Captain’s Log June 2003

CAPTAIN’S LOG JUNE 2003

Early June saw us on a 3 day trip to Lazy Lagoon some 30nm north of Dar. We were accompanied by friends who had also been to Zanzibar with us at Easter. Their two boys are becoming quite the little sailors and thoroughly enjoy the experience of living aboard.

 Lazy lagoon is created by a 10 mile long peninsular that runs parallel to the coast. It is a protected waterway with a number of mangrove islands, sand banks and two quite deep channels that allow safe navigation for a number of miles from the entrance. Beyond that, access is by dinghy and kayak to enjoy the diverse bird life, turtle nesting areas and a number of varied mangrove forests.
We departed Dar at 1000, sailed out and zig zagged our way up the Zanzibar channel with the anticipation of catching at least one of the many tuna, wahoo, barracuda and dolphin fish that we sighted, however all we managed to land was multiple catches of seaweed!
 We anchored off “Foxes Lazy Lagoon Resort” at 1700 and after sundowners had a delicious seafood dinner before retiring.
Next morning we motored across the lagoon by way of the Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre and anchored on the western side of the lagoon by Mlingotini village where we proceeded to explore the islands, sandbanks and mangrove forests by the collective usage of our dinghy and kayaks. It was a memorable experience, discovering an area where the local population of pink backed pelicans roost. I have seen these birds on few occasions whilst in Tanzania so this was quite a buzz. Later we found a number of fresh turtle tracks where during the previous night turtles had attempted to find a suitable nesting site to lay their eggs. We did not find any recent nest so it may be that the turtles left to find a more suitable site.
After lunch on board we went ashore by dinghy to Kasiki Marine Camp, a small resort with a number of bandas for accommodation, run by two Italian women who produce great food and the best cappuccinos we’ve tasted in Tanzania. We savoured cappuccinos and home made ice-cream whilst enjoying the bird life and great view overlooking the lagoon from their elevated location.
Later we motored back to anchor off Fox’s resort. Some mutual Dar friends happened to be there for the weekend, so we invited them aboard for sundowners, consisting of champagne and the delicious sand crabs that we had caught that day. Eventually it was time to ferry our visitors ashore for their dinner with good memories of another stunning Tanzanian sunset, whilst the remainder of us enjoyed a tranquil evening on board under the stars.
Sunday morning saw us under power on our way back to Dar. We intended to have a dive on either of the two reefs close by Mbegani. The first had few fish and poor visibility so we moved on. We had a start on the second but again visibility was poor, so we continued on to Mbduya Island, where we finally managed a reasonable dive. By this time it was mid-afternoon so we sailed back to the Yacht Club by 1630 in time to join the Sail Past for the 2003 Opening Regatta to conclude a very enjoyable weekend.

We are sure you are all aware of the constant warnings being given by the many and varied Embassies, Consuls & High Commissions of the “Imminent threats to East Africa of Terrorist Attacks”. What you may not be aware of is that there have been multi party elections in Kenya & Tanzania that have created significant changes to existing regimes and there has been no violence nor election rigging.
What has happened due to these warnings is that tourism in many developing countries, one of the major forex earners, has been decimated and tens of thousands of local people have been laid off. There are no social benefits and unfortunately this is where the seeds of discontent are sewn.
We are also affected but we are in an infinitely better position to deal with it, however we hope that foreign media spares a thought for the local communities that are devastated as a result of their warnings!

Later in June we decided to treat ourselves and take advantage of the Serena safari package that was being offered at a special off-season rate. It was a 6 day 5 night safari to the northern circuit including Serengeti, Ngorongoro Cater and Lake Manyara.

We flew to Arusha and were met by our guide from Kearsleys Travel. We then drove to the Serena Lodge on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. The crater, at an altitude of 2,300 metres, is the largest caldera in the world and home to many different animals and birds. Our room had a fantastic view over the crater and we were treated to spectacular displays of colour in the sky with the rising and setting of the sun. We spent a full day in the crater, where we saw buffaloes, rhino, hippos, lions, and a host of other animals and birds. The crater lake was shimmering with the pink of the flamingoes (the intensity of the pink colouring is relative to the amount of algae they eat) and we sat and watched a hyena and three golden jackals fight over their potential lunch, however apart from a lot of noise none of them scored anything whilst we were there. We drove on to a picnic site for our own lunch and enjoyed the tranquility of the hippo pool with the occasional rumpus of a hippo wallowing at the far end or the sound of the birds in the trees.
As we wended our way back out of the crater in the afternoon we savoured the sun-tinged golden bark of the Fever Acacias and appreciated the magic of this place. After our second night at the Serena Ngorongoro Lodge, we continued on to the Serengeti.
As it was the migration we came across tens of thousands of zebra, wildebeest and gazelles on the move. It was a fascinating experience watching these animals and how they organize themselves for this annual event up and back across the plains. The migration was heading towards the western corridor of the Serengeti and from there it heads north to the Masaai Mara before returning in December. The number of animals involved in the migration exceeds 2 million.
As the grass was longer than the other times we have visited the Serengeti, we were treated to different sights than before, including mating season for the wildebeest, lions and hippos. Also there was an abundance of bird life, which kept us occupied for hours. It was fun to identify the various species between the 3 bird books we were carrying. The illustrations and photos can be so disparate in different books. We spent 2 days on the Serengeti before heading back to Lake Manyara for the final day of our safari.
Manyara was quite different from when we last visited in 1997, prior to the El Nino rains in 1998, which significantly changed the landscape in the park. The hippo pool had gone and the hippos have moved out into the lake. Most of the acacia trees on the edge of the soda lake have died due to the rising of the water table and the effects of the salt on their roots. Plus many of the tree climbing lions, for which the park was famous, have now moved on to Tarangire. Having experienced the bleaching effects of the El Nino rains on the coral in the Indian ocean, we were devastated to witness these changes in Manyara too. However we were pleased to see the usual elephants and buffaloes and the abundant and varied bird life along the lake shore.
Without going into great detail, as we could write pages about the magical experience of safari life in East Africa, we can certainly recommend a safari and sail package to you with a part of your time animal watching on land followed by a relaxing week or so, swimming, diving and sailing aboard “Amarula”.
If you are interested we are negotiating with some safari companies and will be happy to quote a price for you.

Click here to view our 4 page full colour article in the UK publication “Country” (the magazine of the Country Gentleman’s Association)

We have begun to note our guests comments on our Guest Book page – Enjoy!

Click here for the April Captain’s Log

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FOR OUR 2002 AUSTRALIA TO TANZANIA LOG & PHOTOS – CLICK HERE