July is the perfect month to watch turtles hatching in Mafia Island. Sea turtles have been nesting on Tanzanian beaches for over 150 million years.

Between June and September hundreds of baby turtles make their instinctive scramble from the white sandy beaches to the warm Indian Ocean waters. After 30 years, the female hatchlings will return to the very same beach to lay their own eggs and start this incredible cycle all over again.

Those travelling to Mafia are fortunate enough to be able to witness the start of this beautiful journey from the East facing beach of Juani, an
island bursting with nature from the tiniest of butterflies to the large, majestic baobab trees.

This exceptional experience is made possible by a Tanzanian NGO called Sea Sense. Set up in 2001, they have been working in partnership with the local communities to promote the importance and protection of marine turtles and their habitats through various projects.

For those lucky enough to join Sea Sense the adventure starts with a lovely Dhow trip across Chole Bay to the breathtaking western side of Juani Island. On arrival, a 40 minute walk across the island passes through a quaint Swahili village teaming with smiling faces and polite greetings from all encountered. During this walk nature’s true beauty becomes more apparent in the form of towering trees and acres and acres of green foliage leading up to turtle nests hidden below African sand.

Sea Sense assist the turtles by removing sand and other debris that have protected the delicate eggs from various predators. The moment everyone has waited for arrives, and the little hatchlings emerge from the sand, scrambling out of their nest, flapping their fins vivaciously, racing to reach the surf and begin the next step of their incredible journey. With the image of the baby turtles crawling across the beach the return home is accompanied by a beautiful Mafian sunset, a nice drink and smiles on all faces.

For more information on holidays to Africa, or holidays to see turtles hatching, please contact our Africa experts on 01285 650 011.

Thanks for reading

Illona Cross, Tanzania

Author: Illona Cross