plan your itinerary. Take things slow. Don’t focus too much on maximizing every day to the fullest. Immerse yourself in each experience instead of rushing yourself".

 

The luxurious torpor of a summer holiday at the beach had set in full time. Many of the habits of old from an unbroken series of seaside festive season holidays have returned in a flash. Early morning walks on the beach before the wind gets up, afternoon naps, overeating, sundowners and pleasant company. I am particularly enjoying the Swahili-style seafood. The people staying at Peponi certainly are a cosmopolitan and interesting bunch, many of them families with kids. Anyone with children should make absolutely sure they spend at least some of their time on the coast here. There is no camping charge for children. Along this coast most places have a very large difference between the high and low water marks. The tide retreats a great distance when low. Here at Peponi the flat rocky reef is exposed for about 600m at low water making swimming impossible. The children spent hours exploring the rock pools and of course a plunge in the swimming pool cools one off. Away from the peak periods this place should have peace and quiet in buckets. The tropical setting amongst swaying coconut palms is just what the travel brochures promise. One of the reported problems along this coast, the beach boys and persistant hawkers is not an issue at well-run Peponi.

I had the most delicious dinner last night. Allow me to paint the picture. Two large mangrove crabs served whole with a Swahili vegetable curry sauce and coconut rice. It took me the best part of two hours to slowly winkle out all the flesh and bash and crack the shell. My surgical dissection skills were not as rusty as I feared. At the table with us enjoying watching me feast were a Sudanese academic from Khartoum and his lovely Australian partner and also a Frenchman, married to a coffee coloured Brazilian beauty. More cosmopolitan I do not think you can find. The conversation over supper was most stimulating, particularly the history of the current Sudanese political situation.

Tomorrow we will drive into nearby Tanga and see if a travel agent can arrange a little package trip to Zanzibar. We are doing all we can to avoid going anywhere near Dar es Salaam. We have had a skinful of chaotic African cities. The speedboat trips from Pangani are restarting on Jan 3 only and we are perhaps going to look at the short flight from Tanga to Zanzibar Town. The speedboat trip costs only US$65 pp (if there are more than 5 passengers) one way and take about 20-30min, but they travel to the north of the island. Peponi can also arrange a dhow trip to Zanzibar, but with Anne’s high risk of seasickness I would not want a less than romantic start to our last (and almost the first) bit of luxury. There have been no responses to email enquiries to travel agents thus far. We have been very stingy with our spending on accommodation thus far on the trip and we will look at something fairly upmarket. We have until now tried to stay true to the overlanding roots of our trip as far as possible. It should be quieter on Zanzibar from Saturday 2 January.

In fact our trip to Tanga to book our stay on Zanzibar turned out to be both simpler and more complicated than anticipated. Tanga is a fairly major center and port and is only 32km and 45min from Peponi on a bit of bumpy dirt road. The only travel agent we could find was in the tourism association building, Tanga Wonders Adventure Tours and Travel. The manager tried his best to assist, firstly with flight bookings, but could work few wonders for us. Coastal Air had a few fights per day to Zanzibar but charged US$280 return, Auric Air came in at US$220 return for non-residents and we opted for them. When we tried to pay the travel agent had no credit card machine so we simply drove to the nearby Tanga airport (on the outskirts of town on the road to Dar). We booked to fly in on the afternoon of the 2 Jan, returning on the afternoon of the 6th. At the Auric office we were able to pay by card. When we returned to the agency we were still not able to confirm any hotel bookings as the internet was “down”. We have been promised a confirmation of bookings for our approval by email, the agent appears to have engaged a tour company to organise our stay. For Stone Town it looks like the traditional-style Tembo Hotel close to the Farodhani Gardens which is what we sought. We will then spend the next 3 nights on the northwest coast, hotel to be confirmed. We only have to pay the hotels when arriving at them, so if we are unhappy we can just find another. We will therefore have another 3 nights here at Peponi, I can think of greater hardships.

Thereafter we will be scooting off home, on routes already covered and using our recent personal experience of good overnight stayovers. We might just deviate slightly from the direct route home to visit Lake Nyasa (Malawi), on the Tanzanian side at its northern tip near Matema. Here we have received good reports about the Blue Canoe Safari Camp (previously Crazy Crocodile Camp), apparently recently revamped under new ownership.

PHOTOGRAPHS.

Main. Just proof that I am waking up with the fishermen.

Thumbs.

1 to 5. A series of pics depicting the early morning beach atmosphere.

6. to 13. The intricate process of setting sail in a small fishing dhow.

14 and 15. My only early morning companions on the beach. 006, 009. 30/12

 16. Another sunrise. 007. 30/12

17. Anne getting ready for a tough morning on the beach. 036. 29/12

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