Indian Ocean Islands

The Indian Ocean is the third largest body of water in the world and nestled in its warm waters are a number of spectacular tropical islands. Superb beaches and a fantastic variety of adventure activities and watersports. Visit the Indian Ocean Islands section on our website.

  • 6 Zanzibar Resorts That Will Take Your Breath Away

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Once the haunt of sultans, musicians, and artists Zanzibar now enthrals visitors with its vibrant capital, Stone Town, and woos them with its phenomenal beaches and resorts. With sand like castor sugar and white-sailed dhows cruising in the turquoise sea while palms sway in the gentle breeze, Zanzibar offers visitors a fantastic way to wind down an African getaway. Each of these six resorts offers bespoke hospitality, glorious settings and world-class luxury. They are our favourites and, if you are lucky enough to stay at one of these places some day, we have no doubt that you’d agree. 1. The Residence The Residence Zanzibar lies on a mile-long white sand beach in the remote south west coast of Zanzibar, on 32 hectares of pristine land that was once home to the Shirazi Princes. There are 66 villas, all luxuriously appointed with contemporary, stylish furniture that reflect the island’s African and Omani heritage. The villas each have their own private deck and swimming pool with day beds to relax on. Bicycles are provided with each villa to explore the gardens and local area. The village of Kizimkazi, famous for its dolphin safaris, is 20 minutes away. Visit the spa, the hotel's star attraction, for pampering, with six pavilions and a rest area with a whirlpool. You can choose to dine in the two restaurants or in the intimacy of your villa, savouring international dishes with a hint of Zanzibar “spice” as well as the best of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. 2. Baraza Baraza is located on a 240m stretch of Bwejuu Beach, which was named as one of the top 30 in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. White sand and sparkling Indian Ocean stretch into the distance and there is a pristine coral reef for snorkeling and diving. Accommodation consists of 14 one-bedroom villas and 15 two-bedroom villas as well as an ultra-luxurious two-bedroom presidential villa. The villas showcase a fusion of Arabic, Swahili and Indian design, with Swahili arches, intricate hand-carved cement décor, beautiful antiques, hand-made furniture and intricate brass lanterns. The villas offer refined luxury and privacy and each one comes complete with a private bathroom, terrace and crystal clear plunge pool. Choose from a wide array of water activities. Hop aboard a boat trip and go snorkeling or diving at the incredible coral reefs, which provide a kaleidoscope of colours. All equipment is provided and the lodge has its own water sports and diving centre. 3. Mnemba Island Lodge Mnemba Island Lodge can be found on an exclusive island just 4.5 kilometres off the north-eastern coast of Zanzibar. Surrounded by an atoll of mesmerising coral reefs, it boasts some of Africa’s best dive sites. Each of Mnemba's 10 suites have a spacious veranda and are hidden in the shade of a tropical beach forest, fringed by the pristine beaches that ring the island. A palm-covered walkway leads to an en-suite bathroom with shower and basin. Zanzibar is famous for its intricate, detailed wood carvings and the scrolled headboards adorning the beds are created by some of the island’s most skilled artisans. Baskets of fresh fruit, fish, lobsters, crabs and prawns are sailed into Mnemba daily on traditional ngalawa outriggers, and prepared as exotic delicacies. Lunch is usually served on large wooden carved Zanzibar platters heaped with delicious mezze. Romantic candle-lit dinners are enjoyed on the beach with the waves gently lapping at your feet. 4. Kilindi Kilindi comprises a series of white-domed pavilion guest rooms all set in 50 acres of lush tropical gardens. This luxury boutique hotel offers utter paradise on the north coast and was originally designed for Benny Andersson, one of the members of the world famous Abba pop music group. Mamma Mia! It features Scandinavian minimalism mixed with dramatic architectural overtones of the island's Middle Eastern heritage. White shutters embrace wide-arched glassless windows that open up to spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. The main pavilion enjoys similar views and consists of a falling water bar overlooking a large 25-metre infinity pool. Each of the 15 eastern-styled domed pavilions has their own private plunge pool and special radiance showers that give the feeling of being at one with nature. Dining takes place either on the alfresco terrace or on the beach. Guests can enjoy meals in the privacy of their own pavilion, since each is set in a tropical garden and has its own dedicated butler to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and whatever else you require. The butler is also available to help, advise and arrange activities and excursions that Kilindi and the island offer. 5. Matemwe Retreat One of Matemwe’s biggest attractions is its fantastic location. Adjacent to one of the best stretches of beach on the east coast, the retreat looks out over a shallow, coral-fringed lagoon. The lodge has plenty on offer, including superb diving and snorkeling off the renowned Mnembe Atoll. A dedicated butler will ensure that your every whim is catered for. Select your menu with the chef each morning, sip a fresh cocktail in your plunge pool and enjoy a relaxing massage in the privacy of your villa. Matemwe consists of 12 bungalows built from local materials, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Each spacious suite has a private veranda with a hammock and sofa and expansive views of the Indian Ocean. The large bathrooms have a deep bathtub and walk-in shower and all beds are enclosed by mosquito nets. Enjoy fresh seafood in the open-air restaurant, which sits just above the sea and has a tranquil lounge area with views of the palm fringed beach and dhows. All produce is bought daily from local markets. Matemwe has a multi-level swimming pool surrounded with lounge chairs overlooking the ocean. Freshly mixed cocktails are served at the poolside bar. Add massages and lazing in your hammock and you'll never want to leave. 6. White Sand Villas Nestled in nature amongst baobabs and exotic gardens, White Sand Villas has five one-bedroom villas, five two-bedroom villas and one presidential villa spread over 10 acres of tropical gardens and 200 meters of beachfront on Paje beach. The unique architecture of each villa has been specially designed to blend in with the natural beauty of the setting and strives to meet the highest standards of luxury. The beach resort offers amenities such as a fine-dining restaurant, a bar and a rooftop lounge, spa and a high-end watersports centre, which specializes in kitesurfing. All the villas have their own private pools, with a large swimming pool and smaller children’s pool available by the restaurant. A relatively new kid on the block, White Sand Villas has impressed with its luxury and comfort while also paying special attention to the preservation of the island’s rich culture.

