Mafia Island Tanzania - Yacht & Boat Charter Cruise
Mafia Island Yacht Charter Cruise Itinerary. 7 night yacht charter cruise around the islands of the Mafia Archipelago in Tanzania
DISCOVER MAFIA & SONGA ARCHIPELAGO
The Mafia Island Archipelago consists of 20 different islands spread across a region that includes the Mafia Island Archipelago, the Songa Songa Islands, as well as the Kilwa region of Southern Tanzania.
The Mafia Archipelago Marine Park supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature, is comprised of a number of islands and uninhabited coral atolls and about 25 km from the mainland. Mafia is little changed from ancient times.
It retains a traditional, unspoilt non-commercialised friendly culture, where local people go about their business as artisans, farmers, fishermen and traditional sailors.
Mafia is a spectacularly diverse natural environment. It offers a unique mix of Africa within a tropical setting. Large palm groves, mango & cashew trees dominate the island while impressive baobab trees are dotted amongst typical African savannah grassland.
Monkeys, small antelopes, wild pigs, lemurs and dwarf hippos run wild while falcons, fish eagles, Comoro bats 'flying foxes' and giant turtles have also made it their breeding ground.
The Marine Park reefs offer a range of corals and fish like no other in the Indian Ocean. There are over 400 species of fish in the park with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals with fabulous dive sites offering shallow reefs of immense beauty and richness. Channels, walls and caves, wrecks, drift and night dives await and there are still years of exploration to do!
20 different islands
Mafia Island Marine Park
Swim with Whale Sharks
Pristine reefs for diving and snorkelling
Over 400 species of fish in the Marine Park
Kilwa World Heritage Sites
Historical and rich cultural East African experiences
MAFIA ISLAND YACHT CHARTERS…OVER 20 ISLANDS TO EXPLORE!
You have heard of paradise – now you know where to find it…….
For those that are not overly enamoured with busy locations and would prefer to be either the only vessel in an anchorage or to leave the only footsteps on a beach, the southern half of Tanzania with its numerous Islands and picture perfect secluded bays offers a cruising experience that was possibly last experienced by the early Caribbean sailing pioneers.
From Dar es Salaam to Kilondoni on Mafia Island there are more than 18 islands and reefs that can be explored; these are for the most isolated little islands that can offer absolute privacy – no crowds, no fuss and above all, no paparazzi.
A mere 22 miles from Kilondoni on the mainland lies the Rufiji Delta – one of the great river deltas in Africa and the scene of one of the most extraordinary events in naval warfare history.
Mafia has never felt the pressure of tourist development and whilst there are a few lodges scattered around the island, Mafia tends to breathe to its own rhythm.
One of the more obvious benefits of the island’s somewhat somnolent tourism development program is that there is a noticeable improvement in the fishing. For those that like to fish, this part of Tanzania is the place to be. Likewise the diving offers a diversity that is quite superb and is certainly worth the effort.
From Kilondoni down to Kilwa there are a further 16 islands and reefs begging to be explored. Exotic names such as Okuza, Songa Songa, Jewe and South Fangove conjure visions of palm fringed beaches washed by crystal clear warm waters that fade from a pale turquoise in the shallows to an almost purple blue in the deep channels with an infinite number of shades in between. Fish are plentiful and each year the area is graced by majestic Humpback whales and the mystical whale sharks that come to calf in the Mafia channel.
You have heard of paradise – now you know where to find it!
East Africa has two distinctive weather patterns, from December to March the wind blows from the north. Known officially as the north monsoon it is better known by the locals as the Kaskazi. From April/May to November the wind switches around to the south, and is known as the Kisuni. Depending on what time of the year it is, our southern archipelago cruise will start either in Dar es Salaam (Kaskazi) or from Kilwa (Kisuni) to best take advantage of whichever seasonal wind is blowing.
From Dar es Salaam to Mafia can be a days sail, however it would just simply be wrong not to stop off at some or all of the islands en route. In this case the trip could conceivably take two to three days. As mentioned, Mafia can best be described as rustic. There are no marinas, no malls, in fact there is not much of anything apart from stunningly beautiful beaches that at worst might have a local fishing dhow parked on them.
The main town is Kilondoni and there is a rudimentary harbour and an airfield that looks as if it might have been used as a film set in some or other Ernest Hemingway adaptation. There is however the ubiquitous market and it’s always a heap of fun to wander through it bargaining with the locals over fresh fruit and vegetables. Mafia is a sizeable island and one can easily spend time sailing from one anchorage to another.
From Mafia to Kilwa the islands are sparsely populated by itinerant fishermen. There is a small lodge on South Fangove but the rest of the islands give you the impression of being the first to visit them.
Kilwa has a fascinating history all of its own, once it was the most powerful Sultanate in East Africa, to the extent that it minted its own coinage. The town, described by a Portuguese explorer as ‘the most beautiful city’ he had ever seen acted as the gateway out of Africa for gold and ivory that emanated from the African interior. In 1505 the Portuguese under the command of Francisco de Almeida besieged and then took control of the town. By 1512 they had pretty much destroyed around 600 years of culture and in that year were forced to abandon the city after being attacked by Arab mercenaries.
Kilwa then fell under control of the Zanzibar Sultanate where it continued to decline. Today it is a world heritage site and visitors to the ruins are welcome. These ruins offer a visitor a poignant glimpse into a time that has long past, the like of which will never be seen again.
ADD ON SAFARIS
Adjacent to Kilwa is the Selous game park, a vast area the size of Switzerland and home to the big five in Africa.
Kilwa and Mafia therefore makes an ideal place for to embark or disembark for those who want to consider combining a sailing cruise with a game safari – the only place in the world where this is possible. There are so many options available to visitors that it is not possible to list them all here.
Remember, unlike lodges and hotels yachts can go wherever there is navigable water, thus the view from your room will be of wherever we happen to be anchored.
Do something different this year – discover East Africa by yacht
When is the best time to go sailing in Mafia?
The best times to cruise Mafia is March through to July & Oct through to mid Dec.
Aug, Sept, late Dec, Jan and Feb the wind can blow, but if guests can handle this, then it’s fine.
How to get to there?
International Flight direct to Dar es Salaam mainland Tanzania
Light aircraft flight to Mafia
Road Transfer to your lodge on Mafia island if you have pre-charter nights booked, or directly to beachfront to meet crew and transfer by dingy to yacht.
If you are in Zanzibar before a charter it is also easy to get to Mafia, as you fly from Stone Town to Dar es Salaam and then onward to Mafia by by light aircraft.
This is a guide itinerary only. There is no set cruise time frame or route we take, as it all depends on the conditions at the time and the wishes of the guests.