While Zanzibar has become a popular tourist resort, Mafia Island lying only 160 km south, remains virtually unknown. Previously poor communications with the mainland and being much lesser known than Zanzibar have kept Mafia ‘original’, although a steady trickle of visitors are unanimous in singing its praise. Mafia is one of the safest places in the Indian Ocean and there are no hustlers to spoil a holiday.
The Mafia Archipelago is scattered over the Indian Ocean 21 km off the Rufiji River Delta in central Tanzania. The largest of a score of islands, atolls and tidal sandbars, Mafia itself is approximately 50 km long by 15km across, and is surrounded by a barrier reef teeming with marine life. Almost half the coastline of Mafia, some 822km², has been gazetted a marine park by the Government. To date over 50 genera of corals, more than 460 species of fish and five different species of turtles have been recorded in the waters around Chole Bay.
Natural vegetation on Mafia ranges from tidal mangrove thickets and scrubby coastal moorlands to palm-wooden grassland and lowland rainforest. Magnificent baobabs are prominent along with the native Albizia. Patches of coastal high forest remain in localities all over Mafia; one of the most picturesque, the Chunguruma Forest, is a dense tree canopy interlaced with palms, lianes and epiphytes and has an abundant floor covering of ferns.
A series of reed-lined lakes in central Mafia are probably the remnants of an old lagoon which was cut off from the ocean thousands of years ago. Here live a number of small hippo which may have crossed from the mainland or were washed to the island by floods of the Rufiji River system. They have been on Mafia many years, since Dr Baumann records their presence in 1895.
Other island fauna includes a colony of flying foxes, several species of bushbabies, a type of pygmy shrew and a monitor lizard known as kenge. Monkeys and squirrels are common.
An official bird list kept by Kinasi Lodge records sightings of more than 120 different species, including five different types of sunbird, living in and around the hotel gardens. There are also thought to be at least five endemic species of butterfly on the island.
While Mafia makes an ideal holiday for people interested in nature and outdoor activities, its big attraction for many visitors is that it remains locked in a time warp of the early 20th Century.
The population of the archipelago is approximately 40,000 living in 24 villages scattered throughout the main island, Jibondo, Juani and Chole islands. The people live in rustic fishing communities and farming villages. The majority are Muslim but there are many Christians. Traditional religion also manifests itself in ritual dances linked to the lunar cycle.
Travel around Mafia
The main town is located on the north-east side of the island. The airport now dissects the town, Kilindoni, which is the district ‘capital’. Mafia is a district of the Coast Province, which is one of the provinces of mainland Tanzania. It is also an electorate with its own member of Parliament.
The island infrastructure is basic. None of the villages are connected to mains water or electricity and there are no tarmac roads. There are two main roads: from Kilindoni north to Ras Mkumbi (with side roads to the villages in the north) and Kilindoni to Utende, the centre of the tourism area on Chole Bay. A third arterial road connects the south-east of the island, centred on Kitoni.
The road to Utende is quite rough (occasionally it is graded) and it can take at least 30 minutes to tarvel the 15 km distance. Elsewhere roads are sandy tracks or paths.
At present there is little public transport on Mafia (a daily bus to the north), which has only about 35 vehicles, mainly Land Rover pick-ups and 4x4s belonging to the hotels, UNICEF, government and to the fish processing factory. Hitch-hiking is an accepted means of getting about, but usually means a long wait. Islanders also use jahazis, widely referred to in English as dhows, to commute between Kilindoni and outlying villages on Mafia, and for inter-island travel.
Getting to Mafia
The flight by plane takes only 45 minutes from Dar es Salaam and 1 hour from Zanzibar or the Selous.
Administration and Government
Mafia is not part of the Zanzibar archipelago, as many people think. It once was the property of the Sultan of Zanzibar after he wrested from the Portuguese, who sold it to Germany in 1890 during the ‘scramble for Africa’. In 1915 the British Army took control of Mafia after skirmishing witha force of German and Tanzanian askari in the coconut plantations of Dundani, Mafia’s highest plateau (just 50 m above sea level). The final battle took place in a grove of mango trees, named thereafter asmwembe vita (the mangoes of war).
The assault on the island was precipitated by Britain’s need to establish a base on Mafia from which to launch attacks on the famous destroyer Konigsburg, which had taken refuge in the Rufiji Delta after the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War. The destroyer had been on an official visit to Dar es Salaam at the time. The reconnaissance flights mounted from a makeshift pontoon runway on Niororo Island (30 km north of Mafia) proved to be too long, with much fuel consumption wasted on the flight to and from the Delta. The aircraft were used to ‘spot’ the ship and provide accurate information for ranging guns on the British warships holding position in the Delta.
After the War Britain administered Mafia under martial law until 1922, whereupon it became part of the British Administration in East Africa and not part of the Protectorate of Zanzibar, that remained under the Sultan of Oman.
we consider our visitor season starting in June and running through to the following March; the relevant climatic features can be described as follows:
June Cool and dry
July Cool but windy
August- October Cool, dry season with pleasant temperatures and excellent weather
November Short rains, but often unreliable running into December
December-March Hot season, mainly dry with showers and increasing humidity
April-May Long rains, very wet with heavy downpours lasting all day
Temperatures are mild, even when we speak of the “hot” season, as the temperature in Mafia rarely exceeds 30°C. It is the humidity level that often causes visitors to feel they are hot, especially when the breeze drops and it is very calm.
Mafia has a relatively dry tropical climate with approximately 1,800 mm of rain each year divided into two seasons of “long” rains in late March-May and “short” rains in November-early December.
