sábado, 11 de junho de 2005

O mundo descobrindo o paraíso...

Posted by Hello Pemba e arredores divulgados em inglês.
In travel.telegrafh.co.uk :
Off the barrio reef
Gill Charlton finds a warm welcome among the post-colonial Mozambican islands as they take to tourism with a natural touch.
(Filed: 11/06/2005)

At Pemba airport a young man in a bomber jacket is handling immigration for the daily flight from Dar es Salaam. There are no landing cards, no forms to fill, no questions.
He pastes a tourist visa in my passport, asks for 25 dollars, and - unusually for his profession - gives a broad grin.
Welcome to Mozambique. Nothing much has been built, or even repaired, since the Portuguese colonists left overnight in 1975.

The provincial capital of Pemba remains a collection of barrios, communities in neat wattle-and-thatch cottages shaded by mango trees that climb away from one of the world's largest harbours.
The shore road passes tumbledown colonial villas and bungalows, dilapidated government offices and, on the pot-holed main street, roofless stores and an art deco cinema where the last picture was shown long ago.
"People didn't want to live in these colonial places, or even use them for business," says Sonia Faria, who has returned from Portugal to run a fledgling travel agency offering city tours to the few visitors who stray here. "The Portuguese were not liked here, not at all at the end."
Pemba's residents prefer to shop in the barrio markets where stalls are piled high with bales of cloth, sacks of grain and Chinese pails and pans. There are washing lines full of second-hand clothes.
A Mozambican family could fit into the super-size jeans on display, charitable donations from the United States that are now on sale to some of the poorest people in Africa.
I am staying at the new Pemba Beach Hotel, which gives a nod to Portuguese fort architecture. Its sprinkler-fed lawns, pools and large open-air dining and bar terrace present an appealing prospect after a long flight.
The staff are full of smiles, always helpful, if a little slow, not yet bruised by rude Western tourists.
But the real pleasure of a holiday in northern Mozambique is to relax offshore, on the islands. Quilalea, a 20-minute flight from Pemba, was the first to be developed for tourism. There is nothing brash and gold-tap about Quilalea.
Its nine villas are built of coral, lime and thatch, set amid the lush vegetation that fringes the island's two shell beaches. Mod cons are all here, but the idea is to throw back the shutters, let the outdoors in and fall asleep to the sound of the sea.
The island is managed with a quiet confidence by a Zambian, Nathan Mhande, and a South African divemaster, Lindy Chazen.
Early one morning, Nathan takes us for a kayak paddle along mangrove-lined creeks into the heart of a neighbouring island. As we drift along the cool green tunnels, the stillness induces contemplation. Even the grey herons stay still as we pass.
Later I spend two hours with Lindy, floating over an underwater version of Sissinghurst where each "room" is a different colour. Corals in myriad shades of blue give way to entirely different species arranged in colonies that move from lilac and purple through dusky pink to mustard yellow.
The biggest thrill is to see three turtles. They are a rare sighting for a snorkeller but common here, Lindy says. We swim by the flashy Napoleon wrasse, covetable cowrie shells that contain molluscs and a gaggle of pouting yellow sweetlips, like collagen-enhanced starlets.

A 20-minute flight north is the island of Matemo, where a new tourist development opened earlier this year.
It is a 24-room resort rather than a beach lodge, designed for holidaymakers who like comfort. The rooms are classic air-conditioned bungalows with satellite television, minibar and telephone, and there is a freshwater pool.
From Matemo it is an easy hop by speedboat to the island of Ibo, the provincial capital until the 1950s, when power shifted to Pemba. It is a must on any trip to northern Mozambique.
In the star-shaped Fort of St John the Baptist, where the Portuguese tortured political prisoners during the fight for independence, silversmiths melt old coins over charcoal braziers and make intricate necklaces.
As in Pemba, the Portuguese quarter is falling down. Some of the squat colonnaded offices are just staked-up facades; in others families camp among the crumbling salt-encrusted walls.
A few houses are being renovated by Europeans. They include Janine, a Frenchwoman whose basic guesthouse, Karibune, is the only place to stay.
It is Sunday and a congregation of three turns up for Mass in the cavernous Catholic church. Outside, young men laze in the shade. (In Portuguese times they would have been whipped for being on this street without shirt and shoes.)
There is little work on Ibo. "A bit of labouring, that's all," says Laura, an Englishwoman who lived on the island for 18 months. "These are the loveliest people in the world. I met with only kindness here.
" The World Bank men have just been in town, the locals tell us. They suggested that a tea house might be a nice addition to the local scene. We all laugh. Ibo needs something more substantial than this to get ahead.
In the far north, near the Tanzanian border, there is a tourism venture that is already changing Mozambican lives.
The Maluane Project, a conservation trust backed by 41 private investors, most of them British or French, has been awarded government leases on three islands and a 33,000-hectare area of coastal mainland rich in elephant and lion, sable and wild dog.
Maluane is the brainchild of Christopher Cox, a businessman, and Dr Julie Garnier, a wildlife vet. Working with the London Zoological Society, they have spent several years on an ecological survey of the land and the sea.
"This is not a playground for our investors," says Chris Greathead, the project's general manager. "This is conservation based on sound business principles. The idea is that everyone benefits: the locals, the wildlife, our investors and, of course, the visitors."
Five per cent of the revenues from Maluane's tourism projects will go to village community projects.
Vamizi - the first of the island lodges, opening in August - has a rare, untouched natural beauty. The sand is powder white, the sea a primary blue, the interior a deciduous woodland rich in birdlife.
The underwater life is equally impressive. Dolphins arrive with the dawn and manta rays drift in the grassy shallows. Offshore is the deepwater canyon that saved this mature reef from the bleaching that affected coral gardens all over the world when sea temperatures rose during El Niño in 1998.
It is years since I have snorkelled among such large staghorn and plate corals, giant clams and anemones.
And with the corals come the fish: 350 varieties recorded so far. Maluane is employing British postgraduate research students to survey the island's flora and fauna and guide visitors who wish to walk, dive, fish or track nesting turtles. For honeymooners there is their own offshore islet.
Vamizi could be the epitome of barefoot luxury. The 12 beachside villas have a deceptively casual elegance. The softly polished wood floors are finished to a shipwright's exacting standards.
Tall teak columns support thatched roofs that are works of art. The shower gushes from a monolith of local marble, open to the bush. There is no minibar; instead, a walkie-talkie can be used to summon the room steward, day or night.
"We have used a lot of local labour," says Greathead, "but we're not just using them to fetch and carry, like some other lodges do; Tanzanian master carpenters are teaching them to build in wood to a high standard.
"By the time they have built all our lodges they will have a real skill, a skill that can make them rich and pay for their children's education. This way they will not end up as put-upon waiters or cleaners in a tourist hotel."

Getting there Gill Charlton travelled with Steppes Africa (01285 650011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/exit.jhtml?exit=http://www.steppesafrica.co.uk), which can tailor trips and combine safaris in Tanzania with beach stays on Mozambican islands.
Where to stay Sample prices (including all international flights and transfers): six nights on Quilalea from £1,535 per person full board; six nights on Vamizi from £1,535 full board, with all activities, including diving but excluding deep-sea fishing; six nights on Matemo, from £1,135 b and b.
Another new lodge is Guludo Base Camp on the mainland opposite Ibo island, available as part of a complete holiday with Steppes Africa, or as accommodation-only from Bespoke Experience (01323 766655; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/exit.jhtml?exit=http://www.bespokeexperience.com); from £95 per person per night full board.
When to go Northern Mozambique's islands are accessible year-round, though it can rain heavily from late January to March.
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