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Whale Shark Research & Conservation – Mafia Island
Dive & Safari - Mafia Island & the Selous Game Reserve
|Tanzania combines some of Africa's largest protected wilderness areas, rich marine life and diverse rainforest in its mountains and Indian Ocean islands.
The northern game reserves of the Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater are probably the best known of Tanzania's wildlife highlights. These areas have resident game throughout the year, but the Serengeti is particularly well stocked between December and July when the world's largest mammal migration brings literally millions of animals south to its rich grazing lands from the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya.
Southern Tanzania is home to Africa's largest wilderness area, the Selous, and one of its most remote, Ruaha. These reserves receive far fewer visitors than those in northern Tanzania, but harbour dense populations of big game including lions, hippos, elephants and tree climbing leopards. Game viewing is particularly good along the Selous and Ruaha rivers, and in the Mkata Floodplain of the more accessible Mikumi Reserve.
Marine Life of Tanzania's Indian Ocean islands
Tanzania is one of the world's best locations to combine terrestrial wildlife with abundant tropical marine life. Our ultimate marine life experience in Tanzania is amongst the abundant fish life and coral reefs of Mafia Island combined with opportunities to join our expert research team to swim with the largest fish in the sea: the gentle plankton eating Whale Shark. Aqua-Firma has been involved with whale shark research and conservation since its inception and we offer this experience in November when you can join a team which includes global whale shark researcher, Dr Simon Pierce.
We operate tailor made snorkelling and diving year round to Mafia Island, as well as other marine life highlights of Pemba, Zanzibar and Chumbe islands. The shallow waters of Chumbe offer the most intact and easy snorkelling in Tanzania. Through careful management, Chumbe has retained pristine coral gardens and its rare rag forest which is home to the world's largest crab (the Coconut Crab) and the endangered Ader's Duiker.
Zanzibar is where you can best experience Africa's coastal Islamic heritage, both in its people and the architecture of Stone Town - the headquarters of the former Omani slave traders. For extended stays we focus on the quieter south east of the island where we find some excellent fish life and enormous white sand beaches and lagoons behind it. Whilst you can see many a traditional sailing dhow along the reef barrier here, divers are unlikely to see another dive boat.
Pemba to the north offers some simply stunning coastal scenery and beaches with relatively few visitors. Our focus in Pemba is amongst the myriad of islands and Pemba Channel along the western coast. These islands include Misali where we find Tanzania's clearest blue waters and areas of densely packed hard corals covering steep walls.
Rainforests - Islands of Diversity
The rainforests of East Africa are like lush green islands whose separation and topographic differences have encouraged them to develop many unique species. Visiting the forests is a complete contrast to game viewing in wide open grasslands of the Serengeti. Forests are a place to listen out for a rustle of leaves which gives away the position of a troop of monkeys or the squawk of a colourful forest bird. The vegetation which engulfs you is important to inspect in detail, looking for cleverly camouflaged insects or frogs hiding amongst a seemingly infinite diversity of plants.
Some of the beautiful forest areas we can take you to include the southern Udzungwa Mountains, or Tanzania's most important chimpanzee habitats of Gombe and the Mahale Mountains set beside Lake Tangayika. On the island of Pemba we can take you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ngezi Forest, as well as some smaller forest areas which are home to the endangered Pemba Flying Fox. On Zanzibar, we explore walkways through mangroves and the Jozani coral rag forest to see the endemic Red Colobus monkey.
Aqua-Firma offers tailor made and small group experiences throughout Tanzania with a special focus on what we consider to be some of the greatest wilderness, wildlife and marine life experiences available.
Photographs kindly provided by Ralph Pannell, Bjeorn Koth & Dr Simon Pierce