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The Mafia Archipelago lie quietly in the Indian Ocean, just 40 minutes' flight from Dar es Salaam.

Virtually unknown, the names of Bwejuu, Mbarakum, Juani, Jibondo and Mafia mean little to most people. Yet these islands make up the most beautiful archipelago in the Indian Ocean, tiny jewels resting in an azure sea.

Fauna and flora of the Mafia Archipelago

Covered in rich rainforest, thick grasslands and giant baobab trees, the islands are dotted with tiny villages. Here passion-fruit, paw-paw and mango trees are tended by women in brightly colored kangas. Sunbirds flit through the trees, five species of endemic butterflies can be found and bush babies call at night. On the coast, sandy beaches are flanked by mangroves. Whimbrels and curlews step in the water, whilst fishermen sit on the white sand, mending nets or making coconut coir rope. Strings of drying octopus blow in the breeze and dhows sail from island to island, carrying children to school at sunrise and back home at sunset.

All that said, it is in the turquoise waters that you’ll find the islands’ biggest attractions. Unspoiled barrier reefs surround the islands, rich in soft corals, sea anemones and sponges, and attracting a dazzling array of fish. Potato groupers, hump-headed parrotfish and giant batfish are just some of those you might see while snorkeling, while turtles, rays and dolphins are never far away. At dusk, the flying foxes take off from the trees. Dipping quickly to the water, they make for the cashew and mango trees, where they rustle and crunch their way through the night. From sunrise to sunset Mafia is magical and as yet little visited.

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Audley Travel Specialist Tom

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Map of the Mafia Archipelago

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near the Mafia Archipelago

    Accommodation choices for the Mafia Archipelago

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit the Mafia Archipelago. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.