Lush Lake Poelela

One thing no one told me before I came to Mozambique was how lush it is going to be. I felt my preconceived notions melt away, as we drove through the dense foliage towards Lake Poelela Resort, in Inharrime province. Cows with beautiful hides stand on the open spaces, calmly chewing on the grass. Coconut trees rise above the dense vegetation, with bunches of green fruit hanging just below the bellowing leaves, promising abundance and refreshment.

Lake Poelela Resort

The resort sits on the eastern shore of Lake Poelela and is separated from the Indian Ocean, and the famous diving resort Zavora, by a 2.5 km stretch of sand dunes and indigenous vegetation. While being close enough to the diving, it offers a completely different experience and seems to be one of Mozambique’s best-kept secrets. I got lucky to be friends with one of those in-the-know.

It is a family run business, and the owners seem to have acquired a loyal customer base made of locals and visitors from neighbouring countries. Their TripAdvisor page is full of reviews from returning guests.

It is impossible to prepare for the surprise of arriving at the lodge. Through dense greenery on a dirt road, a quick walk up a small wooden path and onto an expanse of a private, sandy beach and the crystal-clear lake that stretches to the horizon.

When we arrive, we receive a warm welcome of hugs and solid handshakes from the owners – Arthur and his son Riaan. Arthur, who is originally from South Africa, has been an entrepreneur his whole life. Real estate has always been his passion. Lake Poelela Resort is one of his many ventures, as well as a home to his family in Mozambique for the past ten years. “When we arrived here, there was no electricity. We eventually convinced the local authorities to extend the power line up to the lake.” Now the lodge offers the tranquillity of a remote village in the comforts of civilization, including a fully equipped kitchen, and a private barbecue area.

Riaan shows us around the main house and the cottages, which serve as private, satellite rooms. One of the lodges each sleep eight people in four double rooms with en-suite bathrooms, and the second lodge sleeps six people in three double en-suite rooms. “Everything here was made my hand.” The roof made of reeds. The furniture of solid wood. The shell-encrusted shower. They all attest to the skills of the craftsmanship and the love that Jenny, Arthur’s wife put into designing the lodge.

We head to the terrace to watch the post-card sunset. The water reflects a sky of dreamy peach and gold. The rustling of the palm trees is the only sound that interrupts the gentle swishing of the waves. Riaan points out their tilapia farm some 50 metres away from the shoreline “It’s another one of Arthur’s businesses. You can watch our guys going out in the canoes three times a day to feed. Feel free to join them and have a look.”

We spend the next few days enjoying the tranquillity of the lodge – cooking, swimming, canoeing, reading, brainstorming and sharing stories. The beauty of spending time with travellers is that you never run out of things to talk about.

Beach Bummin’ in Zavora

On our last day, we ventured out to Zavora. As we are in a low-season, it felt like we came to a wild beach; miles and miles of shoreline stretching in both directions, with only us and a few local fishermen to plant our footsteps in the sand.

Equally wild, but slightly more perilous, was the ocean – roaring and foaming as it crashed over the rocks in the seabed.

There was a natural Jacuzzi in the rock formations. Sheltered just enough for you to plunge into, and still allowing the waves to leap in and create a whirlpool.

Another, much larger pool, had a tremendous current running through it. We tried to swim against it, for fun and exercise, but gave up when we began to drift too quickly in the wrong direction. In the end, we jumped in the ocean and enjoyed frolicking of the waves. I don’t know if it was the wilderness of the beach, or the complete relaxation after spending a few days at Lake Poelela, but I got the sudden urge to skinny-dip. There was something so liberating about this getaway. I understand why many guests return here time and again. But don’t take my word for it – try for yourself.

To stay at Lake Poelela Resort, call Riaan on + 258 87 289 2853 or email poelela@gmail.com for reservations.

Lake Poelela sleeps up to eight, from €25 per person per night.

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