The name Mafia is probably derived from the Arabic “morfiyeh”, meaning “group” or “archipelago”, or from the Swahili “mahali pa afya” meaning “a healthy dwelling place”. Its history goes back to the 8th century where it played a key role in the East African trading routes between Kilwa and Zanzibar.
Mafia has so far escaped the invasion of mass tourism as building has been restricted to three tourist lodges with a combined bed capacity of 120.
The lodges are like “bush resorts” in that everything is quiet, thus offering the perfect alternative safari experience. Major tourist activities are scuba diving, snorkelling, beach and offshore island excursions.
The places to visit are: Chole Bay, Kinasi Pass Islets, Mange reef, Kitutia, and Jibondo Pass.
Diving safaris around Chole Bay, within Mafia Island’s Marine Park are outstanding.
The Mafia Archipelago and the delta of the Rufiji River form one of the most interesting marine ecosystems and coral reefs in the world. The area has a high bio-diversity and is considered an important habitat for endangered species.
There are over 400 species of fish. On land the rich vegetation is dominated by large palm groves, baobabs, mangroves and fruit trees. The wildlife is extremely varied; monkeys, small antelopes, wild pigs, bushbabies as well as a small colony of elusive hippos. There are also countless types of birds.
The warm, safe waters of the inland bays and lagoons are a paradise for both expert and beginner scuba divers as well as those simply wishing to snorkel.
Mafia Island Marine Park was established as the first Marine Park in Tanzania and covers a surface of 821 km2.
More info at the Marine Park website www.marineparktz.com/parks_mafia.htm