What to do and Where to Stay Mafia, Pemba, and the Islands

Extraordinary Africa>Tanzania>Mafia, Pemba and the Islands

After a long journey across the globe, most travellers drop their bags on Unguja (Zanzibar Island) and never venture on to the lesser known islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago. And to be honest, we’re happy to let them. What we love about places like Mafia and Pemba is that there just aren’t many other visitors.  The roads are choked with chickens and drying cloves rather than traffic, and the tiny villages feel as if they’ve barely changed in centuries (though the presence of “David Beckham” hairdressers and “Stamford Road” butchers does suggest some influences have arrived from the western world!) As a gross generalisation we’d say that the beaches here probably wouldn’t rival some of the better ones on Zanzibar, but Mafia in particular is known for the fabulous quality of its diving, and both islands are ideal for those who want utter seclusion.

There’s also tiny little Fanjove, which is an island small enough to walk around in a couple of hours. You take a plane to Songo Songo from Dar es Salaam, hitch a ride down to the dock and float over to this remote island, inhabited for years only by fishermen, and now one lovely little lodge. This is definitely somewhere that has huge natural charm- gorgeous white beaches, amazing birdlife, and the occasional passing whale or dolphin.

Accommodation errs towards the rustic side here- it’s all about barefoot luxury rather than glitz and gloss.  Expect to lie in bed and hear the waves rather than the hum of air-conditioning. Most lodges have just a handful of rooms, a warm welcome, and an air of utter peace.

Our pick of the places to stay

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