Hostel Hoff

Hostel Hoff

About

Hostel Hoff offers volunteer placements at a grass roots level, where you simply pay for your accommodation and we organise your volunteering for free, as it should be! We are a small family run organisation working with approximately 20 different volunteer projects in Moshi, Tanzania. Projects include women and community groups, orphanages, centres for children with disabilities, manual work such as farming, teaching projects and medical centres. There is a large variety of work on offer and we are careful to provide sustainable, ongoing support to the organisations we help. All of our volunteers stay at one of our two hostels, where they can share their experience with like-minded travellers! Karibu (welcome to) Tanzania!

Founded
2006

Reviews

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Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once a Hoffer, always a Hoffer?

It's been a while that I have stayed at Hostel Hoff, but I remember my stay as if it was just yesterday. I'm currently planning my next trip to Tanzania once the pandemic has gone down... The staff was very friendly and were always open to give advice and to make my stay as pleasant as possible! Most of the guests and the staff were like one big family and we did a lot together. I almost never felt bored! The food was also great and the hostel in general was very clean. Hostel Hoff also connected me with their partner NGO that provides a second chance to education for teenagers, Good Hope. It was such a pleasure to work there and do practical English speaking exercise with the students and help the staff with computer related issues while also learning a lot about life and education in Tanzania in general, and especially about girls' and women's issues.

Both the hostel and the NGO will always be in my heart and I am looking forward to coming back again! Ninawapenda sana!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be too afraid to hang out with Tanzanians as well. They are such loving people who always find great pleasure in teaching you Kiswahili. Both at the hostel and at the NGO people are more than happy to teach you. And as soon as you know some words of Swahili, people are even happier to sit with you! I am currently learning more Swahili in preparation for my next trip! So my second advice would be to learn at least some greetings before you head to Tanzania - even if you stay for only four weeks.
Response from Hostel Hoff

Thank you alot Anna for the review. It warms our hears when people leave with a happy memory to keep forever. You are greatly welcomed to your second home at any time. ONCE A HOFFER, ALWAYS A HOFFER.

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Shona
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go go GO!

Where to begin?
I had an incredible time staying at Hostel Hoff! I was there as a solo volunteer for 12 weeks at the end of 2019 and loved every second of it.

The hostel is based in Moshi which is a reasonable sized city in the North of Tanzania. As a white female, I felt safe walking around town on my own during the day, just be sensible, don't show your valuables and dress appropriately! Don't be scared to say no to men on the streets who will try to sell you things you do not want. Do not go out walking at night, even in groups, it is not safe. Use trusted transport.

There are lots of trips available that can be organised through the hostel, you can visit the hot springs, go on safari and even climb Kili if you're brave enough! It's also easy to organise a trip to Zanzibar yourself as you can fly from Kilimanjaro airport.

The Hostel itself is beautiful. On a clear morning you can view Kilimanjaro. The gardens are well cared for by the wonderful gardeners who are always friendly. I was staying in a four person tent outside, it was nice and cool at night. There is plenty of storage space for clothes and a fan in the tent if needed. There are also smaller tents and indoor rooms available. Inside the Hostel there is a kitchen where you can prepare food and a living room with a TV for watching films. Power cuts are frequent (this is Africa!) so take a power bank and a torch. There is an outdoor toilet and shower block and indoor bathrooms too. There is a board in the communal area outside where any important information will be written. The hostel is a great place to meet other travellers and experience living with people from cultures around the world.

Water is available from the hostel for 15USD per month. I'd recommend this as it is cheaper than buying from town. If you do not have a reusable water bottle you can buy one from the supermarket. Unfortunately for the duration of my stay the wifi only worked for two days. Data is available to buy - buy a local sim card, it is not too expensive and wifi is sometimes available at local restaurants.

It's worth noting that in general all staff and volunteers at the hostel speak at least some english and it is generally the language used as there are volunteers from all over the world. It's also worth learning kidogo kiswahili as it will come in handy both in town and at the projects!

The food was lovely! Breakfast and dinner are provided at the hostel each day. Breakfast includes eggs, pancakes, toast, fruits, tea and coffee. The dinner menu went in a two week rotation and the food is tasty! The hostel caters for vegetarians but it's worth mentioning that Tanzania in general doesn't offer great vegetarian alternatives. You can use the kitchen during the day to make your lunch but I'd recommend going into town and trying some of the local food! The market is great fun and you can haggle the price of your food. It's worth mentioning that if you're not a swahili speaker you'll be charged quite a high price because the locals associate foreigners with having lots of money.

