Chole Mjini Lodge, Mafia Island
This small, discreet lodge is carefully constructed to minimize the human footprint. Chole Mjini offers rustic luxury in the form of six wooden tree houses and one ground-level house all with private facilities. Activities include dhow trips, swimming, SCUBA diving, snorkelling, beachcombing, guided forest walks, fishing and village visits. Seasonal activities include snorkelling with whale sharks, observing turtle nesting and turtle hatching.
The “downside” is that there is no electricity or running water, no radio or TV, no wireless, no cars, no sirens … just the natural ebb and flow of an African island breathing. For true adventurers who are looking for a beach holiday with rustic luxury, this is the perfect place. Wake up to birds calling and a light breeze billowing your mosquito net and enjoy a morning cup of tea which was winched up to your tree house in a basket.
During the day join one of the large range of included excursions: snorkelling, dhow sailing, picnics, sandbar trips and sunset cruises. Watch the nightly migration of the native fruit bats between roost and fruit trees. The lodge is lit by hurricane lamps and under a canopy of stars enjoy either a convivial communal dinner with your fellow guests or a romantic dinner in a variety of private locations around the Lodge.
The lodge lies inside Mafia Island Marine Park, nestled on the northern point of the island of Chole, one of the smallest, in the Mafia archipelago at only ½ km wide by 1km long.
Chole Island offers guests beautiful scenery with its mangrove fringes, tropical bird life, imposing baobabs and spectacular vistas over the azure seas of Chole Bay. It was once the administrative capital of the archipelago and under colonial rule the island was a thriving centre with a population of 5,000 and was one of the central ports of the infamous East African trade routes. The ruins of this past history are evident throughout the Lodge and are incorporated in the design.
Daily 30-minute flights from Dar es Salaam; landing at Mafia Airstrip, guests are greeted and transferred by car to Utende, a 30 to 40 minute drive, including a stop at the Mafia Island Marine Park Gate to pay park fees. At Utende, it’s time to remove your shoes and dip your toes in the Indian Ocean to wade out to the waiting dhow to make the final 10 minute trip over to Chole.
6 tree houses and 1 ground house.
Lodge can accommodate max 23 guests.
Each tree house offers its own character and speciality – whether perched on beach rocks, eclipsed by a giant baobab or nestled in the ancient ruins – all tree houses offer al fresco living, perfect privacy, stunning views and sea breezes.
- Rooms and lodge pathways are lit by solar lights.
- Electrical items can be charge at the lodge
- For security each tree house offers a lockbox and a digital safe.
- Free laundry service, returned within 24 hours (depending on weather!).
- The main pavilion is in a grove of ancient baobab trees facing a mangrove forest.
- There is a well-stocked library of novels and reference books.
- The Haneshi Bar is on the second floor (guests only)
- The Red Herring bar, set on the foreshore opposite Utende, is a public bar and is a perfect spot for watching the sun set over Mafia.
Electricity & Water
- Kerosene powered hot water for showers.
- Lighting is by kerosene lanterns except in the Red Herring Café.
- Solar batteries available as charge points for mobiles and other electronic equipment.
- Drinking water is bottled.
- Rain water is collected in 50 litres drums for watering the garden and doing the laundry.
Cell phone signals are received from all major networks within the lodge area. To avoid intruding upon the peace and quiet, guests are requested to please observe the following courtesies:
- Please ensure the ring tone is kept at a low volume to avoid disturbing other guests.
- Please use phone in the privacy of the room and not any of the common areas: dining room, bar/lounge area and in the ruins at dinner time.
Child policy: children are welcome.
Activities (included in the tariff)
Chole Bay snorkelling
Travel by dhow within the Marine Park to one of the many fantastic snorkelling sites. The stunning corals and huge variety of fish can be enjoyed time and time again. Please note snorkelling equipment is not included but can be hired on a daily basis from the hotel.
Swimming at high tide is wonderful in the mangrove creek at the hotel but at low tide it can be hard to access the water so 15 minutes by boat and you can enjoy Marimbani sandbar, which is perfect for sunbathing, walking and swimming in crystal clear waters. Shade is provided.
Sail by dhow around Chole Island and just as the sun hits the horizon anchor up and drink in the setting sun and welcome the stars.
Try your hand at sailing on your way back from snorkelling or the sandbar; the experienced, local boatmen will guide you.
Stroll through Chole village and learn about daily life in a traditional Swahili village while you visit the Fruit Bat sanctuary, the old mosque, the boat yard or some of The Chole Mjini Trust Fund projects, such as the Learning Centre and Kindergarten. If you don’t fancy getting lost we can organise a guide for you.
Island Fringe Walk
At low tide, meander around the island through the mangrove fringe and sandy beaches. Other excursions which are charged on the final bill include…
Turtle hatching with Sea Sense
Season: April – September
On the remote beaches of Juani, the neighbouring island, watch as turtles take their first journey from nest to ocean.
Season: October – April (optimum months January – March) An awe-inspiring excursion to snorkel alongside these gentle giants.
Lost City of Kua
On Juani Island explore the fascinating ruins of this Shirazi trading town (1300 – 1900 AD).
Swim with upside-down stingless jellyfish
At spring tides cruise through the “Amazon” channel of Juani to swim in a hidden saltwater pool populated by stingless upside-down jellyfish.
Island & Sandbar Daytrips
Travel further afield to the islands of Jibondo or relax in the paradise of Kitutia sandbar or delight in the unadulterated Mange Reef
Even within a Marine Park, a permit is available for international visitors to game fish for half or full days with an opportunity to catch trevally, tuna, grouper and many more.
Everything a diver could need – single and double dives, night dives and the full range of PADI courses, not to mention flawless reefs, a huge variety of fish and stunning corals. Between the months of June to October the weather limits our diving to inside the bay, but from November through to April enjoy the delights of diving outside the bay to experience the full range of diving Mafia has to offer.
Full Body Massage
Experience full, top-to-toe relaxation by having a full body massage (available for women only).
The literal translation of the Swahili name Chole means ‘in the village’. As such, the lodge has been developed in conjunction with the local community who derive benefit from its success. The potential for community interaction is central to the Chole offering. Guests are welcome to visit this village as a half-day activity – these visits includes education centre, primary school, local boat building facility, children’s kindergarten and local farms.
More in-depth involvement to help us with our community efforts can be arrange along with long stay accommodation rates.
Luggage: Please be aware of the strict weight restrictions (15kg / 33 lbs) whilst traveling on light aircraft. It is mandatory to bring soft-sided bags so that they can easily be stowed.
Guide price $235 per person per night (twin share). Discounts and seasonal variations apply – please check with Venture Co before booking.
Rates include full board and accommodation; tea and coffee, bottled drinking water, laundry service and Chole Bay excursions and village levy @ $10 per person per night or free for children under 15 (included within your initial invoice).
- Mafia Island Marine Park fees @ $20 per person / $10 per child (aged 5 – 15) per night or free for children under five. Please note this is paid personally in US dollars at the Marine Park gate upon arrival. Please ensure you carry the correct amount and all dollar bills have been issued post 2006.
- Airport Transfers @ $40 each way (max 4 guests per vehicle)
- Drinks (which are signed for)
- Extra excursions, including fishing, diving and equipment hire
- Final bills are payable in US dollars, Tanzanian Shillings (rate varies) or credit card (VISA or MASTERCARD), but please note paying by card incurs a 5% surcharge.