Reviews of Unguja Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
The safari aspects of the trip were always more important to me, but I enjoyed Unguja. The rooms and food were excellent, the owners very friendly. I did a few dives with the dive centre which is very conveniently located on site.
The only suggestion I would make is that if someone is using the upstairs sleeping area (as I was), there really needs to be some sort of monkey-proof storage area provided. We were told the monkeys would come in and take small items, even clothes etc so we should just secure all our belongings in the downstairs bedroom. Apparently they can even open zips eg on toiletry bags. But this wasn't a satisfactory solution, especially when I was getting up early to dive and didn't want to be going in and out of the downstairs bedroom disturbing my friend. Even in the bathroom there was nowhere to leave hair brushes, toiletries etc. Surely it would be possible to provide one monkey-proof cupboard or chest in the bathroom and one in the sleeping area? I felt like I was living out of my bag for the whole stay!
Unguja - lovely spot in which to unwind
We all thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Unguja. Ralph and Elies our hosts were charming and very informative and helpful.
Our sea view villas were very unusual and we really enjoyed watching the black tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys that visited the trees next to our verandah. We were warned not to leave anything in the outside areas as the monkeys liked to help themselves to iPods, sunglasses and the odd bikini bottom and also were quite happy to go and jump on the outdoor bed upstairs, especially if the mosquito net was up so they could swing on it!
We also did the tour of Kizimkazi with Raschid one of the hotel staff who is an elder of the village and he took us on a two hour walk, giving us a potted history of the village and the life of it's inhabitants, culminating at his home. It was interesting and very humbling.
My husband and I did a snorkel trip one morning with Nick who runs Unguja Divers on site and it was somewhat disappointing as visibility was fairly poor due to some bad weather earlier in the week churning up the sand and also there was quite a strong current that day. We understood that we could snorkel from the beach but Nick had advised us that it wasn't really worth it so he took us out by boat but still fairly close to shore - not really worth the $70 for the trip.
Once again we were celebrating a birthday and our anniversary which happened to be on travel days between locations and kindly acknowledged by our hosts who put a bottle of sparkling wine in a cooler on our terrace! Also enjoyed the fruit platter in our room. FYI, hairdryers available for guest use!
Life with monkeys
Another beach side lodge, very stylish and welcoming. We had a garden room with our own plunge pool. The space was fabulous and we sat there sometimes in preference to the public areas - unlike some hotel rooms were you fee hemmed in, this was spaciousness all round.
The staff were very welcoming and when one of us had an upset stomach they very happily cooked food to order and off menu and prepared special herbal teas. The monkeys around the lodge were fun and it was lovely to be in an environment which was as little untouched by the lodge as possible. The walk along the beach was great too, which is all we did, this being the relaxing part of our holiday.
We didn't really try the watersports on offer, but another time would do - they appeared well organised and cater for all ages and abilities
Come here to dive/snorkel the coral reefs
The bandas are well designed, very comfortable and entirely perfect for those who like space - they are enormous! Ours had a sea view and I recommend it.
With a dive centre on site this is a good place to learn to dive, although you will see lots just snorkeling. At low tide there is a beach, but nothing to match the East coast, as the beach here is completely covered at high tide. It does not dry out as a consequence, so the staff take beds down to the beach to lie on. We stayed there quiet happily watching fishermen in their dugouts and others wading the surf looking for crab and octopus.
It got quite crowded around the lovely pool, but everyone got on and made friends. The Dutch owners are very personable and accommodating, arranging a sea food lobster supper for me when I asked, and for little extra cost. We stayed for three nights only, but would seriously consider coming back to take a diving course.
Ralph and Elies are delightful and their personal touch made for a delightful stay.
They noticed that it was my wife's birthday and unprompted arranged a private dinner by the sea for our family to celebrate. This is a wonderfully peaceful place with a pretty beach and excellent pool.
The staff were all excellent and the tour through the village with Rashid was fascinating.
Beautiful and Relaxing Unguja Lodge
We finished our safari with 8 nights at Unguja lodge where we were looked after very well by Elies and Ralph along with their friendly and helpful staff. The village tour with Rashid was excellent and he has made it his own and honoured us with a visit to his own house and family.
For a truly relaxing time after a safari it would be difficult to beat Unguja Lodge. The food is excellent and our compliments to the house chef. Our family enjoyed beach combing when the tide was out and my son had his first scuba dive with Nick. All in all we had a fantastic time here.
Unguja Lodge review
Loved the sea view lodge that was really worthwhile and special. Fantastic lodges , so spacious. Excellent for divers and snorkelers even saw whales swimming by.
Walking to the village was easy and felt very safe and wandering on the beach very enjoyable as the local folk collected their seashell food. A good place to relax at the end of a busy safari .
Unguja Lodge review
Rooms were lovely and very well kept, plus nice touches like books and games, and tea and coffee replenished. Outside bathroom was lovely but outside toilet was a little windy so may have preferred this inside! As the lodge was quiet we got a free upgrade to a sea view villa was much appreciated.
Restaurant was beautiful and the food was excellent. Most of the waiters were very friendly but occasionally they were a little brisk or aloof especially when we first arrived.
Regarding activities, we were unaware that June is the windy season in Zanzibar. It was very windy at the lodge and as such we were unable to snorkel on the house reef in front of the lodge due to sea conditions. The house reef was the main reason we chose Unguja so this was very dissapointing, We therefore went on an expensive island trip to go snorkelling offshore which was good but was a cost we were not expecting to pay.
We also went twice to see the Kizimkazi dolphins but were fairly unsuccessful, only managing to briefly see two dolphins in the water as one of maybe 10 boats.
The best activity we did at the lodge was Rasheed's village tour of Kizimkazi. This was great value and a very interesting insight in to Zanzibar life that we would not have been able to get alone.
Expert Africa comments
Travellers should note that June and July are the windy seasons in Zanzibar. Whilst snorkelling is usually possible during these months, some days are windier than others, which brings choppier seas and reduced visibility. It appears that these travellers were unlucky during their stay and experienced windier than usual conditions.
Unguja Lodge review
Gorgeous place with wonderful hosts and impeccably trained staff.
Fabulous food, friendly atmosphere, relaxed environment. Designed to be a part of natural surroundings, "bungalows" are more like private homes than hotel rooms. Elies and staff don't miss anything. Village tour was very informative.
Dolphin outing was fun but not sustainable. It should be more regulated so the dolphins are not so disrupted.
Lovely lodge, nearby reef good but not great
The lodge, its staff and the facilities were excellent. The food was good.
I didn't think the snorkelling was particularly good. The reef in front of the hotel is only really accessible at high tide and is fairly sparse, the snorkelling trip we went on went just a short way along the coast to a site that was better without being wonderful.