  • 4 Incredible Underwater Activities in Mauritius

    By Matthew Sterne |

    The underwater world of Mauritius is so teeming with life and colour that it looks like a subterranean Mardi Gras. The extravagant fish, striking corals and enticing canyons are some of the world’s very best. The water is clear and the range of life so diverse and abundant that it can easily be considered a natural wonder. The good news is that this underwater wonderland is not only available to divers. Mauritius has some of the world’s most advanced technology, which allows everyone to enjoy a first-hand experience of the ocean. The options are excellent - there are family-friendly activities such as the glass bottom boat trip and the underwater submarine, and for the more adventurous there is an underwater walk as well as something that is enticingly called the underwater scooter. For the non-swimmers and non-divers out there, these are the fantastic options. 1. Glass Bottom Boat Trip Mauritius has a beautiful blue lagoon that extends about one kilometre seaward from the reef crest. The turquoise lagoon offers excellent swimming and snorkelling as the vibrant life is truly exceptional. The glass bottom boat explores the lagoon, which has an average depth of 5.5 meters. The clear water offers great visibility and a wonderful opportunity to see the reef, fish and the 50 different species of corals in the lagoon. 2. The Underwater Sea Walk This is perfect for the non-swimmers out there who would like to explore the reefs. Guests are taken to a platform slightly out to sea above a pristine coral area. Old-school headpieces are attached to the heads of guests, which ensure a constant supply of oxygen. Professional divers then accompany guests to the sea floor via a ladder. For novices, this may seem challenging but once they discover the spectacular neon-coloured fish and incredible corals below all apprehension quickly disappears. The unfamiliar feeling of floating in this spectacular world is one of the unique attractions in Mauritius. 3. Underwater Scooter Adventure This Hollywood-like machine is technically called a sub-scooter and is a “motorized scuba bike, which resembles a cross between a scooter and a midget submarine”. Another way to think of it is as an underwater jet ski. Crazy, I know. Each person gets their own scooter to ride and puts their head and shoulders within a clear dome. The air supply is constantly replenished from a scuba tank connected to the scooter allowing riders to breathe normally. The rider’s body is immersed in the water, but their head remains dry inside the dome, allowing you to breathe easily, remain dry and able to see everything clearly. Riders pilot the machine themselves and can dive to a depth of 10 metres. 4. Submarine Trip Underwater walks and scooters are cute but plunging down 35 metres in a real submarine is a whole new story. The popular submarine trip visits a shipwreck, explores the coral reefs and enables close encounters with a wide range of fish species. The adventure stirs up whimsical comparisons to National Geographic explorers and the comparison seems genuine when you descend into the ocean from the platform into the deep sea. The pilots are informative and, with each passenger given their own viewing platform, the exotic underwater world provides a spectacular show. For information on how to make a trip to this underwater Promised Land, contact us now.

