What I loved about Zanzibar – by Chris Botting

I am finally leaving Zanzibar.
After 3 amazing years, living and working on this island paradise, I have decided to move on and try something new.

The place I have been living is called Nungwi. The atmosphere here is very chilled, exactly what you would expect from a tropical island. The beach is spectacular and the locals very friendly. I have spent many nights with friends sat in Mangi’s Bar watching the sun go down while drinking a sunset beer. During my time here I have done well over 1000 dives and I can easily say Zanzibar has something for everyone.

For me every area has its unique attraction. For example in Tumbatu the corals are amazing. Soft, hard, big and small, there are hundreds of different species to admire. I love searching in amongst the corals to find Nudibranchs, Flat worms and all sorts of other weird and wonderful creatures. I’m a bit of a camera enthusiast so macro life is something I really like to do. In fact I have photographed and categorized nearly 100 different species of Nudibranch during my time here on the island.

Another of my favorites is Magic reef. It’s a very special place indeed. I could spend hours in just 10m squared. Some of my favorite fish live here. One in particular is the weedy scorpion fish. There are 3 of them and they are the only ones we know of in Zanzibar. They are very territorial and stay in the same place. So they are easy to find and amazing to see. Magic reef is also home to many sea horses. So far I have seen yellow ones, red ones, green ones, brown ones and black ones. They are beautiful creatures and I still get exited every time I see them, probably even more than the clients!

Then there is Mnemba. When it’s at its best the water is so clear I feel as if I’m floating in mid air. My favorites here are the Dragon Morays, Giant Frogfish and something they call the “Pemba Spanish Dancer” which is the biggest Spanish Dancer I have ever seen. I have also been lucky enough to scuba dive with the local Dolphins and the white tip reef sharks, which is something I will always remember.

One thing that did worry me here was coral bleaching. Due to high water temperatures this year the corals here were affected and many began to lose their color. The good news is that when the water temperature dropped the corals fought back and nearly all have returned to their original state. I find it amazing how nature is able to fight and regenerate even when things are looking bad.

One of the main reasons I stayed in Zanzibar for so long is Spanish Dancer Divers. It’s a great place to work and safety is never compromised. The people are great and there’s never a dull moment diving us. One thing that really stands out is that all the guides and instructors really love diving and are not just doing a job. Their enthusiasm rubs off on to each and every person on the boats creating an amazing experience for everyone involved. I will miss Zanzibar and especially the people I have had the privilege to work with.

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