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Dhow Building in Zanzibar

 
Dhow Building in Nungwi
A dhow is a traditional Arab sailing vessel with one or more lateen sails. It was primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, India and East Africa. The term "dhow“ does not stand for just one type of ship but for a whole family of different vessels ranging from small boats with just one mast to cargo ships that can carry over 200 tons. Larger dhows have crews of approximately thirty people, while smaller dhows typically have crews of around twelve.
 
In Zanzibar, dhow building takes place at two particular beaches: At Nungwi in the North of the island, and at Mtoni, which is north of Zanzibar Town. The Zanzibari dhow building masters are well-known around the whole Indian Ocean for their amazing work: They build the traditional dhows upon order and they need between 2 weeks and 4 months time for the construction, depending on the ship's size.

In Nungwi, you have the unique opportunity to take part in the construction of a dhow and to learn everything about traditional dhow-building. An experienced dhow building master, Mr. Mponda, who has learned his skills from his father (the family has been building dhows for generations) will give you 2 hours of dhow building lessons per day. The other hours of the day you can observe the craftsmen and assist them.
 
 
 

Dhow Building

 
 
The origin of the dhows is not clear, but it is assumed that similar wooden ships have sailed the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, as well as the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the Bay of Bengal already 2000 years ago. Using the monsoon winds they made the trade relations between the coasts of neighbouring countries possible. The blend of culture of the east African Swahili coast is a result of these trade relationships, revealing influences from Arabia, Persia, India and sub-Saharan Africa.
 
Even today, Dhows can be seen at seaports around the whole Indian Ocean. At the Dubai Creek, for instance, one can observe the beautiful old-fashioned wooden ships contrasting to the shiny hyper-modern skyscrapers. They are still popular as cargo, fishing and tourist excursion ships in Goa, Zanzibar, Dubai, Oman, Kerala, Mozambique and other coastal regions of the Arabian Sea.
 
Besides their traditional design it is very characteristic that Dhows are even today built entirely by hand. No construction plans or modern tools are being used, instead it is done like centuries ago. For smaller dhows, still today not even nails are being used: the planks and boards are held together with tendons or flexible wood, such as roots and willow branches. Such a construction method used to be globally common until the 15th century; this ship-building technique is called "sewn boats“. The outer skin is shaped very carefully; afterwards the different sections are stitched together. Only then, an inner frame is being added for stability.
 
Not only Marco Polo used to be astonished of the stability of these sewn boats, according to his travel reports; even travellers of the early 20th century admired the reliable dhows which transport tons of loads to their destinations. However, the construction of large dhows also makes use of European shipbuilding techniques, for instance square sterns, a characteristic of Portuguese ships from the time of Vasco da Gama.
 
It is assumed that masts of earlier times had been made of coconut wood and other available woods; sails have been made of palm leaves, later most likely of cotton cloth, which originated from India. For longer journeys two mainsails were carried; one for the night and bad weather, one for the day and good weather.
 
Dhow Building in Zanzibar

It is possible with dhow builder Mr. Mponda:


To take private lessons (also for small groups) in this art of Mr. Mponda for at least 2 hours daily, Monday to Friday. During the other hours of the day, you can watch and assist the craftsmen.
 
 
 
Minimum Duration: 1 week
Maximum Duration: 3 months
Language Requirements: English
Location: Nungwi, Zanzibar
Accommodation: In Nungwi (Bungalow at the Marine Turtle Conservation Station)

Price: In Tab "Rate"

Rate

 
Convert to USD, GBP, CAD, AUD and other currencies
 
One week/first week:
 
1 Person 460 EUR
2 Persons 380 EUR per person
 
Each extra week 220 EUR per person
 
Price includes:
 
  • Accommodation with meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) in Bungalow at the Marine Turtle Conservation Station (or similar)
  • 5 times a week of at least 2 hours of private lessons from English-speaking dhow builders
  • Transfers from Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ) to Nungwi and back
  • Accompaniment to the dhow builder on the first day by our coordinator
  • Info-PDF
  • Local SIM card

