FANJOVE ISLAND - SONGO SONGO ARCHIPELAGO - SOUTHERN TANZANIA

The beautiful island of Fanjove is part of the unexplored Songo Songo Archipelago, south of Mafia Island and 30 miles from the mainland of Tanzania.  Among the islands between Fanjove and Mafia Island is one of the world’s richest marine habitats.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo
Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

The marine park of Mafia, established in 1995 by the Tanzanian government, is the larger marine protected in the Indian Ocean and enjoys an indescribable beauty generated mainly by the proximity of the Rufiji river delta, which allows an extraordinary variety of marine flora and fauna.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

Before reaching Fanjove’s beaches, The Indian Ocean meets a 11 km long coral reef which runs down the east of Fanjove Island. The resulting lagoon provides calmer seas to swim in.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

Thousands of migrant birds rest and feed on the island, green turtles lay their eggs in season, hundreds of dolphins roam the seas and humpback whales pass through in their migrations.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

Nobody lives on Fanjove, except you and the dedicated staff, as the whole island is rented from the nearby village of Songosongo. The lodge contributes 3% of it's income to the social development of the community.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

From Dar es Salaam flights are available twice a day. After an hour's flight via Mafia the plane lands on the main Island of the archipelago, Songosongo Island. The island is reached by speedboat in around 20 minutes.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

There are six Eco Bandas - each with an ensuite bathroom open to the sky for hot showers under the stars. The individual Bandas are distributed along the main beach to guarantee privacy, each with a view of the ocean.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

All the bandas have been designed with the environment in mind, specifically to have the lowest impact on the island and are powered singularly by solar power. The shape resembles the Dhow sail (Dhow are the local traditional sailing boats that you will see almost at any time when looking at the sea).

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

The lodge is all made of wood (only planted wood has been used) and makuti (palm leaves). Only the bathroom, because of its necessities, has been built in concrete, but shaped to be inserted in harmony with the rest of the building.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

To make the best of the view the banda is designed to be completely open at its front. Doors and curtains, in different combinations, protect from wind and sun. The curtain’s fabric and the ropes are the same used in local dhows to make sails and boat ropes.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

Should guests wish to enjoy the view from a higher point they are welcome to go upstairs onto the balcony. The 6 lights in each Banda are powered by a solar panel on the top of the makuti roof. Hot water is heated by a 90 liters tank solar panel.

Fanjove Private Island - Songo Songo

Water is an important resource on Fanjove Island - fresh water is not found on the Island so they have to ship it almost daily from mainland. Guests are kindly asked to be sensitive on the water they consume whilst on the island.

 

Some of the island's stategies to reduce the impact on the small and delicate ecosystem of Fanjove:

  • solar panels provide light in the bandas
  • sun power warms shower’s water
  • rechargeable batteries are preferred on disposable batteries
  • septic tanks have been installed for bio-degradation of waste water
  • a waste recycle system is in use
  • whenever it is possible Fajove Island will buy local fresh products to both stimulate local economies and reduce fossil fuel consumption necessitated in long distant transportation.
  • Fanjove island produces a portion of its fresh water reservoir with a desalinator, while a system of gutters and tanks collect rain water during the wet season.

 

ACTIVITIES

Diving: You can rent BCD, regulator, wet suites, mask, fins, weights and 12 l aluminum tanks.

Dives are from the boat and there are no deco dives.

Water temperature is 27/29 C and visibility can reach 30 m.

Dive Fanjove in a stunning tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean that is only just being discovered. The perfect marine metropolis where humpback whales migrate, sea turtles lay eggs, and tropical fish dance before you. A great concentration of biodiversity that has yet to be revealed. The reefs show remarkable resistance to global marine threats, and further research and exploration of the area is vital to help replenish the reef and support healthy ecosystems and sustainable fishing practices for the local villages.

Each dive is likely to be at a completely new dive site with sightings of new fish, shark, mammal and invertebrate species on nearly every dive. Varied marine landscapes such as underwater pinnacles and gardens of cabbage coral with 20+ meter visibility make for a rare chance to experience an area that no one has ever explored before.

Snorkeling: Relax in Fanjove’s blue waters while watching the marine world pass you by. Butterfly fish, Angelfish, Damselfish, and a variety of corals and invertebrates are just off of Fanjove’s doorstep. Go out by yourself for a leisurely exploration, or let us take you in a small boat and show you all the secret spots!

Ask the manager for the equipment, if you are not experienced we recommend to snorkel guided.

Marine life books are provided at the lounge: test yourself in the identification of what you had spotted after snorkeling!

Dolphin excursion: Fanjove is lucky to have different dolphin species as our neighbors. Spend a couple of hours on the boat to try and see either Spinner Dolphins or Bottlenose Dolphins and with any luck you may be able to briefly swim with them.

Bird watching: from November to March the island is the destination of migratory birds. Hidden behind a bush at the beach shore, with the help of good binoculars, you can appreciate the diversity of the other habitants of the island. Inland too the Island can offer good bird sightings, while walking on the Fanjove Trail.

Kayak Safari: Fanjove provides 4 single kayaks with paddles as a way to discover the whole main island, the bird island and the cliff system. We suggest you to paddle with medium to high tide and only if you can swim. It is free of charge.

Sand bank excursion: At low tide we have access to a secluded sand bank that offers snorkeling and chance to have a local lunch with grilled fish prepared privately right in front of you. Relax in the shade and wait for dolphins to come by, or jump in the water to cool off, until the sand bank disappears underwater with the incoming tides. For the lovers of extreme romanticism, nothing is better than waiting sunset with a cold bottle of wine in the middle of the ocean! Check the Activities price list for the cost of this activity.

Dhow sailing: enjoy the sunset and views of Fanjove from the traditional East Africa coast sailing vessel. A local boat will set sail before sunset and accompanied by locals from the village nearby and one of our waiters, you can enjoy a sundowner while experiencing the timeless beauty of the wooden dhow.

Fishing: try your luck at fishing on Fanjove’s reef. With basic fishing equipment you can catch barracuda, jack, or even a kingfish. Fishing is catch and release but if the fish is injured or the lure is stuck we can have our kitchen prepare it the local way using a charcoal grill.

Fanjove Nature Trail: to discover the island, its history & local costumes. You could use the Island’s Map to navigate along the Island ‘s paths; for a better understanding ask to your manager for a Lodge guide who would be happy to share with you his knowledge, but also get lost through the bushes and explore the island outside the trails!

Practical information:

Open season: June through March

Number of Bandas: 6

Age: we welcome children age 6 and up

For guests with special needs or disabilities: please contact us

Closest Airstrip: Songosongo Island

GPS co-ordinates: 8° 34’ 18.11” S – 39° 34’ 2.27” E