|Travel information on Zanzibar
Luxury Safari Lodges in Zanzibar
Mnemba Island Lodge
Tanzania Safari: Luxury Safari Lodges in Tanzania
Singita Sasakwa Lodge
Singita Sabora Plains Tented Camp
Singita Faru Faru Lodge
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
Grumeti River Camp
Mnemba Island Lodge
Basic information on Zanzibar
Zanzibar: An Idyllic Tropical Paradise
[also known as Ungunja Island]
Located 35km to the North East of Tanzania, Zanzibar island stretches to 95km in length.
Zanzibar is East Africa’s most popular Indian Ocean Island with it’s white sandy beaches and historical Stone Town. The best beaches are atleast an hour’s drive from the International airport, but definitely worth the trip. Zanzibar has all the makings of an exotic Swahili Island Beautiful beaches, a historical Stone town influenced by Arab & European architecture [dating earlier than the 12th century], tropical wildlife-rich forests, enticing seafood restaurants, fascinating marine life, superb watersport facilities and above all warm island hospitality.
Zanzibar’s beach resorts are set in magical hand-picked locations, each with it’s own specialty and claim to fame. In 2000, Breezes Beach Club’s beach was voted to have the best beach in the world. The nieghbouring exclusive resort, Mnemba Island, has for years been voted to be among the World’s most romantic beach resorts. The luxurious Zanzibar Serena Inn is one of the oldest buildings in Stone Town.
Pemba Island is located further north & part of the Zanzibar archipelago, not much frequented except by those interested in diving. Once a week flights to Pemba Island are available from Zanzibar. The main attractions are the World-class coral reefs, pristine beaches, Ras Mkumbu ruins [dating back to 1200AD] and other historical sites.
Mafia Island also part of the Zanzibar archipelago, offers excellent beaches and snorkelling. Chole bay a protected harbour and it’s surrounding islands fall under the Mafia Island Marine Park and provide a beautiful underworld of fish and coral. There are several species of birds to be found around the Islands. Big-game fishing are scuba diving are also popular. Other activities include visits to the Villages, historical & archaeoligical sites, traditional boat building yards and coconut plantations.
Stone Town, Zanzibar:
Zanzibar was a major Indian Ocean sea port of the Spice trade, with a serious reputation for slavery. Tales of ruthless Pirates and war, and of Kingdoms that rose and fell, all leave a spellbounding effect on the Stone Town which is a remnant of the eras gone by, standing still as traditional swahili dhows flow gently across the harbour ahead. The best way to experience the Swahili Stone Town is to walk along the narrow alleyways and winding streets with their ancient wooden brass studded doors and intoxicating Spice odours. And for a true taste of Zanzibar, don’t forget stop and sample foods, confectionaries [sweet meats] and black coffee. Some rooftop bars offer excellent views of the Stone Town. Stone Town serves as a central business district and majority of the population is Islamic, therefore women should dress modestly. Most upmarket beach areas are more exclusive and private for Tourists, where swimwear is accepted. Mnemba Island does not impose any restrictions on clothing, however nudity in public areas is illegal in Tanzania.
Point of interest in Zanzibar include:
The People’s Palace
The House of Wonders
The Anglican Cathedral
The slave market
The Peace Memorial
The Palace Museums
The Old Dispensary
Dr. Livingstone’s House
The Arab Fort
Tippu Tip’s house [A rich slaver with a gemmed dagger]
With tourism on the rise, Zanzibar now has a few mobile service providers, some internet cafes, and a business centre at the Zanzibar Serena Inn.
The largest area of mature indigenous forest remaining on Zanzibar Island. Wildlife includes Aders duiker, Suni, Zanzibar Leopard, the Rare red Colobus Monkey and more.
Diving in Zanzibar:
The west of Zanzibar is where most of the popular diving sites are located. The months for diving in Zanzibar are during October and December. There are different sites available for different levels of experience. For the more experienced, wreck diving is popular. For the less experienced, most Dhow / Diving Operators offer PADI and NAUI courses. Leven Bank and Mwemba Island offer the best diving for the experienced, for the lesser experienced Murogo reef is excellent.
Popular sites for diving in Zanzibar are:
Wreck Diving The Great Northern British Steel Cable laying Ship was immersed into the Indian Ocean on December 31st 1902. At 12 metres it’s good for any level of diving experience & especially good for snorkelling.
