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“Out of this world.. literally !”
Review of Gecko Nature Lodge

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Gecko Nature Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 21, 2013

I was at Kervan Saray Beach lodge mid Oct 2013 when I went to Zanzibar and Pemba Islands on a diving trip, and I have to say it was nothing like what I expected. Although I knew the lodge and the dive centre is located in the greens, I didn't know it meant exactly that !

The manager, Deon took us on a short tour of the lodge and explained how everything worked. I fell in love with the deck by the ocean on the very first sight, I think I must have spent every free second (apart from diving & kayaking) at the deck, just reading my book, dozing off, watching the sunset. So peaceful !
So, the rooms or the bungalows are pretty basic with a thatch roof, and semi-open roof bathrooms, but it's the best that you can get in the middle of nowhere. If you scream at the sight of spiders and gekkos, this place isn't for you. But if you can truly appreciate the beauty of wilderness and untamed nature, you'll love this place and the tranquility it has to offer.

There's a big dinner table in the bar/restaurant area where all the guests eat their meals together, it's a really nice concept as you can get to know people from different walks of life.. and really you have to talk to your fellow-guests, coz otherwise you'll end up having conversations with the bush-babies haha..
I had my first taste of a real Swahili meal here at Pemba, and I absolutely loved it. I especially enjoyed the African spicy chai with ginger and cloves, really nice ! :)

The dive centre run by Swahili Divers is totally upto the mark. Instructor Darren talked us through the do's and dont's and everything else you should know about diving in Pemba in detail. That was extremely helpful. I went diving with Instructor Craig the next day, and I have to say he's a beyond-excellent dive guide. DM-in-training Issa was very helpful too.
Very professional and friendly guys, they make you feel at ease instantly, and you just know you're on for a great diving experience which I did. Although the currents were crazy strong in the second dive, it was good fun. You can't expect calm waters here, you're in Pemba !!
I went kayaking the next day, that was quite nice as well !

Before this whole adventure even started, I was in constant touch with Francisca through emails, and I have to say this trip wouldn't have been possible without her help. I knew zilch about diving and staying in Pemba, and Francisca literally held my hands through planning EVERYTHING - right from flights, equipment, finances..I had her input on everything. She's really prompt and extremely helpful. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see her as she was travelling, but hey there's always a next time.

Guys, if you are planning to go to Pemba Islands - Kervan Saray and Swahili Divers is the place you want to be at

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Parul M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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87 - 93 of 200 reviews

Reviewed October 5, 2013

I visited the first week on October and had a memorable time.
Family atmosphere- The moment my group arrived, we were welcomed as part of the family. Cisca had set up the arrangements for my group, therefore when all the accomodations and excursions were handled, we had a no stress trip! The genuine staff(Deon, Craig, Daren) made the experience very warm and inviting.
The meals were friendly dining with the other visitors and staff. The homemade cuisane kept us looking forward to the meals and anticipating what speciality would be for dinner. Open fire pit wtih skewer catch of the day to soups made from scratch. Spoiled would be a simple desciption.

Great Dive Staff- Craig and Darren were top notch Dive Masters. While keeping a close eye for safety at all times, the dives were an incredible experience. Knowing that my group only had a few days of diving, Craig expertly arranged a variety of dive sites to ensure we had a diverse exposure to the Pema.

Would I recommend to anyone wanting a family, relaxed atmosphere with great staff and a diving experience to be remembered. Yes.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank robert t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 26, 2013

I went to Kervan Saray Beach Lodge in August and had an unforgettable experience! I was there for the world class diving that was provided by Swahili Divers and I've got to say they offered some of the best diving I've ever done. Their operation was run by professional PADI instructors Craig and Darren who were always very helpful and knowledgeable about the diving in the area. They ran a tight ship and were excellent guides! Iza the dive master in training was also very helpful with the divers and will make a great DM one day! This is a place to go if you want to be immersed in the beauty of Tanzania. It is by far one of the coolest places to visit. Special thanks to Raf, Cisca and Deon for all their help!

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled solo
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Thank deepdiver492
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2013

I work on Zanzibar, and don't get much time to get away from it all (yes, I know it is quite unbelievable for someone living in a tropical paradise to be complaining about being stuck there) - I headed up there at the beginning of June 2013 for some rest and relaxation, and I'm so glad I went here!

Pemba is a much different creature than Unguja (the main island in the Zanzibar archipelago), with less hustle and bustle than the relatively thriving city life in Stone Town - and for someone wanting to kick back and relax without any hassle I cannot recommend this place highly enough!

I spend the majority of my life diving, but I still couldn't resist checking out the diving conditions on the northern island - WOW. The crystal clear waters and jaw-dropping drop-offs need to be seen to be believed. With the island being somewhat off the beaten track the dive sites benefit from not being inundated with numerous dive boats and being swamped with divers kicking lumps out of the reefs... so while I'm saying this is good, I'd like to say in the same breath that it's bad that more people don't know enough about this small island in East Africa and make it one of the top items on a wishlist of places to dive!

The resort was clean, and the food was magnificent! It was very nice touch to have the managers sit and eat and chat with you - Deon, Cisca, Raf and Sam always have some great stories about Africa and they are a real pleasure to spend time with.

Top tip: make sure you spend at least one of your evenings have a nice drink sat on the deck overlooking the beach and ocean as the sun slowly sets. Simply fantastic.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Richard L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2013

We really enjoyed our stay in this remote part of Pemba island, itself a remote part of Tanzania. Sitting beside the pilot on the flights from and to Tanga was already quite an experience. We arrived in late May and stayed for 11 nights. Cisca had arranged everything with us by email and when we got there, Deon upgraded us (low season allowing, but unexpected and a very nice gesture).
The staff were friendly and helpful and the way guests can mingle makes the atmosphere very easy going. It felt more like staying with friends, even more so once Cisca and Raf got back from a trip to Malawi. We went diving with Raj and then with Sam ... the diving was great in terms of corals and landscape but there were fewer fish than we had expected. Perhaps the Pemba channel needs some protected areas (local fishermen were everpresent).
We also met Justin and family, friends of the owners who live nearby. Our children (9 & 7) and theirs played together as much as possible and meeting them really added to our enjoyment.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled on business
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Thank CionaithCullen360
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 7, 2013

My gf and I did a 2.5 week tour through Tanzania some months ago. After 2 weeks of safari and Zanzibar, we finished our trip in Pemba. After 2 nights at Kervan Saray, we realised we should have changed our itinerary a bit (or reschedule our return flight)...What a great place! We stayed 3 nights in total, but really wanted to stay a couple of days longer. We truly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, hospitality, and quality of diving, topped off with a drink or two with Raf which fueled some great discussions :-).

Hopefully we're able to return soon!
Erik & Ana

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Erik_dB81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 30, 2013

If you're after a special dive spot in a remote area, this is definitely one of them. We were the only divers out there (which adds to it's charm), and the diving is fantastic. There are deep and shallow reefs (rolling hills come to mind), plenty of marine life large and small, and a large choice of sites. I was diving with a cold/blocked ear, and the staff were happy to wait for my slow descents. In fact, the dive staff were all highly experienced, and the owners, Raf & Cisca who clearly take pride in their business. Food was very good (for the remote area) and the dorm I stayed was actually pretty good. There was a nice bottle of Scottish whisky behind the bar, and going for a morning run through tiny village after village while being chased by kids was amusing. What more can I say!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled solo
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Thank Drew3021
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gecko Nature Lodge

Address: Plot 29 Makangale | 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 Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Pemba Island
Price Range: $148 - $369 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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. An 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 guests. The 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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