Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Disappearing Island

I'd say hands down, one of our favorite parts of this whole adventure to Tanzania was our trip to Maziwe Island.  While records of the past indicate that Maziwe was once an island with palm trees and vegetation, today, they neither of those things exist on this island. Whether this is due to a change in sea levels which causes the island to literally disappear each day with the high tide or from the locals cutting down trees for use, thereby causing the biological integrity of the island to change, it is not known.  But regardless of history, it is now a massive sandbar about 5 miles off the coast of Tanzania.

In addition to being a sandbar, it is also home to a beautiful coral reef ecosystem that includes hundreds of species of fish, green turtles and dolphins.  As a result, this area is a favorite on the east coast of Africa for snorkeling and scuba diving.  I know Josh would have loved to do some scuba diving here but with his knee, it just wasn't feasible.  And so as a family, we adventured out to Maziwe to go snorkeling.

Now those that know me, know that as much as I LOVE the ocean, I'm not a fan of swimming in it. The idea of something being able to sneak up on me and bite me just doesn't appeal to me.  And so I really have never done any snorkeling.  Aidan loves to snorkel with Josh and does it at every opportunity he can.  Liam has just started getting into it.  But the idea of going to this mystical sandbar was too tempting to pass up so despite my anxiety of the snorkeling piece, I was onboard!

We had the managers 2 kids and their nephew, all in their late teens, early 20s, with us, in addition to the 2 crew.  We took a tiny fishing boat out to the island.  I trusted our guides, knowing that this is what they do for a living and that they have learned to rely on their instincts when it comes to the ocean as there was no navigation on this little boat.  As locals, I'm sure this small fishing boat is actually considered luxurious since it has an engine.

But despite my confidence in their capabilities, I was still less than happy with the huge swells and choppy water that led us to Maziwe.  Having been boating for many years (despite my fear of it), I could tell that they were navigating the waves with an expertise that only someone that has been doing this for years could have.  I still didn't enjoy the ride and thought it would never end.  But eventually we were able to see land.

It was about this time that Liam got sick.  He was sitting with Josh who just doesn't have that mommy instinct in him.  And of course it's that slow motion, you know it's coming, kind of thing.  My first instinct is for him to move Liam to the side of the boat so he can puke into the water, but no, he doesn't move that fast.  So he puked inside the boat.  Thankfully we were getting pounded by waves so the water coming onboard was rinsing it out at the same time.  Good times Liam, good times...    

While we were on the journey I said to Josh that the trip alone was making this not worth it.  But I ate those words.  One glimpse of Maziwe Island and I was smitten.  The pictures won't do this place justice, not even close...but I'm going to try... 

I was sitting in the middle of the boat, this is the front... it's that small... Josh claims it was about 18 feet and since he's the boat expert among us, I'll go with that.

The local village down the beach from us

Since the ride was very choppy, I had to put my camera away during the ride since we were all getting drenched.  So there aren't any pictures of us approaching the island, though you'll see a few later of us leaving... The island was much bigger than any of us anticipated.  When I think of a sandbar, I don't think of something of this size - it was easily 1/2 mile in length.

The sand was pristine and we went from deep dark choppy ocean to waters so translucent and turquoise you could see to the bottom.  It was beyond amazing.  We got off the boat and immediately started to explore.  There were areas of just sand and also areas that were at a lower elevation that were filled with all types of coral and shells and even a few creatures!

Land ho!!

The contrast in the colors of the water was amazing

Liam up on the "hill"

And now on the beach

Aidan exploring with the big "kids"

Finding sea shells

Look at his poor blistered little face :(

Some of the area with coral, rocks and sea creatures... not fun to walk on in bare feet but fun to explore

While we were exploring, our guides were setting up a tent for us to relax under

Hermit crab

Inside this piece of coral was a small starfish

And there is another small starfish

Not just a huge contrast in the water, but also the land - you can see the pristine beach just past where Josh is and yet where he and Aidan are is filled with rocks, coral and sea life.

Our tent complete with pillows and blankets

As much fun as we were having exploring this "little" sandbar, part of why were here was to do some snorkeling.  Liam and I were a bit hesitant about the snorkeling but we jumped in with the rest of them. However, within minutes, Liam's mask was coming undone so we had to go back to the boat to fix it while Josh, Aidan and the others snorkeled further and further away from us.  Liam and I got back into the water, but unfortunately, it was still a little choppy for Liam, he started to panic and we decided to call it a day.  I did poke my head under water a few times and saw these stunning coral reefs and beautiful angel fish but was thankful that Josh had his GoPro with him and took some amazing pictures and video.  In Josh's defense, he offered to come and sit with Liam on the boat so I could snorkel but since it's not really my thing anyways, I was totally fine to sit this one out and let him and Aidan enjoy something that they really love to do.  

A quick shot of the island as we head to the snorkeling area - not far from where we were but why swim there if we can boat??

Another shot of the island as we approach the reef area

He's all done with his snorkeling and totally content to be here on the boat

The group out in the distance

Now to some of Josh's shots...

The water was pristine!

He is cracking his knuckles which he knows drives me crazy but figuring I probably won't see this picture... wrong!

Since it was a GoPro, Josh also took a ton of video.  Of the videos he took, these are the ones he liked the best...I put the links below just in case the picture video links don't work.

Heading back to the boat

And since we still had time after the snorkeling, we went back on Maziwe for a little longer...

The boat we took here

He wanted to bring this back with him... sadly, it was a little too big...

Liam's hat flew off in the wind...

Chillin' under the tent after a tough morning on the beach and snorkeling

Almost asleep

Skipping rocks

You can see the water starting to come in and wear away at the "coastline" ... by high tide it will all be under water again...

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it was time to head back to the main land. :( And Liam's blistered face couldn't take any more...

From the boat as we were leaving

Goodbye Maziwe!

The village down the beach from us as we are coming in from the water

Back to the Tides again...


No comments:

Post a Comment