Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Ideal place to relax after busy safari
Pole Pole was exactly what we wanted after a busy week of travelling and early starts - the perfect antidote and very relaxing. The situation was perfect for what we wanted - idyllic setting, very quiet, with excellent snorkelling and diving in the bay, some of the best corals we have seen. We went out every day, sometimes twice, in the dhow, to different sites in Chole Bay, and all were first class.
The bungalows were very attractive and comfortable, perfect to just lounge around in, reading, snoozing etc when we weren't out on the daily excursions. Food was good, though naturally quite fishy, given the location. We are not particularly keen on too much fish, but having established that, the menus for the day were discussed with us, and alternatives offered if we wanted them..
Maura, the manager, was a natural host - a very warm person, who really enjoyed chatting to guests at length when we were in the bar or dining room, and was a mine of information, and also incredibly helpful - we really felt she genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking to her guests and doing all she could to enhance their holiday experience, and she demonstrated this in all sorts of thoughtful ways.
Mafia is very quiet and unspoiled - some people mind find it too quiet, but it was everything we had wanted and more - shame we didn't see the whale sharks, but that was the only regret. Perhaps another time - I would certainly go again as a follow on to a safari if we were to go back to that part of Africa for another holiday.
Pole Pole review
Excellent small beach lodge. Food was exceptional (many thanks to the chef who served us brilliantly as we do not eat seafood which was one of the lodges specialities considering its location). The beach is small but as there are so few guests this is not a problem at all as you almost felt as if you had the beach to yourself. We had a lovely lazy 4 days which was just what we needed after 10 days safari.
The bats each night were amazing.
Good snorkling but Pole Pole needs a revamp
Expected a four star experience but would rate it as three stars. The whole resort feels a little shabby and it requires investment to bring it back to the standard it clearly was when first developed. Specifically:
- there was no electricity from 12 noon to 5:30pm and then again no electricity from midnight to between 6.00 am. This meant the fans could not be used at night with the consequent heat and mosquito problems.
- food was very variable in quality. Meat was scarce.
- the furnishings and decor was slightly shabby eg mosquito netting over windows left large gaps for mosquitoes to come in and most chairs were very uncomfortable.
Staff were exceedingly kind, curteous and attentive and tried their best to please. Programmes were always adjusted to suit every individual. Nothing was too much trouble. The resort is well managed.
We were there for five nights which was too long. Three nights would have been adequate.
Expert Africa comments
We regard Pole Pole as a great ‘small island lodge’, which is informal, relaxed and fairly low-key – where luxury and comfort is moderated by a real effort to blend with the nature. Perhaps because of this, we don’t think of Pole Pole in ‘star’ terms. We apologize if we made a mistake sending these travellers here, when a more formal, 4- or 5-star hotel might have suited them better; this might be the root cause of some of their comments above.
We have never regarded Pole Pole as ‘shabby’ - it’s never been so when we have visited in the past - although we were not actually visiting the lodge at the same time as these travellers.
We sent these comments to Massimo, Pole Pole's owner-manager, who was concerned by them. He remembered these travellers, and their warm goodbye to the team on their last day. He was very concerned that they hadn’t been happy – but said, ‘I wish that they had voiced some of their issues whilst they were with us; we would have looked into them immediately’.
Pole Pole has mains electricity, but during Sept/Oct 2008 an exceptional power-cut all over Mafia lasted 3 weeks. Pole Pole’s back-up generator then kicked in immediately. As the evenings windy and relatively cool, it was decided to switch it off at night, and also around lunch-time, to preserve the silence. Again, Massimo commented, “If any guest had wanted it to be kept on all night, all they needed to do was to ask.”
Massimo explained that Pole Pole has recently taken on a new ‘food and beverage manager’ to further boost the lodge’s cuisine. “He changes the menu every day.” In Expert Africa’s experience, Pole Pole has always tried hard to satisfy the dietary requirements of the travellers that we’ve sent there – and we’ve sent vegans, people who need gluten-free meals, amongst others. However, as with any lodge; they need to know about the preferences of their guests in order to act upon them.
Massimo commented, “Most guests just want seafood here, which is fine! But if anyone’s not happy with the choices on the menu, all they need to do is ask and we’ll try to prepare something to suit them. Meat is never a problem!”
Regarding mosquitoes, all Pole Pole’s bungalows have mosquito-screened windows, plus a separate mosquito net protecting the beds. At the start of 2008, Pole Pole’s regular annual maintenance included work by carpenters who stripped down each room, sandpapered all frames, changed every hinge and lock, repainted walls and made sure everything was working well. During this work, they changed all mosquito screens on the windows. Massimo commented that he wasn’t “aware of any holes in the screens, but if we do find any – they’re easy to fix. You must tell your visitors to point out things like this to us when they are here, not after they get home!”