  • A Guide to the Exquisite Indian Ocean Islands

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Even for those experienced travellers it can be tricky to completely discern between all the Indian Ocean islands. If you struggle to tell the difference between the Maldives and Mauritius or your sea shells from your Seychelles then this is for you. Each island enjoys its own unique attractions and qualities and all are worth visiting in their own right. To help you tell which one appeals specifically to you we crafted this special guide. MAURITIUS Islands: 1 (3 other islands form part of the Republic of Mauritius) Population: 1.3 million Area: 2,040 km2 Best time to visit: April – June, September – December Activities: Scuba Diving, Deep Sea Fishing, Surfing & Hiking Mauritius is considered the ideal island getaway. Postcard perfect beaches and world-class resorts ensure that this palm-fringed oasis of beautiful beaches, coral reefs and tropical rainforests is immensely popular. Mauritius has a number of destinations, each offering a unique experience. Many travellers head north to Grand Baie, a seaside village and large beautiful bay that's popular with tourists. The west coast is sheltered with calm waters while the east coast is rougher with a rocky coastline. The south is the least developed with more stretches of wild nature and offers a secluded getaway. There is a wide variety of accommodation on the island - you can choose from rustic retreats, luxury lodges or five-star hotels. MOZAMBIQUE Islands: 2 Archipelagos Population: 25 million Best time to visit: June - October Activities: Fishing, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling   Mozambique is fast becoming one of southern Africa's premier beach destinations and for good reason too. Its spectacular 2,500km coastline plays host to beaches of indescribable beauty, white silky sands, tropical warm waters and an array of fishing communities. Parts of it are still off the beaten track and offers travellers the opportunity to lounge on secluded beaches with no people or buildings in sight. Mozambique has two collections of islands - the Bazaruto and Quirimbas Archipelagos. The Bazaruti Archipelago is number of islands scattered off the coast of Vilanculos. The archipelago is now a national park so the marine reserve is protected and offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. Deep in the northern reaches of Mozambique, the Quirimbas Archipelago is one of the world's most remote beach destinations. This vision of paradise contains a collection of over 30 islands off the coast of Pemba. These islands stretch for over 250km from Ilha Tecomaji in the north to Ilha Mefunvo in the south. These two archipelagos are blissful destinations and provide the perfect way to cap off an African holiday. MALDIVES Islands: 26 atolls, 1190 coral islands Area: 298 km2 Population: 340,000 Best time to visit: December - April Activities: Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Beach Relaxing Maldives is your quintessential island paradise of powder-white beaches, crystal-clear turquoise water and just enough palm trees to string up a few hammocks. The richness and variety of the marine life are astonishing with the Maldives being home to some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. The warm underwater playground is home to beautiful coral labyrinths and a dizzying array of life from tropical fish to turtles and even whale sharks. As the Maldives possess some of the best beaches in the world it is a popular romantic holiday destination. Every resort in the Maldives is its own private island, and with over 100 to choose from the only problem is selecting where you want to stay. REUNION Islands: 1 Area: 2,511 km2 Population: 850,000 Best time to visit: All year Activities: Hiking, Canyoning, Rafting, Paragliding, Mountain Biking This French enclave has a range of cultural influences but the real star of the show is the incredible rugged landscape that holds stunning forests, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes and beaches. It is an outdoor lover’s ideal destination as the wide range of activities allow visitors the opportunity to see this beautiful island from the land, sea, river or air. Considered a little off the track compared to the likes of the more well-known islands, this island of adventure offers non-stop excitement for intrepid travellers. Reunion deserves the nickname is has earned of “Little Hawaii”. SEYCHELLES Islands: 115 Area: 459km2 Population: 89,000 Best time to visit: All year Activities: Island hopping, Scuba Diving, Snorkelling  The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands of white sand beaches and tropical forest with pristine coral reefs that hold an abundance of tropical fish. Towering palms frame rustic retreats, which open up onto this unspoiled getaway. The Seychelles is ideal for island hopping. This is a fantastic experience and a very popular way to see the different islands either via plane, cruise or private yacht. The major destinations are Mahe Island, which is the main island, Praslin Island and La Digue Island which is smaller and more remote. ZANZIBAR Islands: 2 Main islands, Unguja and Pemba, with many smaller islands Area: 2,461 km2 Population: 1 million Best time to visit: June - February Activities: Watersports, Cultural and Culinary Tours in Stone Town Only 40kms from the Tanzanian mainland, Zanzibar is at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The influence on the culture, cuisine and architecture is evident in Stone Town especially and it is this aspect of Zanzibar that makes it the most interesting Indian Ocean destination. Zanzibar also offers some of the world's best beach resorts. And then of course there are the beaches of Zanzibar, which are perfect for anyone who simply wants to enjoy a lazy and luxurious beach vacation. Zanzibar and its outlying islands are home to some of the finest beaches in East Africa and offer a fantastic option as a way to end a safari on the mainland. MADAGASCAR Islands: 1 main island (4th biggest in the world), with 250 smaller ones Area: 587,041 km2 Population: 22 million Best time to visit: May – October Activities: Hiking, Snorkelling, Filled with a spectacular array of amazing wildlife and ringed by stunning beaches, Madagascar is an entirely unique holiday destination. Roughly the size of Texas or France, this haven for tropical fauna and flora is one of the world's premier conservation areas possessing thousands of endemic species. Madagascar is home to strange and alluring lemurs, magnificent baobabs, fascinating reptiles, soul-stirring landscapes and pristine beaches. This incredibly diverse land has 5,000km of coastline, 450km of barrier reef and 250 islands. Divers will relish the chance to see rays, whale sharks, reef sharks and more, while snorkelers will be awed by the dynamic colour and vitality of the corals, turtles and fish. Madagascar’s uniqueness and diversity ensure that it holds a special place in the hearts of all who visit it. For further information please don't hesitate to contact us.

