Comoros - Nice Island with lots of trash


There was no direct flight from Zanzibar to Comoros and so I needed to fly from Dar Es Salam, the capital of Tanzania. Not many planes flying to this country and even the president hops on normal commercial planes with all the locals. 

I didn't have any arrangements in Comoros but hoped it will work out with scuba diving and maybe renting a car to drive around the island. 

Arriving in Grand Comoros

Grand Comoros is the name of the main and biggest island. The flight from Tanzania to Moroni took a little more than an hour. Upon arrival, they wanted to see the test certificate various times. Fortunately, I was one of the first to disembark and so relatively quickly through the controls. The tourist visa cost 30 euros and was issued locally, issued immediately at the passport control and paid. For 10 euros, a cab took me to the 30-minute Moroni.



The island "Grand Comoros" is actually very nice with its volcano in the middle and the nice beaches around. However, I didn't like the trash everywhere, which was visible right after leaving the airport and continued like that over the whole island. 

Already on the way from the airport it's interesting how many unfinished houses and buildings there are. It looks like 90% of all houses are under construction.



The first night was at the Farida Lodge. A simple basic accommodation. Not a hotel, rather a room with a private bathroom in a kind of villa. I was the only guest and it was completely quiet. Farida Lodge has retrofitted air conditioning and is quite acceptable for an overnight stay.

After lunch in one of the unimpressive small restaurants with mostly a restrictive choice, I walked randomly through Moroni. It is difficult to get lost here. Photos can be taken everywhere and no one cares if someone takes pictures (compared to most African countries this is rather the exception, but it seems the East of Africa is a bit more relaxed in this).





Walking around the city center. 



The markets are busy but not as busy as in other African countries. A few corners are hectic where they sell shoes and stuff but after leaving the road by a few meters it gets quiet quickly. 

What I noticed there are many women having this mix of sand and water on the face. It looks silly but is a common thing for them to protect from the sun and same time helps them getting a brighter skin tone.




The harbor of Moroni. All the buildings in old colonial architcture.




Day 2 - Scuba Diving Fail. Covid Test Success

My plan was to go diving today, but that didn't work out as in the one and only dive center the compressor was broken today and so diving is not possible. The dive center told me I could come the next day and so I did. My diving experience in Comoros is covered here.

Covid Testing in Comoros - What a mess

According to the requirements back home I would not have needed a test. However, the uncoordinated situation was a bit worrying and I was afraid that I will not be allowed to check-in on Saturday on the day of departure without showing the negative test. I can show as many vaccination certificates and guidelines from back home that I do not need a test to get back home, but these probably interest few people here. They probably want to see tests from everyone. The risk of not being allowed to take off is a little too high for me, so I did go PCR-testing.

There is only one test center in Comoros and its located in the so-called "Projet Palu", a short walk away from Farida Lodge. 


I went there at 7:30am and already found a pack of people standing around on the forecourt. Without mask and social distancing of course. Coughing and chattering everywhere. Probably the most dangerous place in all of Comoros was right there.

Everyone has to sign in personally (all with the same non-disinfected pen) on a numbered paper list. I was number 91 for that day, the list went up to 200. The opening hours are from 8:00 to 12:30. At 9:00 the first 10 were called out by name and allowed into the building. It was 10:00 o'clock as approx. the number 30 was called out, how they want to create it to 12:30 all to test was me a mystery. I assumed that I would not be tested until then and went to the gatekeeper who was standing behind a prison door, offered him 5 Euros for the entrance and suddenly I was the next number called out.



In the test center was stuffy air, no light. Two nurses were inside, one doing administration and one testing. Everything is registered with pen and paper, and to my astonishment even receipts are issued. While watching, I noticed that she was transcribing the passport number incorrectly, my name was wrong, and the departure date was written incorrectly, fortunately, I was able to take corrective measures. In the test room, I saw an orderly box of completed tests fall on the floor and then all the tests are somehow distributed by the assistant back into the correct boxes (whereas she just randomly allocated them). My goodness!!! I wonder how many persons get their tests back and at the right time.

