Including time at no less than three of Tanzania’s World Heritage Sites (Selous, Kilwa Kisiwani and Stone Town), you’ll mainly fly between locations, making use of the regular local inter-island/park flight services. To you get a feel for the country, its people and typical village life, a drive by private 4x4 from the Selous to Kilwa on the Swahili Coast is included.
Accommodation is in comfortable tented camps and lodges and should suit couples and private groups. If you’d prefer more or less time in a particular place, or perhaps have some alternative accommodation in mind, we can easily tailor this itinerary to match your requirements. This private Specialist Tanzania Selous Safari, Kilwa, Mafia and Zanzibar Holiday departs throughout the year except during the long rains of April and May when lodges in the Selous close.
Day 1: Arrive Dar es Salaam; short flight into Selous Game Reserve. Leaving Tanzania’s largest city far behind your safari starts with an exciting short flight aboard a light aircraft into the north-eastern part of Selous Game Reserve. You will get a bird’s eye view of the lush wilderness and wetlands of the Rufiji River before landing. Greeted by staff from your camp, you will transfer across the Rufiji River by boat to the Selous Wilderness Camp, where you will stay in comfortable safari tents with private bathrooms and river facing verandas. In the afternoon enjoy your first game viewing activity – a leisurely boat safari along the mighty Rufiji River. Accommodation: Selous Wilderness Camp. Includes: (L, D).
Days 2-4: Choice of game viewing activities in the Selous. During your next three days in the Selous you’ll enjoy a variety of game viewing experiences with a choice of boat, foot or vehicle-based activities available. On each activity you’ll be accompanied by a highly experienced game ranger. The Selous has a wide variety of wildlife habitats, including open grasslands, acacia and miombo woodlands, swamps and riverine forests. From lakes to hot volcanic springs, the destinations within the Selous are quite varied. Accommodation: Selous Wilderness Camp. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 5: Drive to Kilwa Masoko. Today you will take a scenic drive south along the Swahili Coast road to the ancient settlements of Kilwa. Travelling in a privately chartered 4WD safari vehicle with driver/guide the 260 km drive to Kilwa Masoko usually takes between 6 to 7 hours. You’ll have all day to make the journey and can enjoy several stops en route. A packed lunch is included today. If you are looking for a destination that sees few other travellers and offers the real Tanzania combined with ancient ruins, fabulous seafood, dhow trips and Indian Ocean, Kilwa is for you. Kilwa Masoko is a harbour town steeped in a thousand years of history covering slave trade, spice and gold trade. The Sultan al Hasan bin Sulaiman and intrepid explorer Vasco da Gama have both left their mark on Kilwa its breathtaking landscape. Accommodation: Kilwa Ruins Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 6: Boat excursion/visit to Kilwa Kisiwani; explore island ruins. Easily accessible by motor-boat or dhow from Kilwa Masoko’s small jetty, the ancient ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani give themselves slowly to the encroaching mangrove jungle and the relentless cycles of the tide. Once the very epicenter of Swahili culture and civilisation, all that is left of Kilwa Kisiwani are the evocative old building blocks of the town - fire baked limestone, coral blocks and a few shattered tiles. On today’s tour of Kilwa Kisiwani, you will travel by dhow accompanied by a local guide. Accommodation: Kilwa Ruins Lodge. Includes: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner.
Day 7: Free day at Kilwa with optional activities. Options include swimming in the pool or Indian Ocean, join up with other guests and take an optional waterways cruise and search for hippos and birds in nearby mangroves, or explore more of the nearby ruins. Accommodation: Kilwa Ruins Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 8: Fly to Mafia Island. After a short drive to Kilwa’s tiny airport, you will take a30 minute flight north to Mafia Island. Located just 20 miles off the Tanzanian coast, Mafia is the largest of a small archipelago of islands with a population of about 40,000. Mafia has so far escaped the invasion of mass tourism as development has been restricted to just a handful of lodges.
On arrival you’ll be met and transferred to your beachside base at Kinasi in time for lunch. Set in a prime location on Chole Bay in Mafia Island Marine Park and situated in an old coconut and cashew plantation, Kinasi is an intimate home away from home which provides a luxurious stay amidst stylish decor and the magnificent natural surroundings of a marine reserve.
With ambiance and originality, Kinasi offers personalized service and a happy blend of African hospitality with a touch of laid-back ‘island life’. Relax, unwind and perhaps take a walk along the pristine beach. The lodge staff will no doubt be on hand to discuss the optional activities that are available on the island, should you wish to make any arrangements. Accommodation: Kinasi Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Days 9-10: At leisure at Kinasi Lodge. Besides just relaxing on the beach there are plenty of things to do on Mafia Island to keep you occupied over the next few days including scuba diving, snorkeling, island excursions, boat trips to offshore islands and whale shark encounters (in season). Diving around Chole Bay, within Mafia Island’s acclaimed Marine Park is outstanding.
