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“The best place I have ever stayed”
Review of Pemba Lodge

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Pemba Lodge
Reviewed 25 March 2014

In almost 60 countries traveled, Pemba Lodge is unquestionably the greatest resort I have ever been in. There's not much I can add to what others have already written, except to re-affirm that you could not possibly regret staying here. It is special, magical, ECOLOGICAL, ETHICAL, and thoroughly unique. The chef graciously catered to my dietary restrictions and whims. And one night we had a beach buffet under the full moon. I hope to go back later this year.

Stayed: March 2014, travelled solo
Thank Brenaj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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40 - 46 of 93 reviews

Reviewed 16 February 2014

I cannot really express how amazing was this place. We stayed only for two nights, we were lucky that nobody was there during our stay. Only staff and us. After a little bit surprising start where we had to walk to the boat which took us to the place as there was a low tide, we reached the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. This peaceful place is great for the people who wants to stay in paradise, far away from all overcrowded places, read a book all day long and enjoy the romantic evenings.

The only negative site is the extreme tide, it´s not really possible to swim during some period of the day. But it´s quite common also on Zanzibar.

I would like to thank Ali, who was an excellent guide, waiter and also a friend during our stay. And also to our chef Ali, the food was amazing, every day some new experience for us.

Room Tip: All the room were excellent
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Eva B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Pemba Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 February 2014

Thank you for your gracious review. We are more than pleased that you enjoyed your stay and hope to see you again in the near future.

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Reviewed 15 January 2014

most beautiful beach, most charming and loving staff , most adorable village and children , perfect place for relaxation , meditation, sports ...
untouched nature , no mosquitos at night , perfect climate , pure happiness
loved to stay there and for sure will come back .

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Julia E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2014

Pemba lodge is a simple but lovely place on a beautiful unspoiled beach on Shamiani island. With local children joining us for a swim, we felt like going back in time, realizing there are few places left where one can feel like Robinson Crusoe. The staff (Ali and Mohammed) did everything do make our stay more special. The food is really good: home grown vegetables and fresh fish. It's a place for total relaxation and if you want to become active, Ali takes you on a kayak-trip around the island, go snorkeling (beautiful reef nearby) or stroll along the beach.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Rafiki254
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 2013

The Pemba Eco Lodge is a most charming place; the only one of its kind on the little island adjoining Pemba. Its style is minimalist & its lodges build in the old-fashioned high-roofed African hut style, elevated above the ground by about one meter. As might be expected from a high-end, eco-friendly hotel, alone on an isolated little island, one is bound to encounter the more interesting type of traveler. Thus we too encountered a wonderfully cultured Spanish gentleman who, as one of our company put it, was hunting ghosts.
In fact, the Spanish gentleman was a writer & documentary maker, much of whose interest seemed to be centered around the contact between the human realm & what the Arabs call alam al-ghayb (the world of the unseen). He shared many stories of strange encounters with African medicine-men & women, who communed with spirits. There was a particular charm in such conversation in the middle of the night, in the reception hut of a poorly-lit eco-friendly hotel situated alone on that part of the island. All seemed fine on the following morning except for one of the guests, who was visited by strange spirits which were pulling him by the shoulder until he managed to force himself to sleep - thus simultaneously causing their disappearance
.
The man in charge of the day-to-day operations of Pemba Lodge is Ali. A native of the nearest village, located on the adjoining island, through sheer will power & love of learning he worked his way up the educational ladder until he reached the level of higher education on Zanzibar & proficiency in English. His family's inability to provide regular financial support forced Ali to leave his studies and join the tourism industry. His determination & skill won the admiration of Nassor, the owner of Pemba Lodge, & in return Ali has been able to help his village by employing fellow villagers & thus extending the financial benefits of working with Nassor. Ali is also building the largest house in his village & commands impressive respect by all villagers, from children (who obeyed unquestionably when he scolded them for being inappropriate with us mzungus during the village tour) to elders whose almost blind trust in this successful son of their village is most touching.



