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“Outstanding lodging and food - the best on our Tanzania trip.”

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Shamba Kilole Eco Lodge
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Mafia Island
Reviewed 7 July 2014

No question about it, this is an awesome place to base yourself on your trip to Mafia Island. All aspects of our stay here were fantastic and we will have fond memories to last a lifetime. Located near the village of Utende in the south of the island, within the marine reserve, it is a great spot for diving, snorkeling, and exploring – not to mention relaxing. The village makes for interesting walking or jogging on the sandy, palm-lined trails – very scenic, and very friendly locals.

The property is fairly large, most of it undeveloped, with 6 well-spaced luxury huts on a well-manicured grassy rise above the beach and mangrove forest. It is really a beautiful location, however don’t expect an extensive, pristine, white sand beach. The coastline here is mainly mangrove, interspersed with a few small beaches. Great walking and exploring on the coastline.

Our hut was fabulous! Roomy, light and airy, nicely decorated, quality fittings, and very comfortable – it is probably the nicest lodging we stayed in in Tanzania. Our unit had two sets of big double doors which opened up to the veranda overlooking the ocean and mangrove forest. Facilities include a swimming pool and bar area, free Wifi internet, and a small souvenir shop. The property even has its own ~400m running trail.

We were very warmly received by the owners Marco and Francesca who made us feel very much at home. They organized all of our activities while we were there – snorkeling, picnics, turtle hatching, and exploring the Kua ruins – all very professional. By the way, the snorkeling in Chole Bay is some of the best we’ve ever experienced. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful and made our stay a real pleasure. We were the only guests at the time so felt like we had celebrity VIP status – we were very well taken care of! The food at the lodge was outstanding, mainly Italian-seafood themed dinners, all made with good quality, fresh ingredients. This was the best food we’ve ever experienced in Tanzania.

We had a most excellent few days at the Shamba Kilole and would absolutely love to come back. This place is highly recommended for anyone making a trip to Mafia Island.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank DanO68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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27 - 33 of 124 reviews

Reviewed 2 July 2014

We were at the end of over two weeks of traveling/safari and came here to rest up before going the long trip home! The accommodations were perfect and the food superb - just too much of it and sometimes a little too salty. The chef was very accommodating with half portions for supper at least. We left June 25th and the winds were still too strong for snorkeling but the diving was great (healthy reefs) except for the challenge of getting in and out. Marco and Francesca were the perfect hosts. The pool was cool but so refreshing and clean! The villagers at Utende were friendly and the beach, while mostly mangroves, was still beautiful!! It is a perfect get-away!!

Room Tip: They are all good!
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with friends
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Cathi B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 February 2014

With 6 cottages, all individually furnished along with the long time owners Marco and Francesca, I was provided a fantastic stay with warmth, personal attention and amazingly prepared meals.

There's a relentlessness to constantly improve and combined with a meticulous focus on details (sweeping off sand from each individual tile and de-seed the lime wedges) this is not only a great place to stay, but also enriches your life with a cosy little story.

I have stayed in many luxury resorts along with below par accommodation, and I can surely say that this made my top 10 list (without any internal ranking). Go here if you dive, enjoy great food, want to avoid the masses that come along with massive hotel complexa and just want to experience something unique.

Thanks F&M, I hope to see you both again in a not too distant future.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled solo
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3  Thank DHXStockholm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2014

This is a great Lodge well run...with efficient and friendly staff .. in a quiet and particularly beautiful area of mafia Island. There is nowhere else I would even consider staying in Mafia and I unhesitatingly recommend it. There is no beach but Marco and Francesca will organize every day an excursion for you or a fantastic dive, but in any case you can laze by the pool drinking a Mojito.
Very clean, good food..what else?

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank elismina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 January 2014

The service, food, activities, location, lodging etc was excellent and the founders Francesca and Marco as well as their staff always a pleasure to interact with.

Most of what is excellent and amazing with Shamba Kilole Eco Lodge has already been mentioned in earlier reviews but I would like to mention the extra effort Francesca and Marco arranged for Christmas evening the 24th of December.

All the guests were scattered at individual tables around the illuminated pool under the stars with cosy kerosene lamps scattered all over the place. We were served a total of eight fantastic dishes (including the home made pre-dinner snacks that was fantastic). We also had a surprise Massaj song and dance show during the dinner and were served free sparkling wine. A night to remember!

The Shamba Kilole Eco Lodge is actually such a fantastic place that I (we) almost want to keep it a secret for myself and my closest friends and family. ;)

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Johan E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 December 2013

One of the great things about staying somewhere like this is being able to see how your tourism helps real people.Staying here you help Marco & Francesca make a living & they employ 39 local people directly plus those that indirectly benefit by supplying them.

The staff are really great, helpful, cheerful & smiling. The food is all home cooked & always good - sometimes fantastic. Some of the meal planning is a bit weird - some meals carb free others with carb overload but the quality is great . Some fantastic pasta and great fish.

The setting is great - all six rooms are good but worth the extra for a suite - little larger & front row views. The beds are about 8' wide & very comfortable.The pool is lovely & would be brilliant for anyone wanting to do a trial dive or wanting to qualify.

Marco & Francesca are lovely & join you for a pre dinner drink to show you to your tables & to check on your requirements for the following day. All in all it's a lovely well run hotel. However for us it was diving that made this somewhere really special.

