and Gecko Nature Lodge

The Journey

where is Swahili divers?

We are in Pemba Island, in the east coast of Tanzanía, in Zanzibar Region. Pemba is located 5º south of the equator and 43º East of the Prime Meridien. It is 50 Nautical miles south of Mombassa and 25 miles off the East African Coast from Tanga. The Southern tip of Pemba is 22 miles from the Northern most tip of Pemba.


How to get to Tanzania

Traveling to Pemba is no longer an adventure as it used to be but still challenging for the novice. Even for a small island off the coast of East Africa we're more than usually off the beaten track.

Pemba Island is accessible by two international Gateways Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar Island. Daily flights to both destination by numerous international carriers have made travel much easier than it used to be. Zanzibar, our closest gateway is serviced regularly by FlyDubai, OmanAir, Qatar Irways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines, to name a few. Dar Es Salaam is accessible by the same flights in addition to numerous other airlines such as SAA, Swiss Air, Alitalia and numerous other European and Asian airlines.

Many visitors from Europe fly overnight into Dar Es Salaam to maximize their precious holiday time.

For US visitors British Airways, Qatar, Etihad, Emirates,South African, Ethiopian, among others operate excellent connections from the Continental American flights, and Canadian visitors.

There are so many choices, the decision is yours.



And on to Pemba...

As recently as the late 1980’s, reaching Dar es Salaam was the start of your problems. You had to seek passage on a Dhow that was calling at Pemba. Bad winds, storms, and the whim of the owner often changed the vessel's course. The journey would never take less than four days and often stretched to two weeks.

Happily things have changed quite a bit since then. There are now five daily flights by Cessna light aircraft by Zanair and Coastal Airlines to Chake Chake airport in Pemba.



Some things to note when going to Pemba

Travel Advice

  • Travel Insurance

I tis a Swahili Divers booking condition that all divers must be adequately insured for scuba diving. For all of our non diving guests it is always a good idea to consider travel insurance when traveling to distant destinations. Bags might be lost, flights might be delayed causing missed connections, etc. A good insurance policy will greatly relieve any stress involved and help you get your money's worth during the journey.

  • Entry formalities

Visas are required by most nationalities. They cost up to US $50 and are available in Tanzanian Missions around the globe. They are valid for three months. You must have a valid passport, an onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds. You should also carry a current Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate with you.

If there is no Tanzanian Mission in your country, you may purchase a visa on arrival at Dar es Salaam international airport.

Please do check these details as they are government regulations, and always subject to change.

  • Clothing

Travel light as it never gets cold in Pemba . Attire is very casual and formal wear is considered unnecessary and impractical.

For men slacks and Hawaiian type shirts for formal occasions. Shorts or light pants, loose shirts or T-shirts for normal wear. Sneakers, sandals or flip-flops for footwear.

For women light cotton dress, skirts or sarongs with blouses or t-shirts are the most comfortable way to dress.

In Pemba, ladies should dress conservatively in the street . It is considered very offensive for women to show their shoulders or thighs. These restrictions do not apply anywhere within the Resort or when diving and sunbathing on a private beach, but a wrap-around should be worn when leaving those areas. If you forget yours, one of our female members of staff can help you shop for one. (Another great experience).

  • Currency

The Tanzanian shilling is the official currency of Pemba and the rest of Tanzania.  We recommend that visitors bring U.S. dollars to pay for all tourist services in Zanzibar/Pemba/Mainland Tanzania. Swahili Divers is very happy to accept Euros and British Pounds as well as Dollars, although you will be invoiced in US$. There are no ATM’s in Pemba and currency exchange can be traumatic.

  • Language

KiSwahili is spoken by everyone, and English is also used in business and Tourism. On Zanzibar Gujurati and Hindi are sometimes spoken. Arabic can be heard in Dar and Zanzibar .

  • Communication

Most western companies have international roaming agreements with Tanzania and your phone will invariably work in Pemba. It won't however work at the resort as we are outside of the coverage area!  While in other parts of Pemba, you might want to purchase a local sim card. Celtel offers the best service in Pemba and Zantel is the cheapest. Our e-mail address is We have a wifi connection which is NOT excellent but works on and off :) . 

  • Custom allowances

Prohibited from import are certain plants, fruits, animals, and narcotics. Two bottles of liquor or wine, 20 cigars or 200 cigarettes may be brought in duty free. These are government regulations and we take no responsibility for their continued accuracy. Please seek advice from the nearest Tanzania Mission in your country.

  • Electricity

Pemba uses the same electrical standards as Britain.

  • Water

We recommend that you only drink the local mineral water that is available in the hotel 24 hours a day and at shops island wide. 

Health & Safety

  • Health Certification

The Tanzania Government requires a yellow fever certificate. Hepatitis, tetanus, and cholera jabs have been advised to us in the past.  Malaria is prevalent in East Africa and anti-malarial prophylaxis is advised. We advise you to seek professional medical advice in any medical matter.

  • Medical Facilities

Tanzania is a poor and underdeveloped nation. Pemba is one of the poorest corners of Tanzania. Tanzania is heavily reliant on foreign aid. Approximately 48% (at timeof writing) of Tanzania ’s GDP is aid. Subsequently our local medical facilities are sadly not up to international standards. The nearest hospitals that have international surgical and research standards are in Nairobi 700 kilometres away. Air evacuation is available in the daytime, but Chake Chake Airport has no runway lights and thus night time evacuations are not possible. (This process is excellent, but horrendously expensive; we strongly recommend Travel health insurance.)

Having said all of that, Chake Chake does have a reasonable hospital with good clean wards. We have visiting doctors from Swedish Rotary, UN doctors on detachment and the Ivo di Carneri Health Foundation. In emergency we can usually find one of these honourable people to assist.

In most cases, evacuation is done by insurance companies to your home country with a stabilizing stop in Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam has some very good hospitals that are very reasonably priced.

  • Dive Medical Facilities

The nearest hyperbaric re-compression chamber is in Likoni in Kenya. Evacuation to Kenya can be done by boat (where available) or aircraft. All divers are required by our booking conditions to have adequate hyperbaric-medical insurance that covers recreational scuba diving.

  • Ebola Virus- NO Risk to Tanzania

Some of you have asked us about the risks of Ebola infection in Tanzania. There are no known cases or Ebola in Tanzania. There are also no cases in neighbouring Zambia or Kenya. Ebola exists in three small pockets in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. These counties are 7000km from Tanzania. There are no airlinks and no contact between West Africa and Tanzania. The usual travel route route has via Europe. To put this in perspective, West Africa is 7000km from Washington DC and is well connected to the United States. There are more Ebola cases in the United States than there are in Eastern Africa.  Tanzania has not been idle however. The ministry if health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation  has set up scanners and screening at the only three international airports of the nation and the Namanga land border. This means that Tanzania is very easy to protect and remains very safe. We feel more concerned about travel to the US than we do about travel within Tanzania.We monitor this situation and of course will update this information if anything changes