Swimming with Whale Sharks – Tanzania
You have exclusive use of the Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve surrounding Thanda Island and a superb choice of water and marine activities. A boathouse full of equipment is yours to enjoy, and a boatman is dedicated to you as your personal guide.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
One of the most emotional and spectacular ocean wonders you can ever experience is being up close with a whale shark, which can grow to an astonishing 18 metres.
These absolutely harmless, gentle giants – the largest fish in the world – are an incredible part of the Thanda Island experience and in the area from October to March. You can either swim with them or you can view them from the luxury adventure vessel, ably commandeered by a trusted captain.
At the same time you’ll be invited to participate to the citizen science programme where the photographs that you take of the whale sharks can be uploaded to ecoocean.org and whaleshark.org. Photo identification of the whale sharks, each with a unique pattern or ‘fingerprint’, is used to study their little known feeding, migratory and breeding patterns. To retain your memories of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, the marine guides are equipped with GoPro cameras to record your time with the whale sharks.
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Wildlife, beaches, friendly people, fascinating cultures, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Mt Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar – Tanzania has all these and more wrapped up in one adventurous, welcoming package.
Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline is magical, with tranquil islands and sleepy coastal villages steeped in centuries of Swahili culture. Travel back in time to the days when the East African coast was the seat of sultans and a linchpin in a far-flung trading network extending to Persia, India and beyond. Relax on powdery beaches backed by palms and the occasional baobab; take in gentle, pastel-hued sunrises; immerse yourself in languid coastal rhythms; and sit beneath the billowing sails of a wooden dhow, listening to the creaking of its rigging.
More than almost any other destination, Tanzania is the land of safaris. Wildebeest stampede across the plains. Hippos jostle for space in muddy waterways. Elephants wander along seasonal migration routes and chimpanzees swing through the treetops. Throughout the country, there are unparalleled opportunities to experience this natural wealth: take a boat safari down the Rufiji River past snoozing crocodiles in Selous Game Reserve; watch giraffes silhouetted against ancient baobab trees in Ruaha National Park; sit motionless as waterbirds peck in the shallows around Rubondo Island; and hold your breath while a lion pads in front of your vehicle in Ngorongoro Crater.
Sending its shadow across Tanzania’s northern plains, Mt Kilimanjaro beckons visitors with its graceful, forested flanks and stately snow-capped summit. It is Africa’s highest peak and one of the world’s highest free-standing mountains. It is also home to the Chagga people, and to a wealth of birds and wildlife. Climbers by the thousands venture here to challenge themselves on its muddy slopes, rocky trails and slippery scree. The rewards: the thrill of standing at the top of Africa; magnificent views of Kilimanjaro’s ice fields; and witnessing the sunrise illuminating the plains far below.
Wherever you go in Tanzania, opportunities abound for getting to know the country’s people and cultures. Meet red-cloaked Maasai warriors. Spend time with semi-nomadic Barabaig near Mt Hanang. Experience the hospitality of a local meal and the rhythms of traditional dance. Chat and barter at local markets in the Usambara Mountains. More than anything else, it is the Tanzanian people – with their characteristic warmth and politeness, and the dignity and beauty of their cultures – that make visiting Tanzania so memorable. Chances are you’ll want to come back for more, to which most Tanzanians will say ‘karibu tena’ (welcome again).