Saturday, October 15, 2011

Early One Morning

Up before the birds this morning, full lodge, 2 boat trips to organise, one carload of guests off to the Mafia Marine Park and 8 staying in-house - whew!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Royal Visit to Tanzania

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit townships and community projects during a tour of Tanzania and South Africa next month.

The trip, which will focus on the environment and sustainability, education and trade, is timed to take place just a month before the Durban Climate Summit.
In Tanzania, the official visit will be part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of independence from the UK..They will visit a Masai village, a national park and Zanzibar.They will meet President Jakaya Kitwete at his residence in the country's capital, Dar es Salaam.

The duchess will make visits to child literacy programmes in both countries.

Prince Charles has recently become president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the UK, and in both Commonwealth countries there will be a strong focus on the charity's work to protect endangered species and fragile ecosystems

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Really Big Thank You

We had some post today, a large envelope which contained the certificate in the photo above. A massive thank you to all those guests who wrote reviews on Tripadvisor. Reviews are important to an out of the way business such as ours for a myriad of reasons, obviously it's lovely to know that people had a good holiday, but also given that we get no passing trade it gives people a view other than ours or a travel agents.

So from the team at Ras Mbisi, Asante sana and Karibu tena Ras Mbisi xx

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's that time of year again

The Whale sharks are back in the channel, the last couple of mornings have been early starts (5am) as the tides are not in our favour for the next few days, thankfully by the end of the week, guests wanting to swim with them will get their breakfast at the lodge rather than bacon,sausage and egg rolls on the boat :)as the tide moves to a more respectable hour of the morning.


Well I think it's official, i've been a bit rubbish about keeping this blog up to date - I've got lots of reasons (ok excuses)though, which are;
The lodge has been busy
We've had weddings and nuptial celebrations (will be posting about this in the next few days) and lots and lots of honeymooners
I'm building a new website for the lodge - very excited about this, Matt killed himself laughing when i phoned him to talk through some stuff, he told me i was turning into a geek :)
Preparing for WTM2011 (the World Travel Market - held every November at ExCel,4 days of manic activity promoting Ras Mbisi and Mafia)
and err, all the other stuff I have to do every day

BUT, I am going to try really hard to get back to regular posting, I miss it, shouting my opinions into the internet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The New Season - Happy Days

We’ve had an amazing start to the season, great guests, mostly great weather. The new menus are going down well, and the new Dhow bar and pool table are especially popular.
The new kanga bathrobes supplied in the rooms are also proving popular as are the full size toiletries (Shampoo, conditioner, body cream), and of course the Mafia Coconut soap made especially for us at N’gombeni in the south of Mafia.
So it seems the changes we made for this season were good ones, now just the count down to the opening of our Coconut Spa, offering a simple menu of massages and scrubs, based around the local coconut oil. No overegged ‘rituals’ or gimmicks here – just real bodywork to relax you into Swahili time.

I had an interesting trip to the mainland last week, Coastal had delays and we therefore had to fly via Kilwa, as we flew south we saw many (more than 20) Humpback Whales breeching, was an amazing sight.

*FREE Whale shark trips – for stays of more than 7 nights between November 15 and December 15 2011- book before 1st September 2011 and get a FREE trip to swim with Whale Sharks, also if you book online before the end of August then November stays of 5 nights or more get a free night (Stay5Pay4)*

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sympathy Tourism

This is something that has been on my mind for while then today I read David Whiteleys piece on his blog this last paragraph really says what i think "Tourism as an industry is about service, not charity. People are not giving their money to destinations, they are spending it there. There is an enormous difference. If people are genuinely moved by plight, they’ll make a charity donation, not book a flight and hotel. Tourism is a business, not a welfare scheme – and anyone tempted to overplay the sympathy card would do well to remember that." Most Lodges and Hotels in Tanzania (and elsewhere in the developing world) have involvement in their local community, and there is no reason to hide it, BUT, as a primary marketing tool? Really? How many people actually choose their annual break to help others? As a bonus, great, but most people want to have a great holiday, and to be honest promoting the fact that people nearby are in desparate need of your financial help probably just makes people feel guilty.

Ras Mbisi is about good food, relaxing and being looked after, by people who really want you to have an amazing holiday, if we choose to donate or set up projects with monies earned then great, but we will never force guests to contribute, in fact we are unlikely to mention it to you at all. Occasionally we will refer to it in a blog, but it is not the reason we exist, we exist to give our guests the best we can on this beautiful remote and deserted beach paradise.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Zanzibar 20 years on

Getting ill just when things are getting exciting is so irritating! I woke in the early hours of Saturday night with bunged up nose,burning throat and chest and aching all over. Yup, flu. No choice but to carry on though, so Sunday morning I upped and left Dar for Zanzibar. Considering there is an International Film Festival (ZIFF) on it’s pretty quiet. My plane had one other passenger and the hotel I am staying in is all but empty. Bizarrely I can still find my bearings, it hasn’t changed all that much, Ok lots of hotels and dukas,(which were decidedly NOT around 20 years ago) and a few good restaurants, but it hasn’t lost its magical essence. That said, the papsi (touts) are pretty bad, you get them in Dar as well, but Stonetown is such small place that it can seem you are being hassled constantly ‘seestar seetar I give you tour, I take you here et c etc. I think the thing I was most conscious of was being a lone female, I don’t think they would have been any different had I not been alone, but it could be more intimidating when you are, I did not feel unsafe at any point, but more sensitive souls might(but I guess they wouldn’t be travelling alone). I think that as it is still low season there aren’t enough tourists to go round, in other words once high season hits you might only get hassled once or twice during a walk and once you said no they would move on, as it was I found it annoying (being ill probably didn’t help!). All that said, Stonetown is so amazing and if you are coming to Tanzania you really can't miss it out, I didn't have the chance to check out beaches, but then I don't think any beach can compare to Ras Mbisi!!

