Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Beach life at Pole Pole
Pole Pole was a treat - we loved the fact that it had only 7 rooms and hope it never expands - that would change it completely.
The person who ran it had disappeared 3 weeks before so we had a stand in manager, Gabrielle. She was wonderful - and couldn't have done more for us. It was beautifully run with every comfort and attention to detail. If you were looking only for lazy days at the hotel then the beach was a little bit disappointing - at low tide one would have to walk 10 minutes round the point for a swim. We didn't really mind - we got into the habit of a daily snorkelling trip by boat. The extra activities were expensive - the $ exchange rate didn't help but as the isalnd is small, $60 pp for a trip and picnic to another island or beach seemed quite a lot.
Having said that, the whole experience was wonderful, the food excellent and we loved being there.
Expert Africa comments
We are delighted that Pole Pole was such a success for these travellers – it is a firm favourite of ours as well. When these travellers say that the person who ran it “disappeared” 3 weeks ago – they meant that the usual Manageress, Maura, was on leave. We’re glad that Pole Pole’s high standards did not slip under the relief manageress Gabriele.
A daily dhow trip in the Chole Bay area is always included for our travellers at Pole Pole. These travellers opted to do these on most days – and we’re sure they enjoyed them. Such trips are typically a relaxing dhow trip to a sandbank with a picnic, with snorkeling on the way back – or maybe an excursion to explore Chole Island and its ruins. They’ll usually last 3-5 hours, depending on what travellers want.
These travellers commented that “extra activities were expensive” – referring to excursions further afield, to islands outside of Chole Bay. They didn’t take any of these trips, but such trips are always charged as an extra at Pole Pole.
For example, trips to islands outside Chole Bay currently cost $45 per person; trips to see whale sharks (seasonally in the area from around October through to March) are $60 per person; and there’s a full-day trip to Bwejuu Island (which is half way between Mafia and mainland of Tanzania”) which costs $60 per person.
Quiet and formal lodge
A quiet atmosphere lodge for an older age group or peple seeking a more intimate holiday. Our visits to Chole Island were wonderfully memorable.
The beach was small but with a max 14 guests at the lodge it was never crowded. Impecably clean and well maintained. Good snorkelling but quite busy due to adjacent lodges.
Pole Pole review
Life at Pole Pole was luxurious, tranquil and calm. The staff were graceful, seeming to really enjoy the job of looking after the guests
and just watching them serenely going about their work made me slow down and relax.
The food was a wonderful surprise, a wide variety (including a delicious Swahili meal) served outside overlooking the ocean. With linen and flowers at every meal (even at the 3 course breakfasts) the fish and local fruits were especially fresh (no worry about food miles here.)
The Dow trips out to the coral beds for snorkeling were a highlight especially the day we sailed onto a sandbar for barbecued fish served by the Captain and his crew. The colony of fruit bats which passed by our veranda each evening at sundown will be remembered for a long time to come and having a massage from Jenny whilst overlooking the beach is a treat we would recommend.
We (reluctantly) left feeling like we'd been there for weeks not 6 nights and determined to return one day.
Pole Pole review
The food was really excellent. Every meal was always something special.
The only disappointment was the beach. It was not very pleasant and we didn't know about that.
Pampering at Pole Pole
A totally different experience from the previous three lodges - this was a more upmarket, exclusively professional and a highly enjoyable tropical retreat, where the real world was kept at bay. The lodges were very comfortable in luscious settings overlooking the gardens leading down to the beach.
Every aspect was directed at providing a second to none experience and at the end of our trip we appreciated the pampering of wonderful food, electricity, flush toilets and a quiet electric roof fan to make sleeping possible. Three nights was just right for us. All local staff were extremely helpful and spoke and understood better English than on Chole.
The boat and snorkelling trips inspired confidence, were professional in all respects and planned individually for guests the previous night. All staff were upbeat, polite and professional in every respect.
A brilliant end to our two weeks in Tanzania.
Pole Pole review
You couldn't get much more relaxing than a few days at Pole Pole. On our first morning, totally exhausted from our safari, we surfaced at 11.30 and were amazed to find that breakfast was still being served. Maura was so welcoming and we loved discussing the food with Mattija whose passion for fresh, local food is really impressive (and his homemade chilli oil isn't bad either!).
Everything was set up so that you could do as much or as little as you wanted and the dive trip (departing from the dive centre at Mafia Island Lodge next door) was really enjoyable, as was the snorkelling trip on our first day.
Being served dinner (and champagne) alone in the beach hut as a surprise on our last night was a really special touch which we really appreciated.
Pole Pole review
Great staff, trained v well, and always pleased to help. Too much food! We had to try and order single portions for 2 after a few days. Meals almost at any time.
Impressed the way one of the staff remembered I had asked for fresh coconut juice, but none was available that day (6pm and no one available to climb a tree!), so they arrived with one the next day!
Pole Pole review
Very relaxing, just what we needed after the safari which is more tiring than one thinks!
unfortunately we both had coughs when we got there so my husband was only able to do one dive and we coughed well down our snorkels!
Everyone was very helpful and the fruit was especially lovely at breakfast. The boat trips are glorious especially when the sail was put up on the return journey.
Pole Pole - Classy Place (and great diving)
Hard to fault Pole Pole.
Food exceptional (particularly sushi), nearby diving first class and staff brilliant - Mateija had the place running perfectly.
Great to visit the nearby village too.
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.