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Pongwe Beach Hotel

Pongwe Beach Hotel is an established beach lodge overlooking a gorgeous beach on the east coast of Zanzibar.

Pongwe Beach Hotel is a very good option if you are looking for a relaxed, down to earth beach lodge with a lovely natural beach setting, at good value for money prices. Rooms are simple but comfortable and the lodge has a cosy, intimate feel. For anyone looking for larger, more impressive rooms then the sea-view suites would be suitable. The ambience of the property is relaxed, with friendly service and good food. We would not suggest Pongwe Beach is a sophisticated beach option, but it is very popular, often fully booked a long time in advance and guests always enjoy their stay. The beach is gorgeous, one of the best on Zanzibar, making the place feel like a little slice of paradise.

Rooms

Pongwe offers accommodation for up to 40 guests in 20 simply decorated, whitewashed rooms, gathered together in blocks of two or three. 13 of the rooms are classified as ‘beachfront’ and have sea views, three slightly cheaper rooms are classified as ‘garden’ and have garden views, and there are four sea-view suites which are the largest of all the rooms with private plunge pools (a surcharge applies and these room aren’t advisable for toddlers). There is also one family room which comprises of a double and adjoining twin room both sharing one bathroom. Each room is furnished with mosquito net covered Zanzibari double beds (if a twin bed is required, an additional single bed is added to the room), a dresser, table and chairs, ceiling and upright fans (Evening Breeze in several of the beachfront rooms), with an en suite shower and toilet. Each room also has a private verandah.

Central Areas

There is a large central dining, lounge and bar area and guests are welcome to make use of the library and various board games. A swimming pool is located on the edge of the beach (large tidal fluctuations – good swimming during high tide only. Reef shoes are useful when walking further out during low tide).

Facilities

Wi-Fi – Yes
Power for Charging – Yes
Swimming Pool – Yes

Habitat & Wildlife

Zanzibar’s, or more correctly Unguja’s (Zanzibar is the name of the archipelago which includes both Pemba and Unguja islands), history dates back more than 2000 years when the islands traded with ships from Persia, Arabia and India. From about the 10th century, groups of immigrants from Shiraz (Persia) settled on the island and mixed with the local people. In the 16th century, the Portuguese established a trading station before being ousted by Omani Arabs a couple of centuries later. In 1840, the Sultan Said moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar with the Omani Arabs forming an elite group of landlords and rulers. Indian settlers formed a merchant class and the island became an important centre of regional politics and the focus of the slave trade.

In 1890, Zanzibar became a British protectorate before gaining independence in 1963. In 1964, the Sultan was overthrown and nearly all Arabs and Indians expelled. Later that year, Zanzibar and Tanganyika combined to form Tanzania. Since then, many of the expelled peoples have returned.

In Zanzibar’s Stone Town (the old quarter and a UNESCO World Heritage site), a fascinating maze of narrow streets and alleyways lead past numerous old houses, mosques, ornate palaces, shops and bazaars reflecting the various influences through the ages – Arab, Persian, Indian and European. Many of the buildings date back to the 19th century and depict the wealth of its builder. Arab houses have plain outer walls with large doors leading to an inner courtyard. Conversely, Indian houses have a more open facade and large balconies with railings and balustrades. Take the chance to savour the atmosphere by dining at one of the rooftop restaurants.

The area outside the Stone Town is called Michenzani (New City), a failed attempt at becoming a modern city.

Depending on where you are staying on the island, there are a number of interesting excursions to consider. Visit a Spice Plantation, take a trip to the Jozani Forest (southern part of the island) where the rare red colobus monkey is found or visit Chumbe Island Coral Park (either as a day trip from Stone Town or overnight). Sundowner trips by traditional sailing dhow are available out of Stone Town. Due to environmental concerns, we no longer recommend swimming with dolphins.

Please remember that Zanzibar, like much of the East African coastline, has a strong Islamic culture, and that you should dress appropriately when in public areas and the Stone Town. During the month of Ramadan, further courtesy should be shown to those observing their faith, particularly in respect to service which you may find slower than usual. Dates for 2018 are the lunar month beginning around the 15th May.

The best beaches on the island are those found on the north and east coasts. However, please note that there are large tidal movements and sea swimming from most beaches during low tide is difficult. The best snorkelling is found around the Mnemba and Chumbe islands.

Like most of East Africa, the islands are affected by the monsoon winds – the Kuzi (or sometimes Kisi) which blows from April to September/October is a south-easterly which brings choppy sea conditions and seaweed to the shorelines, whereas the Kaskasi blows from the north-east from October/November to March producing calmer seas and slightly higher temperatures.

Activities

The hotel has kayaks, mountain bikes, snorkelling equipment (adult sizes only), hand-held kites, frisbees, boule, bats and balls etc. available free of charge. There are small charges for the boats used for reef snorkelling and the ngalawas (local small dhows) for sailing and hand-line fishing. Diving and deep sea fishing trips can be arranged with nearby resorts. Sight-seeing tours around Zanzibar can also be arranged.

Seasons

Pongwe is open from June through to mid-April each year.

There is no age restriction. The family room is an ideal choice for families wanting to be together with a double bedroom, adjoining twin bedroom and a shared bathroom. Triple and quad rooms are also possible. Pongwe is fine for families, but is probably best suited to families with older teenage children who can have their own room and who don’t need the buzz of a larger resort hotel.

Pongwe supports their local community through various means. They built a fresh water supply in the village which is sufficient for the entire community and assist the village development through cash funds. Support is also given to the primary school through donations both from themselves and their guests who bring stationery and clothes for the children.

ALTERNATIVE CAMPS IN THE TANZANIA COAST AND ISLANDS