Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Pole Pole review
Loved Pole Pole.
Great rooms, food and people. Snorkling and boat rides were fun. The only downside is the lack of swimming/beach.
Overall a great spot.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole was a nice place to end our trip and unwind.
Unfortuately the wind didn't stop blowing while we were there , making water activities like boat trips and snorkelling difficult if not impossible without a strong stomach for the rolling of the boat and buffeting by the waves while snorkelling. Activities to sail to sand bars for picnics or evening drinks were cancelled while we were there. The wind also made it unsuitable for lying on the beach as well. Wind from this direction is apparently not uncommon in July.
The resort was quiet and relaxed - the service was very good - early morning tea delivered to the room and sundown room service for cocktails were nice touches The food was excellent - varied and interesting meals with excellent freshly made pasta and superb local fruits. We enjoyed the Swahli dinner as well.
Pole Pole review
Amazing food - particuarly pasta. Loved the room - spacious large veranda with great views. Rooms were very well serviced .
Very friendly and well trained staff. Good location - shame not to see the sun setting. Unfortunately very windy so activities curtailed but Lynne made sure there was always something interesting to do.
Wine expensive and not particuarly good.
A good place to stay
We didn't experience any major problems there, but somehow we felt it was not as relaxing as we had expected. Maybe Beho Beho has spoilt us for life ;) Anyway, the general impression was good, hence the rating we are giving, but there were a few details that left someting to be desired.
Pole Pole is indeed situated nicely among palm trees and right at a little beach. The managers and the staff were very friendly and no request was a problem for them, which we appreciate a lot. The massage on offer is great and the food was excellent indeed. The tomato soup and the carrot soup were the highlights - thanks for the recipe :) The flexible meal times is a great idea.
As for the activities, the two snorkelling trips we made were really nice - especially the second one, because there was sunshine and because some seat cushions were provided on the boat, unlike the first time. The visit to Utende was very interesting, many thanks to Mr Zeni, who proved a very good guide and took us to the primary school and the dispensary.
Unfortunately, the whale-sharks boat trip, for which we paid 60 USD per person, was absolutely unsuccessful - we spent half a day searching for them and found none, probably because of the bad weather at the time. We were charged in full for the trip, though. We understand that there are some costs to be covered anyway, like the driver's and the boat crew's fees, but we would have appreciated an appropriate discount, especially since - as were told - it was the very first time when no whale-sharks were to be seen.
Our general idea was to go to Pole Pole to relax after a safari, also to do a bit of snorkelling etc, but mostly to read and chill out in peace and quiet. Due to the tides, there isn't much sea to swim in in the mornings and not much of a beach in the afternoon (and the neighbouring beach wasn't very tranquil, really), so do not expect to be able to swim and use the beach any time you want, you have to spot the right moment for it. You can spend your relaxation time on your lodge's terrace, but there is only one day bed, so if you are two people that are NOT travelling as a couple, someone has to sit in a not-too-comfy chair or lie down on a bed in the room. Another option is to relax is the library - there is a hammock and you may be lucky to find it unoccupied. Might be a good idea to put hammocks in all the terraces.
The room and the bathroom were clean but the towels were kind of smelly, so we asked for a change, but the new ones smelt of damp as well. The beach towels were clean but there were some old yellow stains on them, which is a bit disappointing in a place that clearly has ambitions to be simple, but still a bit posh.
If we may make a suggestion, a price list for the soft drinks and alcoholic drinks should be privided in the rooms and in the bar - firstly, it's just nice to know what exactly is offered, secondly - it's nice to know the prices beforehand and not only when you sign the bill in the evenings.
Expert Africa comments
It is good to hear that Pole Pole’s standards of service, massage and food remain great. “No request was a problem for them” is a real accolade; backing up what we have always found - that Pole Pole’s team are fantastic. This is why the lodge is one of our favourite beach spots.
These travellers raised some interesting points. When we sent these comments to Pole Pole, the owner, Massimo, replied directly to us.
- Firstly, at that time there were problems with the towels. It was approaching the rainy season; humidity was above 80% and there had been bad weather. Hence, although clean, towels and linen left exposed to the air ended up feeling slightly damp, and with the towels it was hard to avoid the slightly musty smell that these travellers described. (This is a problem that hits coastal lodges at this time of year.) Pole Pole tell us that they are continuing to do their best on this – but short of tumble-drying every material every day (with a consequently huge ecological impact), it’s difficult to solve completely when the weather is very humid.
- These travellers had no boat cushions for the first of their daily complementary snorkeling trips. Pole Pole apologized profusely for this. Apparently the cushions had been caught in the rain the day before – and were being cleaned and dried. The lodge assures us that the boats should always have comfortable cushions, and this was an oversight.
- Pole Pole have taken on board the suggestion about ‘hammocks on verandahs’ and are aiming to implement something along these lines before re-opening in June 2009.
- They also noted that although there is already a drinks price list on display in the bar, there isn’t one in the rooms. This is another good suggestion and they will add this.
In general, Pole Pole’s Owner, Massimo, was quick to point out that he wouldn’t describe the lodge as “posh”, and that this is never what he has aimed for. We can vouch for that! Since the start – we first visited Pole Pole eight years ago in 2001! – Pole Pole have aimed to be a laid back, rustic yet stylish beach lodge – offering good food, cooked well and efficient, friendly service. They’ve never aimed to be either glitzy or posh.
Finally, it’s worth echoing one of the first comments that these travellers made – “maybe Beho Beho has spoilt us for life”.
Beho Beho is one of our top lodges in Africa, with impressively high standards of service, food, guiding and accommodation – and a price tag to match. (It costs about 3 times what Pole Pole costs!). Be warned: we find that it is so good that wherever our travellers go onto next ... it often doesn’t quite match up.
Pole Pole review
Very well managed by Gabrielle and all the staff were a delight. Food could be a bit more exciting though the fish was excellent.
Snorkelling was very well run and massages were superb and good value. Beautiful garden. Laundry service excellent.
The beds were poor especially the mattresses and the linen both of which need to be replaced by better quality ones.
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.