Usually I am not much of a fan of sharing bath water but when you’re bathing in a natural spring with a fleet of turtles I was more lenient when it came to the rules. Just round the corner from the Mnarani Cottages was a turtle sanctuary. Tucked away behind some big gates on a dusty track littered with old scrap and stray dogs was this little gem. A rather shy friendly giant led us through the foliage and shrubbery of the site with two buckets of seaweed in tow. At the clearing we looked down to see a beautiful pool with sweeping formations of shells and paddling fins.
After clambering down to the edge of the pool we were able to throw in the seaweed and entice the prehistoric-looking creatures towards us. Most of the turtles were rescued, so on some the clues of their past could be seen- the scars of fishermens’ nets embossed some of their mottled shells.
Somewhat content and mesmerised just perching by the water’s edge and throwing in wads of seaweed we were surprised at the point when we were told we could just jump right in. So, in we went. The friendly giant took hold of my camera and with no instruction required he started snapping away avidly….
Flocking from unknown corners of the pool we were swarmed by curious creatures. Whilst they are completely harmless, I can’t pretend that I wasn’t mildly scared feeling the hefty fin of a 4-foot 29-year-old turtle swiping the back of my legs…with Jaws as my primary fear in life I did experience momentary heart palpitations. But all in all it was perfect.
This wildlife encounter marked the end of our trip to Zanzibar. It seemed a lifetime since receiving my lonely planet in the post whilst I was still at university and deciding that Zanzibar would be the next place to tick off my travel bucket list. Despite its tricky reputation, the island had taken us in and looked after us. With cinnamon-coloured skin, wispy blonde hair and a constellation of angry-looking mosquito bites I could leave Zanzibar safely saying that I had had the most amazing time. Would I return? Absolutely.