Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Total relaxation at Pole Pole
We had a totally relaxing break at Pole Pole following our safari - a well earned rest! The facilities were great and the bungalow well equipped, but possible a little dark especially the bathroom. The staff were friendly and professional and always on hand when required.
The pool was great with plenty of shade to get out of the sun if required. The beach was a little disappointing, mainly because of the tidal nature, however the staff did an excellent job of clearing the seaweed each morning.
The food was good, but some of the dishes were a little dry and some a little too highly spiced for my wife's palate. Having said that, we were offered alternative options.
The activities were good and it was particularly helpful having time with the dive centre staff each evening to plan our activities. The massage at the spa was excellent and a great start to our relaxation.
The only criticism is that they allowed smoking in the restaurant area - this made our final evening meal rather unpleasant.
Relaxed post safari stay
Mafia Island is unlike Zanzibar and is not touristy at all. The island boasts just a few lodges of which Pole Pole is reputed to be the best, and we would certainly not argue with that. With just 7 bungalows, the atmosphere is relaxed, the service impeccable (they cannot do enough for you), the food amazing with lots of seafood but other options too.
One activity was included every day within our room rate. Every evening before dinner the guests congregate for pre-dinner drinks, a chat, and discussion with the manager of the local dive and excursion centre with whom the activities take place to decide what to do the next day based on tide and availability. Other activities are available in addition to those included.
The bungalows are a good size with mosquito nets (necessary) and a deck to sit out on. The bathroom has twin basins, toilet, bidet and shower. My only gripe would be that there was only one UK style plug (the norm in Tanzania), a couple of unexpected European style plugs, and a number of Italian style plugs! There is a pool and a spa on site for massage and manicures etc which was also very good.
Overall we had a great time, enjoyed all the activities, and felt it met our expectations all round. Our thanks to Paola, Marina and Mussa who are very hands on and make sure that everything runs so well.
Peaceful, relaxed Pole Pole
V. welcoming manager & staff; we had a lovely cottage; delicious food; great snorkelling.Read more about the whole beach holiday
Wonderful place to relax
We stayed at Pole Pole for 5 nights after Safaris in Selous and Ruaha.
We wanted somewhere to relax and recuperate after the rigours of 8 days on safari and what a great choice this was.
Everything about Pole Pole was excellent, the accommodation, the staff, the service, the food and the location.
We were made to feel very welcome on our arrival by Marina, the manager. We shown round the resort and taken to our Bungalow (Number 1).
The bungalow was a wooden construction with a thatched roof and sides. It was a good size and included a separate en-suite facility with two hand basins, shower, flush WC and even a bidet plus complementary toiletries. The bed was large and covered with a substantial mosquito net. A large wooden verandah overlooked the palm trees in the garden with views of the beach and bay towards Chole Island. On the verandah there were a couple a chairs and small table plus a day bed (just big enough for 2) with a mosquito net – perfect for an afternoon snooze.
The pace at Pole Pole is slow and relaxed. Early morning tea/coffee was delivered to our room at our request. Meal times were flexible. There was a good choice of goodies available for breakfast including fruit, pancakes, muffins, yogurt, eggs, bacon, tomatoes and toast along with fruit juice, teas and coffee. Lunch was a fixed 3 course and dinner 4 courses with a choice of main course (usually fish or meat of some sort). The quality of our meals was always excellent as was the service in the restaurant; the waiting staff were attentive, efficient and friendly.
At about 6pm each evening a waiter arrived at our door to take our order for a ’Sun downer’ to enjoy on the verandah as the sun set, watching the masses of bats fly across the sky from their roost on Chole to feed on Mafia.
Over pre dinner drinks in the bar David from ‘Mafia Island Diving’ would discuss the excursions that were available the following day. We did a couple of snorkelling trips (saw a Whale Shark) and a boat trip to see the ruins on one of the other islands. The trips were well organised, the snorkelling was great, the boat trip was enjoyable but the ruins were a bit disappointing.
