Wednesday, September 12, 2012

White Pearl, Ponta Mamoli, Southern Mozambique from a recent trip report by Craig Smith of New Frontiers Tours


White Pearl


For more information on New Frontiers in Mozambique, please contact the Kusini Collection 

If market researchers had asked what Mozambique needed in terms of new properties, top of the list would have been an affordable, relatively easily accessible lodge that could combine effectively with safari, and offer all the aspects of a resort without being overly commercialized. They didn't, but they pretty much got the brief spot on with White Pearl. In the far south of Mozambique ( out of the cyclone paths), 30 kms from the South African Kwa-Zulu Natal border and an easy (and scenic) helicopter flight from Mozambique's capital, Maputo, it can be reached from both the Kruger National Park and the safari lodges of Zululand.
Built to five star specifications, it fits firmly in the 4 star price range, which gives allowance for the somewhat inconsistent service levels that make Mozambique endearing or frustrating, depending on your mood. It is good value for money: large, remarkably still very white suites, have all the mod cons: flat screen TV's, air conditioning, butler service, in suite dining, indoor and outdoor showers, private plunge pool and own sunning deck. It is the views - certainly of the higher up suites - that finish off a delightful space, with an infinite stretch of beach, and the lodge tiered on the sand dune.

White Pearl

The lodge is one of the larger ones in Mozambique, with 22 suites, and despite the sophisticated approach in the rooms, is not precious about families and children, and so could be busy when in full swing. But with two swimming pools, a beach bar, and a beach deserted enough to be termed private, there is plenty of opportunity to find your own space. And of course there is your own room, which is good enough to hibernate it, whether sun or rain.
There were lovely touches that stood out: no buffet breakfast, but a private breakfast tray for each person - and a contemporary fire pit in white wood for evening sundowners to give an elegant boma feel. Lunches are best taken at the beach bar tapas style, or by the pool and dinner is a well executed set menu.

White Pearl

Low tide sees the calmest waters in front of the lodge which is protected by a shallow reef, but the waves to tend to roll in at high tend making for boisterous waters - this isn't the flat seas of Benguerra Island, and may be a little rough for kids at high tide.

Activities include swimming with dolphins, snorkeling trips and diving, with a village walk planned for the future. Horse riding is available but seems a little haphazard at the moment as it is sub contracted by the lodge.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Getting here from the Kruger National Park is best done by taking a charter hop from the lodge to Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (as usual) and connecting with a road transfer to Maputo from here (3-4 hours depending on the Komatipoort border crossing). From Maputo, it is a 20 minute helicopter flight operated by the lodge to White Pearl across the bay of Maputo. Getting here from Kwa Zulu Natal can be done by road transfer or self drive to the Kosi border post, where White Pearl will collect for a 45 minute 4x4 transfer to the lodge.

White Pearl

Visas can obtained at the border but the Komatipoort border is disorganized and can be very busy in season and so obtaining a visa prior to arrival is recommended - it can save up to an hour.

The baggage limit for the helicopter is 15kgs per person in soft bags. The lodge can organise baggage storage for excess weight (bearing in mind that you will need to be returning to Maputo and not continuing to Zululand), otherwise bags can be taken by vehicle from Maputo at an extra transfer cost of R1200 for 30kgs.

It is important to note that many of the suites lack privacy as they are exposed to the ones above them - for honeymooners, request suites 20, 21 and 22 which are the highest or 11, 15 and 19 which are more remote at the end of the boardwalks. Rooms 1-6 (to be re-branded Beach Pool Suites) have direct beach access, but limited views owing to the dune vegetation in front of them.

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