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The Wilderness Lodge
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Reviewed 9 August 2014

Stayed here in July, awesome fishing! Got sailfish,wahoo,bluefin trevally,giant trevally,yellow fin tunas,skipjack tunas and barracuda. weather not so good, had big swell and wind chop in 7metre open boat, but skipper John new just what to do to get you on the fish. Lucky there are 2 islands out from wilderness lodge that we could get to to have calmer water for trolling but of course hubby had to hook up the sailfish in the roughest stretch of water. great excitement!
I loved the snorkelling in our lagoon or out by Bulo Island where there are huge coral gardens.
The beach front bungalow and island meals were wonderful, so much to eat! I loved the hour body massage for $15AUD.
Wilderness Lodge is exactly that, a long way in the small open boat and beware it is even longer if the sea is rough. It took 3 hours instead of 2 to get there as we had to use islands for calmer water and we got very wet and it was getting dark too so this trip is not for the timid but so well worth the effort to get there.

Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank madfisher44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 July 2014

Located on the seafront of Gatokae Island, amongst several small villages this place is a little slice of heaven. In the surrounding ocean you can enjoy spectacular corals and sea life, amazing drop offs for a mix of deep and shallow water experiences right outside your bungalow, along with the quiet unspoilt village life where the villagers lived nestled in the lush, rugged forest or by the water. Children frolic and play in the sea in their dugout canoes and spend hours fishing or playing around the village. The main road is a dirt track where you can stroll and chat with the friendly villagers. There are no cars here.
Getting to Gatokae took a one hour flight from Honiara to Seghe and from there, a two hour trip by boat. The scenery was spectacular but this was a bumpy journey. This was an issue for me and had I known, I would have brought a cushion or requested one when making my reservation. When I mentioned my difficulty to our amazing hostess Vailinah, she offered a cushion for me to use on further boat trips and this solved my problem. Getting there is not easy but the effort is well worth it. Remember to bring a spray jacket as it can rain pretty heavily and it is an open boat!
We stayed in a beautiful ocean front bungalow which though basic in amenity, was spectacular and spacious with its own private mini jetty. Beauty at it simplest best!
Views were incredible and yet the accommodation ensured privacy. The bungalows and surrounding gardens and ocean are truly breathtaking.
As for the lodge accommodation, it is very average and in my opinion, should only be an option if you are on the strictest of budgets. The cost for the bungalows which sleep from 1 to 4 in 2 double beds is worth the extra expense without question.
Though there is adequate LED lighting, there are no power points in the rooms but we were able to charge our camera and laptop in the dining room. Our mobile phones were out of range here and internet can only be accessed in the office. This was not a problem as we came here to get away from it all.
Meals were delicious and there were lashings of food. We were disappointed we were not able to dine on local lobster or mud crab during our short stay but the fish was always freshly caught and the local produce fresh and cooked to perfection. They were also happy to cater for special dietary requirements. Fresh squeezed lime juice, tea, coffee and water are constantly available at no additional charge. There is also a kettle and supplies in the room.
There is a mosquito net over the bed and insect repellent is provided but we did not experience any problems with mosquitoes or fire ants.
Soap is provided along with bath towels but you will need to bring all other toiletries.

The house reef should keep you happy diving or snorkeling for days, but boat trips for snorkeling, diving or fishing can be arranged. Trips may be dependent on weather conditions. We visited nearby Bulo Island by boat and this was a spectacular to snorkel or dive. We saw magnificent corals, fish including reef sharks and even turtles.
There is a house kayak available for you to use and some spectacular walks into the highlands or by the sea.
The villagers are expert wood carvers. Selling their magnificent works to visitors helps them earn much needed funds. Bring along extra money to purchase some of the exquisite hand carved pieces. We had paid in advance and only brought limited funding with us but we soon learnt that the villages are also keen to trade for quality items such as masks, snorkels, torches, AA batteries, underwear, clothing, stationary, educational toys, sheets, towels and so on, provided they are in good condition. These items are not readily available in the village so the locals appreciate whatever you can bring. Donations of the above are really needed and appreciated too. We wished we had brought along more than we did to help the locals out. Nothing is wasted by these people.
We also visited the remote Biche village for a cultural tour which we enjoyed but again, we wished we had brought along some donations or money for the school and money to purchase the quality carvings.
I highly recommend this beautiful island and resort for people who love to dive, snorkel, and fish, seek a romantic getaway or just want to be at one with nature in beautiful village surrounds. I would go back in the blink of an eye and miss this place already.
Be prepared to” live on island time “whilst in the Solomon islands

