An Instagrammer’s Guide to Zanzibar

Photographers travel the world to find the extraordinary, to capture those scenes that make their hearts race. That make them feel alive. They find it in the yawn of a lion and the leap of a leopard, in the soft eyes of the young and the old and in the flash of the perfect moment between two people, caught by being in the right place at the right time. They find it in the blues and whites of the Indian Ocean islands and the remarkable artistry of the world’s great buildings, paintings, sculptures, doors…

Instagrammers are no different. They too are in search of the beautiful, the distinct colours, shapes and tastes of new lands.

When it comes to Zanzibar, there are so many photographic journeys to experience – and share with the world on Instagram – as you move about this island off the coast of Tanzania. But there are a few things you’re going to want to remember, as you set up home at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa.

Right on the beach in Paje, with the horizon in the distance, a stroll to the left or right opens up the eclectic beauty of life in Zanzibar.

10 Rules For Instagramming in Zanzibar

1. Wake up early to catch the sunrise and make sure you’re ready when the first light shows. Hang around once the sun is up – the light is still changing, and the clouds still offering their role to the canvas. At this time of day you’ll catch the local fishermen and women spreading across the water and shore, making for beautiful and dramatic details in your sunrise.

2. For sunset, set one day aside for enjoying sundowners and another for photography. Doing both at the same time is not easy. Although it’s likely you will be tempted. While photographing the sun, don’t forget to turn around and catch its glow across the land and people.

3. The beach is the best place to start for both point one and two.

4. Visit Stone Town on a morning excursion. The markets (with fresh fish and local fruits and spices), mix of people, winding old alleyways, ruins and doors make for exciting subjects. Be respectful. Ask for permission before photographing anyone or ask your guide for advice if unsure.

Read more > A sense of place in the Spice Islands

5. Don’t be afraid of getting into the water. Take images from the sea – that’s why you packed your costume. The kitesurfing school at the hotel provides some great subjects. Play with angles for unique viewpoints. Place a GoPro / underwater action camera on your kayak and stand-up-paddleboards or carry it in your hand when snorkelling.

6. Go island-hopping on a traditional boat, fishing with locals or for a walk through neighbouring towns, for images of real, local life on the island.

7. This is the land of blue skies and white sand. Have fun playing with your partner, different poses and the beauty of island life.

8. The spa garden is often visited by the red colobus monkeys with their funky white hair-do’s. Look out for them playing in the trees and when you do spot them, remember your calm place before you lose yourself for hours, snapping them from different vantage points.


A post shared by Tamlin Wightman (@tamwigwam) on


9. The grounds at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa are beautiful and worth exploring with a photographer’s eye – the large gardens, the villas and bougainvillea surrounding them, the Zanzibari influences in the architecture, design and artworks, and the cuisine, inspired by local flavours and spices.



10. Lastly, the night sky is truly magical in Zanzibar. Play with timelapses, reflections and framing. Just play. There is always time to sleep.

 

How We Celebrated World Oceans Day 2018

“This is where I first learnt to swim,” he said. “As a kid we used to come down to this exact beach, my cousins and I. The whole family.”

Grant, now the Head Chef of Ellerman House, spoke as he pointed to the sandy inlet stretching out from sea to street beside the harbour in Kalk Bay, Cape Town.

I tried to picture him, the tallest of our chefs in Africa, as a young boy. When this failed, I pictured myself, as a girl, learning to swim in a family friend’s pool. I tried to flip back to that earliest memory of being in the sea. And I saw it – the first waterwings, the first bodyboard, the first wetsuit.

I saw the ocean and the traffic jams it had caused with all the cityfolk making their way to the sea on baking Cape days. I saw all the picnic baskets, snorkels, goggles, flippers, sand castles, umbrellas. Paraphernalia of the oceanlover.

I could see Grant now among them, just one of the crowd of boys excited to be barefoot and free, on sand and in sea.

Today we were standing on the harbour jetty looking out over the beachfront and at the blue – the light blue, deep blue, flat blue, choppy blue.

“I think that’s them,” Grant said, pointing to a spec on the horizon.

“No, that’s going the opposite way. That boat’s still going out to sea,” said another member of our party.

We waited some more, as the spec grew closer, bigger, until we could spy the people on board – our Chef and Maître de Maison cum fishermen. Ashley Moss (Greenhouse, The Cellars-Hohenort) and Paul Bruce-Brand (Ellerman House), respectively, who had spent the morning, from sunrise to noon, out at sea with a local fisherman.

“Look at them,” Grant said, “they’re still smiling.”

It was not the warmest day. The sky and sea were not blue as I might have alluded to. They were a white-grey. But it was true, the men were smiling. Even Fadil, who had allowed our two to fish with him for a morning, was smiling.

“Maybe they’ve been converted,” I said. Thinking of the sea and her spell. Thinking of Grant and me as kids, splashing in the shallow waves for hours, immune to the frostbite and brain-freeze. Thinking of our smiles and yelps and cartwheels and somersaults, like seals playing mermen and mermaids. Thinking of that general glow the sea casts over you. How it washes away the rest of the world, while you lose yourself in its world.

Paul and Ashley stepped off the boat, onto the harbour jetty, carrying their catch of the day – red roman and bream. We joked about their size, the way fishermen do. But really we were impressed, a little envious, and wishing we’d had the courage to join them.

