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Chole Mjini is a unique island lodge whose seven tree house chalets offer a lofty luxury adventure.
Chole Mjini's open-sided treetop units, created by indigenous craftsmen using local materials, are mostly built around baobab trees and feature four-poster beds with Egyptian cotton sheets. Each tree house has a sundeck, while the bathroom and shower are situated on ground level. There is no electricity on Chole Island, and the lodge is justifiably proud of its minimal carbon footprint. Lighting is provided by kerosene lamps, but you can still charge your batteries, enjoy a hot shower or a chilled drink, thanks to solar and wind power and innovative design.
The food here has a distinct Swahili influence, with strong, aromatic flavours. Fish is caught and delivered daily, and the vegetables grown on the island. Watching a sunset from the rooftop bar is amazing, and the Red Herring has got to be one of the few bars in the world with 270° views and is rightly famous for a great place to star gaze.
Chole Island is just one kilometre in length but the lodge has played a huge role in building a better future for the people of Chole. For every guest, US$10 per night is used to assist ongoing community projects which you can see on trips to the local village.
Chole Island lies at the heart of the Mafia Island Marine Park, where the waters hold some of the most extraordinary and unaffected reefs in the world, with some of the finest unbleached coral varieties in the Indian Ocean, and more than 400 species of fish exploiting the myriad niches. Add to this large number of whale sharks between November and April and you are in for a treat.
Mafia really is a diver's paradise and you will be expertly looked after by lodge owner, Jean de Villiers, who is a PADI Master scuba Diver Trainer. Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Mafia's dive sites, he is able to tailor dives to the specific needs of each group. Safety is stringent: no dive group exceeds six; novices are limited to two and groups are always accompanied by the lodge's experienced dive crew.
Why we love it
The Chole Mjini lodge is where a modern day Tarzan and Jane would have lived, 'pure lost city jungle stuff' where you stay in tree houses facing out to sea.