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Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure

Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure

sauti za busara 1 Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure

Zanzibar wraps its reality around you like a lingering fairytale. This tiny archipelago of Indian Ocean islands that once lured sailors, Sultans and slavers to its far-distant shores is so charismatic that it sweeps you into its shadowy romantic past and sunlit present all at once, and finally sets you down, all sun-bronzed and laden with spices and island art, and memories of an exceptionally sparkling and colourfully abundant sea.
Zanzibar pic1 Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure
The main island is small and easy to explore, with glorious white sand, palm-fringed beaches rewarding you for just a couple of hours’ drive to the North coast and the same to the East, along mainly hopeless but endlessly fascinating roads flanked by simple homesteads, roads worn more by foot or bicycle and frequented by chickens.
 
There is a time warp here, this place where the past is so responsible for the present, where mobile phones, internet connections and television are all relatively recent, and where the history and culture is so imbued that you can simply stretch out beneath the dappled shade of the coconut palms and soak it up. Welcome to Zanzibar, and a world apart.
Zanzibar pic2 Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure

Sailors and traders from the first century AD came to the lands of ‘Zinj el Barr’, the Black Coast, bringing beads, porcelain and silks to trade for gold, slaves and spices, ebony, ivory, indigo and tortoiseshell. They waited for annual monsoon winds to fill their dhow sails and bear them across the Indian Ocean; today’s visitors usually arrive in a small ‘plane or ferry from Dar es Salaam.

But these still afford a measured approach, allowing a breathtaking vision of sparkling cerulean waters over sandbanks and reefs, and then into Stone Town, the ancient island capital, still more of a town than a city, a maze of winding pedestrian streets in a hotchpotch of rooftops, a mass of corrugated iron overwhelming the historic stonework beneath.

Helplessly entwined in its own history, the people of Zanzibar are the Swahili, evolving from the influx of mainly Arabian and Persian immigrants who settled on the East African coast and islands to trade and escape the political upheavals of the Gulf two thousand years ago. Their cultural history was founded in sailing dhows, similar to those that glide by its shores today, boats that brought people, language and cultures and long centuries of power wrangling.

Zanzibar pic3 Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure
The Arab immigrants were overthrown by the Portuguese in the 15th century, until the Sultan of Oman finally saw them off for good in 1698 and started building the Stone Town of today; the Old Fort on the harbour was built on the remains of a Portuguese church dating back to 1600.
 
Visitors to Stone Town still encounter the grandiose vision and dominant architectural style of a confident young Sultan who transferred the seat of his sultanate from the contentious capital of Muscat to the breezier climes of Zanzibar in 1832, and then began palace building in earnest, and seeding the coconut palms and clove plantations which soon defined Zanzibar as the ‘Spice Island’.
Zanzibar pic4 Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure

Driving through the island centre now, it is worth stopping to explore the spice plantations, where a guided walk for passing tourists is likely to be more lucrative than vast crops to export, but it is a fine sensual pleasure to crumble cinnamon bark straight from the tree, to breathe the scent of cloves drying in the sun, to taste and guess the spice from a handful of pods and powders.

These are well used by the chefs and kitchens in beach hotels, where fishermen daily bring the catch of the day to be grilled, baked, battered or blanched with assorted Zanzibar spice.The coast is dotted with hotels, self-contained beach hideaways that relish their privacy and provide various levels of style and comfort.

I have been to most and head north by choice, to the northernmost peninsula which is occupied by Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel. The name is a very literal Swahili translation, but it says nothing of how this beach is secluded and the coral sands are blanched very, very pale. It does not tell how the wonderfully translucent and clear the sea is here, where a coral reef surrounds the shore creating a shallow wide expanse to explore until the tide rises high and then turquoise waves crash onto the beach. It is a naturally beautiful place.

Zanzibar pic5 Exploring Zanzibar Tropical Island Adventure
Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs when the moon is full, and the surrounding reefs are a thriving colourful world to snorkel and dive. Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel is essentially respectful of its place, each room constructed from local wood and coral rag to create a number of thatched round houses along the beach, with lodge rooms in gardens behind.
 
Soft sand pathways link the central thatched and open-sided restaurant to the rooms, pool and dive centre, providing the comforts of a fine hotel with a rustic, beach hideaway style. This is a fine place to lie back and soak up Zanzibar, crack open a coconut, watch the dhows on the far horizon and look forward to spice-scented, star filled African night.

