"The whale shark experience rates as one of my top wildlife experiences of all time... Unbelievable!"

It is one of life's great privileges to swim alongside one of these gentle giants, and the season when these magnificent animals aggregate here is longer than anywhere else on the East African coast. Whale sharks are fascinating creatures: some live more than 100 years, reaching lengths of up to 20m and weighing in at 15 tons, yet they are totally harmless, feeding on enormous quantities of plankton that they hoover up as they swim. They occur in Mafia waters year-round but when the conditions are right they feed on the surface in the shallow waters on the western side of the island, close to Kilindoni and they are therefore easy to find. In this 4-month season, sometime between November and April, we visit to swim with them. Our marine encounters division, Kitu Kiblu (see www.kitukiblu.com for more information) organizes half-day trips, traveling first by boat and car to Kilindoni, then embarking on a 3-4 hour cruise before returning again by road and boat to Chole Mjini.