Chole Mjini, Mafia

eco lodge on mafia island

Chole Mjini is a unique eco-lodge in a stunning destination offering accommodation in 7 open tree houses and a complete retreat from the pace of modern life… no electricity or running water, no radio or TV, no wireless, no cars, no sirens just the purity of the natural ebb and flow of African island living.

Property Type
luxury eco lodge
7 tree houses
kids welcome
dive centre offsite

Disconnect from modern life, and reconnect with nature

Treehouse living at its best!

Simple, delicious cuisine of fresh fish & home-grown veggies

Fantastic diving opportunities, including swimming with whale sharks

If you like your modern conveniences, Chole Mjini is not for you!

With only 7 tree houses, carefully placed and designed, privacy is assured. Open to the elements, with the king-size bed the throne-like centre piece, each thatched platform is reached via sandy paths that lead through the natural vegetation. All have views of the sea, and some are close enough for you to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the tide trickling back through the mangrove roots.

The communal areas of Chole Mjini Lodge are set in lush tropical gardens, which border the ruins of the old Chole Town. 6 of the rooms are tree-houses, built using local techniques by expert craftsmen and set on platforms high up in giant Baobab trees, which gives breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and lulls you to sleep with the sounds of the lapping waves. The 7th room is a ground house, which is slightly larger and caters for families with small children.

Most tree houses have a 2nd level to accommodate children.

The concept behind Chole Mjini Lodge was to build something simple yet at the same time elegant and comfortable. The goal was to create a lodge appropriate for the location, which blended in with the bush, the ruins and the mangrove forest – and be open to nature, but still secure and able to withstand the occasional tropical storms.

In a tree house one can have privacy without having solid walls. No one can see into the houses from the ground and the absence of walls lets the Kaskazi wide pass through the houses during the warmer months. As a result you can enjoy cool nights almost all year round without a/c or fans – and all the houses face slightly East of North for this very reason.

Having watched the sun set and moon rise from the rooftop bar, you will gather around a candle-lit table under the stars – either within the 19th-century ruins, the crumbling walls clasped by fig tree roots like giant fingers in the flickering candlelight, or next to the murmuring ocean.

A strong Swahili influence provides delicate yet intense, flavourful spicing, and the judicious use of coconut milk. Fish and other seafood is freshly caught and delivered daily, and vegetables are grown on the island. The lodge has a fine selection of wines to complement any meal.

Activities at Chole Mjini Lodge are diverse, and you can do as much or as little as you want. Because the Indian Ocean is only meters away, diving, snorkeling, swimming and dhow sailing are hugely popular! There is a refurbished traditional dhow for full day excursions to magnificent sand banks, snorkeling trips or sunset cruises.

The waters around Mafia Island are home to a diverse array of marine life. Whale sharks are commonly sighted, as are potato cod, giant grouper and white-tipped reef sharks.

Other experiences include visiting the local village with a guide, exploring the local paths (a late-afternoon walk is often rewarded with a sighting of the local fruit bat colony in flight) or just lazing around in the sun.

Chole Bay snorkeling
Travel by dhow within the Marine Park to one of the many fantastic snorkeling sites Chole Bay has to offer. The stunning corals and huge variety of fish can be enjoyed time and time again. Please note snorkeling equipment is not included but can be hired on a daily basis from the hotel.

Try your hand at sailing on your way back from snorkeling or the sandbar; our experienced, local boatmen will guide you.

Village Walk
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.

Marimbani Sandbar
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.

Sunset Cruise
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.

Mafia Island is a world class diving destination. This marine park has some of the richest reefs in the World, with an unrivalled variety of hard and soft corals and tropical fish.

Some commonly seen fish species include; the giant potato grouper, emperors, triggerfish, sweetlips, angelfish, barracuda, trevally, lion fish and the ever illusive seahorse.  The diversity continues within the invertebrates with a huge variety of absolutely stunning nudibranchs as well as; feather stars, cleaner shrimp, numerous octopus species and coral crabs.  On a larger scale often seen are also; whale sharks, eagle rays, green and hawksbill turtles, bottle nose and spinner dolphins, humpback and pilot whales and reef sharks.

Chole Mjini Lodge partners with Mafia Island Diving, located across the small channel at Utende, to offer the best and safest diving to our guests. The dive centre offers day, night and double dives along with all PADI courses, from novice to Divemaster level, in safety and in respect of the environment of this beautiful island.

The protected Mafia Island Marine Park (821km²) is located between the Rufiji River Delta to the west and the open Indian ocean to the east. These two influences form one of the finest complexes of estuarine, mangrove, coral reef, and marine ecosystems in the world. The coral reefs being particularly diverse for Eastern Africa, providing a spectacular habitat for over 400 species of fish and 48 genera of hard coral – a scuba diver’s paradise!

The area includes critical habitat for the dugong (Dugong dugon) and sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lipidochelys livaceae, Dermochelys coriacea and Caretta caretta) as well as whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and has been recognised as a critical site for biodiversity.

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