  • The Ultimate Guide to an East African Safari

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Right, you are an avid reader of National Geographic, your TV is set to the Discovery Channel and you’ve seen Out of Africa more times than any other movie. So you finally decide to tick your greatest dream off of your list and go on a safari in East Africa. But where do you start? How do you get around? And what time of year is best? In this guide, we will discuss the big questions that first-time visitors to East Africa face, the different options available and how to make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime trip. HOW TO GO One of the first things you will need to decide on is how you are going to get around. There are four options available; scheduled, road, fly-in or a mix. Scheduled A scheduled trip is one where you can join a group with a maximum of seven people where you will share the vehicle and driver-guide costs between you and the group. This is the most affordable way of travelling. This scheduled safari is done by road with a predetermined route and no flexibility. With a scheduled safari, you will save on costs but will be limited as you have to follow a set itinerary and stay at predetermined lodges. Road The second option is to do a private safari by road where it is only you and your travel party in the vehicle with your personal driver-guide. This is a more expensive way of doing it but then you have the flexibility to stay at different lodges and you get to determine which national parks you would like to visit. Fly-in The third way is to fly into the national parks (or as close to the national parks as you can in some cases) and then be met and transferred by the lodge's vehicle to the lodge. The game drives are then conducted in the lodge’s safari vehicles. This is the most convenient and allows you to see the most variety of lodges. Mix You are also able to customise your trip in a way that it is a mix between a private road safari and flying. WHERE TO GO East Africa is an unbelievably rich region of abundant wildlife and fantastic wildernesses. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda all possess their own unique wonders. Africa’s tallest mountains, biggest lakes and richest savannahs are prominent features, but there is an almost infinite supply of attractions on offer to visitors. These are just a few of the region’s chief attractions; The Great Migration in the Masai Mara and Serengeti The vast Serengeti–Mara ecosystem, shared by both Kenya and Tanzania, is home to the largest concentration of large mammals on earth and plays host to “The Greatest Show on Earth”, The Great Migration. The Masai Mara is situated in the south-eastern corner of Kenya while the Serengeti is in the north of Tanzania. Both of these incredible parks offer great viewing at any time of year due to the abundance of the wildlife and immensity of the parks. Gorilla Trekking The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda are the two premier places in the world to come into contact with the magnificent and endangered mountain gorilla. Trek through the lush and ecologically diverse rainforests to enjoy an experience with these remarkable creatures. Ngorongoro Crater Africa’s Garden of Eden, the Ngorongoro Crater, is a natural amphitheatre which plays host to a procession of wild animals. This unique and fascinating place is the world's largest unbroken caldera which was formed when its volcano top erupted, leaving fertile plains in its place. Before this happened, it was actually the highest mountain in Africa, towering over the nearby Kilimanjaro. Mount Kilimanjaro From its snow-capped peak to elephants and giraffe basking in the forests and plains below, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the truly iconic images of Africa. Wild animals roam the plains below the dormant volcanic mountain while adventurous hikers attempt to summit the roof of Africa. Zanzibar Zanzibar Island is a dream destination. With a fascinating history, the mesmerising Stone Town and stunning beaches, Zanzibar offers visitors an ideal holiday destination. A popular way to end a safari is to spend it on one of Zanzibar’s magnificent beaches or untouched islands along the Indian Ocean. WHEN TO GO The seasons are fairly complex in East Africa and deciding on when to go depends on what safari experience you would like. There are two rainy seasons in the northern circuit of Tanzania and Kenya. One from November to December, and another from March to May. July to October is the most popular time to visit these areas, but it should be noted that there is a considerable benefit to travelling in the off-season period. The reserves are much less crowded, especially the popular Ngorongoro reserve, which allows for much better and easier access to the animals. The Great Migration Each year around 1.5 million wildebeests and 300,000 zebras – along with other antelope - gather up their young and start their long trek from Tanzania's Serengeti Plains, further north to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. The animals cross the plains and rivers in search of food and water as the seasons change. This is considered the main attraction of the migration - the spectacular sight of thousands of animals galloping across the plains and fording the raging, crocodile-infested rivers. These river crossings are best seen between July and September. The animals actually cross back and forth continuously between the two areas during this time. In September, the animals cross back into the Serengeti. After September, there is still a tail end of the migration which lags behind the main herds. If you are late you can still hope to catch the last of them.  