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“Spectacular diving, comfortable lodge and a great team, unbeatable!”
Review of Gecko Nature Lodge

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Gecko Nature Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Xcalak, Mexico
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Spectacular diving, comfortable lodge and a great team, unbeatable!”
Reviewed March 14, 2011

I came to Pemba for the diving. I have done 1300plus dives, I've been diving for 30 years. I live on a barrier ref and i know my diving. The diving was spectacular. Theses guys were pros. If you can get Raf to lead your dives, you will not go wrong. He knows the reefs like no other.

These guys are the best.

The lodge is wonderfully comfortable. Cisca runs a great show, she also runs kayak tours, to my shame I kept diving and missed out on this. This is not a 5 star barefoot luxury lodge. It is a rustic comfortable divers lodge. No airs and graces here.

The food is great- two healthy choices at every meal. I wanted no dairy- reduced fat and it just happened.

I

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Miguel81a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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194 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
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English first
El Gouna, Egypt
1 review
Reviewed January 11, 2011

My partner and I were both living on Zanzibar at the time teaching and we heard of this little hotel with superb diving on the north of Pemba, so we thought that we would contact them and see if we could organise a little trip. Right from the start we were impressed with the professional and helpful email responses and advice we received from one of the directors - Cisca. A few weeks later we were on a little plane heading for Pemba. On arrival we were very pleasantly surprise with a freebe upgrade as they had an available double room - not a bad way to start a trip!

The hotel itself is described as basic but we were both very happy with our accomodation, it was clean, functional and the beds were large with some good mosquito nets (even though there aren't as many mosquitos as on Zanzibar). Food was also excellent and plentiful. It is not the Ritz but then again the Ritz could not function in such a trully unique and remote location. The simple fact that it functions and in our opinion very well is a testament to the people who dreamed up of this location and work daily for us holiday makers.

Now to the deciding part of any diving holiday, the diving itself. Well, in a few words: walls, drift dives, coral, fish, nudibranchs........ hell yes! The most interesting diving that I have done and that includes the Red sea.

Ok lets put all this into context. We both enjoyed this little trip so much that we were back a couple of months later to do our dive master courses. So I think it is safe to say that after 4 months and 140 dives this place will hold a few special memories for the both of us.

So to summarise. It will be different, it will be unique, it will be an 'African' trip ohh and yes it will be really good!

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank sa_heath
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
35 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed October 28, 2010

Best Diving ever, safe, fun knowledable dive guides who take safety very seriously. Lodge is perfect for the location> I will return

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank BeachBanditt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
England
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed September 30, 2010

This year I was traveling around Tanzania with a few friends and we all had the best week at this resort.

We arrived on Pemba by Plane and were met at the airport by Eddie - one of the Drivers for Swahili Divers - he was fantastic and very chatty which made the trip up to the lodge a very enjoyable one. Please note that Pemba is a very remote island so anyone expecting a quick airport transfer to the lodge would be mistaken!

As we arrived the General Manager came out to meet us with a fresh juice and then showed us to our rooms. We were staying in the 'dorm' which was made up of 3 bunk beds. The room was perfect very simple but elegant with everything that you needed. And the beds were very comfortable - one of the most comfortable places I stayed on my whole trip! We had a look in at some of the double rooms during our stay and they were in the same style, very elegant with huge double beds!

There is one central bar and restaurant which has just been redone. The bar was always fully stocked with the local beers but also had most spirits. The food was always excellent with lots of amazing fish dishes. We had three meals a day and you all eat together with the other guests which makes for a very friendly atmosphere. You also eat with the manager and the dive instructors which is fantastic and again adds to the very friendly atmosphere of the resort. They also all have some fascinating stories to tell which can make an interesting night.

I learned to dive at this resort and had a great time. The diving instructors were great, really friendly and helpful and always around to answer questions. The diving off Pemba was fantastic, really good visibility and lots of amazing dives. After achieving my PADI open water I went diving in Zanzibar but it was never as good as in Pemba.

Aside from the great food and fantastic staff and location is truly exceptional. Every night we would watch the sun go down over sea with the dhows sailing back home after the days fishing. Often there would be a fire lit close to the beach where you could sit and share stories. As you are on a very remote island there are fantastic stars which light up the night. A really really beautiful place.

