Remote and untouched by mainstream commercial developments, northern Mozambique is the perfect setting for a relaxed tropical getaway. by Daniela Marchesi
Set within the picturesque archipelago of the Quirimbas National Park, for as far as I could see at Guludo Beach Lodge, there were kilometres of palm-fringed white-powdery deserted beaches. I was happily stranded, and who wouldn’t be?
The brainchild of Amy and Neal Carter-Jones, Guludo (along with its associated charity – the Nema Foundation) was created in 2002 as a sustainable model to help relieve poverty and protect the environment. Over the years their hard work has seen them win a range of awards commending their efforts to develop responsible tourism in the area, from ‘Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year’, ‘Best in Poverty Reduction’, to being crowned this year as the ‘International overall most Responsible Hotel’. When talking with Amy about her work, the passion that fuelled and sustained this project nearly ten years ago, is still as strong today as it was back then.
With the help of Cullum and Nightingale Architects, Guludo was built using local building materials and utilised (and still does) the skills, knowledge and techniques of the local residents – empowering and developing the local capabilities. Indeed villagers have now been trained and employed to work at the Lodge.
Spaced out along the empty white beach, there are nine bandas (bungalows) each with panoramic views through the nettled walls, creating a feeling of being outside while inside.
The king-size beds are on raised tiled floors, sitting under an expansive palm-thatched roof opening upwards and outwards to the sea with its cooling breeze. Also, each banda has a quirky alfresco marbled bathroom with inventive showers made out of coconut gourds and cane that rely soley on sun-warmed water. Falling asleep on my first night to the gentle sound of crashing waves was exactly what the doctor had ordered – complete relaxation.
Guludo also has a well-equipped PADI dive centre along with a great team of dive masters and instructors. Being able to dive reefs where I was the only person there along, with my buddy was incredible, and of course the shoaling fish, turtles and the cute clown fish playing hide and seek amongst the anemones made it all the better. The mixture of coral gardens and the drop-offs with strong currents mean that the diving here is ideal for both beginners as well as the more advanced and those curious to discover new dive sites.
Other activities also include snorkelling, beach archery, pottery with local artisans, bush walks, day trips to neighbouring islands, sunset dhow sailings (the traditional Arab sailing vessel) and for the ultimate pampering session, a selection of beauty treatments can be enjoyed on the beach.
For those who want to take in the wild African bush, there is also a nearby mirador (viewpoint) which overlooks the northern part of the Quirimbas National Park, and is one of the very few places where it is possible to view elephants during the day.
However, workaholics listen up – at Guludo, there is no electricity, though a generator is operated a few hours a day. So no televisions, laptops or mobile phones – bliss, non?
Through the Nema Foundation, Guludo also runs education programmes and projects in the village and there is the opportunity for guests to help out if they so wish. For more information on the Nema Foundation, visitwww.nemafoundation.org
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Amy on July 20th, 2010