Thursday, December 17, 2015

Zanzibar, Tanzania, Part 1: We Spend Half Our Beach Vacay Feeding Animals

Safari adventure over, J. Rich and I flew from Kilimanjaro to the island of Zanzibar for a few days of sun and tropical paradise-ness.  

It is very weird to me that it is the middle of December, and I've successfully avoided winter for six full months. And by very weird, I mean freaking awesome. 

What It's All About:
Zanzibar (or "Zan," as I'm calling it for short) is an island off the eastern coast of Tanzania - just East of the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam.  It's kind of known for being a tropical wonderland paradise, due to its insanely beautiful waters.  The island itself is pretty large (about 2-3 hours drive from the Northern end to the Southern tip), and there are multiple cities you can choose to stay in.

We are in Zanzibar!

The city we stayed in was Nungwi - on the most Northern tip of the island. It's known for being absolutely insanely picturesque (and has a good nightlife/hangout scene), but I will say that it was a little harder to get to some of the sites. The main city of Zan is called Stone Town, which is also adorable and much more centrally-located.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Checked into our hotel, Warere Beach, which unbeknownst to me before I booked it, had just opened a week prior to our arrival.  It was located down a shady, bumpy, rock-filled dirt path - but opened up to this view:


Warere Beach Hotel
View from the pool
Practicing ninja moves in the pool

The tides in Zanzibar were crazy - during low tide (above), the ocean receded a TON and you could walk out forever - or walk along the beach to town.  But during high tide, the ocean rose so much that you couldn't walk through the beach in a lot of places.

We walked out super far during low tide. I found the hundreds of sea urchins everywhere incredibly cool

And when you pick them up, they actually move and wiggle their spikes

  • Day 2, J. Rich had arranged for us to go out to an animal Sanctuary called Cheetah's Rock. It's run by this woman named Jenny who has a total passion for animals, and has built an incredible sanctuary for animals who have been abused, confiscated, or donated. She keeps the group sizes small, which allows a lot of interaction with her animals - and she's trained most of them to be sweet and adorable.

This is Jenny with her incredibly rare white lion, named Aslan. She raised him from a cub after getting him from a conservatory - he used to be small enough that she would let guests enter his cage, but now he's too big so only she is allowed in. 

Jenny was also an incredible self-promoter (which I'm sure is warranted, as I really liked her). "They said zebras couldn't be trained like horses because they're too wild. But I gave him positive love and reinforcement, AND I TRAINED HIM!"  This is Chaka the zebra, and he does really cute tricks.

She trained him to hand me a rose! JUST LIKE THE BACHELOR. Dream #1, fulfilled.

This is an animal called a bush baby, and it had its ass shoved into my face the entire time it was stealing my spaghetti strands

And then we went into the lemur enclosure. And a peacock photobombed my picture.

Here is me feeding a lemur. They jump from shoulder-to-shoulder constantly and use their grubby little hands to grab all food in sight. Which in this case, happened to be spaghetti and mixed fruit.

Here is J. Rich feeding a peacock

I can't get over how cute turtles are when they eat


This is Gizmo, the striped hyena. She is super duper rare because the hyenas in the wild are usually spotted, and was surprisingly adorbs. Even though hyenas have the strongest jaws, we got to feed Gizmo and she was super tame and cute about it all. Like a canine with large eyes. And a hunched back.

And then we went to visit Aslan!  Here is Jenny showing how giant Aslan is

Here is J. Rich feeding Aslan a giant slab of raw beef. 

And my favorite experience of all - Tyson the cheetah! He's apparently trained well-enough (putting all my faith into Jenny here) that we entered his enclosure, where there was seating set up and champagne for all of us. Seriously, we sat INSIDE the cheetah's enclosure and drank champagne while he paced around us. Jenny called him over to us with a big slab of  raw chicken

And then she let us pet him. I know how bourge-y this looks, seated on a chair, holding a glass of champagne, petting a cheetah. Which means this is obviously going to be my new Tinder profile photo. 

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