Best time to visit Zanzibar

Humpback Whale Watching Season in Zanzibar

Have a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these majestic creatures in Zanzibar!

Best time: July–November

Humpback Whale Watching Season

Zanzibar is an ideal site for humpback whale watching. From July to November these majestic creatures appear around Mafia Island (in Chole Bay).

Humpback whales can be up to 55 metres in length and usually dark in colour with distinctive nodules. You will know them by their frequent acrobatic behavior—see how they splash and breach! They sometimes even swim up to boats full of tourists and behave very friendly. So don't miss your chance to see these gentle giants in person.

Practical info

What time of the year do humpback whales appear in Zanzibar and where can tourists see them?

Humpback whales can be seen in Zanzibar from July to November. Tourists can witness these creatures around Mafia Island, particularly in Chole Bay, which is close to Zanzibar. The whales are active during this period with lots of breaching and splashing. Tourists should book their whale watching tours early in the season to maximize their chances of seeing these gentle giants. Show more

What are the physical characteristics of humpback whales?

Humpback whales are among the biggest mammals in the world, averaging 15 meters (50 feet) in length. They can be as long as 18 meters (60 feet) and weigh up to 40 tons. Humpback whales are dark in color and have nodules all over their body. Tourists enjoy watching these friendly creatures swim, breach, and splash when they get close to the boats. Show more

What is an ideal location for tourists to take part in humpback whale watching activities close to Zanzibar and what kind of tours do local operators offer?

Chole Bay around Mafia Island is a popular location for tourists to witness humpback whales breaching and splashing. During the whale-watching season, tourists can participate in eco-friendly boat tours offered by local operators. The tours last for about three hours and provide an opportunity to watch whales in their natural surroundings. It is essential to comply with strict guidelines to avoid disturbing the whales and damaging the environment. Show more

What is the behavior of humpback whales when they are near boats with tourists, and what precautions should the tourists take?

Humpback whales are known for their friendly behavior towards whale watching boats during the season. They may come up close to the boats, make circles around them, slap their tails, or even breach. Tourists should avoid touching the whales or causing any disturbance. It is crucial to follow a responsible and eco-friendly approach, as recommended by tour operators, such as no littering, avoiding sudden movements or loud music, and keeping a safe distance from the whales. Show more

What steps can tourists take to ensure they are participating in humpback whale watching activities in an environmentally-friendly manner?

Tourists should seek an eco-friendly tour operator and follow the provided guidelines to ensure sustainable tourism. Following the recommended steps on board the tour boats, such as avoiding flash photography or throwing anything overboard, is essential. Choosing a tour boat that has eco-friendly engines or even kayaks would also provide a sustainable whale watching experience. Tourists should be mindful and avoid causing disturbance to the whales and their habitat. Show more

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