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Mafia Island

Jun 2, 2008
Well... it's not what you think! It's not a haven for the Mafia mobs and its not in Italy. Mafia Island is a slice of the archaic Swahili Coast that stretches along the Tanzanian and Kenyan coastline. The name Mafia is not Italian but is a twisted version of the Arabic term morfieyeh, for group that refers to the Mafia archipelago. Mafia Island seems to be unaffected by the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world. Inhabitants of this slice of paradise continue with their traditional way of life almost undisturbed by the outside world. Well, if white sandy beaches and clear waters are your thing, Mafia is the place to be. This remarkable island is located on the southern coast of Tanzania, near the Rufiji Delta. It is 30 miles from north to south, and up to ten miles in breadth. Mafia Archipelago comprises of one large island (394 kmē) and a number of smaller islands and uninhabited coral atolls situated about 120 km southeast of Dar-es-Salaam. It is indeed amazing that such an astounding Island remains off the beaten path, a destination only for the discerning traveller. Mafia is ideal for active people ... divers, sailors and walkers ... looking for something really different, unique and unusual.

Travel to the island is by small aircraft either from Zanzibar or from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's Capital city. If you want to see Tanzania, you can take a bus from Dar es Salaam to Kisiju which is on the edge of the mainland bordering the Ocean, and thence by boat to Mafia Island.

Mafia Island is locate in the Pwani Region of Tanzania and is home to the largest marine park in East Africa. It boasts of the finest unbleached coral in the Indian Ocean and claims to have resident Whalesharks ... something that attracts divers from around the world. Islands, sandbanks and beaches personify Mafia's sheltered deep-water anchorage and the original harbour. The clear, protected waters present fantastic snorkeling, sailing and swimming prospects. Just beyond the Bay, a continuous reef extends for almost the length of the island, from Tutia in the south to Ras Mkumbi at the northern tip. The history of this dreamy Island stretches back to the 8th century when Mafia played a big role in ancient trade between the people of the Far East and mainland Tanzania. The island is home to an assortment of rare species including green and hawksbill turtles, which now and again lay their eggs on its wrack-strewn beaches. A 200m deep trough off the island is home to tuna and marlin. Its people are primarily fishermen; many also engage in small-scale food cultivation.

The Mafia Archipelago is a genuine paradise for nature lovers and divers and the perfect place for absolute relaxation. The 'away-from-it-all' place. Mafia has a stunning and varied natural environment. This Archipelago will pleasure you with white sandy beaches, fantastic coral reefs, tropical vegetation dominated by large palm groves, imposing baobab trees, fruit trees (e.g. mango & cashew) and mangroves. Also to be found in Mafia are Monkeys, small antelopes, wild pigs, lemurs and a small colony of dwarf hippos. It is also a nesting area for falcons and fish eagles.

There are trips offered on request to other islands in the Archipelago. The trips are done in traditional dhows to smaller islands like Jinbondo, Chole, Juani, and Makweche islands. On Chole Island there are a few self-guided trails that will take you around the island, e.g. the Bat Trail and the Village Trail. The trails provide the opportunity of viewing some sites in Chole like an old German prison, the Persian ruins, market area and boat yard. You will also get to meet Chole's friendly local people. Chole Island in addition has a large colony of Comoro bats, a protected species of fruit eating 'flying foxes'

Once on Mafia Island, you can also explore the local markets in Utende and Kilindoni; enjoy the impressive Baobab trees and peculiar mangroves, which somehow endure saline conditions; or just delight in the total stress-free surroundings.

The island is a fine retreat for adventure seeking scuba divers, game fishermen, and those purely in the hunt for idyll relaxation and recreation.

There is accommodation available on the picturesque island.
About the Author
Jerry Wanga is editor of http://naady.com an Africa Safaris website with wildlife and Africa travel information as well as Safari packages. You can view more info on the website.
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