Whale Shark Research, Photography & Coral Reefs – Mafia Island
27 Nov - 5 Dec 2022
Team includes Whale Shark expert & photographer Dr Chris Rohner
Tanzania combines some of Africa's largest protected wilderness areas, best preserved coral reefs, diverse rainforest and mountains which include the mighty Kilimanjaro. Its coast is dotted with more than fifty islands and islands, of which Mafia Island is our base for whale shark research and coral reef photography, whilst the cultural intrigue of Zanzibar lies closer to the eastern Indian Ocean than Africa.
The northern game reserves of the Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater are probably the best known of Tanzania's wildlife highlights. Here we operate regular small group and private safaris, in Toyota Land Cruisers modified to take a maximum of 7 guests led by a highly experienced driver / guide. The location of the Great Migration of more than a million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson gazelle is a prime driver for where we direct these vehicles: be that to see birthing on the short grass plains, to dramatic river crossings at the Mara River, where huge Nile crocodiles lie in wait for migrating game.
For Mara River Crossing Safaris in northern Tanzania, we incorporate a flight back from the furthest point; but we can send forward a vehicle if you would like to fly to the Serengeti rather than working your way there overland via Ngorongoro and lake Manyara.
Southern and Western Tanzania lend themselves best for flying safaris. The south is home to Africa's largest wilderness area, the Selous; the country's largest national park at Ruaha; and its most remote and least visited major savannah area, Katavi. These reserves receive fewer visitors than those in northern Tanzania, but harbour dense populations of big game including lions, hippos, elephants and tree climbing leopards. Viewing is particularly good in the Selous and Ruaha areas along the Rufiji and Ruaha rivers; and the many lakes and swamps along the Rufiji floodplain.
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 fantastic coral reefs of Mafia Island, combined with opportunities to join our expert research team to swim with the largest fish in the sea: the mainly plankton eating Whale Shark. Aqua-Firma has been supporting whale shark research and conservation since the company's inception and we offer this experience in November when you can join a team which includes global whale shark researchers, Dr Simon Pierce & Dr Chris Rohner. Our trip sets up annual headquarters for whale shark researchers from the Marine Megafauna Foundation.
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.
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 reefs off of the Mnemba Atoll in the north east; and in the 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.
Aqua-Firma operates privately guided treks along all routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru and Mount Ol Doinyo Lengai. Our treks up Kilimanjaro are designed to provide an intimate experience of these mountains, paced according to you, with a local expert leader whose knowledge of the mountain, First Aid and emergency procedures will keep you safe; whilst their knowledge of wildlife, birdlife, plants and cultures of Tanzania will help you to enjoy more of this stunning mountain than just the magnificent views you can hope for.
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 Arusha National Park; the southern Udzungwa Mountains; and 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.