On the tiny island of Chole in the Mafia archipelago, within Tanzania's first Marine Park, you will find Chole Mjini, set amongst lush jungle, overgrown orchards and mangrove forest. Named after the ruins of a once thriving trading center between the Sultanates of Kilwa and Zanzibar and hidden among them, you will discover unique accommodations in six magnificent treehouses and one luxurious suite on the ground. 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 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 treehouse 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 "groundhouse" has an en-suite bathroom with a sunken, mosaiced Persian bath and 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 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.
Activities: Water Sports: Snorkeling, Wind Surfing, and SCUBA diving. Swimming from Chole is possible for 6 hours a day around high tide.
SCUBA: Chole Mjini has a very well equipped SCUBA diving facility and an experienced PADI diving instructor with extensive local knowledge. Introductory, novice, open water, specialty and advanced courses are available. The Mafia Island Marine Park was established because of the fabulous wealth and diversity of corals and fishes and the diving is spectacular. SCUBA diving is possible throughout the year but is best from November through April. There are lots of big fish and a chance to see dolphins, rays, sharks and other rarities. Mafia offers probably the best all-round diving experience in East Africa, with protected shallow coral gardens and reefs inside Chole Bay for beginners and novices as well as deep water diving, sheer walls and exhilarating drift dives for the advanced and expert divers.
Fishing: A few rods without end-tackle (so bring your own) are available and Mafia is world-renowned for it's game fishing. However, because most of the good fishing sites are now protected within the core zone of the Park and there is an additional licencing fee to pay, fishing has been de-emphasized at Chole Mjini.
Excursions: Dhow trips are planned daily to the sandbanks and smaller islands for exploring, birding, swimming and sunbathing. Hikes along the village trails and also further afield to the nearby island of Juani to explore the forests and ruins of ancient Kua can be guided or unaccompanied, as it suits you.
Bird Watching: Chole Island does not have the Indian House Crow, which is the scourge of bird life on most of the East African Coast. As a result, the bird life is spectacular, especially within the hotel grounds, the uninhabited islets in the bay and the remoter parts of next-door Juani Island.
Wildlife: Chole is a sanctuary for the Commores Fruit Bat, a large, good-looking, fructivore also known as the 'Flying Fox'. These can be seen resting in the trees during the day and active in the early evening. If you rise early you may also see monkeys, genet and, very rarely, civet. Giant Nile monitors patrol the hotel grounds all day long and they are often seen from the treehouses.
Village Tours: Chole is a small island of one village. Chole Mjini has been actively involved in establishing and running many projects that assist the community such as the hospital, primary school, kindergarten, market, bursary and loan schemes, and other development projects which are partially funded by our guests through the village levy included in your accommodation tariff. The community welcomes and extends a warm hospitality to you and there is much of interest in the village. Chole is famous for it's boats and in the boat yard you can see dhows being built as they have been for centuries. Another renowned local craft is mat weaving and a large variety of items for sale can be found at the market. Please remember to act modestly and dress appropriately when in the village in order not to offend your hosts and thus make the most of the rare opportunity to visit a traditional Swahili village, still unspoiled by the "march of progress".