Tree House Accommodation at Chole Mjini Beach Lodge
Chole Mjini Lodge offers a unique atmosphere, unlike any other Africa hotels. Set among ancient Baobab trees and oriented to catch the cool sea breezes, each has a splendid view to the North of all of Chole Bay and the forests beyond. The accommodations at Chole Mjini Lodge impart a sense of rugged adventure combined with casual luxury that is part Swiss Family Robinson, Tarzan, Indiana Jones and the Arabian nights. Each house has at least one double bed, made-up with fine Egyptian cottons and protected by a huge, walk-in mosquito net.
Each tree-house has a shower, with both hot and cold water, and its own dry composting toilet, situated at the base of the tree in it's own private garden. The 'ground-house' has an en-suite bathroom with a sunken, mosaic-decorated Persian bath, a flush toilet and a large private garden, especially for those who cannot or do not want to live in a tree.
There is no electricity on Chole Island so, whilst you can expect ice-cold drinks and get your camera batteries charged, there is no television, no air-conditioning and no fax or email facilities available to the guests. Meals are served in the dining area overlooking the small harbor and the accent is on fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables, including many traditional and local dishes but also utilizing recipes from throughout the tropics that are adapted to local ingredients and the zesty local spices.
There is a delightful upstairs bar with sweeping views, where sodas, beer, wine, and wide range of spirits are available. The downstairs lounge area has a wide range of games, magazines, reference books and novels for the use of the guests.
Accommodation at Chole Mjini Lodge:
The six tree-houses have been individually designed and built by host Jean and the local villagers. They are each very different from one another, with quirks and features that react to each individual location. It would actually be more accurate to call them stilt-houses, since not all of them are actually in the trees. They are inspired the stilt-houses still built by the semi-nomadic peoples of the Rufiji Delta directly opposite Mafia Island, on the mainland.
We are able to take requests for specific tree-houses, but we cannot guarantee them as it is sometimes necessary to shuffle them around at the last minute in order to accommodate everyone.
Tree-house 1 :
The first built at Chole Mjini Lodge, and a real favourite, this tree-house is constructed around a huge baobab tree. Elegant and simple, it consists of a rectangular platform with a roof and a nice big bed. Private bathroom on ground level. All rooms have a hand-basin, a small safe and a simple cupboard for your clothes. No space for extra bed.
Tree-house 2 :
This tree-house is also built around a huge baobab tree and features a an upstairs room / viewing platform, reached by step ladder from the bedroom, which is great for lounging about and watching the birds come home to roost in the early evening. Private bathroom on ground level. Extra double bed on upper floor for children or third person, accessed by ladder.
Tree-house 3 :
This one is not so impressive when you first approach it because it appears to not be very high off the ground, but it is actually built up on the rocks above the mangroves and has a huge outside platform/second bedroom for lounging and is right on/over the water. The main bed is suspended from the ceiling on ropes, which means it can swing if you make it. Ground level bathroom. Extra double bed for the seasick, children or extra adults, accessed by steps.
Tree-house 4 :
This room is right at the far end of the grove and has superb views from its upstairs viewing platform, across the mangroves and Chole Bay to the coast of Mafia Island and the open ocean. Ground level bathroom. Extra single bed on upper floor for child or third person, accessed by ladder.
Tree-house 5 :
A free-standing room (ie. without the tree), which is constructed by the side of the ruins of a very impressive house of a former slave-trader. Set back a bit from the sea. Private bathroom on ground level in a huge private garden. Extra single bed on upper floor for child or third person, accessed by ladder.
Tree-house 6 :
This is the latest and largest of the tree-houses. Set out on the beach above the water and with a private bathroom on ground level. Two extra single beds on upper floor for child or third person, accessed by ladder.
This room is considerably different from all the other rooms, being ground-based and therefore a lot more conventional. It makes up for this with a magnificent bed (see photo), and en-suite bathroom with a huge sunken bath and the only flush toilet on the island. The fact that it is closest to the bar and restaurant could be a slight downside. Space for extra bed.A quick word about the bathroom facilities which are not exactly conventional, but are pretty cool. Bathrooms take the form of large outdoor bamboo-lined bathroom areas, on the ground adjacent to the tree-houses. The toilets are composting toilets, essentially 'modified long drops', but are clean and do not usually smell.
The shower is a real Heath-Robinson affair which involves the lighting of a paraffin wick in a sheath around the water pipe. Flames heat the water directly, giving a good hot shower. All this takes place in the great outdoors and adds up to about the best bathroom experience we've ever had. But it does take some getting used to.
Food & Drink
The food here at Chole takes its lead from the traditional Swahili style, so lots of fresh fish, octopus, lobster and other seafood, vegetables and fruits, all richly laced with herbs and spices. Chole does as good a take on this Swahili cuisine as anywhere on the islands and we often receive feedback to this effect. This is not necessarily elegant food, but it is high quality authentic fare, all fresh and all totally organic.
Likewise the tableware is simple and includes such things as plastic thermos flasks and salt grinders, such as some of you may remember from the best safari camps of old. There is a hint of Chole being a bit old-fashioned in this respect, but with the interiors of some safari camps looking more like chic New York apartments these days, this is probably a good thing.
Breakfast is usually served on separate tables around the main areas and consists of fresh fruits, mango, papaya and bananas, along with toast and homemade preserves.
Lunch is usually served on a single large table, with guests coming back in from diving, sailing or walking expeditions to spend a leisurely hour or so at the table before often retiring for a short siesta.
Dinner is served in a number of ways, depending on the mix of guests and, presumably, on the mood of the hosts.
Private dinners can be served in the treehouses or at various locations around the lodge, or big tables are sometimes laid on amongst the ruins, beautifully illuminated by lanterns. Sometimes the old man from the village is invited in to play his zumari (a kind of rudimentary clarinet) and on other occasion full parties are laid on and the village comes trouping in for a big song and dance, which can run on late into the night.
All food is included in the price and bottled water is made available to the guests free of charge ... that is to say enough to drink, but not to wash in.
Rates / Prices
Enquiries / Questions