Colina Verde Machangulo Reserve
The Northern reaches of Mozambique’s coastline is best known for its azure waters, white beaches and great resorts. As seasoned travellers, discovering the unspoilt wlderness of the Machangulo peninsula in the South, was a real wonder. Situated adjacent to Inhaca and Portugeuse islands in the Bay of Maputo, the long narrow peninsula is flanked by the calmness of the bay on one side and the wildness of the warm Indian Ocean on it’s Eastern side, and the Maputo Speical reserve in the South. 20km of deserted beach stretch down towards Ponto do Auro forming part of the transfrontier marine reserve and endangered turtle sanctuary. An hours flight from JHB to Maputo, followed by an hour and a half boat transfer across Maputo Bay, will bring you to a place more wild, more beautiful than you can imagine. A place practically deserted.
Perched on the dunes, a short skip to the beach, is Colina Verde – a private villa unlike anything you have seen or can imagine. Built entirely on site with raw tree trunks and Mozambique hard woods ( all sustainably removed from forests) it balances natural elements with opulence in a breathtaking location. Take all the beautiful design elements of all the best safari lodges and exotic hotels you have visited and put the best of them together in one carefully planned and designed home. There is thought and care in every corner of each of the 7 rooms, hand crafted with spiral staircases, four poster beds, and filled with elements of creative careful selection. Natural textures of sand, pebbles, wood, shells, tumbled glass and seeds are under your feet, pressed in to your bath tub, chiseled in to the wood, wrapped around your curtains and in the lights over your head. Best of all as you step out on to the vast patio, the cool breeze off the ocean relieves the sultry heat of the day, and drops off to an oval infinity pool and hot tub below – seemingly part of the sea behind it.
Graham and Lucy who are full time managers at the villa are inherently part of the villas perfect mix of excellent service, warm hospitality and expert regional knowledge. Their small staff, with Joy their wonder-chef, are unobtrusive but attentive. Meals are always al fresco, and light and fresh. Greens come out their own veggetable garden, and of course fresh fish and seafood are the order of the day. Joy does wonders with healthy fresh salads including Quinoa, Pearl Cousous and home-made dips from Cashew nuts and local pestos. Traditional Mozambique evenings include peri peri chicken, garlic prawns, the local spinach dish and other delicacies. Breakfast outside on the terrace is always a spread: platters of tropical fruits, great coffee and the signature banana cinnamon waffles with Nutalla for the kids. What I loved was that there was plenty, but never too much food prepared or wasted.
So, I’ve told you about the seafood meals under the stars, Ive described the gorgeous art-filled rooms and views – what you don’t know is what you can do there. Graham is on standby to advise on day activities and if the endless unspoilt beach isn’t enough on it’s own – definitely spend a day fishing out at sea on his boat. Graham is a legendry fishing guide, sought about by fisherman from all over the world as a private guide and you really cant find anyone better to head out to sea with in search of Giant Trevally, Dorado, King fish, Giant mackeral, Sail fish, Wahoo and yellow fin tuna. Using fly, lure or live bait, you may return after a morning together with some fresh fish for dinner. In our case, we got back midday and found the mackerel cooked and ready for lunch! Graham is however a great supporter of tag and release and keeps very limited fish for the pot. His passion for the conservation of the ocean sets him apart. We loved our day out snorkeling on Inhaca island with a picnic, that included kayaking and swimming in the warm waters of the calm bay. It is only a 5 minute boat ride from the little harbour, but over weekends and holidays is quite busy. We preferred the pool just below the villa at low tide which can prove to be equally as good snorkeling.
A new addition to the villa, and one we found very exciting, are the fat bikes. Excellent quality bikes ( 4 of them) are available for guests use and the long beach at low tide is ideal for exploring on the bike – especially as there is a wreck a couple of kilometers away. You could ride for miles down this beach – actually right to Ponto do Ouro. There are trips offered to the Elephant Reserve by 4x4, however limited time meant we didn’t do that. The area right near the house was enough to keep us happy for months! They offer a mangrove canoe experience, and beach picnics. But even if you don’t do these excursions, the villa itself offers a heated pool, two hot tubs, a tennis court, yoga room, kids games room, small gym, sandboarding on the dunes, multiple secret spots to read books from their extensive librbary, and great wave fishing right off the beach. A massage can be arranged on request.
Being in a villa with your family or some good friends is the ultimate relaxing holiday. It feels like your own home ( which means you can walk around in your bikini, help yourself out the fridge, leave your things lying about, and have meals when you want them). But its far removed from home where it matters. Your room is magically cleaned and tidied, tables are laid and platters of delicious meals find their way out the kitchen, Cocktail hour on the terrace results in long drinks on crushed ice, the hot tub is kept perfet temperature all day and night and each day unfolds in a pace in keeping with the warm slow days and tides easy on to the beach. Lucy and Graham hold it all together gently, appearing effortless, and giving visitors the perfect mix of privacy and attention. The house is designed for families – kids can relax and there are few rules or restrictions. Between running up the viewing tower, decorating the graffiti wall of the games room, ping pong matches, tennis, snorkeling ,swimming and sand boarding – your kids will be busy dawn till dusk. But special moments happen at the long raw wood tables where families eat, laugh, share and relish in the simple joy of the moments on holiday. It doesn’t get better than this.