After 10 minutes I was outside, where still 150 people were waiting to be tested in the next 2 hours.

The test costs 60 Euro (30`000 CM) and has to be paid in Franc, Euro is not accepted. The result must be picked up somewhere else 3 days later. Where? I had no idea at that moment but I have been told in the "city".


Going to Mitsmiouli in the afternoon

After the test I took the bus to Mitsamiouli. This is in the north of the island and 1.5 hours away. Finding the bus was easy, but very tight with 4! people in one row of a Toyota Hiace. The weather is about to change along the way. 


Unfortunately, it started to rain. The place is actually known for its eternally long beautiful quiet beaches but in the rain, it is not much fun. Found something to eat in one of the two "restaurants".

Wanted to continue to Lac Salé, which is a famous attraction in Comoros, but with the rain it makes no sense to spend time there. So after a while and visit the neighborhoods in Mitsamiouli, I went back to Moroni.



Day 3 - Diving

See other post. Diving in Comoros.


Day 4 - Town Iconi for hiking

This morning I received my negative Covid result. Very pleasant.

A cab to Iconi

The village is small, but about as big as any other place in the Comoros. I got off at the foot of the hill. After asking around, a local showed me the way to the hill. The climb is a simple path and easy to see. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the top and the view is great with views over all of Iconi and the light blue aquamarine bay.



Walked through Iconi along the beach. Very beautiful beaches in the Comoros, everywhere peppered with volcanic stones.



The only ugly thing is the garbage everywhere. From small aluminum cans to plastic to whole rusted cars are buried everywhere in the beach. A picture that is the same everywhere in Grand Comoros. An insanely large garbage dump without really effective halfway modern waste incineration. 



Looking at the landscape, columns of smoke are visible all over the country, or garbage incineration smoke columns that are quite simply started with lighter and kerosene. But still, some people are indeed working hard to keep the country clean. There are projects where locals go around and clean up the mess. For example, they remove trash from lakes like these.




Finding the city Mvouni

To get from one place to another is easy by cab or bus. However, here it is difficult to describe exactly where I want to go. There is still very little information available on the Internet, and on Google maps are not too many clues that you could give a cab driver to find a destination. So it comes down to descriptions in the form of 

Where is a good vantage point in this area to take pictures?

Obviously, this leads solely conditionally to the desired result, whereby also the conceptions of good "viewpoints" are very different between me and the native cab driver - the language barriers are not very conducive.

I somehow got to Mvouni in the afternoon anyway. Mvouni is above Moroni, located up on the mountain. It has a great viewpoint over Moroni.



 The university of the Comoros is also located here. So the students have to go up here every day to study. Mvouni is probably the only place I have seen that has proper trash cans. It is very clean compared to the other places, very neat. This is probably the cleanest place on the island.




Day 5 - Departure with the President himself

Had no more plans for today, except the departure from this lost island. 

After a walk around and lunch in the center of Moroni, I went to the airport. From Moroni to the airport is a cab 10 euros and takes 30 minutes.

The airport is very chaotic and small. Even though the destination country does not require a Covid PCR test, I was glad I did one. At the airport, they don't let anyone in without a negative test and in total the result is checked 3 times. My attempt to show the exemption paper "self-declaration" from the destination country (which is possible if the test is not possible under any circumstance) did not work. Nobody was interested and they wanted to see the Covid test result.

President Azali Assoumani joins the game

The departure was in the afternoon via a stopover in Ethiopia. Before departure, the last person who entered was the president of Comoros. I was surprised he is one of the few presidents worldwide who doesn't have his own plane but uses commercial planes. They had a military parade with music organized for him and nailed the red carpet on the floor so that he could enter the plane like a president.

Once inside he even made a tour through the plane to greet and talk with people and to take selfies with them. Like this, he didn't appear to be THE president who was the leader of the military force that toppled the previous president.




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