Stephen Cunliffe
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Category: Sustainable Lodge of the week

Small, exotic Chole Mjini, with tree house accommodations amidst the ruins of a bygone age – lies no more than a whale’s breach from Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania. The name Chole Mjini means ‘of the village of Chole’, which is a fitting title for a true eco-lodge that is intricately entwined with the life of its local village.

In addition to drawing all the lodge staff from the village, the entire Chole Mjini project has been developed with the long-term well-being of the local populace and their island in mind. A kindergarten and primary school, an adult education facility, health centre, market, library loan schemes and scholarships have all been founded by the lodge owners to uplift all the islands’ inhabitants.

Much of the lodge food is bought locally, providing income to the fisher and farmer families of Chole Island. From ingenious kerosene-heated showers and composting toilets to solar lamps, cooking with coppiced firewood and freshwater conservation, the lodge operations are overwhelmingly carbon-neutral.


Deceptively comfortable Chole Mjini Lodge features proudly on the list of the top 48 sustainable safari operations in David Bristow and Colin Bell’s magnificent coffee table book: Africa’s Finest. This important book is a leading resource in discerning the handful of truly sustainable safari operations from the sea of eco-pirates that pervade the African safari lodge industry. If you’d like to get hold of a copy of the book then you can order it here.

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