Vamizi, Mozambique: On the edge of a continent: 10 Jan 2013
We lost our mobile signals the moment we stepped out of the single-prop plane that had taken us from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania across the border to Mozambique, but as we stood on the broken-up tarmac on Vamizi's landing strip, our adventure had just begun.
A large island just off the northern coast, Vamizi's main lodge and villas lie a 45-minute journey across the tropical forest in four-by-four Land Rovers, which takes guests past villages built and inhabited by refugees from the civil war that ended in 1992. It's not always the most comfortable of road-trips, but it gives great insight into life on the island and helps further the impression that you are nearing the edge of a vast continent.
Mozambique's infrastructure – or the lack of it – makes it an unlikely destination for the unadventurous, and Vamizi's charm lies in its isolation and strong conservationist philosophy. The 13 wooden villas that line the beach on the shores of the Indian Ocean are as sustainable as possible: they don't have bathtubs or air-conditioning, although the large marbled showers and the open-air walls that let the breeze through make both redundant. And while there are swimming pools in the recently built large private villas, we spent all our time in the clear turquoise sea instead. Framed by the finest white-sand powder imaginable, the beach is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen.
No one is going to tell you off if you want to spend all day relaxing on the porch of your villa, but there is plenty to do if you prefer to keep busy – yoga classes, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, whale-watching, snorkelling and diving (the untouched reef around nearby Neptune's Arm is considered one of the best dive-sites in the world) are arranged over informal pre-dinner drinks at the main lodge as evening falls – but even the laziest of visitors can spot some of the island's wildlife from the comfort of their sun-lounger, as the bush behind the villas is home to both Samango monkeys and countless indigenous birds.
Returning to the tarmac and the plane that would bring us back to Dar a week later, where our mobiles started beeping with the sound of incoming messages, we realised that we had just experienced the greatest luxury an urbanite could ever dream of: complete peace and quiet of the kind that is worth going back for.