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Dhows of Zanzibar

Among the many things that regularly caught my eye during my visit to Zanzibar, the dhows always stood out. These traditional boats are still used for fishing and transport but have also been adopted by the locals to provide visitors with authentic sunset cruises and ocean safaris.

While staying at the Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa, I decided to get a little more familiar with Zanzibar's dhows.

This tiny dhow was still wet from the morning's fishing
This tiny dhow was still wet from the morning's fishing .

I took this picture on Nungwi beach. A neat, functional fishing vessel built for one or two people, it's the smallest dhow I saw. I loved its shape and character - you can see all the fishing gear, still wet from the morning's catch - though I can only imagine what it must be like to paddle this diminutive boat on a bad-tempered ocean. 

Carrying coal, this hard-working dhow had come from the mainland.
Carrying coal, this hard-working dhow had come from the mainland.

In contrast, this must be the largest dhow I came across - these guys sailed past us while we were on our way to enjoy an island picnic. The boat was full of coal and must have come from the Tanzanian mainland, 25 to 50 kilometres away depending where you cross. The dhow was completely overloaded but it shows just how tough these boats are. 

Our dhow waits to take us to a low-tide 'desert island'.
Our dhow waits to take us to a low-tide 'desert island'.
The Indian Ocean is nicely framed as we head out to sea.
The Indian Ocean is nicely framed as we head out to sea.
Land ho! We step ashore, Crusoe-style.
Land ho! We step ashore, Crusoe-style.
Our trusty dhow was named after a famous Zanzibari singer.
Our trusty dhow was named after a famous Zanzibari singer.

This is the boat we took to Prison Island and our 'desert island' picnic. I wanted to try and capture the character of the boat in several photographs. My favourite image is the close up of the boat's hull and name. This dhow has clearly enjoyed many years out at sea and I like to think that each bump and scratch tells a story.

Sunsets ... nowhere does it better than Zanzibar.
Sunsets ... nowhere does it better than Zanzibar.

Although this is not a photo of a dhow, I did take it while we were out enjoying a sunset cruise on a dhow. There was just enough wind for the crew to set the dhow's sail, leaving us to sit in absolute silence and enjoy the moment.  It was quite simply one of my ultimate Top 10 sundowner experiences - pure Zanzibar magic.

Read more about a Zanzibar holiday or browse our recommended Zanzibar accommodation.

 

Written by Stuart Parker, one of Go2Africa's Africa Safari Experts.

Connect with him on Google+.

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