Leven Bank 30 minute boat ride from Ras Nungwi / Experienced divers
Nyange Reef Largest reef, good for snorkelling, 20 minute boat ride from Stone Town
Bawi Island 15 minute boat ride from Stone Town
Pange Reef Excellent coral variety, All levels of experience, 20 minute boat ride from Stone Town
Mwambe Ukombe All levels of experience, Unspoilt coral, 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town
Pwakuu All levels of experience, Good coral variety, 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town
Bokibu Reef All levels of experience, 40 minutes boat ride from Stone Town
Murogo Reef Good coral and fish, 25 minutes boat ride from Stone Town
Unicorn Reef Also called Jambiani, large game fish, 30 minute boat ride from Jambiani beach
Mnemba Island Experienced divers, 25 minutes boat ride from Ras Nungwe
The Big Wall
Mnemba Island: Zanzibar
Exclusive palm and wood bandas
15min by boat from Zanzibar
Tropical barefoot paradise
Coral reefs, pristine white beaches
Over 300 fish species
Dolphin, Whale Shark, crab
Turtle season December-May
Scuba diving (speciality dives)
Snorkelling, deep-sea fishing
Diverse water sports
Tours of Zanzibar
Introduction to Mnemba:
Mnemba, an untouched atoll off the coast of Zanzibar, is therapy for the spirit. This is where Bill Gates comes to unwind and savour Mother Nature's delights, on our heart-shaped splash of sand in the blue depths of the Indian Ocean.
These "Spice Islands" were discovered by Arab traders in the 8th century and have supplied the world with aromatic spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon ever since. The exotic combination of heady perfumes, gently swaying coconut palms and lush vegetation make this an irresistible destination for lovers. As tribute to its allure, Condé Nast Traveller chose Mnemba Island as one of the three most romantic ocean destinations in the world.
Mnemba, an Arabic word meaning octopus head, lies two kilometres north-east of the island of Zanzibar, a 20-minute cruise in a traditional 16 foot flat-bottomed boat. A pristine swathe of beach defines the island's one mile circumference. A protection zone surrounds the island, conserving magnificent coral reefs where giant turtles, Ghost Crabs and spectacular tropical fish drift through the lagoons. Fresh, delicate sea breezes waft through Mnemba Lodge, lending a castaway air to the entire island.
Zanzibar and its islands are bathed in the heady scents and romanticism of a bygone era. You wake to bubbling dove song and the smell of coconut bread baking in a wood stove, as traditional dhows (coastal Arab sailing vessel) drift across the horizon. Gentle, soft-spoken islanders host you with warmth and grace. The only inhabitants of the island are lodge staff and guests, offering luxurious privacy and guaranteed exclusivity unparalleled on the African coastline.
Condé Nast Traveller chose Mnemba Island as one of the three most romantic ocean destinations in the world.
Listed among US Travel & Leisure's Editor's picks for "Best Beach Resorts" in September 2000, "World's Best" feature.
Mnemba Island features just ten en suite banda cottages, bordered on three sides by tropical beach forest and overlooking the beach and coral reef. Each exquisite banda has been hand-woven and thatched from tree branches and traditional Zanzibari palm-matting. The materials were chosen to allow the cooling sea breezes to move through the bungalow and, assisted by overhead fans, the cottages remain cool all day.
From each room, a palm-covered walkway leads to an en suite turquoise bathroom. The shower water comes from the island's well or boiled rainwater. Each banda also has a spacious outdoor verandah.
As is befitting an earthly paradise, Mnemba has near-perfect weather. The architecture of the lodge reflects this blissful serenity. You can wander through your lattice-wood doors across the wraparound verandah and stretch out on the beach on daybeds of wood and leather weave with soft white cushions. Zanzibar is famous for producing intricate and detailed wood carvings and some of the island's most skilled artisans have created the scrolled headboards adorning the beds.
Balmy air wafts through the dining area and adjoining lounge/bar, unhindered by walls or windows. With grass mats underfoot and thatch overhead, these areas have an open view of the beach and coral reefs beyond. The island also has a curio shop and a small library with a variety of books and games. Cottages are situated on either side of the main living area.
Mnemba is all about the sea and the beach, and when you tire of lying on the softest, whitest sand in the world, beach chairs and beds offer a chance for elevation.
Baskets filled with tropical fruit, lobsters and fresh fish are sailed into Mnemba on traditional ngalawa outriggers. Mouthwatering cuisine with exotic delicacies are lavishly prepared and laid out for your bedazzled palate. Luscious fruit includes coconut, oranges, papaya, bananas, mangoes, lychees, guavas, star apple, jack-fruit, rambutans, breadfruit and avocado pears.
Lunch is usually served buffet style or on large wooden carved Zanzibar platters adorned with delicious African Mezze (fingerfood). Dinner is served in the dining area or alfresco style on the beach. A table is placed under the stars, where you may dine with the waves gently lapping at your feet. You may also enjoy your meals privately on the verandah of your beach cottage.