Room Tip: go for the ocean front bungalow - the other rooms are small and dark one faces the garden the other has ocean views
  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank ausigirlcat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 June 2014

We spent our honeymoon here at the Wilderness lodge.
We stayed in one of the bungalows, which i would recommend. The food was amazing, and the people was so nice!
At the resort they had a cooler with beer, sodas and wine, and we just helped ourself and payed at the end. This can be payed for with a credit card. They also had some wooden carvings etc made by some locals that we would have loved to buy, but you had to pay for that with cash and we did not bring to much. There was a problem getting out money at the airport in Honiara as well but they did say that using Australian dollars was not a problem as well. Also i got a massage one day and its good to pay cash to the person who does it to be sure they get the money and not just add it to the last bill when u leave.
You also can not trust the planes to be on time. We had to stay for one night in Honiara on the way to the resort because the flight did not go the day it was supposed to, and we had to stay for one night in Seghe cause the plane left without us. So if you have connecting flights its good to have maybe a day extra to make it.
But the resort is just so worth it! Really is paradise!

Room Tip: Pay the money to get a bungalow, its worth it !
  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank CarinaBowes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 May 2014

Wonderfully remote! The bungalows have more amenities than the simple rooms off the dining room. It was fun to fly into Seghe and the boat trip thru the islands was interesting and beautiful. Great staff, great scuba diving, great food. There were only fishermen there when I was there for diving but there was no conflict, in fact, they provided dinner and sashimi! Very laid back and casual.

Room Tip: I was understandably unable to get a bungalow as a single traveler but with only 4 other guests present, the very basic room with shared bath off the dining room wasn't too bad. Hot sleeping at night - no fans.
  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled solo
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Thank Linnea F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2014

Wilderness Lodge Solomon Islands is a very pleasant, but extremely overpriced holiday destination. Sure, it is “tropical” and is almost a “paradise”, but if you are considering it for a holiday, here’s a quick reality check.

-door to door from suburban Sydney will be 14-16 hours (each way), including 2.5 hrs on a narrow wooden plank in an open boat with a deafening outboard with no protection from sun, wind or rain. A tropical downpour and a wind chop on the lagoon would be interesting to say the least

-On arrival you will be shown to your accommodation. If you are in the “lodge” you will get a bunk in a very hot dark bunkroom ($145pp/night). If you are in one of the two bungalows you’ll get a beautiful timber and thatch waterfront bungalow with a private timber deck cantilevered over the water’s edge. Unfortunately you will share your accommodation with tiny (really tiny!) South American fire ants which will sting you at any time and anywhere; sitting in a chair, lying on the deck or lying in bed. You will also share it with geckos which appear to mostly live in the thatch roofing/ceiling and which leave deposits on all horizontal surfaces. Poo clean up is a morning ritual. If you are really unlucky you will get poo’d on while walking around the bungalow. You will also share the bungalow with the wood smoke of the neighbours cooking fire and an occasional mosquito, that may or may not be carrying malaria.

-Meal times are pleasant enough. Mostly locally caught fish (yellow fin tuna and reef fish) and locally grown fruits and veges. The evening meal is particularly generous in size and very delicious. The Lodge kitchen has a stove and fridge. Unfortunately in other respects it is pretty basic and mild diarrhoea was experienced by 5 of our group (the water supply is said to be clean).

