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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > October-December 2017 (80) > Sand and deliver

Sand and deliver

2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, a trend that has gained momentum over the past 20 years. Since 1997, the options on the continent’s coastline have improved considerably, with beach escapes becoming increasingly accessible, diverse, ethical and eco-conscious.
An endangered green turtle returns to the ocean having laid her eggs on Nosy Ankao island near Miavana, Time + Tide’s new Madagascan lodge

The coast

The sharp, loud ‘snap’ sounds like a whip crack. I’m momentarily worried for my fingers. No, they’re still all there. I dunk my hand back into the bucket and hold out another piece of seaweed. The turtles shove each other in the water, greedily pushing for the prized morsel on offer. Jaws snap, and the biggest one has taken it, his smaller and weaker companions looking mournfully up at me.

Hawksbill and green turtles have long been hunted in Zanzibar for their attractive shells and meat respectively. Yet since 1993 the Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond, in Nungwi, in the north of Zanzibar, has educated fishermen, as well as establishing a pool where captured turtles can be nursed back to health. The project currently employs 20 local residents and has saved more than 200 adult and 1000-plus hatchling turtles.

Nungwi has always been a quiet place. Up until the mid-1990s, the development of hotels and resorts was widely opposed by locals. Today, the long, powderysand beach is scattered with hotels - ranging from the flamboyant, such as Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort or Hideaway of Nungwi, to the more affordable Smiles Beach Hotel or Amaan Bungalows. It has evolved into a thriving, sustainable beach destination with friendly local residents. Tourists can float in the warm, transparent waves by day and dine al fresco on fresh lobsters and grilled fish by night. A trip to visit the turtle conservation efforts is quasi-obligatory. Nungwi combines blissful beach life, community involvement and acceptance, with serious conservation efforts.

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