Why Should You Visit Mafia Island?

Why Should You Visit Mafia Island?

Posted by Ellie Hutchin on Apr 4, 2017

We are kicking off April by offering you the chance to partake in our Mafia Island Whale Shark Conservation Project with 30% off! Mafia Island is quite unbeknown to tourists around the world, so we thought we would give you some more information about the beautiful island, and why you should take a visit!

Mafia Archipelago

Mafia Island is one of the five tropical islands that are grouped together in the Indian Ocean. This is known as the Mafia Archipelago. As one of the safest places in the Indian Ocean, pace of life is slow here, and that is evident as soon as you arrive. Although it is one of the poorest parts of Tanzania, situated on the East African coast, its stunning scenery is rich and plentiful. Golden sandy roads run through the capital of Kilindoni, and then through pleasant farming and fishing villages. Along the coast there are stretches of vibrant beaches lined with a beautiful turquoise sea.

Lack of communication with the main land and freedom from industrial development, an attraction to the island, only 50 kilometres by 15, seems to be sealed in a time warp of the 20th century. This has ensured that the island’s surrounding waters are some of the least contaminated in Tanzania, which is crucial for the vast amount of biodiversity in the area.

The People Of Mafia Island

Mafia Island People

The population of the archipelago is small, at just 40, 000 that live in 24 villages across Mafia, Jibondo, Juani and Chole islands. They live in rustic communities, the majority Muslim, but Christianity is also prevalent here. Traditional religion also manifests itself in ritual dances that are linked to the lunar cycle.

A Deep Discovery

Mafia Island Marine Life

Central Mafia contains a series of reed-lined lakes, which are believed to be the remnants of an old lagoon separated from the ocean many thousands of years ago. These lakes are home to a number of small hippo, that may have come from the mainland, or were washed on to the island by floods of the Rufiji river. The presence of hippos on Mafia Island was first documented back in 1895.

A range of natural vegetation on the island ranges from grassy coastal moorlands, to tidal mangrove thickets and lowland rainforests. However, the main attraction must surely be the incredible marine life. The island is bordered with a barrier reef absolutely teeming with some of the world’s most beautiful aquatic species. In 1995 the government formed The Mafia Island Marine Park to protect the reefs. The park is home to over 50 genera of corals, over 460 species of fish and five different species of turtles around Chole Bay. Two species of turtles use the beaches to nest, so Mafia Island is the perfect spot to witness some unforgettable events, and ideal for diving and snorkeling. Within the marine park lie several sites of historic ruins, so whilst the island is deemed the least developed part of an already under developed country, it is lavished with priceless wildlife and history.

Tanzania's Gentle Giants

whale shark

Famous to Mafia Island are the phenomenal Whale Sharks, the misunderstood gentle giant of the deep. The whale shark is a listed endangered species, ranking on IUCN’s red list due to a 50% decline in numbers over the past 75 years. Decline in population is the result of human impact, such as fishing, boat strikes and collisions. The whale shark is very important to the ocean’s ecosystem as they indicate the presence of plankton (which they feed on) and general overall health of our oceans.

On this indelible trip, you will indulge in marine ecology, monitoring the whale sharks and identifying them, whilst having free time to experience more of the island’s fantastic scenery.

Dive in with the whale shark conservation efforts, and have the holiday of a life time with us here at The Great Projects. You will walk away knowing your efforts are preserving an endangered species, and memories you will simply never forget.

If you are interested in the project, please visit our Mafia Island Whale Shark Conservation Page.

whale shark



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