Reviews of Unguja Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Wish we had stayed longer
Set within the Menai Bay conservation area and within walking distance of Kizimkazi village, Unguja Lodge is in a great location. After spending 5 nights relaxing at Pongwe it was great to have various activities available to us.
The rooms at Unguja are just unbelievable! Huge open spaces with fantastic views of the indian ocean. The design is very unique. Large curved white wash walls seperate each room whilst still creating a very open feel to the whole place.
The shower room and toilet are both open air. I still miss being able to see the indian ocean whilst showering.
The bedroom is the only room that is completely 'inside'. This adds a great sense of comfort during the night.
The food at Unguja was similiar to most place we stayed in Tanzania. Great taste and good size portions.
There are a number of activities on offer at Unguja. We chose the guided village walk and the robinson crusoe day trip.
Our robinson crusoe trip started after breakfast. It took around an hour by boat to get to our snorkelling point. The menai bay has some beautiful coral and an abundance of diffrerent tropical fish.
After snorkelling we had lunch on a nearby sandbank. Then an hours trip back to the lodge.
We felt the trip was fairly expensive $110 each I think. Snorkelling was good but only lasted 20 minutes and thought we could of visited a few different places maybe. The lunch was fairly basic aswel and couldn't help but be envious of another couple that turnt up with a bbq lunch!
The guided village walk was a real highlight. The guide Rachid is a charming man and we loved learning about his village and their way of life.
Everyone we met within the village were very welcoming and they loved having their pictures taken. We could not recommend the village walk enough. Especially as your money goes straight to the village.
The staff at Unguja are very helpful and welcoming. The owners would always ask how your day had been and are often seen at the bar at night chatting to guests. This helps create a great atmosphere at Unguja.
Overall we would definately recommend Unguja. We would of loved to have stayed longer!
A wonderful place to stay
What a delight to stay here! It is an extremely high quality hotel with delightful staff. The owners, Ralph and Elies, were charming and very professional, with high standards. All the staff were lovely too - the people serving at dinner and behind the bar were friendly, polite and attentive, and Mwona the receptionist was really nice.
The villa was out of this world - we had one of the sea view ones which was a few metres from the sea - accessible by a few steps. Others have described the villas probably better than I can. Huge thatched roof which overlaid the solid structure containing an enclosed bedroom (mosquito mesh on open windows), open sitting room, bathroom with huge shower, separate toilet, and then another open-air bedroom upstairs. It was all most beautifully furnished with cushions made from local fabrics and artwork on the walls from local materials.
We had been on safari for a week and so were looking to relax here for our 4-night stay, and that is what we did. It is very quiet. The pool area was comfortable with good shade.
We did venture on a snorkelling trip which was a little disappointing. The visibility was not great and although we saw some fish it was not as good as we were expecting. Unfortunately we also got stung by jellyfish - it wasn't major and the crew had vinegar to put on it immediately but it was enough to put us off a bit. We did see a couple of dolphins on the way back though! We decided not to do the classic dolphin sighting trip as we did not want to contribute to the harassment of these animals. Apparently the Lodge does do their trips carefully though, and leaves the dolphins if too many boats turn up.
The other activity we did was the tour of the local village with one of the villagers who is employed by the hotel as Head of Security, lamp lighter and general factotum! We really enjoyed the tour - it costs $5 per person which is actually a donation to the village fund, and gave us a bit of an insight into how the locals live.
The food here was excellent - quite a bit of seafood and also good vegetarian choices. Good use of local spices and coconut. At dinner there was always a choice for each course, and the menu was chalked up earlier in the day so if you wanted something different you could ask for it. Lunch (not included in the price) was either a set 3-course meal with choice, or you could have other dishes such as sandwiches or pasta. Cost was between $5 and $15. The other lovely touch was that they had made a cake for my birthday (presumably alerted to this by Ellie) and brought it in with candles, singing 'Happy Birthday' and banging a saucepan for rhythm!
Unguja Lodge review
Family villa huge and comfortable lots of space inside and out
Wonderful time with the dolphins-the crew were magnificent
Excellent pool but difficult to see steps getting in and out.
Spoilt by Moya's fall. Ralph and Elise very kind and efficient in dealing with her
Unguja Lodge review
This place is amazingly beautiful and the garden villa I had was huge with a private plunge pool and resident vervet monkeys to watch morning and late afternoons. The food was ok, but could have been better considering the standard of the accommodation. This is a luxury resort with a beautiful pool and dining area and prices to match.
The beach is the usual Zanzibar beach with a deep tide, but it is lovely.
The dive shop seems competent, but the 1 ½ hour snorkelling trip was 1 ½ hours from the dive shop back to the dive shop, so that the actual snorkelling time was way too short.
However, the only real difficulty I ran into is that Kimikazi, the local village celebrates Eid al Fitr a week later than the rest of the Islamic world and then do so with 4 days of exuberant celebration which involves great music played very very loudly from 4 pm to just past midnight. The garden villas are right next to the village. At night closed windows and air-con tames the volume, but between 4 pm and dinner time the garden villa was, for me, unuseable.