Many thanks to Marina, Mussa and their team for making our stay at Pole Pole so memorable.
I widh I were back there, right now....
Marina and her staff did their best to make our 8 days at Pole Pole as enjoyable as possible--and they never disappointed. The food was the best we had in Africa. Italian-based, but I was delighted that they had a weekly Swahili menu too. The presentation of the food, too, was exemplary.
Some of the staff are not familiar with western table/service etiquette, and would forget what was on the menu, etc. Having said that, they were all wonderfully kind and friendly, and did their very best. Thus this is not a complaint, and I urge guests to cut some of the younger waiters a bit of slack if they need it. The setting and environment was delightful and aesthetically very carefully crafted to be as beautiful as possible--while integrating into the local landscape.
The bungalows were beautiful: absolutely beautiful. We did have problems with mosquitos in our screened area around the bed, despite the staff and I doing our best to find out where the little devils were getting in.... Drink prices were too high. Way too high. The highest we experienced, by a considerable %, in 5 weeks in Rwanda Kenya, and Tanzania.
We were at Pole Pole for the scuba diving, and David, from Mafai Island Diving, came by every evening to detail the next day's adventures--and typically picked us up and dropped us off right on Pole Pole's beach. Not bad...... The diving was fabulous!
Wonderful Location at Pole Pole
Pole Pole is set in beautiful gardens right on the beach.
Our Bungalow had an amazing view overlooking the bay and surrounded by palm trees. Inside there were lovely homemade touches including shower gel and shampoo in handcrafted glass bottles. As there are only 7 bungalows, the place is very quiet and you feel quite secluded form the others. We had a wake up tea/coffee each morning and a sun-down drink brought to our room each evening!
The food was lovely, with some Italian touches and you could choose which courses you wanted each day. They would even make something else for our daughter when she did not fancy what was on the menu. She also has a peanut allergy; we had no worries as they were very aware of this and able to cater for her.
We had some great trips arranged including snorkeling and turtle hatching on a nearby island. We had a fantastic Sunset Cruise where we went on a Dhow boat, and had a lovely drink as the sunset and the fruit bats flew overhead. One of the waiters from Pole Pole accompanied us and told us lots of information about mafia and the local people.
We visited the local village Utendi on our last day with one of the waiters who comes from there. He was full of information about everything in the village. We saw the local schools, and visited the NGO (non government organisation) located in the village which aims to improve education and healthcare through projects they arrange. If you have time this is well worth doing, as you get to see the local people.
A lovely place to unwind
The accommodation at Pole Pole was very comfortable, albeit a little dark inside. The outside verandah had a wonderful view, comfortable chairs and a day bed which my husband found very hard to leave!
The linen and towels are changed as frequently as you request, via a board in the bathroom. The laundry service was excellent, and the housekeeping was also excellent.
The staff were very friendly, and really appreciate any attempt at Kiswahili, however poor. Tea or coffee is delivered every morning to the verandah, but make sure the crows don't beat you to the biscuits!
The gardens are uninteresting, mainly laid to grass amongst the palm trees. Other than the crows, we didn't see much bird life or nature. Squirrels and ants don't really count.
The beach is beautiful, and the sun loungers are comfortable. Drinks orders are taken on the beach and also from your bungalow for a six p.m sundowner. The pool is well appointed, in full sun and with a pool side bar. The verandah on our bungalow did not get the sun, but was a perfect place to relax.
The breakfast was comprehensive, including fruit, toast, muffins, a cooked choice of eggs, bacon, pancakes - as much or as little as you want. Lunch and dinner were both plentiful and varied, but I found the food fairly bland and tasteless, with no condiments to be able to add some spice other than salt and pepper. Only a complaint, as I enjoy cooking and was slightly disappointed, not in the quality of the ingredients, just in the lack of flavour.
The excursions were very good and organised the evening before in the bar before dinner. They are run by Mafia island diving, and the staff were very friendly and knowledgable. The trip to the blue lagoon is not to be missed, tides permitting.