Accommodation

 

Accommodation in Nungwi

 

mostpopular

Shared Accommodation:

Bungalow at Marine Sea Turtle Conservation Center
 
 
The fantastic thing about this accommodation is the location - right on the northern tip of Zanzibar at one of the most beautiful beaches of the island. But the bungalow itself is also attractive - the rooms are spacious and relatively modern and each room has a private bathroom. You can choose between 4-share dorm rooms (2 bunk beds), twin rooms and single rooms (all subject to availability). Full boarding is included (except industrial bottled drinks) and food is served directly on the beach, on the covered terrace.
 
 

Extras

 
Due to the proximity to the sea turtles station at Nungwi, these two activities can be combined. Please contact us for price information in the case of a combination.
 
 

Other Projects That Might Interest You:

 
 
These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.
 
 

Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Day Trips, Watersports

 
budgetsafaribannerAs "Budget Safari Tanzania" we are arranging cost-effective yet high-quality safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, excursions, and watersports activities in Tanzania and Zanzibar. You will group with other World Unite! participants and further travellers.
 
As a World Unite! participant, you get a 15% discount on all offers of Budget Safari Tanzania. We will share a Discount Code with you that you can use with the online booking of your safari, Kilimanjaro climb, excursion or watersports activity.
 
 
 

Learning Swahili in Sansibar!

 
Swahili TeacherIt is always helpful to know Swahili while doing your project here. Swahili is a relatively easy language for participants and some start to follow it within the first few lessons. You can choose the intensity of the lesson. We would, however, recommend a maximum of ten hours per week. The lessons are conducted individually; in some cases, 2-3 participants with similar levels of knowledge may be given combined lessons. The number of participants does not affect the cost of the lessons.
 
The cost for Swahili lessons: 1 Student - 9 EUR
 
Please check "Language Training Required" in the registration form, specifying the desired duration (minimum 20 hours).
 
 

Travel Health Insurance

 
We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
 
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.
 
Travel Health Insurance
 
 

Nungwi

 

Nungwi

 
 
Nungwi is a village on the northern tip of Zanzibar and one of the places where the beach tourism began, about 20 years ago. The difference between low tide and high tide here, is the lowest of all Zanzibar, which makes the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa especially popular with tourists. There are luxury hotel facilities and small, local backpacker accommodations and especially during the season, tourist "Nightlife" with several bars along the beach. There are also several diving and water sports centers. The turtle conservation station at the lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction. The snorkeling and sunset cruises on a dhow, the traditional sailing ships of the Indian Ocean, which are built in Nungwi on the beach, are also popular. Since especially during the season many tourists walk through the village, many residents of Nungwi try to benefit from it through small shops for tourists, selling products and offering their services for tours.
 

Getting There

 

Getting To Zanzibar

 
zanzibar map web2
 
Some airlines fly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland directly or with an intermediate stop at Zanzibar (ZNZ). Remember to book your flight and share with us your flight details. From Zanzibar airport, we will pick you up and bring you to your accommodation in Zanzibar.
 
If the flights to Dar-es-Salaam (DAR) are much cheaper, you can also fly there. From Dar-es-Salaam, you can travel to Zanzibar by a connecting flight or take the ferry. The ferry costs 35 USD and takes about 2 hours. We will take you in this case, from the airport to the seaport. In Zanzibar, you will be picked up at the ferry terminal and taken to your accommodation. A connecting flight from DAR to ZNZ only takes 20 minutes and costs 50-80 USD

