Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Pole Pole review
A very quiet and peaceful, perhaps even sleepy lodge. Not only the clock behind the bar has stopped but every single one in the place!
Rooms were very comfortable and bathrooms well equipped. Plenty of bottled water available free. The food was excellent though we felt the 3 course lunch and 4 course dinner was too much for us. In particular, there must be huge wastage of the pasta second course at dinner. Meals were dominated by fish which was great for us but must have been something of a problem for a fellow guest who didn't eat fish or shellfish.
Private sundowners on your balcony were a nice touch – the rain accompaniment was less welcome one evening!
Service was erratic – very good in the restaurant/bar but wake-up calls poor. Morning 1 the attendant turned up half an hour late and didn't know what we'd ordered, morning 2 no wake up was offered and he didn't turn up on morning 3.
Plenty of diving and other trips were available – we went to see turtles hatching on Juani island. Guests should be advised to take water with them on these trips as little is provided.
Unless you are a keen diver 3 nights is probably enough here; we missed having a pool particularly as the sea from the beach was not very swimmer-friendly being clogged with seaweed. A good-value massage went a long way to relaxing muscles suffering from bouncing around in safari vehicles and squeezing into small planes.
Pole Pole review
Lovely relaxed atmosphere withn good service. Good food, good excursions.
Bit disappointed with the beach which was limited depending on the tide
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole is an eco lodge however you would not think so from the excellent service and standard of the place.
Being only a few guests at one time one is assured of a personal service second to none. The temperatures were very high 33c and the humidity very high thus drying of things was a little bit of a problem........but no hassle to the understanding guest.
We ate like kings and queens the 5 star food. The sea was warm, the corral and fishes a marvel. The manager Gabriele who was standing in for the owner could not do too much for us and was concerned that each guest each day was getting the most out of Pole Pole and the facilities.
Finally one word of caution! The dining room chairs were instruments of torture and we were pleased to hear that Gabriele was to recommend that they were burnt as soon as possible, and some comfortable chairs purchased.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole's location - in terms of its proximity to fabulous dive sites - is fantastic. The rooms and the service, however, left something to be desired. For example, the servers seemed to have very limited understanding of English, which really interfered with their ability to get our orders correct, especially since they never wrote anything down. The rooms were okay but quite basic.
Another problem with Pole Pole - at least from a non-diver's perspective - is that there is little to do during down time. There is no pool and when the tide is out (which was usually for the majority of each day until late afternoon), there is no swimming from the beach. The lodge next door (not Mafia Island Lodge, but the one on the other side of Pole Pole), seemed to be similarly priced but the rooms looked to be nicer and in better condition and it also had a pool.
Expert Africa comments
As these travellers have pointed out, Pole Pole is a quiet beach lodge close to some of the best diving in Tanzania. There are a number of activities other than diving and snorkeling on offer, these include:
Activities available from Pole Pole :
• Sand bank visit
• Visit to Chole Island
• Visit ruins and the Blue Lagoon on Juani Island
• Jibondo Island – about an hour from Pole Pole
• Kitutia Reef
• Chuwia Beach – an hour by 4x4 from Pole Pole
• Ras Mkumbe – visit the lighthouse on most northernmost point of Mafia
• See whale sharks – either by boat or swimming – especially between Oct & March
The management at Pole Pole has assured us that each room has a folder listing these excursions, all of which are available from the lodge. There is also further information in the bar area. However if you do not wish to leave the lodge there is currently only a small beach in front of the lodge and when the tide is out it is not possible to swim at all times of the day. That said, Pole Pole have informed us that they are planning a new pool which should be finished for January 2011.
Pole Pole makes a point of employing local people from Mafia Island and Expert Africa fully supports this approach. Unfortunately one result of this is that their English can occasionally be a little basic. However, we rarely encounter complaints about this, as our guests usually find it adds to the authentic local flavour. We believe that it’s terribly important for lodges like this to create jobs for the local community.
