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 second of the ‘tea house’ treehouses, Tano (which means “Five” in Bantu), is set in the midst of the fig-entwined ruins of what was once a large house built during the 19th-century heyday of Chole, when the bustling trading entrepot flourished by trading between the Shirazi Sultanate of Kilwa, on the Tanzanian coast, and the Omani Sultanate of Zanzibar.
The tea house has sweeping views of Chole Bay and delicious breezes. When the figs are ripe the tree at Tano becomes a favorite haunt of the beautiful ‘flying foxes’ (also known as ‘Fruit Bat’) that live on Chole. The shower is built into a remnant of ruin and has space for an entire football team. The toilet is new, bright and breezy.