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“Still wonderful”
Review of Chole Mjini Lodge

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Chole Mjini Lodge
Reviewed July 24, 2011

I have reviewed Chole Mjini before and have just been back for the third time, in a third tree house (no. 5 this time). As it is now managed by Afrika Afrika (though still owned by Anne & Jean de Villiers, who are often on the island). I thought it would be useful to review it again.

In a nutshell the management change had made little difference and there is little to add to my previous review, or what many others have said. It remains a magical, wonderful place with excellent service and food. If anything the menu seemed to me to be a little more varied, and there are now solar torches in the treee houses.

I should add that you may not think me completely independent, as this time I was visiting as Chairman of the Chole Mjini Trust Fund, which supports the wonderful development effort on the island.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled solo
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2  Thank Chimp_Watcher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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111 - 117 of 166 reviews

Reviewed April 19, 2011

Amazing tree houses, a really magical atmosphere. We had a romantic dinner for two between the ruins. You can opt in or out of communal eating. Food is great but understandably exclusively fish and sea food so worth checking if this is still the case before you go for a longer stay. All guests seem to be from London so a real homey feel! The new management are hyper friendly. Need to be OK with bugs and small furry mammals and even the odd lizard. The experience of a lifetime. Although there's no direct beach access, sea swimming is easy and loads of sunbathing options are available in sand dunes around the island. 

  • Stayed: January 2011
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Thank Zhivkod
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 25, 2011

After a short, small boat ride from Mafia Island to Chole Mjini I was greeted by a very enthusiastic Lyndsey, the manager of Chole. I traveled to the site with another couple who immediatly regretted not booking an extra day or two....even before seeing accomodations. The location is stunning though it is fronted by mangroves not a beach. The tree houses are nestled in old ruins and very private. The food centered around the catch of the day and was delicious.

Chole Mjini is not for everyone. The tree houses are just that, elevated about 1 story from the ground. You do have to walk out to catch the boats at low tide as there is no jetty. The shower and toilets are separated from the treehouse on ground level but are still private for each accomodation. I loved the outdoor shower with the ingenious water heater. There is no need to carry money so valuables can be stored in the office safe.

Previous reviews made mention of previous management strengths and weaknesses. Lyndsey, the new site manager is lovely, very helpful, full of interesting information....and not intrusive or overbearing. She has taken on her new role with real enthusiasm for ensuring guest expectations are met. Dinner with Lyndsey and the rest of the guests never failed to entertain.

I hope the new management only makes changes that are consistent with the current charm. Chole is a gem of a hideaway and the perfect place to relax. There are snorkel and dive trips available. The half day whale watching trip was a great experience. One companion was able to snorkel with the whale sharks and I had as much fun watching that as if I had been in the water myself.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled solo
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1  Thank Cardurg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2011

Deliciously laid-back and unfussy, but with lots of features which make you go Wow! The treehouses, dinner arrangements, the really friendly staff ... for those of you who are aware that the management has changed, fear not, Lindsay is lovely. She kept assuring us that there were many, very large monitor lizards, and despite keeping vigil so we could get a photo, we only saw one ... I think they were toying with us, because we saw fresh tracks on bottom of the treehouse stairs every day! No electricity, but never missed it. Ingenious outdoor shower in a bamboo thicket. No running water, but there was plenty to wash with. And a candlelit dinner under the magnificent night sky every night. And we went snorkelling and swam with whale sharks who obligingly stayed around till my husband could swim no more! The memories are going to keep me going on those cold, grey European days. Well worth the trip .. I am so glad that there are places like Chole Mjini, and that we stumbled upon it!

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled on business
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3  Thank NishaLeidschendam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2011

We spent 8 days at Chole Mjini over New Year and it was truly a unique experience! The treehouses were amazing, the food incredible and the overall trip was one of our most memorable ever. I think that the constant interaction that Jean and Anne (the owners) have with the guests only makes this place more special and their intimate knowledge of the island and its people increases your experience tenfold. Did I mention the food? Wow!
That said Chole Mjini is not for everyone and I think that you should be clear about where you are going if you decide to visit this lodge because if you are not fully informed, you could be disappointed. The island is alive - there are snakes, crabs, monitor lizards, mice, bugs and birds everywhere - if you are going to freak out at every insect, you are going to be unhappy. On of our highlights of the trip was dodging the hermit crabs to our room after dinner at night - there were literally everywhere! If you are expecting a beautiful beach and being able to swim from the lodge - this is not that case - at high tide you can swim through the mangroves to the open sea which is amazing! There is no beach as such but every day you can go on the dhow to the sandbar that appears at low tide. There is no electricity and we didn't miss it for a minute! Each night after dinner, my husband and I would lie on our deck and watch the stars (instead of TV!) - one night we counted 12 shooting stars :)
The diving was superb and Jean and Anne were very patient instructors and again their intimate knowledge of the reefs was amazing.
Dinner each night was in a different setting and you could choose whether you wanted to eat with other guests or on your own. Usually we would choose to be on our own but the group dinners were so much fun that we ended up eating with everyone all but 1 night. All the guests were like minded, interesting people and there for the adventure that Chole Mjini offers.
I think its a trip of a lifetime :)

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Nicci_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 24, 2010

in no particular order the following aspects were SUPERB
Hosts Jean & Anne
Accomodation
Diving
Hospitality
Food
Sunsets
My husband & I were at the lodge for 16 days , we tried sevaral differnt "houses" each of which had their own character, we reluctantly left and will definately return, there was not on e aspect of our stafy to ctiticise.thank you Jean & Anne for allowing us to share your vision.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank kymm0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 23, 2010

Dear fellow traveller,

This is a very special place. How many times can you sleep in a tree house in your life and have dinner among ancient ruins? The Island itself is very nice to walk around and it's great after a day of exploring to have a drink and watch the sunset in the bar that is run by the same resort with very friendly owners. It is a combination of luxury and adventure that is difficult to match. Can recommend it to true travellers!

Kind regards,
Alex and Ann

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank alexvanderkleij
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chole Mjini Lodge

Address: Chole island | P.O Box 20, Mafia Island 0637, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Pwani Region > Mafia Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Mafia Island
Price Range: $196 - $742 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Chole Mjini Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ever aspired to live like the Swiss Family Robinson, delve into The Jungle Book or do you hold a secret desire to be Indiana Jones ......Chole Mjini is a unique eco-lodge in an stunning destination offering secluded tree house accommodation and a complete retreat from the pace of modern life...Live with less, experience more...With no electricity or running water, no radio or TV, no cars or sirens, just the purity of the natural ebb and flow of African island living. For true adventurers who are looking for a tropical island holiday with barefoot luxury - this is the perfect chance to escape. Wake up to bird calls and the haunting call to prayer and as dawn floods your tree house and the light breeze billows your mosquito net enjoy your morning cup of tea or coffee, which was winched up to your tree house in a basket. During the day take advantage of one of the largest variety of exciting excursions; from snorkeling, dhow sailing, SCUBA diving, fishing, whale sharks, whales and turtle hatchings to sandbar trips, exploring ruins, walks in the forest and sunset cruises. Or simply take the opportunity to relax, read a book and watch the world go by from your swinging hammock under the shade of a frangipani tree. And, after experiencing our ingenious private outdoor showers, unwind with one of our island cocktails while watching the nightly migration of the native fruit bats. Lit by hurricane lamps and a canopy of stars enjoy either a convivial communal dinner with your fellow guests or a romantic dinner in various authentic locations around the Lodge. Go to sleep with the sounds of the ocean set against the still of the African night and the thoughts of the lazy day to follow. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Chole Mjini Hotel Mafia Island

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