The staff at the hostel were great, there are two guards who are always around - even if it is just to kill a tarantula! They are very friendly and knowledgeable about their country. The rooms and tents are cleaned every day and there is a laundry service available too. The hostel has a manager who lives on site and is available to answer any questions. All staff are very approachable and welcoming! They will help you to learn swahili too!

I volunteered at a project which supports girls who have been affected by early marriage and female genital mutilation. The project was a short walk from the hostel. I loved every second of my project, the girls were amazing and the staff care a lot about what they do. It's worth mentioning that for some projects, there can be a lot of travel involved and this can become expensive if you are staying there for a long time.

Things I wish I'd known before going:
Don't bother taking loads of toiletries with you, you can buy soap, shampoo, conditioner etc there very cheaply.
It's not easy to find sun cream or after sun in Moshi because the locals don't use it.
YOU WILL NEED FACTOR 50.
Female travellers - it is VERY difficult to find tampons as they are not generally used in Tanzania.
There was an ongoing debate about whether malaria tablets were needed whilst staying in Moshi. Malaria does not seem to be present in Moshi however many of the trips involve leaving the city and travelling into rural areas where it is common.
It's also worth having very good travel insurance. The local hospital is good and the staff speak english. If you need the hospital someone local will come with you to help. The nearest "western" hospital is Nairobi.

I hate to mention any negatives but no trip is perfect!
It was a shame the wifi didn't work whilst I was there, I am not somebody who is on my phone a lot but I think some travellers struggled without it.
Obviously Tanzania is full of various snakes, spiders, insects etc and you will be covered in mosquito bites - take lots of repellent and long clothing!
Generally the trips from the hostel are somewhat expensive in comparison to Tanzania as a whole. They are worth doing but try to haggle down the prices if you can.
It can become a bit tiring living at the hostel for a long time and having a constant turn over of other volunteers coming and going. This is the nature of staying somewhere like this but I promise you will make many lifelong friends throughout your stay. I'd recommend staying for at least 4 weeks to fully experience Tanzania!

All in all I fully recommend Hostel Hoff! It was an incredible experience and now I have a second family in Africa. I will go back to visit someday!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be scared to come to this project as a solo traveller. You will meet many people who will become your lifelong friends!
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Diana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Choice I've Ever Made

Staying at Hostel Hoff was hands down the best choice of my entire Africa trip. It was incredibly well-organized, ethically-run, clean, safe, and had some of the most welcoming staff I'd ever met.

The facilities and grounds of the hostel far surpassed my expectations. There was good wifi, hot water, near-constant electricity, and beds were very comfy! There was a nice kitchen we could use, dishes and fridge and toaster. There was a big common space indoors with TV that was loaded with movies and shows, a giant bookshelf full of novels in all languages, towels/sheets, and a big comfy couch!! There was a nice dining area outside we ate at every evening, with electric plugs nearby, and the woman (Mary) who runs the hostel ate with us every night! The facility has indoor rooms (think: college-dorm-type setup,) as well as permanent outdoors tents for the more adventurous! The tents are super cool--zero bugs/snakes, stay cool in the heat, and have locking cabinets/a dresser/big comfy wooden beds with mosquito netting. You get to be in nature when you wake up, and can see the smattering of stars across the sky when evening comes(:

I felt very safe in the town itself, and could walk around alone there for hours at daytime (I'm a 21 y.o. female). Hostel guards kept us very safe at night--never once felt unsafe.

There are cleaners daily for the hostel, and a groundskeeper who keeps the nature tame!
The food at Hostel Hoff is the best I've had in my entire life. Dinner and breakfast are provided. There is always fresh fruit/veg at meals, and more than enough food to go around! I'm still dreaming about Victoria and Jessica's chicken stew over steamy rice, eggplant spaghetti, chips mayari, and toasty chapati bread! YUM!

The volunteers I lived with and met have become lifelong friends. Everyone is super friendly and welcoming, they go out for drinks on the town, dinner at nearby restaurants (the brownies at La Fuente are to DIE for,) and shopping days in town! It's truly a lovely community to come back from projects to every day. After dinner we would always play games or watch movies together and I don't think I've ever laughed as much as when we all played charades together!! Lots of people were there solo, as was I, so don't worry if you're going alone. You'll fit right into the Hostel Hoff family!

The hostel is a 10 min walk from the town center, very close to post office/bank/supermarkets/good restaurants/nightclubs.