The animals then go back down to the Serengeti plains from where they came. In January and February, the annual rains hit the Serengeti allowing the female wildebeest herd to start giving birth. By March or April, the area has dried out and become desolate again so the massive grouping of animals are forced to move northwards towards Lake Victoria where they begin the mating season. After this, they once again head back towards the Masai Mara around July and attempt the river crossings once again, and so the cycle continues. In Tanzania, the best time to witness the migration is probably in February and March. The animals are grazing now and can be seen in their immense numbers. It is good for seeing the animals give birth and to witness the baby animals find their feet. It is at this time that the predator activity is at its highest too. Below is an animation of the general pattern of the migration. You will notice the clockwise motion of the herds and their locations at the different time of year. Kenya Kenya has an incredible array of excellent parks and the best time to visit these would be during the dry seasons -- January through March and July through October. At that time of year, the climate is mild and dry and the game viewing is at its peak. The animals gather in large numbers around the water holes, rivers and lakes, so they are easier to find. The vegetation is also less lush which allows the animals to be seen easier from a distance. As we said earlier though, the off-seasons can be equally rewarding. Tanzania June to November is Tanzania's main dry season and is the best time for general game viewing. That is also the best time to see the Great  Migration in Kenya and the two can be easily incorporated into one itinerary. Tanzania has two different circuits with differing weather patterns. In the south, there is one rainy season, from November to March. The perfect time to visit is during the June to November dry season as the animals tend to congregate around permanent water and it isn't so hot and humid. In the north, there are two rainy seasons, from November to December and from March through May. The heavy rains fall in April and May, and the lesser rains in November and December. When the heavy rains fall the roads get washed out and the animals become harder to find. Uganda Gorilla trekking in Uganda is a year-round activity but when you're hiking the rainforests it will be more enjoyable to go in the drier and cooler months of January and February and again from June to September. Although rain is likely all year round, the rainy seasons (March-April and October-November) make the trek up to the gorillas particularly difficult. Rwanda Like Uganda, gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done all year although there are times that are more suitable than others. The best time to visit Rwanda for a gorilla trek is during the short dry season from mid-December to early February or over the long dry season months of June to September. These periods offer the easiest hiking conditions and the lowest malaria risk. DIFFERENT TOUR OPTIONS Classic Kenya - From the open plains of Masai Mara, the shimmery pink waters of Lake Nakuru and the swamps of Amboseli, this safari takes in three of the most picturesque regions in Kenya. It also provides the perfect opportunity to spot the Big 5 and to capture some diverse scenery. Dee’s Ultimate Tanzania Experience - Experience the phenomenal Serengeti Migration and Ngorongoro Crater and then depart wildlife central to laze on the white sand beaches of Zanzibar Island. Dee's luxury 12-day extravaganza has it all! East African Explorer - This is a 13-day scheduled tour that visits the best that an East Africa safari has to offer. In Kenya, the tour visits the Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru and Amboseli National Park. The tour then crosses over into Tanzania where you will visit Lake Manyara with views over the Great Rift Valley, enjoy the abundant wildlife of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and finish the tour at the elephant rich Tarangire National park. Landy’s Tanzanian Sky Safari  - This spectacular fly-in romp through Tanzania’s premier game reserves provides the ultimate Tanzanian extravaganza of unparalleled wildlife and landscapes capped off with a stint on a secluded island paradise. Dianne’s Ugandan Expedition - Dianne’s tour takes you into the lush rainforests of Uganda to come in close contact with the magnificent endangered mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. The tour also visits the Big 5 and the world-famous, tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park. East Africa Tours - To find out more about different tour options available go here. Each person and trip to Africa is unique. To get the best out of your trip, we recommend that you speak to one of our expert consultants who will be able to help you customise your own East African safari. Once all is said and done maybe you will be the one appearing on the pages of the next National Geographic. Check out short video below that captures East Africa's greatest attractions. Related Articles The Great Migration | A Kenyan Adventure Rhino Africa Visits Singita Grumeti The Top 5 Things To Do in Uganda

