Sand and deliver – Travel Africa Magazine
2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, a pattern that has gained momentum over the previous 20 years. Since 1997, the choices on the continent’s shoreline have improved significantly, with seashore escapes changing into more and more accessible, numerous, moral and eco-aware, says Gabriella Mulligan
The sharp, loud ‘snap’ feels like a whip crack. I’m momentarily apprehensive for my fingers. No, they’re nonetheless all there. I dunk my hand again into the bucket and maintain out one other piece of seaweed. The turtles shove one another within the water, greedily pushing for the prized morsel on provide. Jaws snap, and the largest one has taken it, his smaller and weaker companions trying mournfully up at me.
Hawksbill and inexperienced turtles have lengthy been hunted in Zanzibar for his or her enticing shells and meat respectively. Yet since 1993 the Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond, in Nungwi, within the north of Zanzibar, has educated fishermen, in addition to establishing a pool the place captured turtles might be nursed again to well being. The undertaking at present employs 20 native residents and has saved greater than 200 grownup and 1000-plus hatchling turtles.
Nungwi has all the time been a quiet place. Up till the mid-Nineties, the event of inns and resorts was broadly opposed by locals. Today, the lengthy, powdery-sand seashore is scattered with inns ― starting from the flamboyant, akin to Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort or Hideaway of Nungwi, to the extra reasonably priced Smiles Beach Hotel or Amaan Bungalows. It has advanced right into a thriving, sustainable seashore vacation spot with pleasant native residents. Tourists can float within the heat, clear waves by day and dine al fresco on recent lobsters and grilled fish by evening. A visit to go to the turtle conservation efforts is quasi-compulsory. Nungwi combines blissful seashore life, group involvement and acceptance, with critical conservation efforts.
While Zanzibar could also be Tanzania’s most evident seashore vacation spot, the nation has another fascinating hidden gems, akin to Saadani National Park. Covering an space of 1100sq km, stretching alongside the Indian Ocean coast, it’s a distinctive seashore vacation spot, providing wildlife viewing alongside abandoned seashores. In the reserve, safari-goers can glimpse elephant herds as much as 80-robust, lion prides, giraffe, zebra, antelope, waterbuck, hippo, crocodiles and a implausible array of birds. The marine life can also be beautiful: inexperienced turtles hatch on a protected breeding seashore, and the ocean boasts dolphins, humpback whales in addition to a kaleidoscope of vividly hued fish.
This outstanding place was given nationwide park standing in 2005 however nonetheless stays beneath the vacationer radar. However, customer figures have been growing over the previous 5 years or so. Importantly, additionally on the rise are its animal numbers. With a number of farming-reliant villages within the space, human-animal battle was rife and poaching widespread, however for the reason that Tanzania National Parks Authority took it below its wing, populations have begun to thrive.
Private organisations are taking part in an lively position in growing Saadani as an eco-pleasant vacation spot. There are solely three locations to remain within the park, so it retains its authenticity and is sustainable. Simply Saadani Camp options solely 13 bandas set alongside the seashore on raised viewing platforms. The lodge makes each effort to depart no hint on the gorgeous setting: it’s constructed from recycled native supplies, akin to elephant-felled coconut bark and disused dhows, and operates completely on solar energy. The camp’s proprietor, David Guthrie of A Tent With A View, was a founding member of the Tanzania Elephant Protection Society, and conducts elephant collaring initiatives to fight poaching, additional scientific analysis and assist with group schooling initiatives within the space. Perhaps probably the most heartening side of any journey right here is leaving within the data that this place is within the fingers of people that perceive its value and will safeguard it lengthy into the long run.
Advancements in seashore tourism usually are not restricted to Tanzania. Further down Africa’s 30,500km japanese shoreline is Portuguese-speaking Mozambique, with its string of equally breathtaking seashores. Since the 16-yr civil battle resulted in 1992, growing numbers of vacationers have trickled into Mozambique as safety and infrastructure have improved, though the nation remains to be much less developed than its neighbour.
The small, vibrant city of Vilanculos is a seashore lover’s paradise, with its lengthy, white seashores fringed with coconut palms rattling within the heat breeze. This place oozes rest. In city, there’s a bustling market able to swallowing guests for hours ― with distributors providing every thing from recent fish to vibrant capulana materials ― and myriad eating places and shops.
But Vilanculos is de facto all in regards to the ocean: dhow journeys, recreation fishing (the realm is legendary for its black marlin) and scuba diving, notably within the adjoining Bazaruto Archipelago. The city is the gateway to the 5 islands of this 1430-km marine park of indescribable pure worth. The ocean right here is residence to 1000’s of tropical fish and coral species, 5 sorts of dolphin, humpback whales, hammerhead, whale and Zambezi sharks, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles and, maybe most excitingly, the biggest dugong inhabitants left on Africa’s east coast.
