Mafia Island is a popular destination for visitors to relax after their safari and the island’s relaxed and secluded beaches offer privacy and comfort for discerning travellers. Mafia’s incredible and un-spoilt dive sites have remained a well-kept secret of diving aficionados and beach recluses for years, but now the island is fast becoming a preferred destination.
For centuries, the island was a trading stop for Shirazi merchants travelling up towards Persia and under the rule of the Omani sultanate in Zanzibar, vast coconut and cashew plantations flourished. Today, all that remain of the island’s prestigious past are the coral ruins on Chole Mjini, the small island just off shore from Mafia where the Arab landowners lived a sumptuous life after being removed from their plantations and slaves.
These days, Mafia’s remote location means it receives only the most selective visitors, but things are changing. The recent gazetting of Mafia Island Marine Park as the largest protected area in the Indian Ocean and includes surrounding villages in its conservation efforts means that the millions of fish and coral species that thrive in the warm waters of Mafia’s beaches will survive for decades to come
DIVING & SNORKLING
Tanzania offers divers world-class reefs and plentiful schools of tropical fish just offshore of the popular beaches and secluded locations.
Dive courses are offered at many of the hotels and lodges on the mainland coast as well as Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia islands, and it is a rewarding skill to learn while on holiday, but the surface swimmer need not to despair since most of the reefs are accessible to snorkelers and equipment are easily rented from dive shops and lodges. Diving can be done all year-round, however during the rains visibility can be limited.
DEEP SEA FISHING
Waters of the Indian Ocean along Tanzania’s coast are rich in big-game fish, from marlin and tuna to swordfish and biting barracudas. All the same, the waters of Tanzania are only just beginning to gain the world-wide fame of the Kenyan coast, so the waters are less populated and fishing is at its most pristine. Tuna and other pelagic migrate through the Pemba Channel on a yearly basis, but can be found in smallerÂ numbers throughout the year. Besides the big-game fish, grouper, red snapper, and other local species are populous along the coastal waters. Deep sea fishing in Tanzania is best organized by private companies that are specialized in boating and ocean trips; or through lodges and hotel properties that offer day excursions throughout the coast.
Along the mainland coast, Pangani and Dar es Salaam are the most popular areas for deep-sea fishing. Trips from Pangani and Tanga offer easy access to the Pemba Channel, a main migratory route for big-game pelagic. Outfitted charters are best arranged from local lodges and the guides know where to look best for the big-game catch.
Around Dar es Salaam, fishing boats can be chartered and trips arranged around the areas of Msasani Bay, as well as the larger hotels and lodges. Excursions usually take the form of day trips and although the area is not so much populated with large game fish, smaller species are in plentiful supply.
In the Zanzibar Archipelago, resorts and lodges along the northern and eastern parts of Unguja and the island of Pemba offer fishing charters that venture into deep waters. Fishing is becoming a popular alternative to snorkelling and dive trips along the reefs. Boats take clients out into the Pemba Channel and surrounding waters.
Pelagic and big-game fish are abundant in the isolated waters around Pemba and Unguja, and reward the adventurous fishermen with their size and bounty.
Fishing is an economic mainstay of many parts of rural Tanzania and it is quickly becoming a popular activity for visitors along the country’s rivers and lakes. Although not permitted in national parks, fly and lake fishing in remote areas is a rewarding and peaceful way to experience the beauty of African scenery and enjoy the country at a leisurely pace. Private companies, tour operators and lodges can arrange for day trips to nearby lakes and rivers, and longer fishing safaris around the region can be organized with travel specialists if one desires to participate. In addition to planned day excursions, local fishermen in the region will often gladly take you with them on their daily fishing trips and show you the best places to get started.
The freshwater lakes of Tanzania offer fishing opportunities for visitors willing to venture off the beaten track.
Fishing along Lake Victoria offers an opportunity to experience freshwater lake fishing and observe life around the lakes of Tanzania. Fishing trips can be organised from surrounding villages, as well as the larger ports of Mwanza and Musoma, where boatmen will gladly arrange for you to accompany them on their daily trips to net the Nile Perch and Tilapia in the offshore waters. Trips to Rubondo Island National Park also offer fishermen a base from which to embark on trips around the Lake Victoria and its tributaries.
Fly fishing along the many rivers and large streams Tanzania is another rewarding experience for sportsmen wanting to experience remote areas at a leisurely pace. During the rainy seasons, rivers and their tributaries swell with fish and river life, and any time after the short and long rains is a good time to plan a fishing safari. Many adventure safari companies cater for international fishermen looking for the best fishing waters in East Africa, and everything from trolling through flood plains to fly fishing in mountain streams is possible