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Mafia Island

This is a question everyone asks, of course…. ! Our research suggests a number of possibilities for “Mafia” or “Maf’a” (pronounced maf-ya) as it was probably more accurately spelt. 

Intro to Mafia Island

This is a question everyone asks, of course…. ! Our research suggests a number of possibilities for “Mafia” or “Maf’a” (pronounced maf-ya) as it was probably more accurately spelt. The early (they entered the Indian Ocean in 1494) Portuguese maps of the coast of East Africa refer to “Monfia” or “Monfiya”; others use the name Morfiyeh. We believe these to be a corruption of morfi’a (pronounced morfi-ya), Arabic for “archipelago”, and this seems likely, since Mafia is an archipelago of nine islands. Mafia, which is the main island of the archipelago, was known to the Arab and Persian settlers as Chole Shamba (Chole’s farm or agricultural area) while the main seat of administration and trade was tiny Chole Island, which was called Chole Mjini (Chole the town).

The story Behind

Mafia must have been named long before the arrival of the Portuguese for the islands were settled by migrants from the Rufiji delta believed to be around 800 AD, and later by the families of the Persian settlers from Kilwa (circa 1,150 AD). And for this reason we favour our own theory, that the archipelago was named after the people who were the earliest traders, the Ma’afir from Merku (Mocha) in present-day Yemen. They were an Arab tribe of Himyaritic stock who are thought to have been the first traders on the coast of Azania and governed the mysterious port of Rhapta and its hinterland. The whereabouts of Rhapta has baffled historians and archaeologists for many years, but that is another story !

An old Persian word for water could also have derived the name, since Mafia is well watered and was a source of fresh water for passing ships and itinerant fisherman. In places the water pours out into the ocean and rivulets can be seen on the beaches at low tide.

And, finally, a dismissive possibility that has also been offered is the diminutive “mafi” in Arabic refers to waste or rubbish (and this has come into KiSwahili as “mavi” meaning dung), and perhaps Mafia was referred to as “mafi” or useless for any fabulous riches; but this is unlikely, given the desire of the Persians to bring it under their power.

What to do in Mafia island

Few among many attractions found in Mafia

Mafia Island makes it perfect for diving, snorkeling, deep-sea and fishing

The world’s largest fish are such regulars in Mafia that scientists started to name them.One of the biggest things to do on Mafia Island is swimming with Whale Sharks .

On these excursions ,we will enable you see village life as it has always been, with almost none of the trappings of the modern day.

Here you can visit a local Market,Kilindoni.

 Mafia Islands capital, Kilindoni, is small and welcoming. In it lies the jetty, where the fisherman and ferries come and go, as well as the single runway airport. On the main street is a calm, spread out market which sells everything from fruit to football kits. In the evening, women set up tables and chairs in the streets where you can go to sample some local food at insanely cheap prices


Take a Tour of Chole Island

Just off Mafia is an even smaller Island, Chole, home to just 1000 residents. Time here seems to have stopped altogether on this island where there are no cars. Walking through the maze of paths cut into the palm trees, you will see the mud huts that the people live in and the various crafts and trades they carry out to make a living. Also on the island is a huge protected nesting site for the worlds largest bats, the Flying Fox.

Mafia is also a great place to go diving. The Marine Protected area has resulted in healthy corals and lots of variety of life

Chole Mjini is a VERY special lodge on the tiny island of Chole (20-minute boat ride from Mafia Island). Guests get a private treehouse built around huge Bao trees. Your room is open so you can look at the view of the trees and ocean from the treetops.

Chole Island had just 220 visitors in 2018 so remains very untouched. It’s quite a unique place and combining it with a stay at the unique Chole Mnjini really will be the icing on the cake!

On the most Northerly point of the Island, you will find a preserved lighthouse. Everyone we spoke to gave a different date for when it was built so who knows what is right…but it is old! This is an area of the Island most visitors don’t normally visit so it’s nice to see. You can get there by tuk-tuk or taxi or you can even hire your own piki-piki (motorbike) for the day. There are also some untouched beaches on the North of the island where you can stop for a swim.

Between the months of August – September, humpbacks migrate past Mafia Island. Daily tours leave to go view these huge creatures, often spotting mothers and their calves.

Tucked out the way in the Marine Park is a beautiful lagoon, this really is Mafia Island’s best-kept secret. Swim in a pool full of upside-down jellyfish and take in the impossibly blue waters. On the boat ride too and from the lagoon, look out for monkeys in the trees!

The bigger story

Mount Meru is an active (but dormant) volcano located North of Arusha in Tanzania.

Mount Meru is the first sight you can see when reaching Arusha town.

The mountain is with its 4,566 m (14,990 feet) Tanzania’s second highest peak after Kilimanjaro and the fifth highest in Africa. The mountain has two peaks: Meru Summmit, the highest point, and Ash Cone, an additional peak inside the crater which was formed after a more recent volcanic activity. On clear days one can see Great Rift Valley and Kitumbeini and Gelai volcanoes in the western part, and in the east its neighbor Mount Kilimanjaro with Kibo and Shira Plateau.

A morning hike on the beautiful slopes of the incredible Mt Meru with an excursion into the crater before returning for a picnic at kitoto view point. This hike can be combined with an afternoon game drive to Arusha National Park before returning home.

Enjoy your stay with shavi tours

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