And so began our little trip to Zanzibar, the mystery island once ruled by a wise and ruthless Arab sultan, famed for his grace and keeping a great harem with the most beautiful women, ranging from tall, high-cheekboned Abyssinians to slender, blue-eyed Circassians. The charm & grace of royal rule wasn’t fated to survive past the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1960s a dark storm descended on the charming island, which until the middle of the twentieth century was still the great center of Islamic civilization in that part of the Indian Ocean. Malign powers stirred emotions, laced with a blend of the communist dream of equality & vengeance fired by racial pride. In the 1960s a revolution erupted; its final result the expulsion of the last sultan & the old Arab ruling caste to boot. The Communist dreamland would be for Africans only. Once a sign of superiority, which everyone wished to claim, now Arab blood was looked on with disdain and only the staunchest Arabs remained on the island, in spite of many threats and occasional brutal beatings.
But then ... who could blame them, especially after reading the many ghastly accounts of the slave trade. True, those lucky ones who had survived the brutal march from inland Africa to the east coast & the even more brutal transportation by ship to Zanzibar, the island were, by all accounts, treated rather well by their new masters. Many (if not most) of these new slave-masters were part of the ruling Arab elite, which was thoroughly convinced of their superiority and the naturally servile status of the African. With so much baggage it was presumably not difficult to rile up people’s emotions & turn them against the haughty Arab elite.
The post-Communist, “racially purer,” society seemed less promising than the great accounts of Zanzibar during its heyday: a cosmopolitan society with a renowned Muslim scholarly class connected to & in regular contact with the great centers of Islamic learning all around the Indian Ocean; a proud aristocratic caste made up of Arabs, ancient Shirazi settlers & the offspring of generations of intermarriage between Africans, Arabs & Persians; ancient Indian merchants & traders, both Hindu & Muslim, who had inhabited that same island (& the whole eastern African coast) for generations; & of course the local Africans whose language Swahili had become the medium of communication between all these different groups, castes, ethnic & racial groupings.

Even though it seemed to fall short of the romantic descriptions of its past glory, we decided to try our luck & explore this beautiful island that had enchanted a whole array of foreign visitors, whether Europeans, Persians, or the great Omani sultan who, enthralled by the languid beauty of Zanzibar moved his throne from Oman to the island.
Our trip began in Stonetown was followed by a lengthy visit to the eastern shore of the island. It was not long before the ennui & constant dampness that seemed to envelop all – except the swarm of tireless European kite surfers & local “businessmen” patrolling the beach & offering everything from massages to dhow trips with local fishermen to Chinese made figurines of oversized African natives – began to take its effect. Neither of us managed to get much work done. The constant water shortages & overbearing cashier-waitress, whose school mistress attitude relentlessly tried to browbeat us into eating their terrible meals did not help.
Thus, one morning we decide to pick up & head north; trusting in the strength of kismet (lit. fate, fortune) we hoped for the best. As such things usually go, it was by sheer accident & inspired by a slightly wild fancy of exploring Zanzibar’s northern island Pemba that we were put in touch with a man named Nassor Salim Ali Maharouky. At Zanzbar’s northernmost tip we met a man named Paul, an Englishman & jack-of-all-trades: former military-man, policeman, fire-fighter, chef, world-traveler, now hotel manager on Zanzibar & diving instructor in the training. It was Paul who introduced us to Sidi Nassor, the man whose hotels he manages. Nassor, a successful & cosmopolitan Pemba businessman, descended from an old Omani family, owns the Mnarani Beach Cottages, located at the northernmost tip of Zanzibar, just beside the great light tower & the Pemba Eco Lodge, located on Shamiani, a tiny island at the southernmost tip of Pemba; known by the locals as ras ul-pemba (Arabic for head of Pemba).
The acquaintance turned into a tour of Nassor & Paul’s new “package”: a short stay at Mnarani (a luxury hotel) followed by a catamaran trip to Pemba lodge. As we did not stay very long at Mnarani, I feel unqualified to remark on much except for the remarkable quality of the dishes & the wonderfully designed rooms.
Sailing at seven in the morning from Zanzibar to Pemba was an enchanting experience, enriched endlessly by Nassor’s skipper Abdallah, a taciturn, local fisherman with a remarkable sixth sense for the Indian Ocean. According to Nassor, it took quite some time before he realized the breadth of Abdallah’s experience & knowledge of the sea; all due to Abdallah’s taciturn & humble nature. And here was embodied the key to understanding the Orient: true knowledge is never immediately volunteered & certainly not advertised. Its acquisition demands patience & a level of humility. As a rough rule one might say that true knowledge & verbosity do not mix. Rather, knowledge must be sought out, & in true Oriental fashion is found through a combination of perseverance & sheer luck or again, kismet.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Emin L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Pemba Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 30 October 2013

