Planning to take your family to Mozambique? Jenni Saunders tells us about her family’s stay in a unique seaside villa on the Machangulo peninsula
ituated adjacent to Inhaca and Portuguese islands, in the Bay of Maputo, the long narrow Machangulo peninsula is flanked by the calmness of the bay on one side, the warm Indian Ocean on its eastern edge and the Maputo Special Reserve in the south. Twenty kilometres of deserted beach stretches towards Ponta do Ouro, forming part of the transfrontier marine reserve and endangered turtle sanctuary.
An hour’s flight from Johannesburg to Maputo, followed by an hour-and-a-half boat transfer across Maputo Bay, will bring you to a place more wild and beautiful than you could imagine, a place almost deserted. Colina Verde is perched on the dunes, only a short skip from the beach. It was built entirely on site with raw tree trunks and Mozambican hard woods, sustainably removed from forests. It balances natural elements with opulence – in a breathtaking location.
It takes all the beautiful design elements of all the best safari lodges and exotic hotels and puts them into a carefully planned and designed home. There is thought and care in every corner of each of the seven rooms. Natural textures of sand, pebbles, wood, shells, tumbled glass and seeds are under your feet, pressed into your bathtub, chiseled into the wood and in the lights over your head.
Graham and Lucy, who are full-time managers, are inherently part of the villa’s perfect mix of excellent service, warm hospitality and expert regional knowledge. Their staff, with Joy their wonderful chef, are unobtrusive but attentive. Meals are always al fresco and fresh. Greens come from their own garden, and of course fresh fish and seafood are the order of the day. Traditional food is also served, including peri peri chicken, garlic prawns and the local spinach dish. Breakfast is an array of platters of tropical fruits, amazing coffee and signature banana cinnamon waffles.
Graham advises on the daily activities. If the endless untouched beach isn’t enough on its own you can spend a day fishing on his boat. Graham is legendary, sought by fishermen from all over the world as a private guide. You can’t find anyone better to head out to sea with in search of giant trevally, dorado, king fish, giant mackerel, sailfish, wahoo and yellowfin tuna. Graham’s passion for the conservation of the ocean sets him apart and he is a great supporter of tag-and-release and keeps very limited fish for the pot.
A new addition to the villa are the fat bikes. These are available for guests to use and the long beach at low tide is ideal for exploring, especially as there is a wreck a couple of kilometres away. You can ride for miles down this beach – all the way to Ponta do Ouro. There are also trips offered to the elephant reserve by 4WD, a mangrove canoe experience and beach picnics. The villa itself offers plenty to do too: there’s a heated infinity pool, two hot tubs, a tennis court, yoga room, kids games room, gym, an extensive library or you can go wave fishing right off the beach.
Being in a villa with your family is the ultimate holiday. It feels like your own home. You can walk around in your bikini, help yourself from the fridge, leave your things lying about and have meals when you feel like it. There are few rules or restrictions – and between running up the viewing tower, decorating the graffiti wall of the games room, ping-pong, tennis, snorkeling, swimming and sand-boarding, your children will be busy from dawn till dusk.
But the most special moments happen at the long wooden tables, where families eat, laugh, share and relish in the simple joy of the moments on holiday. It doesn’t get better than this!