Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole is a wonderfully relaxing place to stay after the early mornings of safari drives. It is small and intimate, very quiet and the guests are very well looked after.
The rooms, reached by a lovely thatched-over sand path, are spacious with verandahs overlooking the palm trees and the sea beyond. The staff, including the manager, Robyn, are attentive and helpful and relaxed. The mealtimes are as flexible as the guests want them to be and the food plentiful.
We were lucky with the tide during our 6 nights, so that we had the beach uncovered during the majority of the day (the high tide comes right up to the sea wall). This will be less of a problem when the almost-complete swimming pool is finished. It is interesting to walk along the beach at low tide, as there is all manner of life in the pools (starfish, cowries etc).
The free excursions arranged for Pole Pole guests each day were much appreciated. It was unfortunately quite windy during our stay, which made the sea choppy for snorkelling and the underwater currents very strong for diving, with unclear visibility at a lower level. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed all these excursions, especially the snorkelling and barbeque-on-the-sandbar trip, with white snapper cooked over coconut husks on the sandbar.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole was an ideal ending to our trip.
A small lodge with a lot of character, great location and wonderful people working there. Robyn and her team really looked after us and nothing was too much trouble. The food is exceptionally good and the italian bread which they serve each day delicious. The rooms were beautifully furnished.
We spent most of our time just lazing around although we took a trip to see the whale sharks and also some diving / snorkelling (found the accessibility of the boat a bit tricky due to it being a dhow and when we were there the water was quite choppy). If travelling here remember to pack some waterproof shoes - if you are there when the tides are changing they are a must for walking out into the bay (Tania from the dive centre did kindly lend us some).
Kicking back in a truly exotic location
It's only a short hop from the mainland but Mafia island is a wonderfully unspoilt place. Pole Pole lived up to its name as a small informal hotel where you can enjoy quiet and relaxation.
The staff were excellent and a real pleasure to have around with their regular big smiles and greetings and Gabrielle an excellent manager during our stay. The bunglalows were very nice and clean if showing the odd sign of wear and tear. Food is very fish/seafood orientated unsurprisingly with a set menu which changes each lunch/dinner and all cooked very fresh. Breakfast was the same options each day though and could do with a bit more variety.
The small beach does front a very tidal bay so at times the water is way out and you can only really take a dip at high tide - not a problem for us and there is a cold shower to cool you down anyway. The inclusive excursions were good - particularly the sundown sail on a dhow whilst the fruit-bats flood across the sky. Diving is the big attraction and the reefs are stunningly beautiful.
We tried the whale shark trip but no joy - an expensive $60 pp whether you see them or not. We were thinking about trying again on our last morning but decided not to which is just as well as there was another no-show. One other point to note is that with the daily marine park entry fees, additional excursions, diving and equipment hire plus drinks is that, whilst these are all clearly dispayed, the additional costs do mount up.
Island luxury at Pole Pole
The food is exceptional and the staff are charming. The
rooms are spacious , luxurious and beautifully
It was a very comfortable end to the holiday.
A quiet and well organised camp with only 7 rooms and making for a peaceful stay. A small beach to ourselves except at high tide.
We enjoyed the boat trips for snorkelling and then lunch on the sandbank cooked by the boat boys. Very interesting trip to Kua ruins on Juani Island.
A great way to relax after our safari.
Chill out by the seas
Just what we wanted to wind down with post safari.
Excellent service, food and facilities at a decidedly chilled out venue.
Pole Pole review
A very quiet and peaceful, perhaps even sleepy lodge. Not only the clock behind the bar has stopped but every single one in the place!
Rooms were very comfortable and bathrooms well equipped. Plenty of bottled water available free. The food was excellent though we felt the 3 course lunch and 4 course dinner was too much for us. In particular, there must be huge wastage of the pasta second course at dinner. Meals were dominated by fish which was great for us but must have been something of a problem for a fellow guest who didn't eat fish or shellfish.
