Reviews of Chole Mjini
Wildlife sightings and reviews
28 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Chole Mjini and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Chole Mjini - not really a hit unfortunately"
The tree houses themselves are very cool, enjoyed those a lot. Food was OK, sometimes good to very good but generally not very impressive. We did not see much of the owners, they never joined meals. Anne joined us for two minutes at one breakfast and about 15 minutes before dinner once. There was Dim, a young and very helpful Dutch acting as assistant manager who was very keen and did everything he could to help and make our stay enjoyable. Still, we found it weird that the people in charge showed zero interest in their guests. Not the most welcoming atmosphere.
And while we appreciate they keep things more basic it would have been nice to get a cocktail on a tropical island, and at least some ice with G&T and Amarula. Laundry was something that quite irked us, we put it in immediately after arrival. The next day was dry. It was returned to us only the following evening - completely wet and impossible to wear! Obviously they had let it hang in the rain. So we had no clean stuff for our flight home. Pretty embarrassing to travel in our smelly safari stuff.
Those complaints aside, still enjoyed the Mafia Island Marine Park a lot. We loved snorkeling (like swimming in an aquarium) and the sandbank and sunset sail cruises. Also enjoyed really good birding. No Whale Sharks - we did not try. Chatted to a number of people, and none had been successful during and before our stay.
One reason why we´re not really sold on Chole is the island itself. We love to walk, and love remote places. We had read in the description of Chole that there's a village nearby. Which is fine. What we had not anticipated however is that there are locals everywhere all over the island. Every path leads through the villagers backyards, and we were not completely comfortable with that. Many people probably will enjoy that aspect a lot but not entirely our cup of tea.
To sum up, we could easily see returning to Mafia but it will be a different lodge then." See all these reviews: 14n in Tanzania
The owners of Chole Mjini were sorry these travellers didn’t fall in love with the lodge and fully sympathised with the fact that their stay coincided with unexpected, very heavy rains across East Africa, which had a significant impact on their experience, including the absence of whale sharks. Unfortunately on this occasion the owners were not able to join guests very much, as they usually do. They explained that as the lodge is run entirely on solar power, they had to reduce their use of energy-greedy devices such as the ice machine. They also explained that doing the laundry in wet weather is a great challenge (the lodge is closed during the annual long rainy season) and were very sorry that these guests had damp clothes returned to them.
"Chole Mjini Lodge review"
This was the equivalent of glamping - it felt wild and adventurous and very very cool to be staying there - but it had that little touch of sophistication - Each evening we had a dinner party with Anne and Jean, our hosts - with lots of lively conversation - the culmination was a birthday party or one of the other guests - under the star lit sky we danced to a kind of African gamelan xylophone ! great fun -
WE did a dive organised by Butiama/ Big Blue from here - and also did a wonderful trip to the sandbar where we lazed around and drank coke and beer ! We also really loved being introduced to the eccentric game Viking Chess - just wished we'd had more time to play ! Next time maybe" See all these reviews: 5n in Tanzania; 4n in Zanzibar
"My favourite place of the trip"
The 'room' was simple but comfortable with a hammock, comfortable bed, washing facilities....and a ground level composting toilet and a wonderful outdoor shower heated by a kerosene burner....not sure about health and safety, but I loved it. No electricity, although solar lamps were issued...but we were encouraged to enjoy the dark. I also loved the meals at a communal table, where we met some very interesting guests.
I like the ethos of this lodge ....the owners encourage an eco friendly style of living. They also support the local community and the marine conservation park. I loved walking along the sandy paths linking the treehouses to the communal areas and seeing monitor lizards, huge hermit crabs and other wildlife. We stayed two nights here and I wish it could have been longer." See all these reviews: 10n in Tanzania; 2n in Zanzibar
"Chole Mjini Lodge review"
Apart from the activities which I will turn to next our fondest memory will be of the way we were so well looked after by Celine and by Jay, who were unfailingly kind and thoughtful.
