Reviews of Unguja Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Unguja Lodge review
During our 2-week stay on Zanzibar, our 4-day stay at Unguja Lodge was probably the best!
The location, natural and village surroundings, lodge architecture, location and facilities were excellent!
The lodge owners and staff are extremely hospitable and professional. They are all discreet, yet helpful and available whenever needed.
The food was also the best we had during our stay at Zanzibar. In fact it was excellent! Imaginative, original and very, very tasty; suitable to every liking!
The only service that was of average rating was one that is not directly owned and managed by the Unguja Lodge Management, but is hosted at the resort. This is the One Ocean Dive Center. We did a number of activities with them (one-day diving/snorkelling trips; dolphin-spotting), and although they were always polite they appeared to be rushing everything and providing the absolute minimum from what was agreed.
This issue was raised with the Unguja Lodge Management, who appear to be aware of this issue. It has to be noted that we did use the services of One Ocean Dive in other locations of the island (as they have multiple offices out of which they operate) and we were greatly satisfied everywhere else. Perhaps it is the staff/management of the diving center specific at the Unguja Lodge that need to improve the quality of their services!
Regardless, our stay at Unguja Lodge was excellent and worth every penny. On our next visit to Zanzibar we will be certainly visiting them again.
Relax in paradise at Unguja Lodge
Ralph and Elise have created a delightful holiday resort, in the South west of the island. Our lodge had double bed on GF and another on the first floor, giving us the choiceof where to sleep, both with mosquito nets (although mosi's were not a problem provided you sprayed up well. Magic to wake up looking at the Indian Ocean. Excellent PADI dive centre on site (one of the One Ocean Group of dive centres) and Nick who ran it was very professional and took us on some superb dives.
Dining area romantically delightful, with very friendly and helpful staff. Highlight was visit to local village, by guide who worked in the resort and was also a senior in the village, thus opening up to places that would shut to others. Absolutely fascinating.
Lovely pool to laze around or swim in the ocean when the tide was up. Great sight seeing the fishing fleet sail off at dusk in their dhows.
Very sorry to leave.
Beautiful villas amongst baobabs
Beautiful villas. We certainly didn't need two villas between the three of us! One person in a villa with five beds, four wash-basins oodles of seats and seating areas was a bit excessive - but this isn't a complaint!
Situation was superb - lovely sea views, staff friendly and helpful, food good, baobabs beautiful, monkeys and other animals around (elephant shrew) an added bonus. Snorkelling from the beach wasn't really an option, though we had been led to believe that it was. (This may have been because of the tides.)
Nice pool, and good walks along the bach in both directions.
Unguja Lodge review
Spectacular lodges which were enormous and had lovely views over the sea.
Great to see sensitivity to the local environment and for a lodge to be working so close to its neighboring village.
Great food especially the lobster which we ate under the stars on our last night.
Relaxation at Unguja
We stayed at Unguja after an afternoon walking tour of StoneTown which we think was long enough to take in the main sights and get a feel for the place. We liked it because everyone was getting on with their lives and not hanging around the tourists trying to sell them things. Even in the market there was a very soft selling approach which we really appreciated having been to Egypt earlier in the year where everyone is vocal in trying to get money from you all the time.
The only sour point was when we stopped for a drink with our guide Rashid at the Africa House Hotel, where we witnessed the manageress treating one of her waitresses very badly. We left having made it clear to her that we wouldn't support her hotel if she couldn't treat her staff professionally.
Unguja was great, I particularly loved the totally insect proof bedroom and mosquito net on the bed. The food was good and the facilities just what we wanted. We were after relaxation and we achieved that here. We went on a village walk which was really worthwhile and we saw and learned so much more than we would have done by wandering around on our own.
We appreciate the way that Ralph and Elies are supporting the local community which made this a more pleasurable stay for us. You are aware that this is their home as well as their business which makes you feel like their house guests, but meant that it felt too awkward to complain when their children and those of their friends were playing in the restaurant in the evening when we wanted grown-up time.
Overall a fantastic place to unwind and complete our memorable holiday.
