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Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Manta Reef Lodge: Passion and Paradise in Pemba - Page 2

Written by Carolyn Bonello
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If phrases such as ‘deserted beaches’, ‘pristine waters’, ‘unspoilt scenery’, and ‘rarely more than a dozen tourists on the island’ don’t spell out ROMANCE, I don’t know what does. This is Pemba, and I’m in love!

I desperately needed some quality time with my better half. I was craving somewhere exotic but didn’t fancy dodging sarong-sellers on Kuta beach in Bali, or fighting for a patch of sand in Ko Samui, Thailand. I wanted somewhere away from the maddening masses of tourists. I wanted isolation. Peace. Tranquility.


I’m so relaxed – gazing dreamily at the wooden Dhows, complete with majestic white sails, bobbing in the crystal water below us. The sand is so white; I have never seen anything like it. I don’t want to ever leave this room, but it’s time to explore.


Manta Reef Lodge: Passion and Paradise in Pemba, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Indian OceanA large, airy, open-plan reception area leads to a chilled-out lounge where colorful couches and cushions are casually set, and packs of playing cards and board games are scattered on wicker tables, together with a number of guide books and novels. Walking out onto a massive terrace, one can sit and read, eat, relax and best of all marvel at the most unbelievably beautiful sea views this place has to offer.




Getting to the lodge is not an easy affair, due to the remoteness of the place, but Manta Reef staff pick up their guests from the airport, so no worries! The one and a half hour drive starts off smoothly on a well-tarmacked road, passing through Chake Chake, the capital, and a few other remote villages. The last few kilometers through the Ngezi forest see the road narrowing into a bumpy dirt track. The lodge suddenly appears through a break in the thick vegetation. It’s enchanting. Manta Reef Lodge: Passion and Paradise in Pemba, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Indian Ocean


At the lodge, we immediately feel time slowing down due to the what’s the hurry? Pole pole (slowly, slowly) we will manage’ attitude with which the staff go about their daily activities. In fact, ordering a cocktail on the beach may take a while, and waiting for fish to be cooked on the barbeque might get a little tedious, but the friendly smiles from the staff and the warm welcome they offer, more-than make up for the slow, relaxed way of life, which we actually found ourselves starting to enjoy in no time. So for 5 peaceful, stress-free days we switch to ‘Pemba time’, remove our watches and learn to monitor time by our grumbling stomachs, which accurately denote breakfast, lunch and dinner-time.


I have never been more in love. With my man, of course! But also with food. I have developed a ravenous appetite here. It must be the air. Or the tantalising whiffs that welcome me at breakfast time. Every morning we devour a feast of bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes and baked beans, with freshly-brewed coffee and a selection of teas and juices also available. Lunch and dinner, served on the large terrace, are mostly fish-based, and a large selection of freshly caught lobster, crab, dorado, king prawns and tuna, deliciously grilled to perfection, are almost always offered. I obviously taste everything. Some evenings, the dinner tables are joined for staff and guests to mingle and eat together - something I thoroughly enjoy, especially listening to the never-ending, fascinating stories told by some of the staff.


Manta Reef Lodge: Passion and Paradise in Pemba, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Indian OceanI’m getting used to this life: Wearing nothing but a flimsy sarong, walking barefoot on the sand, having my man by my side. All we do is sunbathe, eat and sleep. Eventually, we decide that it’s time to forfeit a couple of hours of sunbathing for some more exciting activities offered by the lodge.


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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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