An intoxicating mosaic of indigenous forest and tempting turquoise waters, Machangulo is a secluded peninsula in southern Mozambique. There is a playground of bountiful beaches, choice watersports, plus a delicious dose of culture in one easy-to-access sanctuary.
Machangulo is prized for its privacy, conservation ethos and adventurous encounters, but also for the variety.
Commencing with the choice of transport. To get there, one can either set sail across Maputo Bay on a one-hour boat transfer, tackle the sandy 4X4 track up through the wilds of the Maputo Special Reserve or savour the tropical scenery via a chartered flight. Regardless of carriage, travellers are rewarded with secret white sand beaches straddling the warm and abundant waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s an endless summer out here. Snorkelling and diving are acclaimed thanks to protected marine reserves, shallow bands of coral reef and sultry 26-degrees Celsius water on average all year long.
For those that prefer to be above water, Machangulo will excite any angler with pristine stretches for salt-water fly fishing (target the elusive bonefish), regular rock angling and deep-sea fishing thrills.
Then there’s the wildlife on land. Machangulo’s immense coastline provides valuable nesting shores for both the Leatherback and the Loggerhead turtles. During the season (which typically runs between early October and late March), it’s possible to witness the timeless miracle of these ancient creatures burying their eggs in the sand. Neighbouring Machangulo, the Maputo Special Reserve caters to more typical safari sightings, such as elephants and giraffes.
Here’s here to make the most of your visit to this southern Mozambique hideaway.
Unwind in the wild in understated style. Situated on the Eastern side of the Machangulo Peninsula, out here the weekends are just as quiet as weekdays. There are only about 15 eco-conscious villas built in this reserve that are used for quiet family retreats or offered as grand holiday rentals.
Each spacious dwelling sits perched high up on the sweeping sand dune for panoramic views (all the better for watching whales and spotting dolphins dancing in the waves) and is backed by vast tracts of indigenous forest. All make the most of Machangulo’s sublime landscapes and the immense Indian Ocean.
Serving as the pinnacle of Machangulo Peninsula, is Kilima Sanctuary. Words cannot describe the attention to every minute detail that has gone into the construction of this ultra-luxurious villa. Its impeccable minimalistic architecture resonates Athenian style, with breathtaking 360˚ views across the bay and ocean. More than a dozen dedicated, discreet personnel ensure that guests want for nothing.
The Monarch Villa was initially built by King Willem of The Netherlands as his private vacation property, hence the royal name. However, the title also pays homage to the beautiful orange and white butterfly migrant that frequents the forests. There are six opulent, sea-facing suites to choose from.
Loggerhead Beach Villa is somewhat scaled back in comparison but still positively stately. Each room features unspoilt sea views best soaked up on the balcony and private access. Even the shower boasts a marvellous outlook.
Leatherback Beach Villa sits on stilts upon a natural sand dune, taking every care not to disturb the natural surroundings. This property is ideal for friends and family comprising two private buildings connected by a boardwalk and central entertainment area. While away hours around the pool and converge at the firepit for stories and sundowners at the end of the day.
Formerly known as the Maputo Elephant Reserve, this strategic park sits at the centre of efforts by the pioneering Peace Parks Foundation. Initially, the park was proclaimed to protect Southern Africa’s last remaining coastal elephant populations in the 1930s. Today, the ambitious aim is to create a critical corridor connecting the marine, coastal and inland areas.
Peace Parks has been involved and supported the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area since 2002.
Less than a decade ago, Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve only had three wildlife species left: elephant, red duiker, and reedbuck. In 2010 the Mozambican government began a translocation program to Maputo Special Reserve to reintroduce species historically found in the area. To date, more than 4500 animals have been rewilded, and today, safari-lovers can expect to see elephants, eland, buffalo, giraffe, impala, kudu, nyala, waterbuck, warthog, oribi, blue wildebeest and zebra.
Machangulo started out as a small neighbourhood, and there was just one straightforward place to stay, a rustic campsite called Camp Carlos in the 1980s. Today it is a vibrant hub. Machangulo’s village is called Santa Maria and can be found on the busier Western edge of the peninsula. Thanks to growing tourism, there tends to be more activity here as lodges cater to weekenders out on a jaunt. However, the chief village activity remains traditional fishing.
Dirt tracks lead to and from the town, where you can buy basic necessities. The fragrance of freshly-baked pao will lead you to the traditional bakeries, and small shops peddle airtime, seasonal vegetables, sweets and if you’re successful, fuel. The Santa Maria harbour is always vibrant with fishermen and trading dhows pausing to offload supplies brought in from Maputo.
Separated by a narrow channel from the Machangulo Peninsula (named Hell’s Gate for the tidal water that rushes in and out of Maputo Bay) lies Inhaca Island.
Once a trading post in the 1500s for valuable ivory from the area, this island is a popular weekend getaway for mainland Maputo and the most accessible of Mozambique’s many offshore islands.
You’ll find a typical tropical island atmosphere here, with good beaches and brightly coloured reefs off the west coast, thanks to decades of conservation. In 1976 swathes of the island and surrounding waters were designated a marine reserve, and guests can visit by barge, dhow or ferry on day trips to snorkel, kayak, or simply stroll about. Bring your binoculars! Over 300 bird species have been recorded on the island.