Vilanculos – a town in South-Eastern Mozambique, located in a district that goes by the same name, at the coast of the Indian Ocean. This is where you find the white beaches, the palm trees, colourful fisherboats, and a sea that incorporates (at least) fifty shades of turquoise, corresponding to thosse iconic images of Mozambique on tourism sites and homepages of exclusive lodges. But you don’t have to wander around, searching for hidden magical spots. They are simply there, everywhere, because this is what the region looks like.
This is where my 2015 ended and my 2016 kicked off. Together with my Significant Other, we got out of Beira for a few days and headed down South by bus. Some travel tips and recommendations, collected during the trip, can be found in an extra post.
Without hesitation, I dare say that we picked the finest accomodation place one can even dream of – Marimba Secret Gardens, a Budget Lodge about 20 km North of Vilanculos town, created and ran by a young Swiss family, that attracts the most diverse types of travellers in a way that the combination of people that gather there is always unique, and always interesting.
Even though our main purpose was to chill out, relax and just enjoy life, we ended up doing and discovering plenty of things.
10 Things you can do while staying at Marimba Secret Gardens:
- Go to Bazaruto Archipelago for a day. It’s an untouched paradise, as beautiful as can be and yet neither overran by masses of tourists, nor crowded with infrastructure, shops or bars. It’s just a combination of sand, sea, desert-like dune landscapes and, unfortunately for some of us, jellyfish.
- Embark on a tiny boat into the open ocean – because that’s what you have to do in order to get to Bazaruto. It is shaky, it is wet, it is windy and, honestly, painful and scary at times – and yet, it was there in the “washing machine” when I felt like looking at myself from an outside perspective, thinking “What an awesome finish of an incredible, shaky, windy year.”
- Get up at 4:30am for a sunrise at the beach, knowing that you can crawl under the blankets and the mosquito net in your bungalow afterwards to process the beauty you just experienced.
- Sit at the bonfire after dark – because yes, even African summers can have some chilly-ish nights – look above and realise that the sky and the stars are different in Southern hemisphere. You are looking at them from a new location and perspective.
- Enjoy the home-made “Dinner of the Day” – be it crab, calamari, tuna fish fingers, or shrimps, depending on the daily catch of local fishermen, but always fresh from the sea.
- Learn about the local communities Macunhe and Chipongo by socializing with the staff at the lodge, all of them part of the Marimba team since the very beginning when construction started from scratch.
- Spend afternoons lying on a straw mat underneath your bungalow.
- Go for a walk on the ocean’s territory during low tide.
- Admire giant blue starfish on a snorkelling trip around the islands of Bazaruto.
- Welcome the New Year in a random group of people from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Israel and Sweden – talking about the Eurovision Song Contest.
Congratulations, Isabelle and Marcel and the whole team, on the great project of Marimba, on your fantastic way of hosting people – and thank you so much for everything!
P.S.: Since it took me some time to figure out a good way of getting to Vilanculos and back from Beira, I have shared our experiences and recommendations in a separate blog post, “Beira – Vilanculos by bus”.