Comoros - how do I book ahead?
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Nov 3, 2012 2:25 AM Last Post By: pkh
Sep 8, 2012 11:25 PM
Comoros - how do I book ahead?Dear wise ones,
We're going to Comoros in 2 weeks' time, just for a few days on Grand Comore. I had e-mailed the guy at Itsandra Plongee to book scuba diving, and e-mailed the Les Arcades hotel to book a room, but never heard back from either of them. I don't speak any French. Is there a way to book anything in Comoros online? Or do I need to get my French-speaking friend to ring up something like the Moifaka hotel to try and make a booking for us? Or is there a hotel where they can speak English? Otherwise we'll just wing it with our French phrase book when we get there!
Sep 11, 2012 12:58 AM
Sep 22, 2012 8:21 PM
I've just heard back from the Comoros - don't know about scuba diving until we get there, but did manage to book the Les Arcades hotel online. The person below was very helpful.
Sep 24, 2012 3:08 PM
Nov 2, 2012 10:27 PM
Finally got on internet at home, 5 weeks since Comoros, so you've probably already been there and discovered this for yourself by now!:
So, we stayed at Les Arcades and it was fine. Our English-speaking guide, Ibrahim, took us to the Itsandra Beach hotel to line up diving with the diving guy. But, they have closed down their "Coelacanth Watersports" (much tourist infrastructure on the island has closed down, and it even looked like the Hotel le Coelacanthe was closed). Our guide finally tracked down the diving guy another time, but he quoted 300 Euros for one person to hire the dive tank/equipment alone!!! So our guide told him no. There are no regular trips/boats that go because there are hardly any tourists anymore - you have to organise it specially for yourself.
We ended up instead organising a snorkel trip, which was 100 Euros for two of us for the boat and the "goggles and flippers". We took a taxi-brousse for an hour each way up to the old Galewa resort site (now closed, but you can stay overnight at a deserted bungalow if you want) at the north-west of Grand Comore. Ibrahim's family lived in the village there and through the little village paths he eventually tracked down the man with the goggles and flippers (ill-fitting leftovers from the Galewa resort I presume) and the man with the boat. Got fuel in the boat (a large canoe), and left from the edge of this village. A short trip to "the good spot" for snorkelling and diving. And I could see how it once would have been a "good spot" - endless coral reef. Sadly, like the Comoros' tourism industry, it is a ghost of its former glory. I don't know whether last year's bleaching did it in as well like our reefs at home on the west coast of Australia, but in a snorkel of a bit over an hour, I counted 34 crown-of-thorns starfish, and I wasn't even searching for them!! The fish were alright, but most of the coral is dead. And no big stuff like turtles - guess they've all been eaten and/or hung on peoples' walls.
But, for me it was just to swim in the same water that the coelacanths swim in (albeit 200m further up!), and to know that they are out there. The water was very pleasant, there was no-one else around, and so glad we went on the boat trip just to see the island from the sea. To get a view of the island from out there was absolutely spectacular with all the tropical volcanic scenery, well worth it just for that. And our guide was obsessed with showing us the nearby site "where the tourist plane crashed". Okay...
So, snorkelling ended up being quite an experience just to get there, and didn't miss much by not diving. Not really worth it for the actual snorkel, but wouldn't have missed it for the world.
On our last morning on Grand Comore, we had breakfast at the Itsandra Beach hotel, then we were going to get a taxi back to our bags at Les Arcades so we could get our taxi to the airport. But, no taxis!!!! Couldn't call one, couldn't hail one. Giving up. Then, who should pull up outside on his way into Moroni in his own car than the French expat guy who runs the Itsandra Plongee diving!!!!! Haha ha!! But by that stage we were leaving. He very kindly gave us a lift to our hotel. He said he would have his diving/tourism website up and running again (by now), and he could have organised diving for me!! So you can totally still go diving in the Comoros!
I want to write more on my experience there, but I'll do it in another post.
Nov 3, 2012 2:25 AM
Thank you so much for this, I really appreciate the time you have spent on it. I have not yet made it to the Comores as the trip has had to be put on hold for a short while. I am now much better equipped for when I do go!
All the very best
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