We didn't have a massage.
Tanzanian Birthday Adventure
Pole Pole - Slowly Slowly!! What a perfect place to chill at the end of our adventure.
Lovely bungalows spaced a little above the beach with a view of the Indian Ocean a little obscured by vegetation but this ensured the verandahs - with chairs, table and day bed - were not overlooked.
On arrival we were greeted by charming Anne who told us all about Pole Pole and also about any activities that were available - advising us that some one from the Dive Centre (which organised the activities) would be in the bar at 19.00 each evening.
We had decided that we were going to be very lazy on this part of our trip and only joined the trip to the neighbouring island of Chole - very interesting and a sunset cruise. We could have gone diving, snorkelling or on all day trips to various places had we wished.
I did indulge in a super massage with the lovely Wanda - very relaxing and thoroughly recommended!
The food was absolutely delicious but there was far too much of it!! Breakfast offered us fruit, pancakes , muffins as well as bacon & eggs ( yes I have to admit we did indulge ourselves occasionally though not with everything! Lunch was three courses all was really tasty but especially the crab quiche . As if all this wasn't enough dinner was four courses! We really enjoyed the Swahili dinner. All the food was beautifully fresh using locally sourced fruit and vegetables and fish caught by local fishermen. The seafood was particularly good.
The charming and helpful staff lead by Anne and the delightful surroundings made this the perfect place to end our Tanzanian Birthday Adventure.
Pole Pole - distinctly individual in stlye
Just half an hour flight from Dar es Salaam, a short drive and you’re in another place, another time. The lodge is rustic in character – lots of dark wood, thatch and charming period brass bathroom fittings – and very comfortable. We were warmly welcomed by Anne and her team and we were pleased that locals from the nearby village are employed at the lodge and used as guides. They were enthusiastic, warm and great fun.
The lodge makes its own bread and yogurt and serves a variety of delicious freshly-caught fish and salad dishes. We were always offered an alternative to fish for dinner but, honestly, fish is what they do best. A Swahili style dinner was also very good.
The lodge works closely with the Mafia Diving Centre, which is just a short walk away, to provide daily snorkelling and land based excursions around the group of islands. Diving is available too. A representative from the diving centre met with us each daily to agree the next day’s activity. The ones that were inclusive in our package tended to last just a few hours, leaving plenty of time for relaxing at the lodge and on the beach. High tides and (low) visitor numbers while we were there added to the charm of Pole Pole but did restrict some of the activities offered. As snorkelling from the beach was not possible, we were taken out in the lodge’s dhow to reefs in the bay. The reefs, now recovering since dynamite fishing has stopped, were picture-book beautiful and full of life.
Abiding memories of our time at Pole Pole are sipping cocktails while watching the fruit bats set out at sunset on their night’s foraging, enjoying a blissful massage listening to the waves, the breeze in the palms and the distant sound of the call-to-prayer from the village mosque, and the chocolate cake the kitchen staff surprised us with on our anniversary.
Pole Pole review
We came here to dive and relax and that is what we did and enjoyed. The lodge is well looked after, elevated above the beach to guarantee a constant breeze and the pool is welcoming.
After the raving reviews we had read prior to our stay we had expected a bit more luxury; to us, the beds were very small and uncomfortable and we experienced the dining room chairs equally uncomfortable. As the lodges philosophy is to only source everything from Mafia, the furniture was of a very simple style not perfectly suitable for our aged bodies.
The staff was very friendly, well trained and with good attitudes, no wish remained unfulfilled. The quality of the food was mixed - we had days of outstanding quality and meals we did not enjoy at all. We did raise this at PolePole and the management is well aware of this as other guests have given similar feedback.
We would recommend to explain to future guests that swimming from the lodges beach is impossible due to tidal currents and corals at most times. Smells are strong at low tides. The diving and snorkelling was superb, as was the PADI base a short walk away.