Our food has a Mediterranean and Moroccan influence - an exciting array of fresh salads, red peppers, olives, humus and aubergine spreads, feta, chillies and grilled vegetables drizzled with olive oil, all enhanced with African spices.
The calm warm seas around Mnemba are nothing short of a giant aquatic playground. The clear blue seas provide unsurpassed visibility for snorkelling and scuba diving enthusiasts. We will provide you with all scuba and snorkelling equipment needed.
Optional activities include deep-sea fishing, which is among the best in the world. Other options which are included in the rate, are windsurfing, kayaking, and, needless to say, swimming directly from the beach. On land, choose between bird-watching, walking or simply suntanning.
You may walk the streets of the ancient "Spice Island" of Zanzibar and discover the history of the island. Cultural activities on Zanzibar include a Spice Tour or historical town tour as optional extras. It is preferable to do your sightseeing at the beginning or the end of your visit to Mnemba.
Mnemba boasts some of the world's most beautiful diving sites. Just a short boat trip from the island, coral reefs drop into the deep open sea. You can enjoy two dives daily. Please note that a valid diving certificate is needed.
No need to worry if you have no diving experience - Mnemba offers a professional dive school designed specially for you, at extra cost. Our scuba diving course of three to four days is available. Most diving sites are close by, some right next to the island and others a 15-30 minute boat ride away. Speciality dives include deep, night, navigation, drift and peak performance.
Or you may opt for the other kind of island life, where you can just lie back and relax in our library, play board games, Pictionary, watch TV or enjoy wildlife videos.
Wildlife & Ecology
The spectacular waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding Mnemba fall within a 200-metre protected zone and provide a sanctuary for a host of marine animals and magnificent coral reefs. CC Africa has exclusive traversing rights over this area. Just below the surface, and down to the seabed, are vibrant ecosystems to match the excitement and splendour of the African savannahs and tropical forests.
If you walk barefoot along the beach after dark, you will be entranced by the light created by your footprints on the wet sand. This remarkable phenomena is caused by phosphorescence in the surf.
The inky green forest light gives shelter to the rare Zanzibar suni antelope and is filled with White Forest Vagrant butterflies. There are no snakes, mosquitoes, scorpions or rats on the island, adding to the assertion that this truly is paradise on earth.
The lagoon is like a huge tropical fish tank, full of colourful marine organisms. Over 300 species of fish are present. Marine life includes Powderblue Surgeonfish, Green and Hawksbill Turtle, Vagabond Butterflyfish, Semicircle Angelfish, Clown Tigerfish, Long-horned Cowfish, Moorish Idol, Manta Ray, Ghost Crabs and bottlenosed, spinner and striped dolphin. The striped dolphin is the most common marine mammal, but other dolphins and whales are also present. The gigantic, harmless Whale Shark, the world's largest fish, is a frequent visitor to Mnemba. A host of other sharks and rays are also present. Game fish include barracuda and marlin, and these are tagged before being released.
Corals need sunlight to function, but they are not plants. They are, in fact, gregarious, anemone-like, filter-feeding animals belonging to a large invertebrate group. In addition to the great variety of fish, coral reefs are home to a host of other fascinating creatures including spectacular anemones, nudibranches, starfish, crabs and molluscs.
Crab Plover, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Purple-branded Sunbird, Bar-tailed Godwit and the glimmering Paradise Flycatcher are found on Mnemba. Crab Plovers are probably the most interesting birds on Mnemba and usually the most sought-after by serious bird-watchers.
Some birds capture small invertebrates, sand shrimps and sea lice. Those frequently seen on the shores are Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, and the Mongolian or Lesser Sandplover. An abundance of water and wading birds are sighted daily.
At high tide, flocks of wading birds can be seen on sandbars at Mnemba. This may not seem remarkable until it is realised that most of these birds are thousands of kilometres away from their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. What is even more phenomenal is that they undertake the long trip from the frozen north to the African tropics twice a year throughout their lives. The greatest numbers of Palearctic waders occur along the East African coast between late August and early May.
The forest in the centre of Mnemba Island consists almost entirely of the so-called Whistling Pine. Judging from the parallel formations, it appears to have been planted there in years gone by. This tree is not considered indigenous to Africa although it is now naturalised and propagates freely along tropical coasts throughout the world. It is thought to originate in the Far East or Australia. These trees are often grown as dune-stabilisers, and the Mnemba forest may indeed serve to keep the island intact in the face of eroding ocean currents.
