Travels with V

Tanzania, Zanzibar & Pemba

In Finnish Janne’s paradise

Zanzibar, Matemwe​

From Stonetown the journey goes through the island’s center and on up north. We’re on our way to the village of Matemwe, where a couple of small hotels are lined up on the beach. The one where we have booked a room is called Zanzibar Retreat Hotel, and it turns out that the owner is a guy from Finland, Janne, and his wife. Janne is a great person, a hospitable and welcoming and always in communication with his guests. His place is also a real oasis, fantastic food is served and the bar facing the sea such a delight.

The beach is a public beach, and at low tide lots of people from the village walk in the shallow waters collecting shellfish or harvesting algae used in a local enterprise that makes organic cosmetics. All the time we’re there there’s a stubborn wind blowing sand in our faces, so we prefer the hotel pool.

But when there is an excursion by boat announced we join in. We head out for Mnemba, a small sandy island with a little forest in the middle. On the island there’s a luxurious resort and a no-go zone for visitors. Apparently Bill Gates once hired the place for himself to be in perfect solitude.

We anchor up on the south side and snorkel for almost an hour on the reef that surrounds the island. The clear blue water is jammed with colourful coral fish of all kinds.

But suddenly there’s a call from the boat and we all have to get on board quickly. Someone has spotted dolphins. So we race to where they were last seen and everybody (almost) jump into water immediately. I’m among the first and get to see five dolphins pass me just a few meters below. It’s an overwhelming feeling to have been so close to those animals in their element.

Next up: We go island-hopping to the mostly unexploited island of Pemba, where we share a fantastic resort with monkeys, millipeds and bush babies. 

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