Nobody knows the dive spots better than Marco - he has been doing it for 17 years, his boat boys are great, the equipment is first class & diving of his Dhow is really cool & comfortable - he never takes more than 6 & even if he only has 4 if the divers are of different levels he may well use two boats.

Under the water the corals are great & their are loads & loads of fish both in terms of sheer numbers but also diversity . So many dive locations are over hyped & over dived. Bit short on sharks but a couple were spotted . Mafia also famous for its whalesharks although that's on the other side & well worth doing .

Asanti,asanti,asanti to everyone at Shamba Kilole - will send some dive buddies to see you soon I hope.

Room Tip: The Bahati suite . One of the other suites had a huge bed but with access from only one side.
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank elestoban
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 December 2013

This place scores maximum points on every level – we had a wonderful week here and enjoyed every minute of it.

Shamba Kilole (which translates from Swahili as “The farm that can be seen from far away”; presumably because it is sighted on a bluff overlooking both the sea towards the Indian Ocean and a part of Chole Bay) is primarily a dive lodge although we, (as snorkelers rather than divers) had the best snorkelling experience of our lives – so let’s start there:

Diving and snorkelling – maximum points – the corals are alive, varied and healthy; and the fish! Oh, the fish! – so plentiful and colourful. A wonderful experience due at least in part, to the conservation work that is being done by the Mafia Island Marine Park which attempts to balance the ecological needs of the area with the needs of the local communities.

Marco and Francesca (our hosts) are very conscious of the eco-footprint that their Lodge makes – everything there has been designed with effortless sustainability in mind – so maximum points for ecological impact.

We were welcomed as if into a family – Marco and Francesca are great hosts and the fact that there are only 6 double-occupancy lodges gave a friendly house-party feel to the whole week – fascinating fellow guests and engaging local staff contributed to a maximum point score for hospitality.

Several posts here on Trip Advisor have commented on the food (saying that guests would be well advised to diet before staying here!!!) but I feel that the delicious food was served in appropriate portions to “fuel” the very active days put in by most of the (diver) guests. And the food is indeed delicious and clearly of Italian inspiration.

The almost exclusively fish-based dishes are a sort of Italian-local fusion that delights the palate with sometimes surprising but always successful, results. One slight niggle here – but this is just our personal taste preference – perhaps fewer fried dishes would have been even better. The perfect hostess, Francesca enquires about your food preferences when she welcomes you to Shamba Kilole and I am sure she would cater for her guests’ preferences – we are “foodies”, so enjoyed everything that she presented.

Cuisine – maximum points!

Things to do – (apart from diving!)

If you possibly can, you MUST go to swim with the whale-sharks during your stay. These magnificent, enormous creatures feed near the surface, so snorkels and fins (rather than scuba kit) are all that you will need. Kitu Kiblu took us and this experience was just beautiful.

Picnic on a sand-bar – When the tides are right, Chole Bay has a huge sand-bar that conveniently pops up out of the waves at lunchtime to host a barbecued picnic – and then equally conveniently, submerges again as you sail back home. We also picnicked on Fisherman’s island (also in Chole Bay) after the most amazing of the several stunning snorkelling outings that we made during our week.

Interact with the local people and visit Utende and Chole Island. Wherever we travel, we like to learn something of the communities that host us; so our guided visits to these two villages gave us an insight into the considerable demographic, social and economic challenges faced by the local people here, as well as an opportunity to witness the skills of the boat-builders on Chole Island – this shipyard uses techniques remained unchanged for nigh-on 2000 years. Beautiful boats – stunning craftsmanship.

On days when you simply want to relax, the lodge’s pool and bar – or even your own lodge’s private veranda - provide the perfect settings.

So activities – maximum points.

The six lodges are visually appealing (those incredible, free-standing roofs!), comfortable, private and attractive; and kept spotlessly clean by staff.

Accommodation – maximum points!

We were able to witness some of Marco’s tuition (he is a PADI dive instructor) of one of the couples of our fellow-guests. If you are thinking of learning to dive, his good humoured, passionate and knowledgeable style should put him high on your list of contenders to be your “instructor of choice”.

I could go on – for instance, the grounds offer variety (from flowers to kitchen-garden to untamed areas) and plenty of wild-life is to be seen – glorious birds – elusive (and noisy!) bush-babies – bright red squirrels – weird (and harmless) creepy-crawlies!

Even though the price is definitely not low-budget, we felt that in terms of value for money and as an overall experience, Shamba Kilole scores maximum points.

Thank you Marco; thank you Francesca; for an unforgettable, stunning week.

Unusually for us – (we normally visit each place on our bucket list only once) – we will be back!

Room Tip: The rooms are all single buildings in two rows of three lodges - the three nearest the sea offer the...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Mike A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Shamba Kilole Eco Lodge

Address: Kilole. Kiegani | Kilole, Kiegani, Mafia Island 0000, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Region: Tanzania > Pwani Region > Mafia Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Mafia Island
Price Range: £144 - £216 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The relaxing lodge has 6 bungalows facing the sea all surrounded by trees and garden. Swimming pool, private jogging park, dive school, restaurant with conference room, wine cellar, terrace top. All rooms are in different style following Swahili tradition and history. Ideal for sea lovers, honeymooners, bird watchers. ... more   less 

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