There are lots of other activities on offer for those who don't dive or who feel like a break from the diving. To name a few there is fishing, canoeing, snorkeling and lots of walks along the beach or into the near by forest.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It is a great place to dive but also to relax and to be looked after by some of the best staff. When you do stay please remember that you are on a remote island and sometimes things go wrong. But the staff will always do everything they can to help you – I had a problem with my flights which within the day was sorted for me. All you have to do is relax and enjoy yourself at the only place to come stay whilst you are on Pemba.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Henners088
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed September 28, 2010

I was there for 4 nights in 2009 and found the staff civil and helpful. The accomodation was spacious and clean - I really liked the natural air conditioning and the bathroom that was exposed to the heavens. Deep deep sleep. Really tasty food too - they have the same chef going back several years and he knows how to treat coconut and fresh fish. Diving was always stimulating with no other diveboats around.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Leytonstonian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Hague, The Netherlands
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed September 28, 2010

KSBL is a great place to stay, but don't expect a luxurious resort. Pemba is a not yet very developped island, and especially the northern part is hard to reach. But if you love spending time in an unspoiled environment with nice people (the owners Ciska & Raf as well as their staff, but also the other guests) KSBL is the place for you.
We stayed here for diving along the Pemba coast (which was very good btw), but we were even pleased with the "above water experience". As most of the guests have the same interest (diving) contact is easily made in the central meeting area, and Ciska and Raf do their best to join into the fun.
Food is very nice (based on the local kitchen, which has Arabian influences), rooms simple but comfortabel, and the nights amazing because as there is no light polution you have great stary skies !
But if you are looking for a spa or a foodmassage you probably want to go to the resort a few miles further :-)

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Onno1970
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johnston Atoll
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed September 25, 2010

I had travelled in Africa for a couple of months before the winds of fate blew off the coast to Zanzibar and then on up top Pemba Island. Africa is a unique place and everyone I met there who was brave enough to operate a dive business were great but the pinnacle of my stay on the dark continent was spent in the company of Rafg and Cisca at Swahile divers, Against alkl odds they do their absolutre best to get people diving in one of the most remote corners of the globe. I planned to stay a few nights but ended up staying much longer, theys were probably glad to see the back of me at the end of it all, the diving was simply great with something for every taste, deep, drift, macro, wall, ataturks wall will always remain a memorable dive for me.

Having a look at a few of the comments on here already I have to say that if you expect a 5 star luxury resort then maybe Africa as a whole isn't the place for you - particularly if you would rather spend you bucks on the diving instead of gold plated taps. It is the third world, stuff is hard to get and sometimes you might get tickled by an ant.

If you love diving, like spending long evenings with rustic grub, good banter, honest people, big dogs and have forgotten where you left your dive boots because the beer is only five bucks a pop then Swahili Divers are a great option at a competitive price.

Thank you for all the help and encouragement you gave me in the earlxy stages of my dive career, I can only hope to meet more people like you in all the random places I want to go.

Brian (Paddy).

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank fobabett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
turkishraf, Owner at Gecko Nature Lodge, responded to this review, September 28, 2010
Dear Paddy,
Thank you for your kind words, I can assure you that you would not recognise the place if you saw it now. We have renovated, changed, improved, sacked people, hired people, sacked some more, hired some more.... and Malcolm the current manager is simply superb!

You are always welcome back Paddy- we'd love to have you,

Yours sincerely

Raf
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gecko Nature Lodge

Property: Gecko Nature Lodge
Address: Plot 29 | Pemba North, Tanzania (Formerly Kervan Saray Beach Lodge)
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Pemba Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Pemba Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Gecko Nature Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kervan Saray Beach Lodge is now the newly upgraded Gecko Nature Lodge a series of large airy bungalows beside the sea. Started as simple accommodation for divers , the Gecko Nature Lodge has evolved into a comfortable lodge for scuba divers, birders, sea kayakers, adventurous souls, as well as yoga retreat and a place to relax and unwind. A upgraded bar, pool, restaurant and expanded deck, allow our guests to really relax. new secret hideaways with Hammocks and DayBeds ahve been created providing privacy and serenity for our guestsThe Hotel is also home to Swahili Divers, Pemba’s first PADI 5 star dive centre and recently the first RAID center, The Gecko Nature Lodge is owner managed 100% of the time ... more   less 
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