Private sundowners on your balcony were a nice touch – the rain accompaniment was less welcome one evening!
Service was erratic – very good in the restaurant/bar but wake-up calls poor. Morning 1 the attendant turned up half an hour late and didn't know what we'd ordered, morning 2 no wake up was offered and he didn't turn up on morning 3.
Plenty of diving and other trips were available – we went to see turtles hatching on Juani island. Guests should be advised to take water with them on these trips as little is provided.
Unless you are a keen diver 3 nights is probably enough here; we missed having a pool particularly as the sea from the beach was not very swimmer-friendly being clogged with seaweed. A good-value massage went a long way to relaxing muscles suffering from bouncing around in safari vehicles and squeezing into small planes.
Pole Pole review
Lovely relaxed atmosphere withn good service. Good food, good excursions.
Bit disappointed with the beach which was limited depending on the tide
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole is an eco lodge however you would not think so from the excellent service and standard of the place.
Being only a few guests at one time one is assured of a personal service second to none. The temperatures were very high 33c and the humidity very high thus drying of things was a little bit of a problem........but no hassle to the understanding guest.
We ate like kings and queens the 5 star food. The sea was warm, the corral and fishes a marvel. The manager Gabriele who was standing in for the owner could not do too much for us and was concerned that each guest each day was getting the most out of Pole Pole and the facilities.
Finally one word of caution! The dining room chairs were instruments of torture and we were pleased to hear that Gabriele was to recommend that they were burnt as soon as possible, and some comfortable chairs purchased.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole's location - in terms of its proximity to fabulous dive sites - is fantastic. The rooms and the service, however, left something to be desired. For example, the servers seemed to have very limited understanding of English, which really interfered with their ability to get our orders correct, especially since they never wrote anything down. The rooms were okay but quite basic.
Another problem with Pole Pole - at least from a non-diver's perspective - is that there is little to do during down time. There is no pool and when the tide is out (which was usually for the majority of each day until late afternoon), there is no swimming from the beach. The lodge next door (not Mafia Island Lodge, but the one on the other side of Pole Pole), seemed to be similarly priced but the rooms looked to be nicer and in better condition and it also had a pool.
Expert Africa comments
As these travellers have pointed out, Pole Pole is a quiet beach lodge close to some of the best diving in Tanzania. There are a number of activities other than diving and snorkeling on offer, these include:
Activities available from Pole Pole :
• Sand bank visit
• Visit to Chole Island
• Visit ruins and the Blue Lagoon on Juani Island
• Jibondo Island – about an hour from Pole Pole
• Kitutia Reef
• Chuwia Beach – an hour by 4x4 from Pole Pole
• Ras Mkumbe – visit the lighthouse on most northernmost point of Mafia
• See whale sharks – either by boat or swimming – especially between Oct & March
The management at Pole Pole has assured us that each room has a folder listing these excursions, all of which are available from the lodge. There is also further information in the bar area. However if you do not wish to leave the lodge there is currently only a small beach in front of the lodge and when the tide is out it is not possible to swim at all times of the day. That said, Pole Pole have informed us that they are planning a new pool which should be finished for January 2011.
Pole Pole makes a point of employing local people from Mafia Island and Expert Africa fully supports this approach. Unfortunately one result of this is that their English can occasionally be a little basic. However, we rarely encounter complaints about this, as our guests usually find it adds to the authentic local flavour. We believe that it’s terribly important for lodges like this to create jobs for the local community.
The neighbouring lodge that these travellers mention is Kinasi Lodge. This is broadly similar in cost to Pole Pole – and we don’t feel that its standards are either vastly higher or lower. We feel that the choice between the two is a matter of taste and style; the atmosphere is very different. We inspect it regularly and we send travellers to both. Kinasi does have a pool but we wouldn’t rate either lodge as being either substantially nicer or in better condition than the other.