Zanzibar (MaDeRe). Pongwe’s bright blue water and endless stretches of sand are absolutely amazing. This tropical paradise is a bit off the beaten path, with only a few resorts around. It is the right place to come for the luxury of silence and relaxation.
Ten years ago, Michael Clarke opened the Seasons Lodge Zanzibar in Pongwe. Mike is Irish, but has spent most of his life in Africa. When he was nine years old, his parents moved to Uganda, where they built up a hospital in the service of missionaries.
Mike has constructed the area of the Seasons Lodge carefully and lovingly over the last years. It was a lot of work to reclaim the barren, scrubby coastal land. Mike spread fertile soil and put countless plants. The result is a beautiful, colourful garden where the beach villas hide among palm trees, blooming bushes and stone walls.
Each villa offers an uninterrupted view of the sea. You can drink your morning coffee or a cocktail on the private veranda which is located directly on the cliffs above the beach. I stayed half of the time on my veranda, enjoying the spectacular view of the water. I just could not get enough watching the dramatic change between low and high tide.
Nine cottages are located directly on the beach. There are also three spacious family rooms in the main house, each with a sea view as well. The water here is heated by solar energy; fans above the beds ensure a pleasant breeze.
The lodge is currently well booked. This was not foreseeable when Covid-19 broke out a year ago. Hotels in Zanzibar were closed for a while last spring. Owner Mike bought 300 chicken to create a business alternative for himself. Now that the situation in the Zanzibar tourism industry has eased, they contribute to the egg dishes at breakfast.
The beach bar serves Continental or Irish breakfast, with beans and sausages. My favourite was the Spanish omelette tomatoes and peppers. Other options include plenty of tropical fruit, muesli, waffles, toast, and juice.
The lunch and dinner menus change every day. A three-course dinner costs $25 per person. The main course is available for $15. Everything from the three-hectare garden is put on the table. Local fishermen bring freshly caught fish, seafood and octopus.
Mike calls it a “miracle” that business is almost back to normal again. In order to keep his mostly Central and Northern European regulars, he has refused to cooperate with Russian tour operators who bring charter planes full of a beach-front binge-drinking clientele. Instead, Mike offers long-term stays. Some guests have been here for several weeks.
Eating well, hanging out at the beach bar, sailing, snorkelling, watching the local women at work on the seaweed farms – that’s how you spend the days here. Seasons Lodge has also three sea kayaks that guests can use for free.
A holiday without impairments, in other words. The only thing that is currently on pause because of Covid, are the Sunday pool sessions with chill-out music and spontaneous live art performances, which were also attended by the locals. Mike, who also DJs occasionally himself, hopes to resume these events soon.