We had a wonderful whale shark trip with Jean's team based on Mafia island. Our briefing from Sami was excellent and made us fully aware of how to swim with whale sharks without distressing them, thereby getting the best experience (for them and for us)! We got the impression that each of our four guides that day were all equally well informed and responsible and that added to our enjoyment. Sadly no other boat seemed to take this more responsible attitude with examples of others diving into the water right over the fish, causing it to dive deeper and to change direction. Hopefully this will be addressed. In spite of this we had a truly wonderful morning, seeing three whale sharks, a very large Ray and a large number of fish. Our only regret is that we failed to see that you could hire an underwater camera (which could have been terrific as our sightings were wonderful, especially when we were first to find a whale shark and had about five minutes swimming alongside it before the irresponsible hoards arrived).
The next day I tried an experience dive with the diving operation just across the water. They were very professional and ensured I was well prepared for my two dives before we left for the first dive site. It was worth every dollar! Luke spotted a huge number of interesting fish and was able to point most of them out to me, as well as a turtle I was thrilled to see.
We cannot recommend our stay too highly if you enjoy water based activities. It was a quite brilliant part of my trip - even better than I had hoped." See all these reviews: 14n in Tanzania
"Amazing Tree House Adventuree"
The sandbar trip and picnic was great fun and allowed us to see some other birds. The village tour was very interesting.
Species seen included Hermit Crabs and Monitor Lizards.
Birds seen included Black-bellied Starlings, Golden Weavers, Brubrus, Common Bulbuls, Amethyst Sunbirds, African Paradise Flycatchers, Bronze Mannekins, Common Waxbills, Black-headed Weavers, Tawny Eagles, Whimbrels, Pemba Green Pigeon, Emerald-Spotted Dove." See all these reviews: 6n in Tanzania
"Unusual stay at Chole Mjini"
We loved the experience of staying in the treehouses and Chole Mjini has clearly been lovingly built and looked after by Jean and Ann. The staff were friendly and the food tasty. We liked that locals from Chole Island appeared to make up the majority of the workforce.
We enjoyed a couple of very good snorkelling trips during our stay but were unsuccessful in our bid to swim with the whale sharks.
If we were to come up with any particular criticisms of Chole Mjini it would just be that the toilets were a little too dark and the showers were powered by kerosene which does not particularly fit with the eco nature of the resort.
Overall however, it was a very relaxing, rustic but beautiful lodge that we would definitely recommend to others." See all these reviews: 12n in Tanzania
"Sleep under the stars in a tree!"
Only complaint, like last time, quality of dinner food average; with all the fresh seafood around, could definitely be improved.
Great everything else - the tree houses are off the charts worth alone a trip to Mafia." See all these reviews: 9n in Tanzania
"Excellent tree houses for relaxed stay"
The tree houses are all different and although accommodation is very simple, all have ingenious facilities including long drop toilets and hot open air showers. They have fantastic views and you wake up to sunrise at tree canopy level with bird song disturbing the stillness.
Taking a boat to a nearby sandbank, (which we had to ourselves, along with birds and crabs) was wonderful if not a little surreal. Spending an hour or so on a white sandy beach with sunshade and drinks provided before a boat comes to collect you was fantastic.
We used our days to scuba dive but had the rest of the day to relax.
Meals were served in different locations on the site. Whether it be in the historic ruins, on the dock if the tides allowed, on under a Tamarind tree with a view, the food was superb. All locally sourced food meant that meals were mainly seafood based but there were always vegetarian options." See all these reviews: 9n in Tanzania
"Unique eco Chole Mjini Lodge"
Enchanting, airy tree-house rooms, kerosene fuelled outdoor shower, odourless, long drop eco loo, and no electricity.
Hands on owners who made us very welcome. Superb location.
The boat trip to the sandbar exposed in mid-ocean at low tide was magical." See all these reviews: 14n in Tanzania
"A Rare Return Visit"
Everything was as we remembered; the smell of frangipani on arrival; the dhow sailing; tree house living; good island food and relaxing activities. Anne and Jean are welcoming hosts and their passion for Chole is infectious." See all these reviews: 11n in Tanzania; 2n in Kenya
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