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Africa Geographic Travel

Written by: Malcolm Ryen

I have just got back from Fanjove Private Island, which is in the Songo Songo Archipelago, off Kilwa on the southern Tanzania coast. My feeling was absolute amazement that this place is so little known! From clear blue waters to hatching turtles, the island is something that dreams are made of.

Here are just seven reasons you should consider visiting it.

1. It’s completely secluded

With only six carefully crafted bandas, the island is the epitome of a private oasis.




2. Fabulous empty beaches

Relax on the most beautiful beaches you can imagine, surrounded by nothing but nature. 



3. Snorkel in clear blue Indian Ocean waters

Malcolm Ryen, Chief Ecologist and one of the developers of the island as a Conservation Marine Park, has been snorkelling in Fanjove over the past 10 years, since he started the process of renting the island from the village of Songo Songo.



Malcolm says, “Not everybody knows that when we took over the island, its conservation status was not good at all, as the itinerant fishermen who were using it were very destructive. The corals were destroyed and there were no fish. The other day I was checking all the corals and was amazed to see how once dead coral has now come back to life. This is something that makes me proud, with the realisation that all the struggle and effort we went through in the past 10 years was worth the results. The colours of the sea life off the beach are stunning and teeming with fish of all kinds.”

4. It’s a turtle island

The island is a popular spot for turtles to nest and is a safe haven for hatching.



The video below was taken in July, when turtles were hatching on the beaches of the island.


5. You might get to swim with dolphins

With the change of the winds, some days the sea can be as flat as oil. The Swahili say it’s flat as a tarmac road. On days like this, the sea has given us some beautiful dolphins just in front of the beach, with both bottlenose and spinner dolphins much easier to see.


Some people have even had the opportunity to swim with dolphins themselves.


6. You could kayak with whales

The island offers beautiful still oceans to kayak in.


While out on the water, one group of kayakers came up close and personal with the local whales.


7. If you like to dive, this is the place to do it

The coral reef extends for 11km, which is mostly unexplored. Almost nobody has dived in the area. If you are up for new depth exploration, this is your chance. Visit the island and be an active part in the conservation adventure!

Here, tourism becomes active conservation of the environment and history. Fanjove is designed and built in order to protect the marine and terrestrial habitat.


By staying there, guests support the protection of this beautiful paradise. In fact, three percent of the income as well as an annual rent is donated to the community living on the main island of the Archipelago of Songo Songo for social development.

In exchange, the community has agreed not to fish in half of the 11 km of Fanjove coral reef, as well as to only use sustainable fishing methods. A beach management unit has been established and alternative sources of income have been provided to the villagers thanks to tourism.


Fanjove is uninhabited except for the thousands of birds, coconut crabs, and turtles. Book your own getaway to the private island with Adventure Camps.

Ndumu River Lodge
Adventure Camps

Adventure Camps has three fixed camps in the southern wilderness of Tanzania, as well as the only mobile safari and overland transfer operation in the area, who can take you where no-one else can go. We offer a genuine safari experience with few frills but rustic comfort.