Friday, January 18, 2008

Diving the Mnemba Atoll

Dive: Wattabomi, Mnemba Atoll, Zanzibar
The spiel: A dive site suitable for advance and novice divers with a depth from 15 to 25m. Amongst others you will see Lion fish, Moray eels, Stingrays, Octopus and big Groupers. The highlight on Wattabomi is the number of resident turtles. During some of our dives we see up to 15 of these fascinating reptiles.


Mnemba Atoll, off the east coast of Zanzibar, is a ring of dive and snorkel sites, with a single island, apparently privately owned by an exclusive hotel. It’s a fair boat ride, about an hour, so lunch is brought along, some tasty pasta with chapattis, and fruit.

On this first dive, we see a small field of Garden Eels, all poking about 10 inches out of the sand, looking inquisitively about. Plenty of reef fish action, but the highlight was a large turtle sleeping on top of a reef, occasionally opening his eyes and looking suspiciously about before closing them again. If he was snoring, I couldn’t hear it underwater.

A 62 minute dive with maximum depth 20m is not one to use the static dive table for, but luckily most people had computers, certainly Norbert, my buddy, did.

Dive: Kichwani, Mnemba Atoll, Zanzibar
The spiel: A deep dive from 25 to 40m. Many colorful coral formations with an abundance of tropical reef fish. Big Napoleon Fish, Reefshark, Trumpetfish, Travalleys and Grouper, Oriental Sweetlips and Rays.

Slightly disappointing in terms of dive. There was a good gently current carrying us along the wall, and we did see a turtle in the distance, scuttling along deeper than us, but otherwise not much to see. Highlight for me was a baby moral eel snapping at us, with bright white eyes making him look like he was made of plasticine, very cute!

Again, 62 minutes, this time maximum depth 22m!


It’s lonely on that beach

Norbert, Yasmin and myself. Check the matching gear!

Damn, I don’t get to say goodbye even to Yasmin, possibly the most lovely divemaster I’ve ever met. If you’re reading this Yasmin of East Africa Diving Co, get in touch, you still owe me some sea horses, on Shane’s, in London’s Aquarium or otherwise!

After having sorted out our kit, and paid my bill, we head to the adjacent cafĂ© for some beers, Norbert and myself, a Dutch-German couple and an American couple. They’ve all attempted Kilimanjaru in the past couple of weeks, and none of them made it right to the summit! Doesn’t bode well for me! I leave first, having to catch a Dala dala to Stonetown. This time I just hand over 1,500s, which they accept, so I was charged double last time. Ah well, going rate for screwing foreigners! Strangely, the conductor chap leaves some coins on the road as we drive off apparently in the middle of nowhere. Arriving as it gets dark, I find a room in Flamingo before walking to Amore Mio for tasty Italian fare and decent wine. Plus of course some good ice-cream for the walk home, Pistachio and Banana flavours this evening.


Anonymous said...

the pic of the turtle is awesome, good shot! speak soon. bugs

Sam Crawley said...

So all my amazing photos, and you compliment the one that clearly isn't mine, as I don't have an underwater camera! Tart!

Mihalis said...

Hi, Great pictures!
I'm also planning to go to Zanzibar in November and do the OWD course. Where in the island would you suggest is better to do it ?

Sam Crawley said...

Hi Mihalis,

I dived with the East Africa Dive Company in Nungwi, who are friendly and professional, I would really recommend them. I also did a couple of dives with Zanzibar Dive Centre in Stonetown, but didn't get to know them so well.

Good luck - Sam