Having said all this – we’re delighted that these travellers found that Pole Pole’s staff were exceedingly kind, courteous and attentive; that everyone tried their best here to please our guests; and that nothing was too much trouble. That’s exactly what we’d expect from a great ‘small island lodge’!
Pole Pole review
Great position and location but have some reservations about the assitant manager.Read more about the whole beach holiday
Great place to chill or enjoy activities
Excellent place to chill - very quiet but with excellent facilities and excursion options.
Accommodation excellent and spotless. Food absolutely fabulous.
Excursions first class and wide ranging. Enjoyed a great days fishing.
Snorkelling is outstanding for variety and numbers of fish and coral.
Pole Pole review
very relaxed chilled place perfect end to a holiday, for some it may be too remote and chilled but PERFECT for me!Read more about the whole beach holiday
Pole Pole review
After eight days of Safari we were looking for a change of pace - Pole Pole was the perfect place to be. Mafia Isalnd only 35 minutes from Dar and the Lodge was in the Marine Park. Six cabins with a full occupancy of only 12 meant that it was peaceful, a beautiful small private beach and outstanding snorkelling on the reef in Chole Bay. The children loved playing in the soft sand, the crabs and starfish when the tide went out and the trips in the dhows out to the reef.
The rooms were outstanding - drinking a cold beer on the verandah, watching the sun go down on the sea with the flying fox's setting off in the sky for the night after a day on the beach is simply marvellous.
However the outstanding feature of Pole Pole was the food - mainly fantastically fresh fish and seafood with an obvious italian bent thanks to Maura, the manageress, fresh pasta and focaccio to rival that in city restaraunts in Europe - each mealtime was looked forward to. The kitchen quickly adapting to any foibles so you never went without an excellent eating experience.
The trip over to the community on Chole was eye opening, the boat building , the fruit (sweetest orange ever tasted straight off the tree), the friendliness of the people - especially good for our children to see the way other people live.
A perfect place to wind down, even with two children - nothing forced on you, flexible meal times and extremly accomodating staff - even facility to check into flights on internet. Will return should opportunity arise !
Heaven on Earth at Pole Pole
It's a pity that your classification - and the English language - only goes as far as 'excellent', as Pole Pole ticked the top boxes for everything and made Steve's 50th a truly memorable experience. Pole Pole is exemplary - for us, just the right combination of small resort, beautifully designed & furnished 'barefoot luxury'. The diving activity / snorkelling is of a professional standard and other activities are conducted effortlessly and by friendly staff.
Of particular mention is the food, which excels at every meal in quantity and diversity and is THE best we've eaten anywhere on our travels. The team, under the managership of Maura, are at the top of their game and a real asset to the resort.
The team's efforts on the night of Steve's 50th - the wine, service and the birthday cake - showed a true attention to detail and a natural friendliness, which made the day so special. We're so pleased we stayed for 6 nights - it gave us the chance to totally relax after such an exciting travel experience in perfect surroundings.
A 5-star resort worthy of the highest praise.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole is lovely. The rooms are lovely, as is the food and service (although don't go there if you don't like sea-food - we had sea-food for starter and main courses every day but one). The drinks delivered to your verandah in the evening is a lovely idea. Maure and her staff are very good. My husband was ill whislt we were there and they were very concerned about him and bent over backwards to do all they could to help, including providing special meals, like boiled rice, for him, and delivering it to the room.
I had a massage whilst we were there and it was very good and excellent value for money. The snorkelling trips were good, although i only managed two of them and my husband didn't manage any. One thing we regretted was that he was not well enough for us to go on a trip to see and swim with whale sharks. We talked to fellow guests who had and who said it was a super experience.
The only negative point is that there are a lot of sand flies (No-see-ums) there. My husband did not get bitten once, but I got over 100 bites, despite using 100% DEET. I guess they either like you or they don't. If anyone knows of anything that deters them I'd be gald to hear of it.
Pole Pole review
The staff are very nice but not around much during the day. Nice surroundings a little disappointed having seen the website and viewed the stunning photos of the beach. A lot of the beach shots are of the marine park located a good 1-2 hours away by boat. The local beaches are nice but nowhere near as nice as the photos.
I stayed for 4 days and apart from the last day the weather did not permit travelling to the other islands. For light sleepers take ear plugs this area is full of birdlife, fruit bats and Bush Babies all very lovely until you are still awake at 3am listening to the chorus. ;-)
The snorkelling was fantastic I swam around Coral Garden the most beautiful coral I have ever seen. Other guys that were diving equally had great things to say. A little disappointed that the bar and all the staff went to bed around 10:30 leaving us with empty glasses, especially as I knew I would still be awake from the bird song until the early hours. Difficult to find a place with earlier closing times than the UK.
A few strange rules, only emergency internet access allowed (strictly no browsing) a guy got told off for playing a ringtone twice, felt like school a little, waiting to be scolded. An ideal place for any clean living Benedictine Monks that love to dive.