The owner was understanding and kind enough to find me a place at another resort and to arrange a delightful driver to get me there.
I would certainly stay there again, just not during the local Eid.
Unguja Lodge review
This lodge is very well designed, both public areas and chalets. Chalets are enormous and encourage relaxation in various postures. The dining area is lovely and enables groups to be together, or cosy corners for couples. Food is great, and the fish options are marvellous.
Lounging or sitting around pool is very easy too. ~Although not used by us, the dive centre looks well run and beginners and young children were well catered for.
The main limitation of Unguja is the location: it sits on a coral platform that is isolated at high tide - and even at low tide, timing a walk along the beachfront can be tricky. Southern winds meant swimming/snorkelling from the lodge were difficult - but with calm weather options would improve. This is a perfect location for the dolphins (which can be seen from the lodge) but we declined the boating option which seems to be something of a circus (this is no reflection on the lodge) with too much poor behaviour from local 'captains'.
Unguja Lodge review
This is a beautiful lodge, combining elegance and simplicity, perched on the edge of a coral cliff overlooking the sunset and turquoise ocean. As it has family huts, which are spacious and have three separate bedrooms, it is ideal for those travelling with children. The view from the terrace is breathtaking. The lodge itself is well designed, with a biggish pool and tasteful dining room. The foot was very good, with fresh fish from the sea often cooked with local spices.
There are colobus monkeys living in the trees between the lodge, which are very funny to observe. It's important for anybody thinking of going here to know that the lodge doesn't really have a beach, or rather it does but it's not one that you can swim from, as there are rocks in the shallows even in high tide, withnumerous sea urchins. However, at high tide, you can swim straight from the lodge steps, and snorkel, which is wonderful.
Activities were run by the dive centre, and we had an amazing trip at dawn swimming with wild dolphins. Unguja takes wildlife seriously, and only does such trips early in the morning before the other boats get out; after a while, there are too many irresponsible boats out there surrounding the animals, which is a shame.
The only negative points were the cost of a taxi to Stonetown and back, which makes taxis in Europe look cheap. The red wine by the glass was also disappointing, given that there is so much good South African wine available. Otherwise, highly recommended.
Unguja Lodge exceeds expectations
What a delightful place! and well worth the hour's drive from the airport.
The most imaginatively designed huts with deep thatched rooves and white plaster curved interiors. They feel very spacious, and it feels as if there are only a few people there. This plus the warm welcome from Elies and Ralph gave it a personal family feeling. Excellent food and service and very relaxing.
Although it only has a small beach, at high tide you can step straight into the sea, and I went snorkelling with the dive team at nearby reefs. Altogether a very relaxing few days, and we agreed, a place we would love to return to
Unguja Lodge review
Lovely place, vey well maintained, very helpful and friendly staff. Excellent layout of the 'room', with a modesty screen in the bathroom much appreciated.The monkeys partying above us were amusing.
We enjoyed our walk round the village with our guide: we wouldnt have seen or understood much without him.
Our boat picnic and snorkelling trip was rather adversely affected by heavy rain, and because the boat is slow a shortish trip is rather spun out, and very expensive.
The journey to the airport takes quite a long time, going via Stonetown, so I think we would have been better off starting here and finishing in Kilindi
Unguja Lodge review
What a delight to stay at our first and only owner-operated lodge. Ralph and Elise were both delightful and very hands-on but not overbearing. The lodge is drop-dead gorgeous and I could have spent several more weeks there. Our "hut" was so spacious and comfortable and lovely with a view of the ocean.
The dive operation is first-rate and the equipment was excellent. We had not necissarily planned on diving but after meeting the dive master and looking at the operation, we signed on and had three of the most spectacular days of diving of our 25 year diving lives.
We would return to Africa just to go to Unguja Lodge.
Unguja Lodge review
This was the highlight of our trip. The hotel is beautifully designed with around 10 private lodges. We (thanks to some smart footwork by Expert Africa) had a sea view. The lodges are spacious, very comfortable, and comfortable. There is free internet but you need to be in the main building (where you have meals and drinks) to access it. The food is very good with a decent choice at every meal. There is power throughout the day.
Lots to do - walking, snorkelling, diving. There are plenty of books to help you identify birds and other creatures. We did the snorkelling which was amongst the best we have done anywhere - but better on the second trip where we elected for the Robinson Crusoe trip which took us out to a reef on a nearby island. We saw dolphins and sailfish on the way out.
The second trip is more pricey and includes lunch on a sandbank. My choice would have been to skip the lunch and just spend more time snorkelling. You don't need your own equipment - they supply everything and it is good stuff. The masks don't leak and the flippers are comfortable (but choose a size larger than your shoe size or you may find them a little tight).
Food is good and there is a modest choice each meal. One of the key features is that everyone working there seems to enjoy their job. They are pleasant, helpful, but also just seem happy.That is nice.
Leaving Zanzibar is tedious - take lots of small notes with you as EVERYONE wants a tip.