One of the highest bio-diversity marine sites in East Africa, Mafia Marine Park has are over 400 species of fish, 48 genera of soft and hard coral, the endangered marine turtle, dolphins and the rare dugong. Chole Bay, the core of the Marine Park, has a handful of genuinely world class dive sites and you can be assured of never diving in a crowd.
A wide choice of guided dives, dive packages, adventure dives, introductory courses, an open water course and advanced courses are available through our PADI-certified Dive Centre partner (Mafia dive options can be pre-booked with Specialist Tanzania). Between October and March whale sharks frequent the waters of Mafia. During this time boat trips can be arranged from Kilindoni harbour to spot these gentle giants quietly feeding on plankton a few hundred metres from the shore.
Mafia Island is ideal for nature lovers; this is a real paradise with a rich variety of vegetation, which combines a mixture of bush with baobabs, mangroves and dream sandbanks. There are wild pigs, duikers, monkeys, small antelopes, hippos and nocturnal creatures such as bush babies and the fruit bat (flying fox). Fish eagles and countless other wading and wetland birds frequent the shoreline. Accommodation: Kinasi Lodge.
Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 11: Fly to Zanzibar Island; transfer to Stone Town. Arriving at Zanzibar airport after a flight from Mafia Island you’ll transfer to the Swahili House Hotel (or similar), a recently renovated heritage hotel in the heart of Stone Town. Known locally as Mji Mkongwe, Stone Town is the cultural and historical centre of Zanzibar. Consisting of narrow alleyways, ancient houses, shops, museums and mosques the town is an eclectic fusion of African, Indian, Arabian and European influences.
Gazetted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Stone Town is rich in history, atmosphere, architecture and Arab tradition. One of the popular ways to find your bearings and get to grips with the backstreets and attractions of Stone Town is on an optional walking tour with an experienced guide. In the evening head up to the rooftop terrace to watch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean. Accommodation: The Swahili House
Day 12: At leisure in Stone Town; optional Spice Tour. Stone Town is a fascinating place to spend a day soaking up more local attractions and watching daily life unfold. This morning you could head to the waterfront to see the dhow harbour and experience the fish market, or make a visit to the Victoria Hall and Gardens – once the place of residence for Sultan Said Baraghash’s harem.
You also have time today to enjoy an optional half day ‘Spice Tour’ of the island. Spices have been at the very heart of Zanzibari commerce since the abolition of the slave trade. The huge variety of different spices highlights Zanzibar’s important strategic location as well as the depth of cultural interaction. Accommodation: The Swahili House. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Transfer south to Kizimkazi; at leisure at Unguja Lodge. From Stone Town the 60 km transfer to the fishing village of Kizimkazi on the southwest tip of the island takes around an hour. The last days of your Tanzanian holiday are spent relaxing at Unguja Lodge, a small upmarket personal retreat with just ten spacious villas, a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and dive centre. Integrated into the environment, Unguja was built using many local materials.
A small nature trail leads to a small permanent tidal beach. Rare Red Colobus monkeys are regular visitors along with Black-tail monkeys and dik-diks. The flora of the lodge is especially beautiful with very old mango and baobab trees. Here you’ll have chance to experience the daily life of Kizimkazi, an untouched and very historical village. Watch the fishermen at work, or see how local women make rope from coconut shells. Accommodation: Unguja Lodge. Includes: (B, D).
Day 14: Optional dhow safari into Menai Bay Conservation Area. Today you could choose to explore the Menai Bay Conservation Area and enjoy Zanzibar’s breathtaking coastline and aquamarine waters on an all day dhow safari. Menai Bay was designated as a conservation area in 1998 due to its outstanding natural beauty. The bay has a number of beautiful uninhabited islands and sandbanks and is frequented by humpback and bottlenose dolphins. A voyage across Menai Bay is very much a relaxed affair with a stop for snorkelling off sandbanks and a traditional Zanzibari lunch on a desert island. Accommodation: Unguja Lodge. Includes: (B, D).
Day 15: Your Specialist Tanzania holiday ends today after check-out from your accommodation and a short flight to Dar es Salaam airport. Includes: (M).
This itinerary has been planned to allow adequate time for you to take one of the daily early afternoon flights from Arusha to Dar es Salaam. If you are considering maximizing your holiday time in Tanzania by staying for a third week, please take a look at our range of private safaris in Northern Tanzania and Western Tanzania, or contact us about adding more nights into Mafia or Zanzibar.
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Africa Tanzania Nature & Wildlife Wildlife Viewing Island Vacation