Thanks to you all for putting our trip together. I certainly have further plans for Tanzania and Zanzibar. Jamie and I love it.
Excellent. We had a great room and location of the lodge is very good in terms of access to Mount Meru and the park. Hotel staff went over and above to ensure we were well looked after, especially when we couldn’t get into Shumata Camp. With 7 days there, we felt really at home. They ensured we got on our Kilimanjaro for All day trip and arranged for us to spend another day locally, visiting a Masai village and doing whatever we wanted with the guide. We enjoyed the family style eating arrangement in the evening. Their style of food is 3 courses for lunch and 3 courses for dinner (no choice), ‘Masterchef’ style, with great emphasis on presentation. I admit I would prefer a bit more flexibility eg meat or fish served on the plate and sides served separately on the table so you could help yourself. Also, buffet style for lunch would be better. However, that is my preference. Picnics way surpassed expectations! Regarding transport, they often used open sided vehicles and it was rather cold when we were there. They did provide Masai blankets/ponchos in the vehicles, but it did get cold. So worth warning travellers it can be colder than you would imagine, even when wearing long sleeves, a fleece and a poncho!
Shumata Tented Camp
Didn’t get there due to a poaching/corruption incident which meant the rangers wouldn’t allow anyone through the gates. Heard great things about it! Bitterly disappointed after 2 goes at the gate. 3rd attempt, we didn’t even set off as a phone call showed the problem wasn’t resolved.
Fumba Beach Lodge
Fumba had excellent food and service was friendly. It also had interesting bar and seating areas dotted around the place. I only chose Fumba as it was convenient for Safari Blue. Otherwise, there would be no reason for me to choose it above other places on Zanzibar. Its location is a bit isolated and there isn’t much to do around there. Even if you want just beach, there are better places.
Chumbe Island Lodge
Off the scale in terms of how great it was. Really wanted more time and would love to return for 5 nights. Food was exceptional and varied. Accommodation was fun; it had everything you needed, was very well designed and gave a real sense of Robinson Crusoe adventure. Great to have zero environmental impact. Service was outstanding. Location outstanding. Activities outstanding – brilliant snorkelling, nature walks and the intertidal walk round the island was amazing with great rock-pooling. There’s a very good selection of books in the reception area and they put information on their Chumbe design project in the accommodation. It’s a place where you are at home with the natural environment and can completely relax. Chumbe liaison girl arranged for transport to take us to Dhow Palace as our vehicle didn’t turn up (Chumbe paid). Jamie later took a phone call in our Dhow Palace room and they said the transport arrived but we weren’t there. It did take a fair time for our luggage to be walked off the boat and to the shore, but the driver could easily have found out what was going on. They should be aware that it can take a good half hour to unload passengers and baggage (and for passengers to make themselves decent after wading through the water), given the boat can’t get to the shore. Another time, it’s easy to fix transport via the Chumbe liaison person based at the Ruins. Oh and Chumbe say they give discounts to returning visitors!
Dhow Palace Hotel Stone Town
Great service from reception staff. They sorted out our minibus transfer to Jambiani on arrival ($10 each for a shared tourist minibus leaving at 08.30) and arranged someone to take us over to Prison Island. Great breakfast. Breakfast was served down by the pool and not up on the roof terrace. Room was large, but there were bad smells from the plumbing in the bathroom. It wasn’t worth asking to change rooms for just 2 nights, though I’m sure they would have accommodated our request as they were very helpful.
Blue Oyster Hotel
Really lives up to its high scores on Trip Advisor – would strongly recommend it. We had a large room (probably the largest as it had an extra bed). Service was outstanding, as was the food. Also, they have a strong ethos of working with the local community. I was a bit worried at first as Jambiani stretches for miles along the coast and doesn’t have lots of beach bars and restaurants nearby, as in Nungwi. So you’re rather stuck in the evening. There were just 2 or 3 places within easy walking distance and you couldn’t really get to those at night. However, the quality of the food at Blue Oyster was such that you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, in any case. You could easily arrange trips from the hotel and they only charged $50 for our transfer to the airport on departure. It’s not a high end luxury place, but the sea-front setting, quality of food and outstanding service make it a great place to stay if you want to see Jambiani.
All guides were fantastic, with great command of English. We got to know the Hatari guides particularly well (we were there a long time) and learned a lot from them. Chumbe guides were fun and informataive. We saw everything we wanted apart from Amboseli elephants (didn’t get to Shumata) and dolphins on Safari Blue (we were in the 10-15% who didn’t see them on the trip), but that was beyond anyone’s immediate control.
Standards in the places we stayed in were very high in both Tanzania and Zanzibar and all food was excellent. Your arrangements worked very well – all transfers went smoothly (except to Dhow Palace and that wasn’t an issue).
Another outstanding holiday. Thanks to you all for putting it together. I certainly have further plans for Tanzania/Zanzibar. Jamie and I love it. The warmth of the people is over-whelming and by staying in smaller, more personal places, you get to mix with other travellers.