Chole Mjini was never meant to be a tree house hotel, and it isn’t. It is a castaway fantasy, a jungle island retreat appealing to a specific kind of person; one who appreciates a return to simple luxuries that reawaken the senses, rather than the predictable comforts of room service and air conditioning. Chole Mjini tree house resort has six treehouses and one ground house.
Each treehouse is equipped with one or two stories, creating varying views of the ocean and bay surrounding the island, large “throne-like” beds, a hammock, relaxing area with a bench or couch, private bathing area and open-air showers. Each treehouse took from six months to a year to complete because they were built completely by hand, using traditional tools and utilizing materials sourced only from traders living on Chole. Each tree for poles and planks was cut by hand, sawn into planks by hand in a saw pit and transported to Chole by dhow, cured for at least twelve months and then ripped and planed by hand.
The Saba Tree house hotel, built around a Flamboyant tree (also known as Delonix regia) and surrounded by ruins, has been the most popular tree house at Chole Mjini from the day it was finished. The owner of Chole Mjini think that the preference for the Saba tree house hotel (which means ‘Seven’ in Bantu) might be a religious or superstitious thing…
To summarize, the pros of Saba are that it is one of the biggest treehouses at Chole Mjini tree house resort, in which can easily sleep two adults and two children. The tea house (a ‘tea house’ is a 19th-century Stone Town innovation, which is essentially an elevated room that is open to the breezes, allowing for 360-degree views) has fabulous sunset views over the beach and delicious breezes. Saba has a large sun deck over the beach, and features a light-filled and airy loo and shower.
The cons are that this tree house hotel is built directly on the beach, so it can be a tad noisy in the mornings when the fishermen leave or return (but that lends character). It is the only tree house on the resort that has a good view of Mafia Island across the water, which now has some nasty exuberance of electricity at night causing the fireflies to disappear from the mangroves in front of Saba. But if you’re not a refugee from reality like me, then Saba is pretty awesome.