FAQs

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 
Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Zanzibar is a relatively small island, and you can use public transport during the weekends to travel throughout the island; such as to the beaches of the north and east. In Moshi and Zanzibar, we ourselves often offer day trips, such as to Kilimanjaro or the national parks, for which you can join other volunteers and interns when you travel there. We share these trips with you in our monthly subscriber list and you can book them. Participants often organize on-site travel together. In Moshi and Zanzibar, you can stay at the same low rates as our Zanzibar or Moshi participants in accommodations provided by us. If you plan to travel during your volunteering/internship period, you should seek permission in advance. We recommend that you plan your travel after your volunteering/internship. For this, you can also stay longer in your accommodation at affordable rates.
Is it safe to travel in Zanzibar alone as a single female traveller?
Approximately 80% of our participants are female and many of them, only about 20 years old. Not a single instance of a serious security breach has occurred. Our coordinator will advise you on how you should conduct yourself in order to avoid problems - your dressing style, valuables, and in dealing with local men. Our preparation materials elaborate on this matter. If you follow these basic rules that apply equally to many other places, the risk in Zanzibar is not great.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Zanzibar?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Zanzibar, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so. Zanzibar Town is a small town, where you walk around quite a bit. In addition, there are well-known places such as the Forodhani Gardens, where you actually meet other participants. If you are in a different place (Nungwi, Mungooni, etc.), the probability is higher that there are more participants from us. You can access these places relatively quickly by public transport from Zanzibar Town, if you want to meet other participants of your country over the weekend. We also have regular meetings with all participants and you will get a list of participants who are in the country, with their contact information. You need not be concerned that you are "alone" in Zanzibar, nor must you stay away from the locals because you spend all your time with other foreign participants.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info-PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where do I live?
Please find details in the tab "Accommodation".
Can I choose my accommodation?
We give you choices (Most popular!, Comfort +, Adventurer) and you can tell us if you prefer a shared accommodation or homestay; we will then seek an accommodation for you. We organise accommodation, taking into consideration the distance from your work site. However, since Zanzibar is not a very big town, is relatively easy to reach locations in other parts of the city by public transport ("Daladala") or by bike.
How free or bound am I in my accommodation with the host family?
With the host family, you can have your freedom, and do not need to join them during meal times or have any other obligations. If you will return late in the evening, you need to let them know in advance, so that they can unlock the doors for you (which are locked at night for security reasons). Bringing home casual acquaintances is taboo. They look to integrate our participants into their family life, but you can determine to what extent you want to be part of it.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
In Tanzania, Internet is accessed via the mobile phone networks. With smartphones, you can use the Internet. For laptops, there are USB modem sticks for about 10 EUR. There are no flat rates; you use data packets, depending on your needs. You might consume 2 GB of data in a week, which costs about 4.50 EUR. In the centers of cities (Moshi Town, Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar Town, Karatu, etc.), the connection is good, the speed is satisfactory and sufficient for Skype phone calls. In the suburbs and in the country, there is connection, but usually almost impossible or very slow and unreliable. We will provide you information on the use of mobile Internet in Tanzania.
How can I do my laundry?
In general, laundry is washed by hand in Tanzania. You can ask your landlord or host family if they have someone who can wash your clothes. Usually, someone offers that to you for a small fee. Please ask your local supervisor, what the appropriate thing to do is.
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Host families are familiar with participants who are vegetarians and prepare appropriate food. In some restaurants in Zanzibar Town, there are vegetarian options. In the market, there are a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Special dietary needs (e.g. Vegan, allergies to certain foods) can be specified to the host families.
What language skills do I need?
You should be able to make yourself understood in English. The national language of Tanzania is Swahili, but knowledge of English is widespread, especially among people who have a better education or work in tourism. In everyday life, there is usually no problem to be able to communicate in English; if you should come across someone who can not speak English, you can almost immediately find someone who offers to translate in English. If you are in a social project for a longer duration, you will have to deal with people who have little or no education. For this, it is useful to acquire at least a basic knowledge of Swahili before your arrival through any book (or audio CD). You can also take basic Swahili lessons while on site. We also have vocabulary lists with useful words that can help you.
 
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