Our trip to Pangani, Zanzibar and Mafia Island

30 August 2023

Marjolijn traveled to Tanzania, Zanzibar and Mafia Island this summer.

Every day I enjoy organizing trips to Tanzania. And this year I chose to visit my beloved Tanzania during the summer vacations as well. Together with my two sons, aged 13 and 15, I decided to go on a totally different adventure – a trip along the enchanting coast of Tanzania where we stayed at Pangani and two beautiful islands: Zanzibar and Mafia Island.

Pangani: An oasis of peace and connection
Our journey began in bustling Dar es Salaam, but soon winding roads led us through historic Bagamoyo and Saadani National Park where we saw giraffes and antelopes. After about five hours, we arrived in Pangani. The relaxed atmosphere was immediately palpable. Our accommodation, a charming little hut on the beach, was an oasis of tranquility. The feeling of being together, the two boys and I, in a place where the waves lulled us to sleep and the stars shone above us, was downright magical.

While my sons enjoyed themselves on the SUP, I decided to take a walk along the shore. Along the coastline was a fishing village with a few houses and many friendly faces. Children greeted me with enthusiastic “jambo” as I walked barefoot through their village. A local entrepreneur became overjoyed when he found out that I speak Swahili. He enthusiastically told me about his guesthouse and the nice trips in the area. It felt like I was back home again.

Zanzibar: Fumba Beach Lodge
From Pangani, we took the boat to Zanzibar. Here we choose for the familiar Fumba Beach Lodge, a place we have been to before. The cheeky monkeys mistook our soccer for an orange and the visit of a curious “bush baby” who came to taste papaya made our stay very special.

Mafia Island: An island full of adventures
It was Mafia Island that captured our hearts. A hidden gem south of Zanzibar, where we enjoyed the rhythm of island life. Our simple tents near the village of Kilindoni brought us closer to the local community. We walked to the market for fresh cashews. We searched for WiFi for a few minutes of “streaks on Snapchat,” and we wandered through villages that put us in touch with the true soul of the island. Without a doubt, the highlight of our adventure was staying at Chole Mjini Eco-lodge and diving in Chole Bay.

Underwater was an enchanting world of coral reefs and thousands of colored fish. I have never seen such high colored coral walls. My sons dived for the first time in their lives. With experienced instructors by their side, a new world opened up to them. Full of wonder they looked at all the beautiful fish. My oldest son couldn’t believe his luck.

We watched baby turtles hatch from the egg after which they took their first clumsy steps into the sea. Amazing to see how they know exactly where to go before disappearing into the ocean. During a boat trip we saw several humpback whales that also made huge jumps out of the water. This country never ceases to amaze me!

Back to basic
This visit to Tanzania was more than a vacation; it was a journey. We escaped the daily rush and spend time together. Playing outside, laughing, good conversations and simply being together were invaluable. This trip made me remember what matters to me: spending time in nature, being with those I love, meeting new people and sharing positive stories… And… that life is more fun without WiFi. We are already looking forward to our next vacation together.