Board a dhow and set sail into the tropical seas around Zanzibar. Don mask and fins, slip over the side and experience the elation of an exclusive swim with dolphin in the island’s crystal-clear waters. Listen to the clicks and whistles of these beautiful creatures as they twirl and dive around you – a fantastic addition to Tanzania’s best safari experiences.
We stepped down onto the blinding white sand from our luxurious, makuti-roofed lodge to find a graceful dhow anchored in the shallows. Our bags with wetsuits, masks and fins had already been loaded aboard. My partner and I waded through the shallows and climbed up the ladder onto the deck. Our exclusive ‘swim with dolphin’ adventure had begun…
The dhow was a beautiful vessel with a gleaming, mahogany hull and teak decks. She was about 14m long and powered by twin 90HP engines. The vessel could take a number of guests, but ours was a private swim with dolphin safari and we had the dhow and its crew completely to ourselves.
The skipper, Jabari, introduced himself while one of the crew raised the anchor and laid it on the foredeck. The engines growled to life and we pointed our prow at the horizon. Leaving the shallows, Jabari found a passage through the barrier reef and soon we were coursing through dark blue ocean, a moustache of white-water frothing at the bows.
Above the grumble of the engines, Jabari told us a bit about the marine environment. ‘Underwater visibility can reach up to 35m and, with Zanzibar being so close to the equator, water temperatures never drop below 25ºC,’ said Jabari.
‘The conditions are fantastic for a swim with dolphin. Keep your eyes peeled: they could be anywhere. Of course, I can’t guarantee that we’ll encounter dolphins on every trip. They are wild creatures and play by their own rules. There’s no way we can force them to stay in our patch of ocean. But the chances are very good.’