We had come to learn more about the local fishing community, about supporting local and sustainable fishing practices. We had come to remind ourselves of the smell of the sea, and all the reasons we need and love it.

It wasn’t quite until Grant took me back to my childhood that I realised just how pivotal the ocean has been in my life, in all the lives around me – from our earliest memories, our favourite memories, to those still being made.

There are infinite reasons and ways to celebrate World Oceans Day, as it fell on 8 June this week. One of the most appealing ways, we thought, was food…

In collaboration with Relais & Châteaux alongside the NGO  Ethic Ocean, the chefs of several of the Relais & Châteaux hotels and lodges in Africa and the Indian Ocean planned, prepared and served a  special seafood dinner on the night of World Oceans Day to shed light on sustainability, on looking after our oceans while still enjoying them and their bounty.

Below is a look at the hotels and lodges that participated and the menus created by the chefs, from the wilderness of South Africa and the city lights of Cape Town and Johannesburg to the tropical Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Discover more:

Relais & Châteaux + Exquisite Fish
Relais & Châteaux’s Celebrity Chefs Fight to Save Our Oceans
Attenborough’s message for World Oceans Day

20 Degres Sud, Mauritius

Read more > WOD_20 Degres Sud Menu

North Island, Seychelles

Read more >

Camp Jambulani, Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Read more >

Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand, South Africa

Read more >

Delaire Graff Estate, Cape Winelands

Read more >

Ellerman House, Cape Town, South Africa

Read more >

Zanzibar Luxury White Sand Villas & Spa, Zanzibar

Read more > WOD_Zanzibar White Sand Menu 2018

AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, Johannesburg, South Africa

Read more >

“The sea is as near as we come to another world.” – Anne Stevenson

The Silent World of Anjajavy

On a morning adventure into the big blue waters around Anjajavy le Lodge, in the north of Madagascar, I discovered a few new things about life, love and myself.

On that early Indian Ocean morning, lodge guide, Jonhson would pop his head out of the surface every now and again and shout out the name of a certain colourful thingamajig flittering past us. I realised, after a while, that it really isn’t only we humans who like to give our kids peculiar names. It’s a pastime that is even more popular with fish.

The epiphany began with the convict surgeonfish and continued with the twinspot snapper and rubberlips, who, with eye-and-nose goggles pulling at my mouth, appeared to me as somewhat of a kindred spirit.

Plectorhinchus playfairi – whitebarred rubberlips

As I started to fret that Jonhson had sunk to the bottom of the ocean bed, it also struck me that I had been snorkelling incorrectly my entire life. I’ve always sort of bobbed about on the top, trying to stay out of the way of wavy kelp and sharks, but Jonhston would take one great breath and then kick his way down, down, down, sailing smoothly into the coral caverns and crannies, seeking out every kind of fish he could find. This was the adventurer’s style of snorkelling, I realised, and I quickly followed suit.

Further down, with my ears well immersed, I experienced the true silence of the ocean for the first time. The kind of stillness that had been limited to the bath tub before. Now I shared my bath and bubbles with other lifeforms. I discovered the kind of comfortable silence that usually comes from long-held friendships.

While I’m sure the boxfish, halfmoon butterfly and emperor angelfish were enjoying a vibrant tête-à-tête among themselves, Rubberlips and I, at least I, in Rubberlips’ presence, was wrapped in quiet awe – in what Jacques Cousteau spoke of when he said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

“I swam across the rocks and compared myself favourably with the sars,” the French explorer and conservationist wrote. “To swim fishlike, horizontally, was the logical method in a medium eight hundred times denser than air. To halt and hang attached to nothing, no lines or air pipe to the surface, was a dream. At night I had often had visions of flying by extending my arms as wings. Now I flew without wings. (Since that first aqualung flight, I have never had a dream of flying.)”

It seemed like the same held for Jonhson.

Back on the boat and goggle-free, he told me that he had never snorkelled before arriving at Anjajavy le Lodge – several years ago. But while working in this unique part of the island, the waters of the protected peninsula and their rich sea life called him day after day, until he had mastered the art. The art of adventurer snorkelling.

He was hooked. In that catch-and-release kind of way, returning to land again, but with more wonder for the silent world than he could ever have imagined.

It’s evident in his growing collection of underwater photography and, like Madagascar’s own Cousteau, he uses each excursion into the sea to seek out and capture the complexity below. Because you can only conserve what you know about, he says. And because, really, he’s fallen in love with that feeling of flying without wings.


Take a look at some images from Jonhson’s Anjajavy collection:

Chaetodon auriga – Threadfin Butterflyfish
Chaetodon auriga – Threadfin Butterflyfish
Acanthurus triostegus – Convict surgeonfish
Acanthurus triostegus – Convict surgeonfish
Zanclus cornutus (Moorish Idol)
Pomacanthus imperator (emperor angelfish)
Ophiocoma erinaceus – boxfish
Lutjanus bohar (two-spot red snapper or twinspot snapper)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Leiaster coriaceus – red spot sea starfish
Heniochus acuminatus – longfin bannerfish
Chaetodon trifasciatus – melon butterflyfish
Chaetodon trifasciatus – melon butterflyfish
Chaetodon lunula – Halfmoon butterfly