-the Lodge has one canoe for free use, but no other facilities. So your AUD175pp ($350 for a couple) buys you a night in the bungalow (with its various residents) and 3 meals. All activities, including boat trips for fishing, diving, etc involve additional costs. Now, the Lodge is staffed wholly by local people, who get paid, on average, less than one Aussie dollar per hour. There appears to be a dozen or so locals on staff….a wages bill of around $12/hour. Food supplies are mostly bought very cheaply from the Village adjacent to The Lodge. The only power is solar, so no air con, TV’s etc. A very inexpensive resort to operate it would appear.

-The bungalows are only 3 years old, but look much older due to the tough climate and poor maintenance. The only cooling in this very hot humid climate is two small fans in one bungalow. There were no operational fans in the 2nd bungalow or in either of the bunkrooms. That is extraordinary in such an oppressively hot humid environment (just 8 degrees from the Equator)

There were numerous other issues which in isolation were minor but taken together with the issues already mentioned became significant.

We did enjoy our stay very much. The ocean and the land team with life and the people of the village are lovely. Their wooden carvings are works of art. But the Wilderness Lodge is spectacularly overpriced. We have travelled the world for 40 years and can hardly remember being touched up to this degree. Five Star price for 1-2 star standard is not being unkind.

The Lodge website indicates that the Lodge is owned and operated by locals. That appears to be a slightly misleading indication. Our interpretation is that the locals (indigenous villagers) appear to be getting an extremely small fraction of the income. There is a local medical clinic in the village which is closed because the quarters provided to the nurse are unliveable. There is no money forthcoming from Wilderness Lodge to even provide a basic upgrade of the very modest timber cottage that is supposed to house the nurse. Yet guests to Wilderness are asked to bring medical supplies to donate to the Village.
I could go on....

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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5  Thank Roger80F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Waelinah, Owner at The Wilderness Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 August 2014

Thankyou for your comments regarding your stay at Wilderness. My name is Waelinah, owner of The Wilderness Lodge, responding to your review. Myself and my staff looked after you during your stay in December. Firstly, you did make it clear from soon after arrival that Wilderness was not for you, and unfortunately my staff's efforts to cater to your exact needs were not sufficient to alter that perspective during your stay.
Wilderness was established to help visitors experience firsthand and gain insights into this wild and beautiful untamed place and people. We don't expect visitors to understand the business realities of providing guest facilities and services in our island Melanesia, however while some of your comments here on Trip Advisor are valid and pertain to a particularly challenging business time [closure of GTA Airfield and prolonged heavy rain] and have been addressed, others carry such blatant misconceptions and do such a disservice to those village people who worked their hardest to look after your group and share their world with you, that I have heeded other guests encouragements to respond directly.
Wilderness is all about providing access to, and existing harmoniously with, our unrivalled natural environment and its indigenous custodians - at no point has it been presented as a '5 star' destination. A$100 per night Lodge accom / A$190 per night oceanfront bungalow accom – inclusive of all meals - just covers the cost of providing this standard of service in such a remote and challenging business environment. Wilderness is not a money-making venture, it is about providing sustainable incomes for as broad a cross-section of the indigenous Gatokae community as possible. Where exactly one may find a 5 star resort at such prices, with this calibre of natural & cultural intactness and personal service - perhaps you can advise.
The fans in the West Bungalow were renewed soon after you left – we apologise for the inconvenience. Such items take a minimum of three months from order and payment to reach us here in Peava – and a new transfer boat with proper seating was purchased. Routine annual building maintenance was undertaken on schedule in February of this year, as was expansion of scuba capacity to 8 divers.
Regards your comments on ownership of Wilderness and benefit to the local community - I am an indigenous Gatokae person living fulltime in Peava Village, and as outlined above, the maximum share of Wilderness income possible goes to 'the villagers', of which I am one. In addition to running Wilderness I have been volunteer community nurse for East Gatokae for the past year and a half while the government clinic been unstaffed and unsupplied – hence the genuine request for Wilderness guests to donate medical supplies and equipment. I have also worked as translator and facilitator for the past five Marovo Medical tours to gain experience for this volunteer nursing and to provide better medical assistance for Wilderness guests.
I hope this provides some reference to your queries, and thank you again for your comments on Trip Advisor.

Leana via

Waelinah

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