Zanzibar Hotels

Unguja Lodge

The Unguja Lodge - another of our favourites - is a small resort on the south coast of Zanzibar. The resort is perched on a coral cliff a few steps away from a quiet and unspoilt white sandy beach and the Indian Ocean. The lodge has an eco-friendly policy and the accommodation reflects this in both its design and its simplicity.

Accommodation at Unguja Lodge

With only 11 rooms housed in individual villas the resort never becomes overcrowded. The villas were built to western standards, but using traditional methods and are constructed of coral rock, lime and makuti (palm thatch). Rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated with locally made furniture. They do not represent the sort of sumptuous luxury that one might seek on a five-star break, but then again, accommodation at Zanzibar’s beach lodges very seldom does. Those in search of uncomplicated comfort and rustic charm will be best pleased.

There are seven Sea View Villas, seven Baobab Villas and one Family House on offer at Unguja. Sea View Villas have one double bedroom, open plan sitting room, open plan shower room, separate toilet and a loft with an extra double bed. They benefit from private sea view terraces, ceiling fans and safes. Baobab suites are nestled in the hotel’s gardens and do not have sea views. However, as well as all the above features, they have private plunge pools and good air-conditioning (making up for less ocean breeze). The hotel’s family house boasts all the features of the Sea View Villas on the ground floor, with an additional two smaller bedrooms upstairs. Each has two single beds, fan and air-conditioning and an en suite bathroom. The upper rooms share a balcony.

Food and Drink at Unguja Lodge

Hotel food is prepared by a local chef who has worked in many hotels and restaurants throughout Zanzibar and is always very keen to ensure his diners are satisfied. Though the hotel provides a set menu which changes daily, the chefs are obliging and will make sure your tastes are catered for. Food is good quality, locally sourced and fresh, but also originally prepared. Warning—portions can be rather large.

Service at Unguja Lodge

Staff at Unguja are very friendly and dedicated to making your stay enjoyable. The owners and masterminds, Ralph and Elies are also onsite managers (during most of the year) and are able to greet most guests upon arrival. They have a real sense of occasion and have been known to organize romantic dinners on the beach for anniversaries and honeymoons and get the chefs to rustle up cakes for guests’ birthdays. The hotel is kept very clean and is clearly well cared for. Service is very relaxed and unobtrusive.

The hotel offers a good bar, a nice sized swimming pool, a reading corner, a selection of board games including traditional Bao and internet access. Three days a week a massage service is available in the lodge’s spa room.

The hotel beach is quiet and good for bathing in sun and in sea, though at low-tide swimming is not possible from the beaches. The beaches are not combed like those in the Caribbean meaning there is a fair amount of seaweed about, especially as this is farmed locally. This is part of their natural charm. Snorkeling trips and trips to swim with dolphins can be organized through the hotel as can diving. Day trips to Stone Town, the Jozani Forest and Spice Plantations are also doable. Though trips can add up they come highly recommended (especially the Jozani Forest tour and local dolphin excursions).

How to get to Unguja Lodge

The lodge is near to the small southern village of Kizimkazi. This is roughly 60 km from the airport or from Stone town. The roads are tarmac surfaced and in average condition. The hotel can recommend cab drivers or organize a driver to meet you from the airport or city.

Public daladalas run throughout the day to Kizimkazi from Stone Town (number 326). These truck-come-buses are only recommended to those on a serious budget who don’t mind discomfort and wish to experience a true slice of Zanzibari life. Though cheap they offer a crowed, slow and bumpy ride.

 The hotel can also help with car hire. Although those driving on the island for the first time should be warned that there are often no signposts at junctions and to take a good map.

When travelling through Zanzibar it is important to remember that this is a developing country. Much of the landscape will not reflect the idyllic images on hotel and tourist websites. Many of the villages and people are extremely poor. Furthermore, tourism seems, in places, to be having a negative affect on the environment. However, resorts such as Unguja are taking major steps towards bolstering local communities by employing local people and using only local materials and produce. Plus many are contributing to funds and appeals to protect local wildlife both on and off shore.

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