The neighbouring lodge that these travellers mention is Kinasi Lodge. This is broadly similar in cost to Pole Pole – and we don’t feel that its standards are either vastly higher or lower. We feel that the choice between the two is a matter of taste and style; the atmosphere is very different. We inspect it regularly and we send travellers to both. Kinasi does have a pool but we wouldn’t rate either lodge as being either substantially nicer or in better condition than the other.
Wonderfully relaxed stay at Pole Pole
A very relaxing place to stay, delicious food and very comfortable accommodation. Diving was very good (many times better than Zanzibar), although the tidal system m at this time of year meant we had to meet at the dive centre (10 min walk) at 7.15 in the morning.
Service can be a little slow(particularly on making cocktails) at times, but the staff are ell meaning and do their best.
Despite the proximity to the local village, the local people do not hassle guests at all. There is a certain charm to seeing people going about their everyday work, fathers and sons singing while going about their fishing.
A pool would have made all the difference in the world. We walked to the neighbouring resort, and enquired about paying to use their(deserted) pool, and were quoted $50 for the day... Shame Pole Pole have not managed to set up a working arrangement pending the completion of their own pool.....
Other than that, the resort was really wonderful.
Pole Pole - relaxation after Safari
We spent 4 nights here after a Safari and hence looking to relax. We went early Jan and it was very hot. You should note that there is no aircon and there were quite a few biting insects, both during the day and night - take good replant, The rooms are very large and rustic nature. The large patio overlooking the sea is excellent, with a day bed, fan, chairs, etc.
The beach is fairly small, but with only 7 rooms, it is never busy. However, if you like long walks in the evening along the beach you will be disappointed. A wide range of activities are offered, with some complementary. The clarity of the complementary elements could be made clearer and in reality PolePole has its own boat and anything done with this is complementary. We did a Sunset Cruise, Snorkel trip (with guide) and trip to Chole Island all complementary. It is worth noting that many of the trips are tide dependant and because of the small number of rooms we could adapt trips to suit us. If you want to dive there is a dive centre next door.
What really makes this place is the staff, we found all were excellent, friendly and very helpful. I would like to especially mention Robin who was the main hosts and Alfa who worked on the boat. My recommendation is to talk to the staff and they will arrange most things and as we found out at no cost. Someone else just wanted to find out how to sail their traditional boat - no problem.
The food was very good, but there is no choice. They can cater is there are some dietry requirements (or specific dislikes), but you need to advise when you arrive. As you might expect it helps if you like fish and calamari. An earlier review suggested drinks price list to be provided in the rooms, PolePole response was to include, but still not done at time of our visit.
Go for relaxation, diving, sun bathing, but take insect repelant
So slow almost stopped!
A very relaxing location great views of the sea, lush gardens and a pleasant breeze which reduced the heat and humidity. Nice little beach amongst the mangroves with umbrellas and loungers. Short walk along the beach to the boat for snorkelling and picnic trips. Sailing on the dow at sunset was amazing and the simplicity of these traditional boats brilliant. Great massage - slowed down even more.
Walk to Utende village was interesting - the children are very interested in visitors, especially as they bring goodies, in our case mini highlighter pens and other guests had handed out balloons. You end up like the Pied Piper. The trip to Chole Island is good to see old slave trading ruins, fruit bats hanging in the trees waiting for dusk when they fly in their thousands to Mafia, the fruit and vegetables, village homes and buildings and finally the traditional dow building. The children like to have their photos taken and then see themselves in the camera screen - some are quite adept at posing - you need to keep covered as the people of Chole are muslim.
A little disappointed that there weren't the numbers to do a trip that we wanted to do - but as it was a relaxing end to our holiday it didn't really matter.
Definitely very slowly, slowly at Pole Pole.
Pole Pole review
Amazing food and friendly staff.Read more about the whole beach holiday
Pole Pole review
Mixed bag - excellent location, was a bit blustery to start with but did improve.
A little overfaced with food - too many courses and at times too rich. Swahili night was great.
Poor maintenance of mosquito nets did present a problem. Lyn was very friendly but seemed to be playing catchup as she had just taken over the management of the lodge this season.
Really enjoyed the trips snorkelling and sailing to the sandbank.