Unguja Lodge review
A very relaxing place to chill out after all the safari activity, a lovely swimming pool surrounded by plants and trees, lots of shady areas to sit and read, and friendly hosts Elies and Ralph always available but unobtrusive. Our villa was beautiful - spacious and airy.
The food is gorgeous, lots of local seafood and plenty of choice. Early morning tea brought to our doorstep was very welcome, also being able to have a lie-in and a late breakfast). The Kizimkaze village trip was very interesting and well worth doing .
The beach has quite a lot of coral outcrop in amongst the sand, so water shoes are important if you want to go swimming.
Beautifully designed boutique lodge
The design of the lodge is outstanding - creative and in keeping with the natural surroundings. The Dutch owners' aspirations for the lodge have a positive impact on visitors' experiences, in particluar the their hands-on approach and involvement with the local people and environment. All staff were pleasant, but not intrusive.
The local troop of red colobus monkeys were a delight and they are not camera shy! Although we were unlucky in not seeing any dolphins, we did have the wonderful experience of sailing in a wooden dhow to have a picnic lunch on our own sandbank in the middle of the aqua blue sea - heavenly.
Unfortunately the coral in this area is less spectacular than that surrounding Mafia Island. Marine Park restrictions are not strictly enforced and this seems to be having a negative impact on the coral and sea life that depends upon it.
Unguja Lodge review
The chalets are amazing, over the top really. We were slightly disappointed not to have a sea view.
Quite good snorkelling - water a bit deep - but coral exceptional. Saw a turtle. Also got massacred by jelly fish which left me looking like a measles case. Think thats unusual. Food OK but a bit difficult to find a light option.
An exclusivfe beach resort
The accommodation and setting were fantastic, although our hut didn't have that good a view of the sea, especially compared to the other huts. The owners and staff were welcoming and attentive but this place was a bit too exclusive for us. The dining area encouraged insularity and the seats were even arranged so that people hd their backs to other tables. We would have liked a more sociable atmosphere, especially after Mdonya with its wonderful sociability.
The tour of the village is a must but be prepared for the poverty and stark cultural differences. It was impossible not to feel guilty when we went back to our luxurious lodge. The cost, $5, went to the villages, we think it should be higher.
There were no prices on the cocktails which caught us out a bit as they were a little cheaper than we imagined.
The Jusani forest tour was very disappointing. We would have liked a whole day, but it was set up as a conveyer belt, where the guide led us from one place to the other and then suddenly after just an hour we found we were on our way home with no chance for birding. You could either do this in about one hour on the way somewhere else (e.g. Stone Town) or you have to somehow take charge and tell the driver that you want to go back to the starting point if you want to see more.
Generally speaking the cost of the excursions seemed quite high, especially for the water related activities. Also, the dolphins are under pressure so we decided not to see them. There was not a wide range of mid priced activities.
The tide moved a lot so that at low tide there was a long beach with reefs and at high tide, deep water covering the sand. It was not really suitable for swimming except at high tide. The staff had to carry the beds, towels and beach umbrellas up and down the steps every day just so that people could lie on the beach. We didn't appreciate this indulgence, particularly after seeing the village.
Their attitude to involving the locals was good and their approach to the carbon footprint good but we did feel a bit guilty about our social responsibility.
Perhaps a luxurious beach holiday where most people lounge around the pool reading books wasn't really for us.
Meals were small but sufficient and tasty. More local dishes would have been nice.
Unguja Lodge review
My favourite place during my trip. The owners Elise and Ralph are very friendly and helpful supported by the excellent Mona, the rest of the staff are fantastic, well trained, great English, very outgoing. The lodges are a weird but wonderful design the only completely enclosed room is the bedroom. Keep a lookout for boats passing bye while showering. ;-)
The Dive centre on site is the best I have encountered Nic the Belgium dive master is very enthusiastic and this was the only time I was given safety instructions, which included a boat with a spare outboard. I went Snorkelling and swimming with Dolphins both were fantastic.
The tide does not go out too far and at high tide you can swim safely from the lodge. There is a nice co-existence with the neighbouring village Kizimkaze. The lodge created a great atmosphere where the guests intermingled and everyone knew each other. A great place!