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Why Mafia is Such a Wonderful Destination

Where are we ?

beaches

LOCATION Kinasi is on the south-east coast of Mafia Island at Utende, overlooking Chole Bay and the islands of Jibondo, Chole and Juani. Lua Cheia is on the north-west tip facing Zanzibar and close to the Loghthouse. Mafia is 160 km south of Zanzibar and the same distance east of the Selous Game Reserve.

LOGISTICS 30 minutes from Dar es Salaam by light aircraft; one hour from Selous Game Reserve or Zanzibar by light aircraft. The lodge is 15 km from the Mafia Airport. There are no regular boat or ferry services to Mafia.

AIR SERVICES There are three scheduled air services: Auric Air flies to Mafia at 1145 and 1645 returning one hour later; Coastal Travels flies  at 1100 and 1530 hrs from Dar es Salaam with direct connections from Arusha, Zanzibar, Pemba, the Selous and Ruaha; Tropical Air flies every morning at 1000 am to Mafia, providing an alternative arrival/departure option, also with connections to Zanzibar and early morning international arrivals.

Seasons

Kinasi and Lua Cheia are closed at the end of March until 1st June each year during the “long rains”; the seasons can generally be classified by the wet/dry periods and monsoons:

  • June: Cool and dry
  • July: Cool but windy (S-E monsoon, the kusi)
  • August-October: Cool, dry season with pleasant temperatures and usually excellent weather
  • November: Short rains (unreliable)
  • December-March: Hot season, mainly dry with some showers and increasing humidity (N-E Monsoon, kaskazi)
  • April/May: Long rains with little wind and heavy downpour

We love Mafia and its people !

 Welcoming and friendly people are one of the greatest attractions of visiting Mafia Island and you will soon realise that, as for all of East Africa, the people of Mafia are extremely friendly, self-confident but humble, and always ready for a laugh. A lasting memory you will take away is how cheerful and playful people are.

Mafia remains unaffected by many of the modern world’s less attractive aspects, and culturally remains strongly-rooted in traditional social patterns of behaviour and the structure of the village, which is the basic unit of social organisation. This translates into a great respect for elders and ancestors, almost total dependence on natural resources to survive and prosper, acquisition of skills and crafts, and an amazing ability to get the best out of any deal or situation. Anyone living for some time amongst island people will soon learn how cleverly opportunistic they are (and need to be).

Since the very limited tourism and ‘development’ have made few lasting inroads on Mafia it remains much as it was described by the German explorer Dr Baumann in a famous paper he prepared in 1895. This includes natural attractions, village life, trade and economic systems, agriculture and fishing.

Nature

The terrestrial and reef ecosystems are fascinating and at Kinasi we have spent a great deal of time to research these aspects of the islands. As a result we have guided walks and nature trails to enjoy the native trees, animals and birdlife, cultural visits to villages to understand local village life and watch skilled craftsmen at work, excellent snorkeling and diving, sailing in traditional dhows and ngalawas, and fantastic day picnic trips to outer islands, sand banks and beaches,

History and culture

These well-preserved islands host antiquities dating back to the eleventh century, including ruins at Kisimani Mafia, Kanga, Kua and Chole Island, parts of a mosque of the fifteenth century and buildings of the latter half of the eighteenth century, providing great interest and excursions for those interested in history, ancient trade and the promise of new discoveries.

Scuba diving and snorkeling at its best…High diversity on protected reefs

Mafia Island and its reefs are renowned for excellent, world-class diving and snorkeling.  Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the world, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals (over 50 genera) and great diversity of tropical fish (over 460 species). We have identified fabulous dive sites of immense beauty and richness, bommies, channels, walls and caverns, drift and night dives. These are new sites and we have year of exploration to do.

Everything is on your doorstep

Kinasi is centrally located in the Mafia Island Marine Park, created in 1995 and supported by WWF. This gives us immediate and easy access to some of the best reefs in Africa, as well as islets, sand banks, and extensive mangrove forests. And nearby are the historic ruins of Kua and Kisimani Mafia, villages to visit that have been in place for centuries and the people living the traditional village life with fishing as the mainstay, boat-building as it has been for two millennia, and a wonderful, protected location for swimming, kayaking and windsurfing. All on your doorstep.

Lua Cheia also has nature walks in coastal forests, visits to local ‘shambas’, island picnic, diving, snorkeling and game fishing…. and miles of empty beaches, right from Lua Cheia.

 Elsewhere in East Africa there is no location with all these advantages, but Mafia remains relatively unknown so it is still “unspoilt”.

But there is not much night life….!

It may be realized by now, that for tourists looking for “night life”, Mafia is not the place to come! Unless of course you wish to include night dives, dinners on the beach, star-gazing and anything else that does not involve discos and casinos.

And don’t forget that by the time you have finished the day, evening cocktails and a splendid dinner, we bet you won’t have much energy left to spend in a disco !

We will keep you as busy and occupied as you want to be, to enjoy as much as possible while you are in Mafia.