Best Time to Visit Kenya Safaris

Best Time to Visit Kenya Safaris

Baby Cheetah in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya Africa 1 Best Time to Visit Kenya Safaris

Kenya the best wildlife viewing months in Kenya are during the dry season from late June to October. The wildebeest migration reaches the Masai Mara in July and remains until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, but this can differ for some parks. See below to learn when to visit which park.

Quick facts
Best time to go: June to October, January to February (Other, drier parks)
High Season: July to November, January and February (Some of the parks get very crowded especially the Masai Mara, Amboseli and Lake Nakuru)
Low Season: March to May (Some lodges and camps in high rainfall areas close down)
Best Weather: June to October (Little to no rainfall)
Worst Weather: March, April and May (Peak of wet season)
June to October – Dry Season
 
  • Wildlife is easier to spot because the bush is less dense and animals gather around waterholes and rivers.
  • It’s unlikely to rain, the days are sunny with clear skies and there are less mosquitoes.
  • July to October are the best months to see the wildebeest migration.
  • It gets very busy and crowded in the most popular parks.
November to May – Wet Season
  • The scenery is beautiful and green. Rates are lower because it’s the low season.
  • Newborn animals can be seen and in general, you will still see plenty of wildlife even though it is easier to spot during the dry season.
  • Migratory birds are present from September to April.
  • Except for March, April and May, rains are short showers in the afternoon or evening and will rarely compromise your safari.
  • During March to May the rains can be continuous and, when not raining, it is often clouded. Some lodges and camps close down during part of the wet season.

Africa Top 8 Largest Cultural Festival

Africa’s Top 8 Largest Cultural Festival

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A continent of 54 countries, 2000 languages and over 3000 tribes, Africa has a staggeringly diverse array of cultures. It’s no surprise that Africa is home to some of the best cultural festivals on the planet – everything from food and music to art and film – in some truly spectacular locations, such as isolated deserts, medieval cities, on the shores of a lake or on a tropical island.

Here’s a round up of 8 of the best cultural festivals Africa has to offer. Add these to your bucket list!

1. AfrikaBurn, South Africa

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Based on the famous US festival Burning Man, AfrikaBurn is the continent’s most alternative arts festival. Everything that happens in Tankwa Town (the temporary settlement where 10 000 festival goers gather in the Karoo desert) is up to the creativity of participants. There is no entertainment organised – instead the participants of the festival create their own art works, their own music and their own performances. You have no idea what to expect each year, but you’re guaranteed an experience that will blow your mind.

2. Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, Morocco

If you love the idea of music festivals, but aren’t into sleeping in a tent or stomping around in a muddy field, then the Fes Festival is probably your cup of tea. Each year the medieval Moroccan city puts on a festival of sacred music from around the world – expect everything from whirling dervishes from Turkey, dancers from Bali and chanting Sufi mystics from Iran – in stunning venues such as centuries-old palaces and atmospheric garden courtyards.

3. Zanzibar International Film Festival

sauti za busara Africa Top 8 Largest Cultural Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Africa’s largest film, music and arts festival takes place every year on the tropical island of Zanzibar. Films from around Africa are screened in venues across the island, culminating in an awards night on the final night of the festival, while the music performances, DJ sets and dancing create a carnival atmosphere.

4. Lake of Stars, Malawi

%name Africa Top 8 Largest Cultural Festival

The Lake of Stars festival has been named one of the world’s best by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and it’s easy to see why. The music festival takes place on the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi, with local Malawian musicians playing side by side with bands and DJs from around the world – many of whom play for free just for the chance to get involved in this feel-good event. There’s a range of music on the line up, from electro to Afro-pop, and while you’re taking a break in between checking out the acts, you can swim in the lake, laze on sandy beaches, or get involved in one of the festival’s community projects.

 
5. International Festival of the Sahara, Tunisia

You probably couldn’t think of a more exotic location for a festival than an oasis in the Sahara Desert. Douz, a place where palm trees outnumber residents, swells in population by 50 000 each year when people arrive to share in a four-day celebration the art, traditions and culture of the people of the desert. Expect to see camel marathons, displays of horse riding, a Bedouin marriage, lively dancing, music performances and a poetry competition.

6. Bushfire, Swaziland

Each year the tiny country of Swaziland draws 20 000 people for its three-day Bushfire festival – an arts event that encompasses film, theatre, poetry and visual arts performances, as well as music and dance in a beautiful valley. All of the profits from the festival are given to NGOs and charities, so just by attending you contribute to Swaziland’s development.

7. Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar

sauti busara Africa Top 8 Largest Cultural Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 10 years Zanzibar has been host of the “Sounds of Wisdom” festival – a celebration of the best music from across the African continent. Each year there’s a diverse line up of acts, covering genres such as Zimbabwean rap-rock, Senegalese reggae and Rwandan Afro-pop. In addition to music performances, during the festival you can also catch fringe shows of drumming, music documentaries and traditional dancing.

8. Gnaoua World Music Festival, Morocco

The coastal 18th century town of Essaouira rings out with the sound of music at this annual festival which sees traditional Gnaoua musicians (descendants of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa) joined by jazz, pop, blues, reggae, hip hop, Sufi, Latin and rock musicians, attracting around 500 000 people. The performances (many of which are free) take place on the town’s beaches, historic sites, public squares and beaches as Essaouira is transformed into a musical oasis.

 

Photography tips how to shoot at night

What you will need:

  1. Camera with a ‘Bulb’ function
  2. Sturdy support such as a tripod or beanbag
  3. a healthy dose of patience

Optional extras:

  1. Cable release, remote or your cameras timer function
  2. A light source to help you setup and even do some light painting with.
  3. A Flask with your preference of throat warmer inside.

I’m sure you’ve pulled out the camera just after a beautiful sunset and noticed that the camera exposed for the sky and you lost all of that lovely detail in the foreground, or your camera popped its built in flash trying to balance the scene. To combat this and retain sharpness we need to keep the camera absolutely still.  Use a tripod or if you’re on a budget, or have space constraints, rest your camera on a beanbag.

Next, you will need to lock in your camera’s ‘Bulb’ function on either your in-camera settings or camera dial. Open your aperture as wide possible, push your ISO to 800 as a starting point and use your timer function if you don’t have a cable release. I use a cheap ebay cable release that doubles as an intervalometer. This is especially useful if you’d like to try your hand at time-lapse photography.

Other tools pros use to help is a function called ‘Mirror Lockup’, which as stated will lock the mirror before the shutter fires. This reduces shake and small vibrations that cause blur and loss of sharpness.

Frame your subject to your liking, you might need that torch for this and now you can just stand back and click away. To get a better grasp of the exposure time experimentation is key, start with a 15-25 second exposure and then adjust up or down accordingly. When shooting stars it helps to turn the focus dial to the infinity icon (it looks like an 8 flipped on its side), usually found on your focusing range and after doing this switch to manual focus to prevent the autofocus from interfering.

Some subjects definitely worth exploring are light trails of cars, light painting, city lights, stars, star trails and fireworks. Starting with these will help you gain a good understanding of low light shooting and might even improve your skills in other areas!

So don’t be afraid of the dark, use it to your advantage and you might even walk away with a few shots worth the space on your wall!

Osim Country Lodge The Lovers Nest

Osim Country Lodge The Lovers Nest

romance tree 10214 main Osim Country Lodge The Lovers Nest

Osim Country Lodge The Lovers’ Nest 

The Lovers’ Nest is honeymoon suites perched on a tree, has a bed, a toilet and shower and two chairs for the lovers. The bathroom floor is tiled and the bedroom floor is wooden. Osim Country Lodge rooms are strictly for lovers who want to enjoy themselves in a unique environment. Couples who have spent their time in the treetop room say the experience is unforgettable.

“The whispering of the acacia leaves, the chirping of the birds, and the gurgling waters of the Ewaso Ngiro River as it meanders its way down stream has a really soothing effect for the lovers,” said Arnold from Australia a client visiting Osim Country Lodge for the second time. He said the room is perfect for couples looking for a unique experience. He says the house on top of a tree that does not touch the ground gives a new meaning to love.

The signpost to Osim Country Lodge, which loosely translates to a place where there is no loneliness in the Maasai dialect, invitingly declares, “Jichinjie, Jichomee, Jienjoy.” “We give our patrons a chance to also slaughter and roast the goat for themselves. This is another unique thrill that we are sure has put us ahead of our competitors,” he says. The lodge manager Joshua Taekwo said holiday lovers are also offered an opportunity to do sport fishing along the river banks and game drive.

Osim Country Lodge is bubbling with life. A group of tourists from Holland are shooting a movie called “An African Adventure” as some children ride happily on powered Formula One motor bikes. Some other children are having fun at the jungle gym as their parents watch the Ewaso Nyiro River lazily snakes its way downstream. The scene is breathtaking.

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