As the first "capital” of Mafia, Chole was originally known as Chole Mjini (Chole town) while the main island was Chole Shamba, the farm. The first settlers, including Arabs and Indians, who came to be known as Shirazis, possessed slaves and there are still bitter handed-down memories of this period. In 1890 Germany took control of Mafia as a result of a purchase agreement with the Sultan of Oman and established the main house on the island called the German Boma. The ruins are prominent on the foreshore of the island. The German colonial government created Kilindoni in 1910-13 and Chole gradually withered as an economic centre, so many buildings have fallen into ruin.


The Chole Walk is a fascinating window on the traditional life of a peaceful and industrious village community, as well as an interesting visit with nature. Mafia was formed from sediments of the Rufiji River and it seems that Chole was blessed with more than its fair share of rich soils, so it is a lush and agriculturally productive “shamba”. In addition to all the plants to see there is a large colony of the Giant Flying Fox Pteropus madagascarensis comorensis,. Their fur is a beautiful russet colour, and some have a wing span of 1 m.


The Chole people have mastered many crafts such as boat building and rope-making from coconut fibre, and visitors can see these craftsmen at work. The Guide to Chole, which includes many historical and cultural notes, is available in the Gift Shop, and there is a map of the nature trail on Chole available from our Activities Desk. All proceeds from sale of the book go to the village development association.

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