The Bazarutos are growing quick as a vacationer vacation spot, presumably helped by the story that Bob Dylan composed his music ‘Mozambique’ on one of many islands. Nowadays, high-finish resorts, akin to Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort, provide personal villas on secluded stretches of seashore, full with hammocks, outside showers and beachfront jacuzzis.
Vilanculos, however, presents extra modest and reasonably priced lodging straight on the seashore, such because the chalets at Baobab Beach, with travellers having fun with the nice and cozy evenings below the celebs at open-air seafood eating places and bars.
As extra vacationers of all budgets arrive, operators and native communities are notably aware of the necessity to guarantee sustainability. Hotels endeavour to reside in symbiosis with the communities: offering employment and shopping for produce from native fishermen and farmers. In the nationwide park, conservation insurance policies have been developed and entrusted to native residents.
No exploration of Africa’s japanese seashores may very well be full and not using a keep in Mozambique’s Tofo and Barra. Substantial reefs are discovered simply offshore from this lengthy arc of sandy bliss, attracting the completely resident whale sharks and manta rays that draw individuals right here.
Once a sleepy fishing village, right this moment the small city includes a cluster of eating places and bars surrounding a busy village market. Hotels have sprung up alongside the seashore, stretching from the central Hotel Tofo Mar to the quieter and extra distant Barra, the place good lodging choices embody Barra Beach Club and Blue Footprints Eco Lodge.
Locals deal with guests like lengthy-misplaced buddies. Everyone is there for the love of the ocean. A lazy seashore vibe dances round Tofo ― except the diving boats are going out.
People stand watching wistfully from the seashore, as wetsuit-clad teams cling to the motorboats bouncing away over the rolling waves. “There! Whale shark! It must be around six metres!” And with that, in we plunge, looking for our underwater bearings, solely to swim ― with all our may ― to maintain up alongside this pleasant, blue-speckled large.
Fanjove Private Island, Tanzania
Tucked away on the distant Songo Songo Archipelago, 140km south of Dar es Salaam, lies this unspoilt Indian Ocean bolthole. Managed by Essential Destinations (ED), Fanjove embodies the corporate ethos of creating “a minimum impact on the environment while supporting conservation and helping to sustain local communities”.
The six secluded bandas, bar and eating room are constructed with pure supplies, akin to palm leaves, coral rocks, chokaa (lime) and bamboo, so mix harmoniously with their environment. Solar panels present electrical energy; septic tanks have been put in for the bio-degradation of waste; and recent water is purchased from the area people in an effort to present enterprise in addition to being produced by means of a desalinator.
Fanjove is a fragile ecosystem that should be protected ― and the ED crew strives to preserve each its terrestrial and marine habitats. Research is all the time in progress right here, with sightings meticulously listed and monitored. “This is an important ecological area for nesting sea turtles and marine birds,” says ED’s chief ecologist Malcolm Ryan. “We hope to encourage a natural diversity of wildlife.”
The tone is ready when company are given a map on arrival, which urges them to “use the island with respectful freedom”. On a stroll among the many mangroves or alongside its palm-fringed seashores, bountiful fauna could also be noticed. Avian species, particularly, are given house to thrive. The north-japanese shore is named the Birds’ Sanctuary, the place people can solely linger in a conceal. Cattle and dimorphic egrets, gray-headed herons, whimbrels, terns, pied crows, amethyst sunbirds, Burchell’s coucals, pied kingfishers, black-headed weavers and greater than a thousand crab plovers all reside right here.
“There is [also] a substantial wader migration from late October to March, when sandpipers, sand plovers, common greenshanks, Eurasian oystercatchers, ruddy turnstones and others swarm in,” Malcolm tells me. “Fanjove is a vital retreat for them to recover from their epic journeys.” In addition, many fascinating butterflies, together with painted women and yellow pansies, seem in January.
Crustaceans are rife ― probably the most well-known of which being the coconut crab. The largest terrestrial crab, this huge creature can develop as much as 60cm lengthy and lives in a burrow moderately than a shell. Considered an area delicacy, it has been almost poached to extinction, so the safeguarding of this small inhabitants is important.
Out snorkelling or scuba diving, company will see coral reefs and prolific marine life, akin to harbour rays, pufferfish, lionfish, crocodile fish, butterflyfish, oriental sweetlips, batfish, snappers, angelfish and a whole lot extra. Indo-Pacific bottlenose and spinner dolphins dance within the waves all yr spherical and there’s a regular stream of humpback whale sightings from mid-July to October.
The survival of this wealthy biodiversity relies on conservation efforts, and important to that is the involvement of the Songo Songo group. “We must engage with them and educate them on the importance of sustainable fishing practices,” Malcolm explains. “We must show them how beneficial conservation is.” Hence the muse of the Beach Management Unit, largely comprising villagers devoted to establishing and implementing legal guidelines. The consequence has been constructive, and right this moment, greater than half of Fanjove’s coral reef is reserved for non-consumptive actions and the entire archipelago is dynamite fishing free.
