What is it that most people hanker after, that most people crave, more than material things? They desire peace, rest for their weary bodies and tired minds. Sitting here, overlooking the lagoon in front of the resort, Just in Time, the sleek face of the lagoon mirrors the clearest, blue sky today, and I know that peace! It has settled over me and I am home…
Home… this very word conjures up feelings of security, safety, love, acceptance and peace. This magical place, on the shores of Lake Uembje, 12km from the small town of Praia do Bilene, adjacent to the small, but vibrant village of Nhabanga, is a very small but very significant piece of paradise, of heaven on earth. It is sheltered in front by thick shrubbery, surrounded by eucalyptus trees, with lovely, indigenous, shady trees in the garden providing much shade for those hot, summer days. There are majestic palm trees dotted here and there, creating a wonderful island atmosphere. It is an oasis, a refuge, a place of healing and a place of rest.
The resort is located on the beach on the Northern most tip of the lagoon. A very short walk, gets you to the local bar, The Coconut Bar, situated directly in front of the resort. There are many locals who visit this establishment to chat and catch up during the day. But there are also a significant amount of tourists who gather here, especially for that famous sundowner, to enjoy the stunning view of the sunset over the lagoon. The barman can whip up a mean cocktail for the adventurous drinker… But be warned. You might stagger back up to the resort. Thankfully, no driving is necessary.
During the day, there is generally a bit of a buzz on the beach. Many come with jet skis and boats, which are very easy to launch just in front of the resort. There is much laughter that floats up from the beach, with kids (and adults) being pulled along in tubes or water skis. The beach is dotted with families, relaxing in the sun and taking advantage of the warm temperatures of the lagoon – usually around 28-32 deg C. They swim, snorkel and generally just enjoy being ‘away from it all’, with their children and other loved ones. For the more adventurous, there are quad trails, some easy to navigate whilst there are scary and difficult courses for those adrenaline junkies. On the stretch of beach, about 5km of prime beach, we are allowed to ride with quads or cars, but caution must be exercised at all times. The trails are a ton of fun. If you own a quad, bring it along for the adventure. The dunes provide much challenge, even for the seasoned rider, so always ride with someone or in a group.
For those who love to sight see, there is the local lighthouse which is approximately 35km from the resort. This is a lovely ride on quads, but can also be reached by 4x4. Please drive carefully as the road passes through 2 small villages. The children love to chase after us so we always take along chips and sweets to share with them. There are also quite a few herds of cattle so no speeding at all along this route. It’s a trip we love doing, driving to the lighthouse, coupled with a picnic lunch taken with and shared at the mouth of the Limpopo River into the Indian Ocean. There is a gathering of local fisherman around the mouth who love to show off their catch. We usually start with the ride up to the lighthouse and climb up to the top, for a small fee, take in the beautiful view where we can see the rice paddies below as well as Zongoene lodge, then drive down to the mouth for a lunch under the lovely, shady trees, before heading back home. All in all, if you take lunch with, depending on how long you decided to stay at the mouth, the trip can take about 3 hours.
We have, over the past 5 years, been very aware of a growing bird population. There are flamingo in the lagoon further down from us. We spotted a fish eagle on our last trip near the cliffs at the mouth of the lagoon, across from Bilene. We also noticed a blue crane in the lagoon in front of us and also saw him again in the fresh water lake behind the resort. What a sight! For the avid bird watchers, please don’t forget your binoculars and cameras.
Should you not have your own boat, and would love to go to the mouth of the sea across from Bilene, you can drive into Bilene and hire a skipper boat. The skipper takes you out and spends the day with you there. He doesn't’t intrude on your space but usually connects with the other skippers, doing the same, but is aware of you all the time. When you want to go back, you just have to ask. What we usually do, is give them a bottle of water and a cool drink as well as a sandwich or anything small to eat, as they don’t normally take their own food with. They are terribly polite and kind.
There are ladies in the adjacent village of Nhabanga who bake Pao, the local bread, daily. You can arrange for a daily delivery with our manager. There are also locals who catch prawns. The same arrangement can be made to get a catch, with the manager. Our manager also owns the local bar on the beach, The Coconut Bar, and you can arrange to get ice from him daily.
There are some restaurants around the lagoon, as close as 800m away, so it’s not always necessary to cook for yourself. There are also some lovely, local restaurants in the town of Praia do Bilene. If you’re visiting us, take some time to support these establishments. You will be surprised and delighted with the local flavours and atmospheres of them.
All in all, we have a little something for everyone, those seeking peace and quiet and just a general break away, and for those adrenalin junkies looking for some adventure. There is enough to keep everyone busy – or not, depending on your preference.