What not to do at Baraka Natural Aquarium, Zanzibar

by - 8/25/2023

 

Well swimming with sea turtles sounds pretty terrific right? I had learned about this lagoon in Zanzibar quite some time back on a traveller's profile and had been fascinated since then. However little did I know that I would be there , myself , so soon! To be honest, Tanzania had been on my list for quite some time but just didn't think that we would explore it right away! It was fully the universe's calling...we found some well priced tickets and we immediately booked them. Bam! The most adventurous vacation of our lives!


Coming to the sea turtles, swimming with them is possible in the Nungwi town of Zanzibar, which is the Northern part of the island. There are a couple of aquariums where you can do so, but I had read rave reviews for Baraka Natural aquarium and hence we went for that place.

We drove from our resort in Nungwi and it was quite convenient to park there with a wide space. There is a zoo too, which has separate entrance fees. The tickets for the aquarium were either 10 USD per person or 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings. Of course the local currency was cheaper hence we paid 60 K TZS for the three of us. 

It was really crowded when we reached there and at least 20 people were inside the lagoon. Firstly it took quite some time to gather the courage to jump into the lagoon with so many turtles flapping their flippers. Secondly I read a lot about their bites so was quite wary, especially with my elder daughter. After a lot of hesitation, I pushed my husband into the water. After some struggling and adjusting, he managed to start feeding those cute turtles and swim with them. During which one of them slapped his flipper so hard on his back that poor hubs got an incised wound! He literally had an anxiety attack when so many turtles encircled him and he was unable to come out!

I and my daughter had a wonderful time patting them and feeding them. They are incredibly beautiful creatures with their shells looking as if they have been hand painted by God himself. I was fully satisfied with my experience and hence I came up to the bank. I was throwing the sea weed into the water from where they were picking up.

My daughter became braver minute by minute to the point that she was putting the algae directly into their mouth. And suddenly we heard a scream. Mohi got a bit late in releasing the weed and hence the turtle placed its canines on her thumb. It was a really deep cut and bled profusely. We had to immediately rush back to our resort to dress her thumb. Mohi was inconsolable from the fright and pain.

Our day did not end as expected but it was one of the major highlights of our trip.

So here is a list of things that I have learned and plan to share with you

1. Don't go in the afternoon. Go early in the morning at 9 AM, when it opens. The water is much clearer and cleaner and of course the place isn't crowded. The aquarium closes at 6 PM.



2. Don't wear anything green. Turtles comprehend everything and anything green as their food and hence bite. I recommend wearing a rash guard or swimwear with full sleeves. Although once you reach there, you would witness the tiniest of itty bitty bikinis! It's a total glam show out there as if the girls are posing for Sports Illustrated!

3. Don't apply any sunscreen or body lotion before stepping into the lagoon. These chemicals would get washed into the water and harm the sea turtles.



4. Last but the most important thing, don't try to be an expert in feeding the turtles. Unless you are a pet parent yourself, you won't be thorough with feeding those beautiful creatures right into their mouth. They have really sharp teeth and it's not really their fault if the pulp of your finger comes in their grip of their sharp canines while taking a bite of the sea weed. 

5. Don't jump in the lagoon, you will hurt your feet. You can wear underwater slippers or plain walk very carefully barefeet.



6. Don't pick the turtles from the water. The large ones are very heavy; you would not be able to. But the small ones can be easily picked up, but they should not be. Respect the rules of the aquarium

7. Don't feed them anything other than the sea weed that is available in the reception.


I 100 % recommend this experience because it's something unprecedented and would be a forever memory for our family.

 This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023 

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla
.  

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24 comments

  1. Good you warned about wearing green.

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  2. That looks exciting though iam sorry for Mohi what she has to go through.

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  3. Always looking forward to your post. Lovely blog on your experience. The pics are really candid and good. Especially the "HI" one :) Keep writing.

