Mnemba Island Lodge

It’s a very interesting journey to get to Mnemba Island Lodge. It began with a bumpy and quite scary flight in a single engined aircraft from Dar es Salaam to Stonetown in Zanzibar.

This was followed by an unbelievably bumpy ride, much of it on unmade up roads and tracks, followed by a ferry trip, which African style meant wading off the beach to get on the boat, although in fairness my wife was carried, as was the luggage!!.

If you don’t want to arrive a physical and mental wreck perhaps a 10 day safari in Tanzania first would be a good idea.

Many of the guests at Mnemba were either honeymooners, or couples, but most were on R & R after a safari.

Whatever – the sheer luxury, romance, and general spoiling at Mnemba Island Lodge, albeit in an understated way makes the journey so well worthwhile.

As you may or may not be aware, Mnemba Island Lodge is an intimate private island off the north east tip of Zanzibar, surrounded by its own coral reef within a marine conservation area, so if you scuba dive, then Mnemba Atoll is rated one of the best reefs in East Africa.

If like my wife and I, you only snorkel, then there is fabulous snorkelling, almost off the beach.

The Mnemba Island Lodge offers privacy, and exclusivity, and although the reef is a popular site for hired dhows from all over the north east of Zanzibar, it is rather fun to watch them wallowing in the open sea, having travelled perhaps for over an hour to get there, knowing it is all on your doorstep!!

Now there is something you need to be clear about, Mnemba lacks a number of things – namely air conditioning, windows, no choice of menu at mealtimes, no television or radios, and the water you wash in, is a bit salty.

Having said that your accommodation appears to be in thatched huts, when in fact it is in 10 well secluded split level beach bandas,built on platforms raised off the sand, which have been cleverly situated to make sure they are completely private.

The bandas are all made of natural local materials, and from the outside look pretty basic, and it is not until you enter that you realize how nice they are. The bathroom is spacious with shower, his’n’her washbasins, and separate w.c.

However you will sleep in the biggest beds imaginable, swathed in billowing muslin nets, cooled to perfection by a constant sea breeze coming off of the Indian Ocean.

As well as the banda, you also get your own little pagoda with sun beds on the beach itself (with blinds that can be lowered should you want protection from the sun) and the most wonderful double bed-sized swing with mattress on the beach.

We loved the food which is prepared almost exclusively from local ingredients but in the modern bistro style.

By the way, there is no room service as you know it, because there are no telephones, however that is sorted by speaking to your own personal butler!!

I should also add there are literally no menus, but the food is delicious, and if you want something, then all you have to do is ask.!!

Mnemba is the ideal place to leave all the worries of the 21st century behind, as well as your shoes.

There are very few decisions left to make, apart from what you want to drink now, what you want to eat later, and where you want your butler to set it up, and then what you want to do tomorrow.

It’s expensive, it’s simple it’s unsophisticated, and it’s worth it.

By: Andrew Watkins

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Andrew Watkins occasionally contributes to

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