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NAMIBIA SPECIAL

13 nights guided safari $1830 here

 

ZANZIBAR SPECIALS 

ZANZIBAR LOW SEASON SPECIALS

$ 1000 for 7 nights' half board in an en-suite room with 12 dives click here

$ 1505 for 7 nights luxury accommodation half board and 12 dives, a saving of $370 click here

Pay for 4 nights and stay for 7 at Fundu Lagoon one of Africa's top beach lodges - click here

See the Tanzania page to find out why you should go there

 

 Pemba Island, the green isle

Southern Pemba

Pemba Island resorts mapPemba Island has arguably some of the best wall-diving in the world, certainly the best in Africa for variety, in a remote and captivating setting, often with less than 100 foreign visitors on the  island at a given time.

Pemba has remained largely undeveloped, with less than half a dozen places for tourists to stay, and only two decent dive centres. (click on the buttons below).

Kervan Saray  Beach Camp and Swahili Divers

Fundu Lagoon Luxury Beach Lodge

Much hillier and greener than Zanzibar, her sister island to the south, Pemba is the world capital of clove production, and in season the air is heady with the smell of cloves being dried in front of people's homes.

55 kilometres long and 20 kilometres across at its widest point, the majority of the 370,000 inhabitants are subsitence or small-scale cash crop farmers or subsitence fishermen. The island is a very fertile place; besides clove trees, the local crops are mainly coconut, bananas, cassava and red beans, but also mchicha (a sort of spinach), tomatoes, and seasonal tropical fruits, and the deep Pemban waters close offshore provides many game fish. Read more about Pemba's history

Belief in witchcraft is widespread on Pemba, and the island was long known as a home of famous and feared witchdoctors and an interesting mixture is still found today. When ill, both hospital and witchdoctor are visited. If one does not work, certainly the other one will! When a death or theft occurs a Pemban will seek both the police and the witch doctor out for advice or action, doubling one's chances of recovery or retribution. Read more about Swahili culture on Pemba

Getting to Pemba Island

Big-eye jacks

Flying from Dar-es-Salaam to Stone Town on Unguja (or Zanzibar Island) takes 20 minutes. After a 15-minute break, the 35-minute flight to Pemba yields picture-postcard aerial shots of uninhabited islands and the reefs, before touching down in Chake Chake, Pemba’s biggest town, half-way up the west coast at the end of a long mangrove-lined creek. 

The airport is a small ramshackle affair, and despite a plethora of attractions including atmospheric ruins, primeval forest, unique bird species, deserted beaches, and some of the best diving in the Indian Ocean, Pemba hosts less than 100 tourists at any given time, sometimes less than 20 in total in the three resorts!
 

Leaving the aiport, you pass through Chake Chake and its crumbling buildings and stall-filled alleyways. Stop off and take in the fruit and vegetable market, try out the sticky paste made from tamarind, ginger, sugar, nutmeg, and cloves, and watch the grazing hump-necked cows interrupt an impromptu football match in front of the mosque.

 

Pemba Diving

Njao gap bommy, Pemba, Zanzibar

Walls are everywhere on Pemba. The fringing reefs are close to shore, and the best are in the gaps created by the small outlying islands that run along the west coast.  The coral is fed by the nutrient-rich Pemba channel and is alive with all sorts of wierd and wonderful soft and hard corals and reef fish. It’s not a place for 'big' encounters every dive, but the variety and volume of small to medium-sized species is outstanding, with coral crabs, magnificent partner shrimps, nudibranchs, anthias, morays galore, schools of snapper and trevally,  frequent meetings with Napoleon wrasse, groupers and barracudas, and the occasional ray or shark.

Many dives are on vertical walls, dropping from the azure surface through cobalts, and beyond into the depths - up to 600 metres straight down in parts. Njao and Fundo Gaps (nowhere near Fundu Lagoon) are stunning with over a dozen dive sites, the long walls at Kishani often have viz in excess of 70 metres, and Uvinje Gap has the teeming (and sometimes challenging) Slobodan's Bunker. Misali Island Marine Reserve is in superb condition, with coral gardens covered in hard corals as far as one can see in the generally excellent viz, and more deep, coral covered wall dives. All-in-all, Pemba is the boss's favourite place to dive in Africa.
Pemba island divingClick on the links below for more information.

Photos from December 2012 part I

Photos from December 2012 part II

Seaweed harvesting gallery

An article about diving the  Zanzibar Archipelago in X-Ray Magazine

An article about diving the  Zanzibar Archipelago in African Diver

An interview with the expert - Marine Biologist and author Dr Ewald Lieske


 

 

Pemba Island diving video

 

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