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to write such a candid review, not only of your stay at the hotel & lodge, but also of the experience you had and the interesting people you met whilst staying with us. I think if people take the time to read the review they will also be fascinated by the short, precise and potted history of Zanzibar (I found it very informative and interesting).

I respect the fact that you also took the time to understand and integrate with the local staff we employ and the reasons for our work ethic. I truly hope that you do return to us one day as both Paul, myself, the staff and other guests found you both a very open and interesting couple.

I think the Pemba Lodge ghost story may become a highlight of anyone’s visit to Shamiani Island.
Once again thank you for taking the time to write this review.'

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Reviewed 19 September 2013

I was looking for a quiet place away from everything to rest for a few days. I wanted to walk, eat good fish, swim and write. I did not want to socialize or share buffets. Zanzibar is too massified (although I like a lot the Mbweni Ruins Hotel and Chumbe Island), so I went to Pemba. I read somewhere about the Ecolodge in Shamiani and I wrote them. I was stunned by the beauty of the place and the fabulous beach. To walk was a delice. In the low tide I could see a lot of strange marine creatures and once I went up to the reef. Also Turtle Beach it was fabulous and in the way you have to traverse some shambas. There are huge baobab trees too.
Food was really good. Caught of the day always. Ally "Karibu Tena" was friendly and helpfull.
Then I went back to Zanzibar but I did change my ticket plane and went back to Pemba Ecolodge for another week, I think that that is the best thing I can say. No?
Jordi Esteva
Foixà

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
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4  Thank Jordiesteva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Pemba Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 October 2013

Thank you for your review we are proud of our lodge at Shamiani and are so pleased you enjoyed your stay with us.

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Reviewed 15 September 2013

After a lovely first encounter with Pemba Lodge we were finally got back. This time with friends and toys: wind- & kite-surfs. Despite the low tide the boys had a few epic outings, surfing for hours at a time, while I was mostly chilling at the white-sand beach with books and my journal.
The highlights of this trip for me was hiking for 15 minutes to the opposite side of the island to the Turtle beach and reef walking at low tide through bays, caves and intertidal pools with beautiful corals and tiny fishes. Then hiking up on the top of the cliff to see the vastness of great oceans, breaking waves and numerous ngalawas at the horizon. This time we have also discovered nearby a beautiful salt water sacred lake surrounded by mangroves and visited the local village, where we became the event of the day. All in all it was a wonderful holiday.

Room Tip: If you have time - arrange a trip to Misali Marine Park for diving. It is a bit far, but it will giv...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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3  Thank Katya R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nassor_Maharouky, Owner at Pemba Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 October 2013

Thank you for taking the time to write a review for us and thank you very much for the photographs as well. It would be great to see you back here one day.

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Additional Information about Pemba Lodge

Address: | P.O.Box 3361 - North Coast, Kiweni (Shamiani) 3361, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Pemba Island > Kiweni (Shamiani)
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Kiweni (Shamiani)
Price Range: £163 - £181 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Pemba Lodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Pemba Lodge, situated on the remote and beautiful Shamiani Island off Pemba, Zanzibar’s sister island.It is Pemba’s first true eco-lodge ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pemba Lodge Pemba Island, Tanzania

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