How to Visit Pemba Island Tanzania
Lush. Idyllic. Green. Unspoiled. Thick vegetation. These are some of the common words used to describe Pemba Island, of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, Tanzania. One of the most picturesque islands of East Africa is also a well-kept secret. Which means you’ll have it mostly to yourself. This is one of Pemba’s greatest draws- that it is quiet and almost untouched. The fact that most visitors choose to stay in Zanzibar, about 50 kilometres away, makes Pemba an even more attractive choice.
While at Pemba, start your trip from the Museum that’s situated in an 18th century fort. It is believed that the fort was built in the place of a Portuguese garrison from the 16th century. This visit is a good way to better understand some of the sights that you’ll see at Pemba. For example, places like Ras Mkumbuu. At the northwest of the main city of Chake Chake, this site is the remnants of an ancient settlement, an important bustling city on the coast. Here, you’ll see houses, tombs and a mosque. The religious edifice dates back to the 14th century and many of the walls from the building can still be seen.
If you head in a southeast direction from Chake Chake, you’ll get to another ruin, the Mkame Ndume Ruins. The place has a gory past; it was home to a cruel ruler. Now, its former grandeur is seen in the huge staircase made of stone that connects it to the ocean through a channel.
Zanzibar isn’t known for its rainforests, but it comes pretty close with the wildlife reserve of Ngezi. It’s a reminder of the massive indigenous forest that carpeted Pemba and is verdant territory. It’s thankfully protected by a reserve that spans 1476 hectares and is a dual canopy space- the sturdy vines of the trees are the perfect playground of the fun-loving vervet monkeys.
Staying with safe places, go to the Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary to see this large indigenous bat, the Pemba flying fox in large numbers. You’ll spot over 4000 of them hanging upside down in perfect contentment. They are left alone by the locals and live in harmony with the environment.
You can’t go to Pemba and not dive! Misali Island is the place to go to for some of the best diving experiences in this part of the world. Snorkelling is a feast for the senses and during the nesting season, turtles converge in the west of the island to bring life into the world. Fabulous coral reefs abound and the sight is nothing short of breath-taking. The island is also home to the rare and colourful Fischer’s turacos.
Pemba can be reached by boat from Dar es Salaam and Zanibar. The main port, Mkoani, is at the south of the island. The main airport is about 6 kilometres from Chake Chake and is called Pemba-Karume. Flights ply from and to Zanzibar and Dar.
Pemba is for those who want a holiday in clove-scented breezes and slow shifting sands. It’s perfect for a peaceful connection with nature in an idyllic slice of nature and its abundance.