Searching for Paradise? Find it on Mafia Island at Chole Mjini!
Today it is grey outside and so I dream of a sunny paradise where I am sitting far away from here, on a cozy terrace in the midst of lush greenery, looking out over the blue sea. I sip on my cold drink and listen to the chirping of the birds in the trees around me. I am looking forward to a tasteful meal and I am planning a diving excursion to a great spot with loads of fish and clear waters. Well, I may be dreaming now, but this and more is a reality at Chole Mjini, one of our new members! It’s pretty close to my idea of paradise at least…
Chole Mjini is on Chole Island, a tiny island east off another island, one with a rather interesting name: „Mafia Island“ just off Tansania’s Southern coast, in the middle of the Mafia Island Marine Park. Getting there is not for those short on time, who want to just get in and out quickly. There is no charter flight and you will have to use several means of transport to reach Chole Mjini. Once there, you can stay in one of the six unique tree houses, or the stone guesthouse, enjoy the tasty food created from local recipes and… feel like you have arrived in paradise.
Previous guests will all tell you that the trip is well worth it, read their rave reviews here. The lodge is also highly acclaimed on Trip Advisor. Lonely Planet has voted the resort among the Top 10 Eco Resorts, BBC ranks Chole Mjini among the Top 5 Tree House Lodges worldwide, CNN ranks it among the Top African Tree Houses and Le Figaro among the Top 7 Tree House Lodges worldwide.
And there is more: Chole Mjini received an award for “Best in Beach Tourism” from the World Responsible Tourism Awards because their beaches are all natural, no mangroves had to be cut back. Everything is pristine and has been left as it was. When there is low tide a large sand bank can easily be reached by boat. This is a favorite for romantic dinners and picnics. It’s so special because crabs, fish and even sea horses can be spotted from there. The mangroves ensure that the water exchange works well and therefore the waters around Chole Mjini are clear and a paradise for snorkeling and diving. There are tons of healthy and colorful corals and many other sea dwellers to be found.
It shows that for the owners, Chole Mjini means more than just tourism: Since 1993 they have built a kindergarten, a hospital, an elementary school with teacher’s accommodation, a women’s center and a market on Chole Island. The infrastructure on the island has been dramatically changed by this. In 1993 there was just one bike on the island, today there are more than you can count; very few islanders had a formal education and only one out of 200 had a permanent job. Today, 70 students are getting a secondary education, seven students study at university on the mainland, two have already graduated, and more than 50 inhabitants have permanent jobs. The de Villiers family has also started an NGO, the Chole Mjini Trust Fund which undertakes various projects to make living on Chole Island more attractive. You can read more on their website.
Sustainability doesn’t stop there: in the waters around Chole Island you can find whale sharks. These animals are not dangerous and they can reach a length of more than 13 meters. Every diver’s heart will skip a beat when seeing this great animal. To protect them, the de Villiers family has established the Kitu Kiblu: Responsible Marine Encounters organization. They organize snorkel and diving excursions (with traditional sailing boats) to see and swim with whale sharks. You can even intern with the organization if interested.
I am now diving underwater in my dreams and rest in awe of the beautiful colors of the Chole Island underwater world. It helps to forget the daily rush and noise…