Carnets de voyage

Trip Information

Carbon eyes
Carbon eyes (4)
Trip Date:2006-08-27 - 2006-08-31
# Photos:30 [View]
Countries visited:Tanzanie
Vue: 3284
“Once you set foot in Africa, your life will change for ever…”

Frankly speaking, I’ve always seen these kinds of statements with some deep scepticism. Nonetheless, when I landed in the oldest of the continents, I was so fascinated by its people, its nature and its distinct atmosphere which made me forget the stress of daily life within hours.... that, I began to wonder whether there was truth in that saying...


Tanzania is located in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean. Please don’t go as far as to confusing it with Tasmania : if we assume the African Continent is a chubby “T” letter, then Tanzania is at the upper end of the stick, on the right. It is slightly bigger than Turkey, whereas its population of 43 million is close to Poland's. With a GNP per capita hovering around USD670, it is the land of Kilimanjaro and the poor, but strikingly beautiful people.

Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar, two regions who were British colonies until the mid-20th century, declared independence in the 1960s, and finally merged in 1964 under the United Republic of “Tan-zania”: “Jamhuri Ya Muno Wa Tanzaniaunga”.

Islam and Christianity are the two leading religions in Tanzania, with each capturing 1/3 of the population. That said, the monotheist religions are so intertwined with the local traditional beliefs that, it is not unlikely to meet a Christian prophet among a crowd you come across on the road, where people line up to ask the prophet in writing for forgiveness, healing, a handsome husband or financial fortune.

Markets in Africa are always colorful. Sometimes it is a woman headgear, sometimes it is a blanket full of rich patterns and colors.

“Swahili” is the local African language spoken in East Africa, most notably in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. During the reign of the Arabs in the coastal area, Swahili came under the direct influence of the Arabic, which explains why the name of the language is also derived from an Arabic word, i.e., the equivalent of “coastal”.

While driving thru single-storey shanty towns, our eyes were always on the colorful people in the streets. Thus, we were tempted to stop over and walk among them. Except a few Blue-Mosque type youngsters, no one seemed to care about our existence.

The Ngorongoro Crater

Located in the north of the country, the Ngorongoro Crater spreads around 102 square miles, at an altitude of 7,500 feet above the sea level. Being the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera, this crater which is 2,000 ft deep, offers an unprecedented variety of species for the visitors.

Ngorongoro is estimated to host some 25,000 animals, including the “big five”, i.e., rhinoceros, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. Another common mammal is the Thomson’s gazelle, which is named after explorer Joseph Thomson and is often referred to as the "Tommy". 24-35 inch tall and weighing 29-40lb, Tommy has a distinctive black stripe.

Thomson’s gazelles get along well with zebras and wildebeests. They run as fast as 50mph, which may seem not sufficient to evade big cats such as cheetahs, which are able to attain higher speeds up to 60mph. But Thomson's Gazelles can outlast cheetahs in long chases and are able to make turns more speedily. This comparative advantage doesn’t change the fact that half of the new-born is lost to predators before reaching adulthood.

Zebras communicate with each other with high pitched barks and whinnying. A female zebra may give birth to one foal every twelve months. She nurses the foal for up to a year. The babies are able to stand and run 20 minutes after their birth.


I came across to the name of Zanzibar for the first time in the title of a restaurant in Tesvikiye, Istanbul. When I asked the waiter whether that was a special liquor, he replied smiling: “No sir, that’s an island in Africa”.

Years passed, and I had the pleasure to visit the same island which inspired the owners of that restaurant. And, I learnt that Zanzibar meant the “coast of blacks” in Persian.

Zanzibar, on the eastern shore of Africa, is approximately as large as the island of Rhodes. With a population of one million, it is an autonomous entity with a separate representative assembly.

Once the capital of the Sultanate of Oman and the centre of the East African slave trade, Zanzibar is arguably the location in Tanzania where you can feel the Arabic influence the most. Its population is 99% Muslim.

Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar in 1946. His parents were from Parsi origin in India and his father was working as a cashier for the British Colonial Office. You probably know him more under his new legal name, Freddie Mercury.

His inspiration for the lyrics of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” may have originated from his early childhood in Zanzibar, who knows?