Lost in a Zanzibar forest in flip-flops and shorts

After have been backpacking the world in the most challenging and amazing places for almost one and a half year we ended up in Zanzibar, this was going to be our last stop before heading home to Europe and Sweden again. One day when we had maxed out the beach experience and started to get bored of relaxing we decided to go on an adventure. We had heard of this forest called Jozani national park where lots of red Colobus monkeys lived free, and in this forest there also were supposed to live the very last leopard of Zanzibar. This sounded adventurous enough to us, so off in an “open back” van we went.

We arrived pretty early in the day and since we were on Zanzibar during low season there weren't many tourists around either. The people in the reception looked happy to see some people and they offered us a free guided tour of the national park, but we felt pretty confident and bold so we politely turned it down.

After seeing hundreds of monkeys, Martin my travel partner who is a photographer wanted to go hunt for the leopard of Zanzibar so we went off track, not a lot but just enough so that we could come away from the main track, at least this was what we thought…

We had been so focused of looking and listening for signs that we had forgotten to look where we were going, suddenly I realised that there no longer in any direction was any sounds or signs of any people around. In my flip-flops I now was walking in mud and everything looked exactly the same everywhere I looked. I shouted out to Martin, which as always was a couple of metres in front of me taking photographs of a fly or something other exciting thing. He came back to me still self-confident and not worried at all; he said t it was just for us to follow our footsteps back again, so we started doing that. After a couple of metres the mud had wiped away our footsteps and I now started to panic. We stood completely still trying to make out any sounds at all from the forest but it was completely quiet, Me who have the most sense of direction of us both said to go one way and after a while we ended up in bushes high up to our hips and in my mind I was panicky thinking; here is me terrified of snakes, in my flip-flops, with my feet buried in bushes and lost in a flipping national park… Every step I took I silently prayed of not stepping on a snake and I grasped on to the stick I had in my hand tighter and tighter. The track didn't seem to head anywhere and after a long and heated discussion we decided to head back out from the bushes to where we came from and head the other direction. Half way back through the bushes we saw a hidden track, we who by this time was both tired, shaken and not to mention desperate of finding our way back decided to follow that track despite the risk of it taking us more deeper into the woods...

This lead us back to a another track that looked like it had not been used for a long time, happy to be out on solid ground we started following this and finally we heard sounds and people again, we had finally found our way back…

Back at the reception the guide asked us how it had been, trying to hide our muddy feet’s, we embarrassed and ashamed quietly nodded our heads and started quickly to run for the toilets. There we could wash away any signs of our failed mission.

C Hansson

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