TRAVEL UPDATE: Vicky's pre-winter warmer in Mozambique
I am very glad that Mozambique has nearly 3,000km of coast line as it means there are always new places to explore and discover. The only thing is most of the lodges are pretty remote so you do need to make that extra effort to get there. But in my experience its always worth it . My pre- winter Mozambique warmer was to the area around the UNESCO heritage site of Ilha de Mocambique.
Like many islands off the east coast of Africa Iha de Mozambique was an early Arab trading post before the Portuguese arrived, built a port and naval base and then a fort in the 16th century. It withheld bombardments by the Dutch in the early 1600s and many galleons and ships were sunk in battles and shipwrecks off the coast. In recent years some marine archaeologists have been salvaging treasures from the deep including a shipment of Ming China which amazingly has survived 400 years on the seabed. Many of these treasures can be seen in the small museum.. The San Sabastiano Fort has had some pretty impressive restoration work on it so a bit of money must be making it to the right places from UNESCO. It’s a lovely island with a very relaxed atmosphere and well worth a couple of days to wander around the dusty, rather dilapidated streets. There are a couple of options to stay, both beautifully restored colonial buildings on the seafront.
Then we headed off to the beach where there are two excellent lodges to choose from. Closest is the more upmarket Coral Lodge which is only a short boat trip away from the island. It’s a beautiful lodge with lovely rooms which boast very unusual four- poster beds which have air-conditioning within them so only the bed gets the air-con! It sort of works. The service is impeccable. We didn’t meet the owners Bart and Alex but they must run a very tight ship as you couldn’t fault a thing even when they weren’t there. The most exceptional thing about the lodge was the food. Where they found a Mozambique chef who had worked in restaurants throughout Europe I don’t know, but he was inventive, made the most of the local produce not to mention the lovely presentation. He was enthusiastic and proud of what he made and - most importantly - it was delicious. Coral Lodge has a huge white sandy beach and if you don’t want to relax on the beach or by the pool you can go on boat trips, canoeing in the mangroves, visit the local village and enjoy some great diving on reefs and wrecks.
We then moved onto Nuarro Lodge, which is further north up the mainland in a very remote but surprisingly populated area. Lola, the founding owner, was looking for somewhere to set up a lodge which would help the local community but also somewhere she could dive from the beach. After a huge amount of searching she came upon Memba Bay which has a reef wall dropping off just off the beach and a local village who were very keen to go into a partnership. So Nuarro was born and it’s a real proper ‘eco’ lodge. There are many lodges who claim their eco status but scratch the surface you will find there is not that much ‘eco’ about them but Nuarro can claim it. Set on a huge beach, there are 12 comfortable bungalows with excellent self-composting loos and the whole lodge is solar powered. Diving straight off the beach is a bonus and probably the best on offer in the area as a marine park has been set up in the bay. They also have bikes to explore the area, visiting the lighthouse, local villages and some more remote beaches. They have set up an excellent volunteer project where the volunteers stay at the lodge but work within the local communities. Josie, a dutch girl who is there at the moment, has set up a theatre group with volunteers from the village and they together devised a theme, then a script then produce their play to villages within the area. The ideas are simple covering basic health issues such as diahorea, STDs and contraception but very important in areas with very little local healthcare and it was a simple but inspiring project.
Part of Mozambique's charm is that it is still developing for tourism and the infrastructure makes some lodges more difficult to reach, but once you get to these lodges you feel that true sense of getting away from it all, and close to the country, its history and its communities as well as to its wonderful beaches and ocean.
For more information on anything mentioned in this Travel Update, please contact Vicky on 0131 315 2464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.