Kilwa Kisiwane

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Tanzania  , Lindi,
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kilwa Masoko and Kilwa Kisiwani

We left Sunrise Beach thinking we will travel for about 100 km to our next stop. Surprise!  Maps 4 Africa has this one all wrong.  Makadi Beach is nowhere to be found on the road down South.  With this in mind,  I did not prepare a flask for coffee or make lunch because we were only going to take an hour or two at best.  To top it off the road turned seriously bad at some point. 

Bad road, no coffee and no food ! Not a good combination.  By the time we got to Kilwa it was late afternoon.  The first camping spot we checked out was Kilwa Sea View.  This was enough to drop my lip to the floor.  You can imagine why.  With not much light left before sunset, we would try Paradise Beach.  The name did not hold any promise as every hell hole in Tanzania is called "paradise" something or the other.  With no other options, we were holding our breath. 

It is only about 3 km from Kilwa View.  The nice thing was that it was going out of the village a bit.   By the time we got to Kilwa Dreams – or Paradise Beach as indicated on the GPS, we were blown away!  Here was a place one could stay.  Good management, neat and clean. With an added bonus of, camping 2 meters from the breakers.  We had the whole place to ourselves. A beach that stretched as far as the eye can see, and a guard dog. 

Next day Gladys arranged a guide for us and soon we were on our way to Kilwa Kisiwani Ruins on a nearby Island.  One has to obtain a permit from the government office before going.  The permit came with a student this time.  The 4 of us set off to the harbor.  They assured us that our car will be looked after.  The Dhow looked fine but I wanted to know where the life jackets were.  No jackets, don't worry……..”Akuna Matata”………….So  I worried.

As it turned out, it was great fun and safe.  We would have 3 hours on the island before the Dhow would come back for us. 

The Ruins are very interesting and our guide a wealth of information.  The Island has approximately 3000 inhabitants at the moment. The sites have history plaques (which I photographed) so have a look at the history if you interested.

It was a very hot 3 hours but well worth it.  It does not compare to the pyramids in Mexico but still gives one that airy feeling that leads to  flights of one’s imagination taking you back to how things might have been back then. One can almost picture the Sultans walking around.

We were walking toward the area where the original well can be found when we crossed a pan with thousands upon thousands of little crabs.  Nothing seems to be controlling their numbers.  The locals say you can not eat them.

The original well is still in use and apparently still most favored by the inhabitants because of the taste.  There is scarcely any water in it but the locals literally take drop for drop out with old plastic bottles. They did not want me to take photos of them and so the student guide posed for me.

The last Palace we visited was definitely the biggest.  Unfortunately there is not much left of it.  Basically just walls.  Looking at the diagram on the info plaque one gets a very good idea of just how big it was and where what was kept and done.

There are two Lucky Bean Trees in the contains of the walls that were in flower while we were there.  The smell of the tiny flowers is simply divine.  I was told that this tree’s flowers are used in perfume making on Zanzibar.  The student guide said that the girls from the village picks up the flowers and puts them in their handbags etc to smell nice.  I was too busy picking up flowers to take a picture and unfortunately we did not go back the same way.  Sad situation.

The views from the last ruins are quite something. 180 degrees of sea and land and mangroves. We went back via the mangroves. Here we met a local fisherman  with all his gear. The Dhow was waiting for us at the end of a 18th century peer. We said good bye to the student as she is one of the inhabitants and climbed on board.  The wind had picked up and so this would be a faster trip than when we came across earlier.  A bit exhilarating at times but fun and beautiful.   The hand crafted pulleys and the rest of the woodwork is inspiring. One can not help but feel a bit like Robinson Crusoe.  The sail needed a bit of help – but functioned just fine. We thanked our skipper with a “Asante Sana” (thanks very much) and he smiled with a “told you so” sense of pride.  No life jackets were required.

Back at camp we baked some bread and braaied a fish for dinner. We had planned to go even further south the next day but decided against it as it was 300 odd km’s away  and Gladys said that there was nothing to see.  This was good news as we got to spend the  next day at leisure. 

It was spring tide – we could not believe how far we could walk in.  Just short of 1 km easy.  It was interesting to see all the creepy crawlies but I was disappointed that there were no shells to pick up. By the time we got back to the tent we were ready for a beer as it was stinking hot. The water here by the way, is like bath water. It only cools down toward the evening.  This partly due to the big shallow area as well as the warm Indian ocean.  The wind chill factor is really the only relief from the heat.

I forgot to mention that we ate breakfast in the restaurant 2 mornings in succession  - was a great treat. Fried eggs and toast, fresh fruit and fruit juice as well as a lovely cup of coffee.  Was so nice to be served and not to do dishes.

On our last morning however, there would be no time for breakfast as we had a long way to go – in Tanzanian terms – and needed to get to a supermarket before going back to Sunrise Beach.  Where we would take every single thing out of the car, to have it ready for service. 

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