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  4. I appreciate these tips! It's crucial to be respectful and responsible when visiting such delicate ecosystems.

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  5. Sports Illustrated. Hahaha! Hope Mohi is fine now! Will surely keep this 'not wearing green near turtles' in mind.

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  6. Haha sounds like a turtle fashion show warning! But seriously, being cautious and opting for a rash guard or full-sleeve swimwear is probably a good idea to avoid any unexpected turtle encounters. Will keep in mind all the tips mentioned here when visiting Zanzibar.
    -Anjali

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  7. What a lifetime experience. Wouldn't I love to do this. I loved your picture with the turtles. And thanks for the warning on the colour and the feeding style. I am glad your daughter came out fine, despite the bite.

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  8. I think I would be absolutely scared to be in water with so many unpredictable turtles. I am so sorry to hear your daughter got hurt.

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  9. Wow Mandira, what an amazing and unforgettable experience it mustv been.. except ofcourse, for the minor accidents. But like they say, 'kuch paane k liye kuch khona padta hai'... u will be more careful next time.πŸ˜‰
    Loved the twinning outfits n seriously??? bikini clad women in those murky watersπŸ˜›
    - Kaveri

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  10. I have seen turtles quite closely and no the idea of feeding them or swimming with them does not appeal to me, those beaks look quite terrifying and hard, they actually should not be allowed to be fed so closely, maybe somewhere up is OK. That strategic "Hi " in the picture was funny ;)

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  11. Darling Mandira, being a travel freak and blogger you are now in a position to give us the right tips and guidance for preparing our itinerary with correct knowledge about the place to explore. From the pictures I can definitely say that the trip was an unforgettable one for you. Thank you for alerting us of the possible risk of an accident. I am not sure If I will make it to this place or not but this much is sure that I will not feed the tortoise rather will love watching someone feeding them as I feel a little scared being close with any animals or creatures other than birds. Both you and your daughter look glamorous while twining in yellow..... keep entertaining us with such travel blogs

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  12. Mandira you are quite brave. Pushing husband in turtle circle and that too they hit him. It is really scary for me. I saw one or two turtle but swimming or feeding them in group is scary. Thanks for sharing dos and don'ts. It is necessary.

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  13. We usually read about what to do but rarely about what not to do. Thank you for sharing such an informative post.

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  14. It would be an amazing experience for kids too. Thanks for sharing the do not's. Will try to make this up for my travel plan

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  15. When I saw the picture with you and the turtle, I was like so cute. After reading about the smacks and sharp teeth I definitely want to rethink the so cute statement.

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  16. We are literally living the amazing adventure tour of zanzibar with your blogs where you have beautifully explained each of your experiences.

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  17. Tutles do have quite sharp teeth. A friend needed stiches after a turtle almost snapped her finger off. Thanks for sharing the warnings. I wasn't aware that green was a no go.

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  18. Very useful tips. Looks fun if done with caution. Thanks for sharing.

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  19. This must have been a very different experience and thanks for sharing all the helping tips.

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  20. I am terrified for them because something once went wrong when I was a kid but this post is lovely, mostly I love the pictures. And thanks these tips are really good.

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  21. Now, this is something new. Move over feeding the elephant, deer, or giraffe! Swimming and feeding turtles is now the new thing! As much as I love turtles though, we had one before, is the thought that they might bite you. Not too sure about this but saw online a lady who's boasting how huge their pet turtle is already, only to get bitten on the arm while she's carrying it. - MommyWithAGoal

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  22. Swimming with turtles. your little daughter brcoming braver as she fed see weeds to the turtles. your pictures are great 🀩

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  23. Wow. I am amazed to see you swim with the turtles. 😍 Your tips are very helpful. Especially the green dress and sun screen one. I have never thought that wearing green would confuse the turtles. Also yes the sunscreen washing down would cause damage. Thanks for sharing

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  24. Hahaha, loved reading your What Not To Do article. A different concept I must say

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