Dominant on the outer fringe of the island is the distinctive Screw Pine which supports itself with its strong aerial roots. Wild Rubber Fig, Giant-leaved Fig, Coast Milkwood and Dune Cross-berry are among the other native tree species to be seen.
Mnemba Island is covered by a flush of forest and caressed by pure white sand. The dunes dip down into the warm Indian Ocean. Here, you can discover a variety of marine-associated habitats from a placid lagoon to beautiful coral reefs, where ocean life flourishes.
The cottages of Mnemba Island Lodge are built largely from local materials. The aesthetic impact of construction on this beautiful island was taken into consideration, and the cottages are positioned discreetly just beyond the beach, in the Pandanus (Screw Pine) forest.
The island uses solar energy to supply electricity for lights and refrigeration purposes. This reduces air pollution. To protect the porous sand and ground water table from contamination, separate septic tanks have been built for each unit. Refuse is sorted and only bio-degradable material is buried on the island.
No live corals, fish or shells may be collected. Game fishing occurs outside the 200m controlled zone around the island, and all fish caught are photographed, tagged and released.
CCAfrica [Mnemba’s owner] is concerned about over-fishing and damage to the Mnemba atoll caused by local activities. In this regard, the company is actively lobbying government to declare the entire atoll a marine park thereby extending the current 200-metre protection zone around the island. This will ensure no fishing occurs in the area. CC Africa will in turn set up a community trust to support local fishermen and pay them a fee for not fishing. The company is therefore working with the marine council of Zanzibar to promote alternative - and more productive - practices amongst local fishermen.
CC Africa has already contributed to install fish aggregating devices at strategic points. This program, which is designed to increase yields to local fishermen, is due for expansion and is regarded by the CC Africa leadership as a high priority.
The lodge is conscious of the need to maintain good relations with the local fishermen. The fishermen benefit from tourism by selling fresh fish to the island. Mnemba Island is solely operated and owned by CC Africa - there are no other properties on the island.
\Our guests play a critical role in helping us realise our dream and our vision. You are our future ambassadors, the meeting place between Africa and the world. You are the engine that drives our dream of advancing the green and wild frontiers of the oldest continent on earth, of helping us to permanently re-establish our planet's endangered species and wild places.
Mnemba has a tropical climate and very bright sunshine. Cyclical weather patterns are very much a part of the east coast and this is how the ancient Arabs were able to navigate this part of the world so successfully during the slave trade years.
Rainfall: Ruled by the movements of the Indian Ocean monsoons, the seasons of Mnemba change with the winds. The north-east Monsoons blow from November through December and again from February and March. Starting in June, the south-west Monsoons blow until September/October. The rainy season falls between the two monsoon seasons, in mid March, with a short spell in November. The lodge closes during the heavy monsoon rains between April and June.
Temperature: Being a tropical island, it can be humid. The sea breezes that wash over the island bring cooler air and relief from the hot, damp weather. Temperatures do not fluctuate much - the average daytime temperatures are in the region of 26°C/79°F from June to October and about 28°C/82°F from December to February. The minimum temperature in this tropical climate is 18°C/64°F with a maximum as high as 40°C/104°F. The average water temperature during July to March is from 20°C/68°F to 23°C/73°F.
The Best time to Travel
The best months to visit Mnemba are from July to March. The island is closed from 1st April to 6th June (inclusive) due to the monsoons. The best time for big game fishing is mid January to mid March, and for fly fishing and bone fishing, mid July to mid October. There are good sand flats throughout the year. Turtles nest on the island from January to the end of March, with hatchlings arriving 60 days after eggs are laid.
What method of transportation is recommended to reach the lodge?
Mnemba Island Lodge is accessible by road transfer from Zanzibar Airport or Stone Town, followed by a short boat transfer. We can pre-book and package all of your regional/internal flights and transfers.
What is the distance of the lodge from major centres?
The lodge is about a 20-minute boat ride, followed by about a 45-minute drive to Zanzibar Stone Town. Mnemba lies 2km off the Zanzibar Island mainland.
What is the recommended length of stay?
A recommended minimum period is approximately three days. The maximum length is totally up to you.
What is the accommodation type?
Zanzibari palm woven bandas.
What are the activities?
Snorkelling, windsurfing, kayaking and scuba diving (if in possession of a valid diving certificate). Various diving courses and deep-sea fishing available at an additional charge. Swimming, jogging and bird-watching opportunities.
Is the lodge available all year round?
Mnemba Island Lodge is closed from 1 April to 31 May (inclusive) each year because of the monsoon rains.
Are there brochures available?
Is there other literature available?