I’m staying at the Abuso Inn, very authentically Zanzibari, and very simple, my shutters open to a view of the sea and I had an uninterrupted gaze at the sunset on Sunday evening.

Food was very much a grab it and run back to bed, I had a Prawn curry at the Buni Café for lunch, and I hit Forodhani Gardens that night for coconut sesame bread, grilled shrimp, falafel with salad and chilli sauce.

Monday brought seminar time, I was much more comfortable speaking ‘in public’ having done Fridays one in Dar and it seemed to go over well, I think/hope having someone who has started out knowing zero about marketing let alone social media and internet marketing/branding helped people see that it is possible and that you don’t have to be a computer whizz kid to achieve some success. Almost more importantly it's FUN!

I spent Monday evening with Julia from ZATI and Rachel from Mambo Magazine, G&T’s in Mercurys and dinner at Tatu’s really good getting some perspective on the similar issues and challenges we all face working in Tourism here, it’s easy to forget that we are all in the same boat.

Monday morning brought breakfast at the Serena Inn and my flight to Dar followed by the short flight to Mafia (and the discovery that Flightlink are starting a Zanzibar-Mafia flight this season!!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

E Tourism Frontiers (& Zanzibar)

It has been a few years (20) since I last visited Zanzibar, having grown up in Dar es Salaam I had visited many times during my childhood and teens. In those days there were no hotels and we always stayed at the British High Commission house. Spring forward 20 years and Zanzibar is apparently COVERED in Hotels! Back then Stonetown was a rundown rabbit warren of streets, now it’s a World Heritage Site and masses of restoration has happened and is on-going. I have vivid memories of hiring (huge) bicycles with no gears to get around and spending most of my time flat on my back-side (and it was not as well covered back in the day).
Well I am getting to return to Zanzibar thanks to Damien and Elizabeth Cook of E Tourism Frontiers as I am one of their case studies for a series of one day workshops they are holding in East Africa. The purpose of the workshops is to promote the use of E-commerce for tourism within East Africa. On-line bookings and payments, social media, decent websites et-al.
I shall write up my Zanzibar trip on my return, I’m a bit excited, but also nervous about going back to a place I loved, although I’m hoping that as I know in advance there have been big changes it won’t be too much of a shock. In the meantime for those that are interested the remaining Workshop dates and places are as follows;
Dar Es Salaam (June 17th Kempinski Hotel),
Zanzibar (June 20th Grand Palace Hotel) ,
Arusha (June 22nd New Arusha Hotel).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dar es Salaam Goat Races 2011

It's that time of year, the announcement that people and companies can choose and enter a goat for the Annual Goat Races. I know mad, but anyway - the Dar es Salaam Goat Races are the Dar equivalent of Ascot, lots of dressing up and HATS, and it's all done for Charity.

The Goat Races started in 2001 and have run each year since getting bigger each time, it raises masses for charities based in Tanzania and is a totally over the top fun day out (although it carries on into the night at various bars for the adults!!)

We will be donating a weekend at Ras Mbisi for the Goat Race raffle.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Masala Omelette Wrap

This is a family favourite, excellent hangover fodder, good for breakfast on the run (it can be wrapped in foil to keep it hot), brunch, quick lunch, eminently suitable for a solo dinner, relatively diet worthy - all round fab!

Masala Omelette

Small non stick frying pan
Teaspoon of cooking oil
One small onion, chopped finely
½ teaspoon garam masala
Pinch of salt
Dried chilli flakes, to taste, a pinch if you’re wimp,
2 beaten eggs
Handful of fresh coriander
One flour tortilla (or a chapatti)

Heat the oil (yes, in the frying pan), add the onion, garam masala, chilli flakes and salt, fry for a couple of minutes, you want the onions to still have a bit of crunch. Add the eggs, moving the pan to make sure they cook evenly. Once set, but still a little moist slide onto your tortilla/chapatti, top with the coriander and roll up. Eat!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Mercilessly stolen from A Girl, A Style blog (a must read) these are now a regular feature at Ras Mbisi, I do play around with different ingredients (e.g. lime (zest), cardamom and cashew), but this (the original) is fantastic!


This is perfect with a strong mid-morning coffee, (and so much better than the stale, brittle biscotti you buy in coffee shops). Makes around 35 pieces and keeps for 1 week.


2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
3 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons melted butter (begin with 2, and add more if needed to moisten mixture to a firm dough)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or 1/2 cup for a darker version)


Preheat over to 180 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add pistachios, chocolate and any other filling. In a separate small bowl, mix eggs, melted butter, vanilla and cocoa. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until combined (dough will become quite hard to mix, so use hands to knead into a smooth dough).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough into two, and shape into two logs about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle each with brown sugar if you wish. Bake until risen and firm (15-20 minutes). Let logs cool completely on sheet (about 30 minutes).

Reduce oven to 150 degrees. When logs have cooled, cut crosswise (using a serrated knife) into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake until dry (15-20 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Honeymoon

Well there we go, Wills and Kate are married, but not heading off on honeymoon just yet. The official line given was that he had to apply for leave and didn’t get it. They depart on Honeymoon in two weeks to ‘a remote island in the Indian Ocean, the accommodation is set in a coconut grove and the area is known for nesting sea turtles’ had it added “and whale sharks” it could have been Mafia Island!!! Happily none of the accommodation on Mafia costs $4000 a night though!

Where do you think they are going?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Behind the Scenes

Wedding Preparations

It seems the world has gone Wedding crazy, make that Royal Wedding crazy. As regular readers know we had a wedding here in February, the photos arrived last night and I will be posting the ones of the big day in the next few days. As a taster though here are a few from behind the scenes.