Mafia Island has a chain of small islands that lie 120km in the southern part of Dar es Salaam and off the eastern shore its 20km of River Rufiji. River Rufiji is the largest delta in Africa and with Mafia Channel, and it forms the finest complexes of estuarine, coral reef, mangrove, and marine life, and it cover 1500sqkm. The main island is 48km long and 17km wide. Smaller islands lies in the North and south.
Mafia Island marine Park is composed of eight small reserves and they lie along the Tanzanian coast. The park is situated on Mafia Island, in the Indian Ocean in the southeastern part of Zanzibar Island. The park was conserved to protect marine nature. The habitants on Mafia Island include: soft coral and algal dominated reefs, hard coral dominated reefs, sponge and soft coral sub-tidal beds, inter-tidal flats with hard and soft substrate, extensive sea grass beds, sheltered back reef systems, and mangrove forests, marine life like dugong, sea turtles, among others. The park’s shallow waters have provided a perfect home for over 400 species of fish, 200 agal species, and 400 sponge among other species. The park also covers Chole Bay and Tutia reef. There 10 village communities within the park and are scattered but lie adjacent to the coastal forest.
How to access the Park
The park can only be accesses by water and air transport. There domestic flight from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar and then you will board a boat to the park.
What to Carry
You will be required to carry the following items for your comfort in the park, and they include: a backpack, where you will keep your items, a rain jacket, needs to be light so you don’t add more wait on you, a hat, sun screen, sun glasses, gloves will be useful during nature walks, hiking boots, sandals, snacks, drinking water, insect repellent, insects tend to be a problem, a notebook, a camera, a guide book, long sleeves shirts and long pant, carry clothing for the cold times, binoculars, among others. In case there some items you forgot to carry, worry not for they can be hired at an affordable fee.
Things to do in the Park
This activity is both for first timers and he experienced. To enjoy this activity, you will need to have a fishing guide with you, and also have to obtain a permit for fishing. The ocean is endowed with fish and with the required equipment, you will have the pleasure of catching not one but many of them. Along the fishing journey look out for the pleasant views of the beautiful ocean, and the water birds in the air.
This activity is so enjoy. If it’s your first time to enjoy it you will be briefed how it’s done. Tourists who choose to participate in this activity are rewarded with the best up close views o0f the marine life in the sea. They get an opportunity of swimming with the turtles and also get chances of swimming with sharks. It’s so enjoyable
The Island has centers where this activity can take place. The big blue is commonly used. It is equipped with diving facilities and other facilities for visitors. It has an on-site bar and restaurant. The center also offers lessons for first timers, thus you won’t be left out in the activity.
Guided Nature walks
These walks will give you an adventurous experience. You will tour the vegetation of the island, visit the mangrove forests, see the unique plant species and trees, among others, and also walk along the shores of the ocean to have a look at the coral gardens. You will be rewarded with pleasant views and also a comfort of touring the different corners of the park.
There various communities of people within the park and once you pay them a visit, you will learn a lot form their cultures. These have survived in this park and they call it home. You will enjoy their way of life and may be learn something from them.
Visit Mafia Island Capital Kilindoni.
Utilize this opportunity and visit this humble town. You may also get a souvenir as a reminder.
Take some time and swim in the beautiful waters as a way of relaxing. Most of the time its sunny and the waters are so pleasant too.
These will be enjoyed in the morning the afternoons. These reward you with the cool environment on water, you will enjoy pleasant views of the ocean, you will enjoy a photo moment in the middle of the ocean, and also see water birds as you sip a drink.
The park is a home for water birds. These will be seen along the shores of the sea and in space, and also once you visit the mangrove forest. Carry your binoculars to have amazing views of most of the unique birds in Africa and the European continent.
When to Visit the Park
The park has the dry and wet seasons and it’s enjoyable throughout the year although the dry season has been the most preferred season compared to the wet. A detailed description of the status of the park in both seasons will enable you to do proper planning when visiting the park.
Dry Season (July-October and January -February)
The period is characterized of mostly sunny weather, and close to no cases of rain. During this period, the waters have warm temperatures favoring most of the activities practiced in water. Such as diving, snorkeling among others.
During the dry season, the waters are so clear giving tourists an opportunity to view the marine life clearly.
It’s in August- October that someone can get chance to see the whale sharks in the sea.
Activities in water are better enjoyed under the sun. It never gets too hot in the park so tourists get an opportunity of enjoying all corners of the place.
Wet Season (From November –December and March-May)
The season is characterized of short rains at the beginning and a few cases of sunny weather, and the last wet season is composed of heavy rains. The first wet season is very okay. Short rains do little or no harm to tourist activities.
The best views of the park can be achieved during this time. There so many butterflies, and flowers that add beauty.
It’s in the first season that registers the peak of bird watching. More migratory birds come to the park and during this period they can be viewed.
During the wet season, it’s a low season, the park and beaches are less crowded, and the rates are lower compared to the dry season.
The season however, especially towards the end might disorganize tourist activities like canoeing, diving, snorkeling, and marine life viewing. When it rains water becomes cooler than normal and the winds, can disorganize activities hence this period should be avoided. Towards the end of March, April and May, there heavy rains although it may not rain on certain days.
The park was primarily conserved to protect marine life and other surrounding features. The sea has over 400 species of fish, turtles like: Lipidochelys livaceae, Chelonia mydas, Dermochelys coriacea, Eretmochelys imbricate, and many more, dugong, sharks, among other species. You will be able to see these creatures during snorkeling, diving, or on nature walk on the sea shores. You will see them enjoying their way of life and you will just be appreciating nature.
You will also have pleasant views of seeing turtles hatch. When you visit the park, notify your guide that you want to see turtles hatch. You will enjoy see them hatch and then make their way to the see. This magnificent moment will trill your safari.
The Island lies on the beautiful waters of this ocean. There quite a number of activities that will be enjoyed some of which for the first time, but there’s guarantee that you will have fun will all of them. These include, snorkeling, diving, swimming, and fishing, among others. Equipment for these activities is normally hired. Await to have a moment of a lifetime on this ocean.
Kua Historical town ruins
The ancient town was remarkable in the 10th century. It was the link between Asia and Africa. When you visit you will see the ruins of this town. The Kua Lagoon was naturally set up and you will see jelly fish that add to its beauty. Chloe Island was once the capital of the Mafia Island in the 12th century. You will be able to reflect the times when Arabs and Germans were in control of the island. Most of the historical buildings still exist.
- Chole Mjini Lodge
- Afro Beach Bungalows Mafia
- Big Blu Mafia Island Diving Resort
- Juani Beach bungalows
- Kisani Lodge
- Shamba Kilole Lodge
- Meremeta Lodge
- Pole pole Lodge
- Kijuju Guest House
- Mafia Beach Bungalows Budget Accommodation
- Mgeni Homestay