  • The Most Endangered Mammal of Them All

    By Matthew Sterne |

    Every family has one. The black sheep that the rest of the clan hasn't quite figured out. Outliers exist in the animal kingdom too and among primates, there is no contest of who earns the title: lemurs.  These endearing creatures are known to digress from the established practices of their kind. A perfect example is the fat-tailed dwarf lemur who bucks trends by gorging on fruit, insects and flowers, storing fat in their ballooning tails so that, when food is scarce, they can sink into a hibernation that no other primate enjoys. And when this little creature hibernates, it does it proper job of it; recent research has shown that they are the only known animals to fall fully asleep during their hiatus. Continuing the pattern of offbeat lifestyles, the ring-tailed lemurs relish in a pastime that - much to Baz Lurhamnn's disapproval - we humans also indulge in: sunbathing. These charismatic fellows resemble goofed yogis, warming up in the morning light. In their leaders too, lemurs defy the norm by flipping the standard on its head and adopting a matriarchal structure in their tight-knit families. They've also got some habits that are just plain weird - the ring-tailed males partake in 'stink fights', using their tails as a conduit to disperse scent at their opponents. Having mastered the art of intense looking without really seeing, lemurs are also not afraid of having a little starring match whenever the mood strikes. The sifaka lemurs maintain the quirky habits of their counterparts with their graceful - and very odd - dancing. With their array of eccentricities it is no surprise that their Latin inspired name translates to 'haunters', giving them the reputation of 'the spirits of the night'. In short, lemurs let their freak flag fly and for that we love them. A map showing the whereabouts of lemurs on the globe is a waste of space; five empty continents and then - all lit up in red - an island floating in the Indian Ocean. It’s not a waste of time though because the depiction demonstrates the scarcity of habitat - the absolute dependency on this small piece of land. Of the 103 species that live in Madagascar, a staggering ninety one percent are considered threatened, earning lemurs the eerie title of the world’s most endangered mammal. The tropical forests that they call home continue to be encroached upon by illegal logging and hunting. Their cuteness is also partly responsible for their downfall as some are snatched from their natural habitats to become reluctant participants in the pet industry. With the odds stacked overwhelmingly against them, you may think that hope for their survival is dwindling, but you'd be wrong. To halt the looming extinction of lemurs, a task team of some of the world’s leading experts was assembled to put together a three year action plan to turn the crisis around. According to this panel, the best chance for lemurs' survival rests in a combination of ecotourism and conservation efforts. Similar strategies have been used with great success in Rwanda and Uganda in the promotion and protection of their mountain gorillas. Visitors to the island have the ability to create the economic incentive necessary for local communities to get behind the protection of lemurs. The injection of funds from increased tourism will also help to maintain, manage and increase the number of the protected areas in Madagascar. The strategy appeals to us because Madagascar is one of our favourite destinations not least because we’re constantly in awe of the abundance of wildlife that calls it home. And so, we’re throwing our efforts behind the drive to encourage more travelers to visit Madagascar, not only because we adore the 4th largest island in the world, but also because it will help our precious lemurs.