Mary is the woman who runs the show. She answers emails within a day (usually less!,) and is constantly on top of everything happening there. Her communication and organization are flawless. She makes changes whenever issues are brought up, magically fixes electricity cuts, checks up on everyone, and really makes the place feel like home when she visits every night! I can't say enough positive things about her.

The hostel will help you get a SIM card, and give you a town tour as well! They have numbers for safe motorbike/tuk tuk/taxi drivers, massage and manicure people, doctors, etc., etc., all on hand.

I will note that their weekend tours are wildly overpriced. (Masai tour, waterfalls, coffee, etc.). While I'm sure they're lovely, I would really urge you to look elsewhere. There are loads of wonderful, safe, super fun, and fairly priced tours offered elsewhere in town!

The company that runs the hostel also hosts Kilimanjaro climbs and safaris. I went on a safari with them (African Scenic Safaris,) and had a phenomenal time. I really encourage you to check out their TripAdvisor page, as they've got thousands of reviews and 5 stars! I've had 9 friends climb Kilimanjaro with them and heard nothing but positives. They're safe, ethical, fairly priced, and have a super high summit rate.

Tanzania really is the "heart of Africa" and I feel very lucky to have picked Moshi as my first destination on such a beautiful and misunderstood continent. The hostel became my home, and I hope to return some day.

I strongly urge you to send them an email (a quick google search will get you to their website/contact details,) and book the flight! You won't regret it!

I volunteered at their medical volunteer option--St.Joseph's hospital. This next bit is about that:

I was able to be incredibly hands on (within my level of training) at the hospital. I performed CPR on countless kids and infants, was able to help insert/remove IVs, observe surgeries (heart, c-section, appendectomies, etc.,) clean and triage burn victims, change dressings, help with charting and rounds, consult with doctors, help with births, transport patients, and give advice where I could.

As a nursing student, I came with the idea to work on a different ward (male, female, labor & delivery, and pediatric/children's,) each week, to maximize the scope of my experience. However, after one week on the children' ward, as my focus in school is pediatric trauma nursing, I fell in love with the kids and knew I'd found my spot! I worked the pediatric ward for 4 weeks, with days here & there spent in labor & delivery.

The experiences I had there were beyond comprehension. In my time on the children's ward I witnessed & experienced deep joy, sharp sadness, loss, wonder, and fascination all wrapped into one. I became dear friends with the local nurses, as well as foreign med students and volunteers. I had profound experiences there that have shifted my views on medicine, invigorated my passion for pediatric trauma nursing in 3rd world nations, and given me a newfound appreciation for the resources available at my home hospitals.

I fought tooth and nail alongside other volunteers for countless children and newborns, performing CPR, mouth-to-mouth, intubating, doing the kangaroo method to raise body temp., etc., etc..
Quite a few kids and infants who we worked on in my time at St.Josephs ended up succumbing to their various conditions/traumas and dying with us. Holding them as they passed, fighting to save them, informing their families, and everything that came between has fundamentally changed who I am.
Witnessing and helping with births, watching babies enter the world and holding them in their first moments here with us? Words don't even come close.

Volunteering at St. Joseph's was a deeply profound privilege. I had experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life, met patients who have impacted me at the core, and was able to witness things I couldn't have seen elsewhere.

Staff all spoke very good English, doctors and nurses were very kind and open to feedback, the facilities were well-organized. They did not have any continuous monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, etc., (in fact did not have any BP cuffs at all,) but did everything they could with what they had.

The effort you put determines the quality of your experience there. If you leave at noon, or don't ask to help out with things, you can have an entirely different experience than I did. Stay until 2pm, ask nurses and doctors if you can help with/perform skills within your medical training (such as asking to wash burn victims, take over CPR if someone has been doing it for a long time, change bandages, observe a surgery,--only if you are well trained in that area,) speak with other volunteers, follow up with your patients, etc. You get out what you put in!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
There was an infant rushed to the pediatric ward (where I was volunteering,) who was not breathing and had no pulse. The local doctor was not trained in CPR (a common occurrence I later learned,) and as a nursing student I've been trained in pediatric/adult/infant resuscitation and CPR. I had never done CPR before, let alone seen it performed on a real person. As my fellow volunteer ran into the room holding her and yelling she needed CPR, it was very nerve-wracking. But I took a quick breath and ran right over to begin compressions and rescue breaths on her. We fought for her for the next 2 hours, intubating, continuing CPR, etc., etc.
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Joseph
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Hoff

Where do I start? I had an amazing time in Moshi volunteering for six weeks through Hostel Hoff. I decided to undertake a project involving manual labour, and for this I decided to join Kili Kids - an orphanage based very close to Moshi at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. There I was able to contribute to the daily maintenance of the farm, as well as help with jobs such as painting the dining hall. The kids there are absolutely adorable.