Another main undertaking is the safety of inexperienced and hawksbill turtles. Adults breed on Fanjove’s sloping seashores between April and May. However, they lay their eggs perilously near the ocean, so Sea Sense has educated workers to maneuver them to security. The numbers of nests, eggs and hatchlings are then recorded, offering essential knowledge for making certain their future survival. Progress is obvious: in 2012 three nests and 318 hatchlings had been recorded, in comparison with seven and 700 final yr.
Tourism on Fanjove Island additionally helps the area people, offering jobs (70-80 per cent of the workers are from neighbouring Songo Songo), common rental earnings, enterprise (95 per cent of the meals is purchased from them) and a livelihood for girls (coconuts are given to them to be made into oil to be offered again to the lodge). Most importantly, 3 per cent of the lodge’s earnings funds group improvement initiatives, akin to new colleges.
Getting there The solely option to get there’s to fly with Coastal Aviation to neighbouring island Songo Songo (through Mafia), then journey by rickshaw to a conventional fishing dhow that delivers you safely to Fanjove. Book by means of Essential Destinations.
TA additional To watch a video of ‘Fanjove, a Turtle Island’ on-line, go to the next YouTube hyperlink: http://ow.ly/3ut130eQiwi.
Nosy Ankao, Madagascar
Hugging the curves of the shore of Nosy Ankao, a distant speck of an island off north-western Madagascar, is a model-new lodge: Miavana. Designed by the formidable duo Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, that is the primary property to be constructed on the island and it might be the nation’s most opulent. Excellence is the important thing phrase right here. Fine wines, Bose headphones, Smeg home equipment ― no expense has been spared.
In addition to Time + Tide’s willpower to please probably the most discerning of 5-star company, the model is equally dedicated to the event of the island, the assist of its individuals and the conservation of the entire archipelago.
The lodge’s arrival has already introduced constructive adjustments to Nosy Ankao. In the 2 small villages, locals and expert Malagasy individuals recruited from the city of Diego Suarez and elsewhere are being paid nicely and are devoted to the undertaking. Their properties are being upgraded. Fresh water, flush bogs, showers, a store, stocked clinic ― with a resident nurse ― and a faculty within the south of the island have been offered. Solar panels might be added within the close to future.
Malagasy males and girls have been educated in numerous expertise together with stonework, driving heavy equipment and skippering motorboats. Some are being mentored as guides for forest walks, scuba diving, snorkelling or spa remedies. Skills to be delivered to the islanders embody beekeeping, permaculture and hydroponic vegetable rising for each native and visitor wants.
Nature information Simon Andrianiaina has been studying in regards to the ecology of the area. He is pioneering paths for Miavana’s company to discover the fascinating flora and fauna such because the fish-scale gecko, Oustalet’s chameleon and birds, together with the Malagasy coucal and Malagasy paradise flycatcher.
Since 2013, Miavana’s island supervisor Greg Wepener has supervised the elimination of greater than 10,000 casuarina bushes that use huge portions of valuable recent water. Subsequently, 70,000 indigenous bushes have been planted by groups of employees. Over the following three years, 4000 baobabs might be planted. After negotiations with leaders on the mainland, 4 extremely endangered topped lemurs are to be captured, relocated to Nosy Ankao and monitored there. Sadly, in Daraina ― their present territory within the mountains ― mining operations are threatening their survival. In the long run, lemurs born on the island might be returned to the mainland, the place a reforestation undertaking and schooling of native individuals is below manner.
Situated within the Loky Manambato Protected Area, Miavana works in partnership with native communities and Fanamby, a nicely-revered Malagasy NGO. A share of the charges of excursions and excursions from Miavana might be donated to the organisation’s many initiatives.
To stop overfishing and coral injury, Fanamby and Miavana have established a core no-fishing zone along with the Madagascan authorities. Fishermen now want permits, which is able to facilitate regulation of the waters and coral. Miavana will buy its seafood from licensed fishermen, at costs larger than they usually obtain. Expect recent linefish, akin to crimson snapper, dorado and tuna, plus sizeable crayfish, prawns and squid to be on the menu.
Turtle exercise can also be being monitored. Hawksbill, inexperienced, olive ridley and loggerhead species are discovered right here, and fortunate company could observe feminine turtles laying their eggs within the pure white, comfortable sand or hatchlings dashing to the ocean.
Besides having a memorable tropical island expertise in a chic lodge, you’ll be able to relaxation assured that at Miavana you’re contributing to the improved situations of the islanders, contract employees, workers and the island’s ecosystem itself.
Getting there Airlink flies daily from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport to Antananarivo and direct to Nosy Be on Sundays. From there, Time + Tide’s R66 Turbine Marine helicopter will take you to Nosy Ankao. If you’re planning to go to different locations in Madagascar on the identical journey, it’s value reserving by means of a dependable tour operator akin to ASISTEN Travel, which specialises in excessive-finish experiential journeys in Madagascar.
TA additional To learn extra on-line about Nosy Ankao, go to travelafricamag.com.
By Gillian McLaren
Taken from version 80 of Travel Africa journal, Oct-Dec 2017