    Explore Madagascar in our video...

    If a beach holiday with an abundance of wildlife sounds like your ideal adventure then contact one of our travel consultants to start planning your trip to Madagascar. In choosing Madagascar as your next destination you will help kick-start the movement towards ecotourism. And if the stars from the animation film Madagascar are not enough to convince you that it’s worth a trip, these photographs should: [click to enlarge]

  • Africa Underwater: Our Top 10 Wreck Dives in Africa

    By Matthew Sterne |

    There is something terribly exciting about losing yourself in the crumbling carcass of a shipwreck. Each wreck is tale of storms and scuttled hulls. The treasure found in these skeletons are not gems and gold, but equally special with colourful coral, nudibranchs and vibrant marine life. We’ve adventured along Africa’s coast to find the most beautiful, most interesting shipwrecks. In case you missed the first installment of our Underwater Series - read Africa Underwater: Our Top 5 Reefs in South Africa.

    Here are our Top 10 Wreck-comended Dives in Africa:

    How deep is your love?

    Wreck diving is often subdivided into three types:
    • non-penetration - swimming over and around the wreck.
    • limited penetration - going into an overhead environment, subject to a limit of about 40 metres cumulative linear distance to surface (which really just means the depth plus length of penetration).
    • full penetration - going deeper into the overhead environment in the wreck.

    The Maori

    The Maori is located between Hout Bay and Llandudno, in the Cape Peninsula, about 75 metres offshore. The Maori’s history is a fascinating one - the ship was carrying a cargo of explosives, water piping and crockery from London to New Zealand when it crashed into the rocks in thick fog on 5 August 1909. Though the marine life is not as colourful as on other dives, The Maori is renowned for its historical value and divers can expect to see bits of porcelain and bottles still located in this sunken treasure.

     The Paquita

    Knsyna Heads is a magnificent setting for a scuba diving adventure. The Paquita, a German vessel, sank on the eastern side of the Knysna Heads way back in 1903. Divers exploring the Paquita wreck can go as far as 16 metres below the surface. The wreck remains in excellent condition. Its iron plates still glimmer brightly and its anchors are clearly visible, despite sitting at the bottom of the ocean for over a century. Divers can expect to see the famous Knysna seahorses, nudibranchs, blacktails and an assortment of other fish.


    No, we’re not talking about crabs this time. Scuttling is the act of deliberately sinking a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull. This can be achieved in several ways—valves or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with force or explosives. Scuttling is often done to provide an artificial reef for divers and marine life.