The excellent visitor periods are August-October inclusive and early December-mid-March inclusive.
Mafia Island lies across the trade winds and experiences the north-east (Kaskazi) and south-east (Kusi) seasons. The Kaskazi usually starts at the end of November after a period of shuwali (calm) and short rains (vuli). The Kusi is the longer and windier period, running from early July through to mid-September. It is more variable than the Kaskazi and may bring strong winds and last many weeks; however, we usually expect up to six weeks of strong winds followed by a shorter period of milder winds.
Kinasi Lodge is located inside the marine park, and a fee is US$ 20 per person per day (50% for children 3-15 yrs) is charged by the Mafia Island Marine Park. This is not included in our rates. This fee must be paid by the guests IN CASH at the gate of Marine Park. Kinasi Lodge cannot prepay this fee.
Mafia has daily scheduled air services with same-day connections to the Ruaha, Selous, Arusha, Pemba and Zanzibar; all flights can be booked direct or through Kinasi, which can make flight arrangements and invoice you as part of the overall bill.
Coastal Aviation flies every day at 1500 hrs with a direct connection on its aircraft from Arusha via Zanzibar and the Selous. Prices (inclusive of current fuel surcharge) are:
- DSM-MAF US$ 115 per person one way
- ZNZ-MAF US$ 155 per person one way
- SEL-MAF US$ 205 per person one way
- ARU-MAF US$ 345 per person one way
Tropical Air operates the morning schedule to Mafia leaving Dar es Salaam at 1000 with a direct connection from Zanzibar at 0800. This is an excellent service for arrivals on British Airways. The seat price is US$ 112 one way. It has also reported it will commence an afternoon schedule.
- DSM-MAF US$ 116 per person one way
- ZNZ-MAF US$ 160 per person one way
ZanAir will commence Mafia flights from Zanzibar at 1130 via Dar es Salaam and arriving Mafia at 1315, in July 2009. Travelers from Pemba can also connect on this at 1030 in Pemba. Seat prices on this schedule are:
- DSM-MAF US$ 100 per person one way
- ZNZ-MAF US$ 140 per person one way
- PBA-MAF US$ 170 per person one way
STATUTORY CHARGES AT AIRPORTS
Please note that for any domestic flight in Tanzania every passenger will be requested to pay Airport tax TShs 5,000 and Security Fees TShs 1,000 (approximately $ 5 total). Airport tax and Security Fees are not included in flight rates and they can change without prior notice. The international departure tax is US$ 30 and Safety Fee is $ 8, both are included in ticket prices ex-Dar es Salaam but NOT ex-Zanzibar where guests must be prepared to pay cash.
Please note that all airlines strictly observe the 15 kg per pax limit on bags on internal flights in light aircraft and prefer soft or duffel bags not hard plastic or aluminium suitcases.
We offer a personal ‘meet & greet’ and transfer service between terminals in Dar es Salaam and from hotels and Stone Town in Zanzibar (through our sister company Zanzibar Travel Services firstname.lastname@example.org) for your clients. Our rates are:
- Meet international/domestic flight with transfers to/from Terminal I/II in Dar es Salaam International/Domestic airport at US$ 5 per person
- Dar City Tour at US$ 40 per person for half-day (visits places of interest, the craft centres and hotel of choice for wash and refreshments)
- Dar es Salaam city centre hotel transfer US$ 30 per vehicle; US$ 40 north of city and Msasani area
- Zanzibar Airport-Stone Town US$ 15 per vehicle; City Tour and Spice Tour from US$ 20 per person
Kinasi can safely store in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar any extra baggage on behalf of guests while on safari or in Mafia.
Terms and Conditions
- All accommodation rates are on a full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner included) per person per night (pppn) basis, including 18% VAT
- Accommodation rates include airport facilitation (meet-and-greet) in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Mafia.
- Minimum recommended stay is 3 nights
- Group policy starts after 14 paying guests, 15th will be free-of-charge.
- The hotel will be seasonally closed from after Easter until 1st June each year or as advised.
- Cancellation charges on booking total based on time prior to confirmed check-in date:
- 30 Days or more: no charge
- 15-30 days: 50 % cancellation charge applies
- 0-15 days: 100% cancellation charge applies
- All airline rates and scheduled flights and government service charges are subject to change without notice.
- Marine Park Fees are not included in our rates and are subject to change without notice.
- Seasons to which rates apply are as follows:
|Peak||1st-August 21st December||15th September 10th January|
|Normal||1st July 16th September||31st July 31st October|
|Incentive||11th January 1st June
|31st March 30th June
We would like you to know that the “incentive” seasons are actually some of the finest periods of the year to be in East Africa, as far as weather is concerned, so are very good times to visit Mafia.
- All rates quoted are subject to change without notice, although every effort will be made to give due warning of at least three months. In particular we draw your attention to possible significant exchange rates fluctuation between the Euro and US$ and the Tanzania Shilling, in which case an appropriate adjustment will be made.
- Kinasi accepts VISA/Euro and MASTER cards but a surcharge of 5% (to cover the costs and delays and commission in Tanzania, which is 5%) will be added.
- A surcharge of 10% also applies to travelers’ cheques (which are discounted by banks in Tanzania due to risk and the high fraud rate)
- Kinasi will accept personal cheques on foreign banks with prior arrangement
If you are agent or travel planner please CONTACT US email@example.com and we´ll send you the NEW rates for next season and Special Packages for your clients.