Hostel Hoff itself was a great place to stay. It is about 10 minutes walk from town, and at no time did I feel unsafe. For a one-time fee upfront you are able to have unlimited access to the bottled drinking water at the hostel, which I highly recommend. The rooms were cleaned everyday, and the laundry done on a semi-regular basis. Included in the fee is a full breakfast and dinner, which was unbelievably good quality. The hostel also has wifi, as well as satellite television and a DVD collection (donate a DVD, should you decide to stay!). The hostel also runs a weekly football (soccer) social match.

Should one have the time, and the money, I would recommend the awesome feat that is scaling to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Also recommended is going on Safari - these activities may be organised through the hostel, at a discounted rate to volunteers. Tip - bring USD beforehand to pay for these, to avoid multiple trips to the ATM!

As is the norm when volunteering overseas, I met the most amazing individuals from all over the globe. I travelled solo; however I met groups, couples, and even families who stayed at the hostel.

PS. Whitney is the best cook in Moshi :p

What would you improve about this program?
Hard to say. The volunteering is free, the facilities are great, and the support staff are extremely helpful.
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Stephanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The hoff

The hostel hoff, is an amazing place to stay. You feel really safe and the staff is so wonderful. When you stay at the hostel it is like you become a family. The staff is also part of the family, and they are so nice and helpfull. If you are going to Moshi to volunteer, i would definitely recommend that you stay at hostel hoff.
The hostel is only a 15 min walk from town, although it is placed in a quite area, which is nice at night. The hostel has dogs to guard, and guards as well. They are really nice, and also part of the big hostel hoff family.

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Mary Mushi

Mary, a mother of 3, born and raised in East Africa, has been working for Hostel Hoff since 2011. Mary believes every human being would want to lead a healthy, happy life—but not everyone in our world is fortunate enough to do so. Disease, poverty, and social injustice are a burden in many societies. She also believes everyone needs to be valued and everyone has the potential to give something back.

It is because of these that she has dedicated her life to helping link-local needy projects with international volunteers who volunteer their time and resources into making this world a better place.
Mary Mushi

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory was witnessing the great Immigration of wildebeest at the Serengeti national park together with the children from Hope Orphanage. This is an orphanage that is fully supported by Hostel Hoff. It was great seeing all these little faces light up with joy as they watch this breathtaking activity. It was amazing seeing thousands of wildebeest running over the Serengeti plains.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Yes, It has really changed my thinking. It has taught me the importance of giving: the more we give, the more we will receive. Being kind and generous has lead me to perceive others more positively. I have met and learned from a range of new people; this has helped me create memorable experiences and many positive relationships.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Here's one review from one of our volunteers:

"I have traveled many places around the world, but Hostel Hoff and volunteering in Moshi has been one of my most favorite and life changing experiences to date. It's been over a month since I left and I still constantly reminisce back to my life at Hostel Hoff. They organized my volunteering at Faraja Farajika orphanage - highly recommend. The rooms are cleaned (beds made) every day and so comfortable with hot showers. The staff went above and beyond to make sure we were happy, the food beat any expectations I had of African food, it was fresh, healthy and delicious. The overall energy of the hostel was wonderful, especially the huge green gardens that wrapped around the vicinity. It was incredibly easy to make friends, especially if you are a solo traveler."

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I were to go on any program offered by Hostel Hoff, I will choose Kili kids.

I'm a permaculture enthusiast and the beautiful gardens, the fresh water spring at the edge of the farm, the beautiful trees, animals, staff and the view of Kilimanjaro mountain on the walk to the project is everything for me.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We believe volunteering should not be expensive. At Hostel Hoff. you pay for your living costs and the experience is free. We are a link between the volunteers and the needy projects; we, therefore, make sure the volunteers spend most of their funds in these projects rather than paying thousands of dollars for administration & running costs.

Getting a certificate of excellence as number one volunteer Hostel in Moshi. We couldn't have had achieved this without the hard work and dedication from our team.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor in being a successful company is having a clear mission and vision. Also, it is very important for a company to set up goals that will enable the achievement of the mission and vision(these should be realistic and achievable) and having a great team that will enable this to happen in the best way possible.