    Smitswinkel Bay Wrecks

    The wrecks in Smitswinkel Bay off the Cape Peninsula were scuttled by the navy to form artificial reefs, a sort of haven for divers. And what a haven it is!  You will find the SAS Transvaal and SAS Good Hope - former navy frigates, the Rockeater - a diamond dredger, which lies deep (at 36m) and boasts an abundance of life and colour; and two fishing trawlers - The Princess Elizabeth and The Oratava.  Teeming with fish, nudibranch and coral life, the wrecks are fairly deep, which means that artificial light is needed to see the wonderful colours of the marine life.

    The Produce

    The Produce was travelling from Durban, South Africa, headed south when it struck the Aliwal Shoal in 1974. The old cargo vessel was allegedly thought to be carrying molasses. The Produce is 119m long and lies facing North. The vessel is home to a host of Giant Brindle Bass, which are massive fish about 3m long, and 1.5m wide – spotting one of these giants is a treat in itself. This dive is considered to be the crowning jewel of the Aliwal Shoal dive sites on a good day.

     The Klipfontein

    The Klipfontein shipwrecked off the coast of Mozambique in 1953 after hitting a reef off Zavora beach. With a depth of between 34m and 52m, Klipfontein lies about 6km offshore, roughly halfway between the deep offshore reef system and the red and white sands system. In her prime she was 160m long but split in two on her descent into the depths. Both parts of the wreck offer stunning deep water artificial reef dives. It's definitely worth a dive. [caption id="attachment_15959" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Exploring The Klipfontein[/caption]

    SS Paraportiani

    The SS Parapotiani is a fascinating dive. The 300 ft-long cargo vessel lies in less than 60 feet of water, off the Panza Reef at the southern tip of Pemba Island, Zanzibar. What makes this dive unique is that fact that the ship's stern is still largely intact and her broken superstructure is now embedded in the sand. This is a shallow dive and perfect for novice divers. The skeleton of this vessel is alive with elegant lionfish, colourful anemone and starfish who have made the reef their home.

    Ennerdale wreck

    Ennerdale Wreck lies off the coast of Mahé - the largest island in the Seychelles.  She went down in 1970 when she struck a pair of uncharted granite pinnacles off Mahé island. This is a tricky dive, but worth the challenge and recommended for more advanced divers. With a maximum depth of around 30m, the site is known for its abundance and variety of tropical fish and marine life, just waiting to be explored.

    Djabeda Wreck

    The Djabeda wreck is a Japanese fishing boat, sunk just off the Coin de Mire (Gunner's coin) Island on the north coast of Mauritius in 1998.  The wreck has been only slightly damaged over the years and debris can be seen strewn across the sandy ocean bed. The vessel is approximately 44m long, 10m high and 5m wide and stands upright in a maximum of 34m depth. As part of the dive you will pass some wreck parts, some of which are kept safe by giant morays. Look out for the huge anchor. On the dive you are likely to see an amazing coral garden rich with soft corals, schooling fish, king fish, moray eels, trigger fish, stone fish, lion fish, parrot fish, leaf fish and sea slugs - and if you're lucky barracuda, sting rays and dolphins.

     Stella Maru

    The Stella Maru is a Japanese trawler that was sunk in 1987 by the Mauritius Conservation society to create an artificial reef.  The Stella Maru wreck lies upright on a sand bottom, next to a rocky reef at an average depth of 23 metres. Unlike many other wrecks, the ship lies virtually intact on the ocean floor, offering divers a remarkable, unrivalled sight as they descend toward it. Other attractions are the giant moray eels and the number of bottom-dwelling creatures lying unseen around the wreck or in cervices and recesses in the coral patches surrounding it.


    For those looking for a nighttime dive, The Mitsio off Madagascar’s Nosy Be coastline is the ideal African wreck dive. Down at 25m, the wreck is home to throngs of lion and devil fire fish, arrow crabs and a dazzling honeycomb moray, hiding on the starboard side. It is a colourful, vibrant dive, as the coral growth on the wreck, which sank in 2008, provides a home to a plethora of species and an exceptional diving event. [caption id="attachment_15963" align="aligncenter" width="499"] Spectacular marine life awaits[/caption]
    Start your underwater safari today! Let Rhino Africa tailor-make your African holiday of a lifetime to suit your budget, needs and style. One of our experienced consultants will give you all the inside information to ensure you get the best experience possible. Get your flippers on and contact us today!