I have spent the past week trying to conjure up a single suitable word that can describe Nuarro Lodge. Nuarro is such an unusual place that it needs its own word, from a tourism perspective, it’s probably unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Unique, Nuarro certainly is.
Before I wax lyrical about Nuarro Lodge, I’d imagine, a geographical context is rather important and chances are, if you’re like me, you have no idea where Cabo Delgado Province is. This place is way out there, tricky to get to, far away from anything and about as remote as one can get without a trip to the Outer Hebrides, only a lot warmer. This is half the magic of Nuarro Lodge. Nuarro is situated almost mid way between Pemba in the North and Mozambique Island in the South, in the far northern province of Mozambique, close to the city of Nampula, and again, close is relative, make that a 4-5 hour drive from Nampula, the closest airport.
Upon arrival at this beach lodge, you wonder if you’re in the right place as the little signs pointing you to reception are stuck to dry thornveld trees, giant Baobabs are all around you, it is hot, dry and a harsh environment. This can’t possibly be a tropical beach holiday! But, once you get yourself up the hill to the reception and bar area, you’re greeted by white sands, distant dhows sailing past and so many shades of blue, indigo, turquoise that the most un-artistic person alive would probably be inspired to try paint it.
The lodge is spread out over about a one kilometer stretch of beach, with a bar and fully functional PADI dive centre one side, chalets and a restaurant on the other. The chalets are basic, comfortable, gorgeous showers, outside hammocks and views of whales breaching from your oversized bed. But the toilet doesn’t flush, it’s a pit latrine (or longdrop as the more romantically inclined would describe it) the shower water is not hot, no air conditioners, only the reliable sea breeze blowing through. But that’s just the thing with Nuarro, it’s not about the lodge, it’s about the ocean.
Step out of your chalets, wade knee deep into the water and you’re surrounded by coral reef, a nauseating variety of fish, turtles and critters you will probably never be able to identify. For a scuba diver or snorkeler, it’s a dream. The lodge was located where it is based purely on the accessibility of this reef. We tried to explore it, but every dive we took, every snorkel we took, we never got more than a couple of hundred meters from the lodge. Simply because the reefs and marine life are so magnificent, that you just can’t get far unless you close your eyes, ignore what’s around you and just swim.
Nuarro is totally off grid, electricity is exclusively from solar power and even fresh water is supplied via a solar powered reverse osmosis system to remove the salinity from the borehole water. Nuarro has virtually zero impact on the environment and certainly a positive impact on the surrounding marine ecosystems and the lives of people living in the nearby village. Part of the agreement with the community to secure the land where Nuarro is built is the understanding that the surrounding reefs are not fished by the local community but rather conserved for tourism. The lodge has assisted the villagers with fresh water supplies, building a school and a long list of wonderful initiatives, which show the direct benefit that sustainable and responsible tourism, can have for people in remote areas.
But it’s the feeling of living totally off the grid that adds that extra dose of “seriously relaxing” to Nuarro Lodge. You look around and realize that the villagers living there, have no fresh water, live in an incredibly dry and harsh environment, are almost totally reliant on nature for their survival, which does mean surviving from day to day, but they are happy, friendly, relaxed. They probably have no idea about the imminent risks of climate change, nor the threats of terrorism nor any global financial crisis or wikileaks dramas.
There is a certain pleasure in being removed from all that and just enjoying nature, living and of course playing in the sea without any distractions from the “real world” – your Facebook and cell phone addictions are quickly cured. And you’ll feel a lot better for it. This is the uniqueness of Nuarro, you get a rare little taste of a world which is a lot less complicated than ours.
Words: Duncan Pritchard
Pictures: Courtesy of Nuarro Lodge Archive