Tanzania Day 19 - Beaches, Horses, and Crazy Russians

When we woke up this morning, it was a bit cloudy and windy, so it looks like snorkeling is off today. We had breakfast at the hotel and then went back to our room to decide what to do today.

We decided to go to Kiwengwa, which is on the east side of the island, because there was horseback riding in that area. The east coast is different from the west coast in that the slope on the east coast is verrry gradual, so there is a huge difference between high and low tide.

We took a taxi over to the stables for 40,000 shillings ($25). We met a very nice guy who said he could take me for a ride on the beach and swim. He recommended doing it at 2pm at high tide, so he showed us the way to the beach so we could relax a bit before my ride.

We decided to walk down the beach to explore a little. At one point there was a nice resort with lots of people and lawn chairs. I needed to find somewhere to change into my bathing suit, so we decided to explore a little bit. Not too soon after, a guy came up to me and asked if I was a “part of the club”. Since we weren’t, we had to go back on the beach.

“The Club” turned out to be an Italian club. I was wearing a long skirt and t-shirt, and Charlie was wearing a t-shirt, swimming trunks, and a backpack, and clearly we didn’t fit in next to the Speedos and bikinis.

I ended up changing into my bathing suit in a shady spot on the beach. It was also time to put on some sunscreen since we had been walking around for about an hour without it.

Next, we decided to find a spot to relax and go swimming. During our walk (and throughout the rest of the day), locals would come up to us to either talk to us or try to sell us something. A typical conversation went like this (abbreviated version):

“Hello, hakuna matata!”


“How are you?”


“Where are you from?”


“Ohhhh, Obama! Where in America do you live?”

“Have you ever heard of Maine?”


“North of New York City by Canada.”

“Ohhh, I know New York City!”

“It is very cold by us with lots of snow.”

“Oh, I have never seen snow. How long are you here?”

“3 days”

“Where are you staying?”


“Do you want to go snorkeling?”


“Do you need a taxi?”


“Would you like to buy some Massai art?”

“No.” (repeat this multiple times)

“Okay, hakuna matata!”

We eventually made it to a fairly quiet spot. I didn’t want to leave our bag sitting by itself, so we went swimming one at a time. I let Charlie go first. While he was out enjoying the water, these two young girls, about 4-5 years old, came over to me. They were talking to me in Swahili and being cute until they started grabbing my towel / water bottle / camera / etc. They eventually went away when they saw another group of people.

Beach at Kiwengwa, Zanzibar

After swimming, we went back to our shady spot to get out of the hot sun. As we were sitting there, we heard something go “moo”. We looked up and saw a big group of cows walking down the beach with no apparent human walking with them. Later on, the cows came walking back in the other direction, and then a guy came up and turned them back around.

Herd of cows on the beach in Kiwengwa, Zanzibar

Just as it was about time to walk back to the stable, a Massai member came up to us and started talking to us. He wasn’t trying to sell us anything, but he just wouldn’t stop talking! With 5 minutes to go before my ride, we were finally able to escape.

We went back to the stable, and I met my horse, Byron. He was a cute and calm little bay. Charlie didn’t ride, so it was just me and the guide. We started by walking out to the beach. Once he realized I was experienced, he say we could trot and canter, so that’s what we did. We went cantering / galloping up and down the beach, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! Byron was so good. I was having so much fun, I didn’t even realize that my guide’s horse had spurted sand all over my face and shirt. Other than the riding, my favorite part was when the horse pooped in the water right in front of the Italian Club.

Horseback riding on the beach in Kiwengwa, Zanzibar

We then walked the horses over to the owner’s private house. It was time to take Byron’s saddle off and go swimming! The guide had to come with me and lead me using a halter and lead rope, but that’s okay. I enjoyed it, especially when Byron grunted when he was swimming. The only part that sucked was that Byron had a VERY prominent backbone. Ouch!

Swimming on horseback in the ocean in Kiwengwa, Zanzibar.
Bareback swimming on horseback in Kiwengwa, Zanzibar.
Horseback riding in the ocean in Kiwengwa, Zanzibar.
With my horse after our swim. I wish he wasn't so skinny, I felt bad seeing his ribs sticking out.

After my ride, we walked down the beach towards the town of Kiwengwa to find a place to eat and get a taxi back to our hotel. We walked probably a mile and didn’t see any restaurants we liked, so we just decided to find a taxi and go back to the hotel. It was at that point that Charlie realized he lost one of his sneakers. He had tied them to the outside of his backpack while we were walking, and it had fallen off somewhere. Even though our chances of finding it were slim, we turned around to go look for it.

Believe it or not, we ended up finding the sneaker sitting in a pile of seaweed. It was back in the beginning, so we just got a taxi there for about 45,000 shillings.

My hour-long horseback riding adventure cost me 50,000 shillings (about $31). What a deal!

We made it back to Nungwi and decided to get some dinner. We were going to eat at our hotel, but they didn’t start serving dinner until 6:30.

Funny sign at Langi Lang Restaurant in Zanzibar

We ended up going to a place that Charlie wanted to go to that had a beer special of 3 local beers for 9,000 shillings (about $6). And they were big 500ml bottles too! We sat at a table next to a few Russians. We ordered our drinks (I got a chocolate-banana milkshake and Charlie got his beers), and we proceeded to watch a sunset cruise (dhow) filled with a bunch of drunk Russians “dock” outside our restaurant. And by dock, I mean pull up close to the beach and let people jump off into the surf. The people we were sitting next to started laughing uncontrollably at them. One of the guys had his own juke box / speaker set, and it was funny watching him hold it above his head as he waded through the water.

Crazy Russian party boat docked outside our restaurant.

It turned out the Russians in the boat were with the Russians in the restaurant. They all came up to join, and there were probably 20 or so of them total. They had a SHIT TON of vodka and other alcohol with them. We looked over at the bar, and one of the Russians was hooking up his juke box to the restaurant’s speakers which was now playing Russian techno music, and another Russian was reaching over the bar to grab large glasses while a waiter was trying to help him out (and the Russian was completely ignoring). They ended up each filling these large glasses at least halfway full of straight vodka and doing random toasts with them. Damn. What a riot.

As we were leaving, the waiter told us that last night, one of the Russians broke into the bar and drank all their beer (which he did end up paying for later).

Apparently our friend Abuu did the sunset cruise with them today. We talked with him again, and he is going to set us up with snorkeling tomorrow!

PS - My face got REALLY sunburned today.