Two hard cover, illustrated books on CC Africa reserves are available. The Return is about Phinda Private Game Reserve and I Speak of Africa gives indepth coverage of Londolozi Private Game Reserve. The CC Africa Ecological Journal 2000 is a holistic diary of wildlife observations around our lodges and camps.
CC Africa’s free monthly wildlife e-zine, WildWatch runs articles with useful tips on bird-watching, photography, recent wildlife sightings, reviews of nature books, wildlife web links plus an interactive questions and answers section.
What style and type of meals are on offer?
Fresh fish is served at both lunch and dinner. All CC Africa establishments serve Pan-African cuisine such as:
• Lightly curried West African corn and coriander soup served with Naan bread
• Spice rubbed chicken with grilled bananas and ginger chutney
• Fire-roasted Botswana beef with caramelized onions and chilli served with sweet potatoes rubbed in cumin
• Homemade vanilla bean ice cream with macadamia nut praline and slow-roasted rum-soaked pineapple
Do you cater for specific diets such as halaal, kosher or vegetarian?
Yes, we cater for all specified diets. When making your booking with our Reservations department, kindly make them aware of the specific diet you require. They will communicate it immediately with the lodge at your African adventure destination. Should specific items need to be flown in, there will be an additional charge, which will be quoted separately.
Are children welcome?
What age of child is allowed?
Children under 12 are allowed.
Where can children sleep?
An extra bed can be arranged for a child sharing the parent’s banda.
What are the activities available for children?
Activities depend entirely on the age of the children. Activities available may include the following:
• Special eco-guides for kids
• Wildlife colouring-in books
• Animated videos
• Special programmes can be compiled such as fishing and birding special quote necessary
Who are the local people?
Mnemba Island is uninhabited. The locals of nearby Zanzibar are descendants of Africans, Assyrians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and the English.
How does CC Africa promote ecotourism?
The Africa Foundation is a non-profit organisation. It acts as a catalyst for the development of neighbouring rural communities. Projects include building classrooms, libraries and clinics and sponsoring bursaries. The Foundation empowers small business through providing capital and training. We offer employment opportunities and the local
people are often our landlords, who benefit from our rent. CC Africa guests are welcome to visit current projects in neighbouring communities.
What kind of medical precautions do I need to take?
As vaccination requirements change from time to time, we suggest you consult your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. Some countries require advance inoculations (and certificates thereof) we will advise you of these.
Anti-malarial precautions are essential at all CC Africa lodges and camps except for Tau Game Lodge in South Africa. As there are various types of medication to help prevent malaria, we would advise that you contact your local doctor or general practitioner before departing on your trip. He or she can give you advice on the appropriate medication.
How is emergency medical cover and travel insurance arranged?
Emergency medical evacuation insurance is included in the rate at all CC Africa lodges. This guarantees all reasonable, practical assistance in obtaining primary or emergency medical services for an insured person who suffers illness or injury.
Please note that this is an evacuation insurance only and does not replace the normal travel insurance which you must purchase.
Can a two to three week circuit with different lodges/camps and activities (including transfers) be arranged?
How do I pay?
If your booking is made through a travel agent, they are able to arrange payment details that are most comfortable for you such as fully pre-paid, only accommodation pre-paid or settle in full at the lodge by yourself.
Are credit cards accepted? If so, which ones?
Yes. Visa and MasterCard.
What are the lodge rates?
See Rates Section.
Are there special rates?
Yes. Special rate packages are negotiable.
Are there preferential rates?
Yes. Our preferential rates come in the form of the Bateleur Club. The Club is a membership programme designed specifically for South African residents. Kindly enquire with our Reservations consultant about the Bateleur Club when making your booking.
What are the best times to travel?
The best months to visit Mnemba are from July to March. The best time for big game fishing is mid January to mid March. There are good sand flats throughout the year. Turtles nest on the island from January to the end of March, hatching 60 days after laying.
When is the rainy season?
The rainy season falls between the two monsoon seasons, in mid March with a short spell in November.
What are the characteristic species of the area?
300 fish species, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Manta Ray, Whale Shark, Ghost Crabs, marlin, bottlenose, spinner and striped dolphin, corals, anemones, starfish, suni antelope and butterflies.
Our rates for your blissful island paradise getaway include tropical beach accommodation in hand-woven banda cottages, three mouthwatering daily meals, all teas and coffees, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and beers. We also include incomparable scuba diving (two dives per day), snorkelling, kayaking and windsurfing, your Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance and laundry service.
Rate Excludes - Champagne, cognacs, cellar wines, cigars and cigarettes, telephone calls, curio shop purchases, transfers to and from the lodge, diving instruction, deep-sea fishing and gratuities at guest's discretion.
Map of Zanzibar