The allure of a hotel in ruins on the coast of Mozambique

2019-02-13 12:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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While looking at an excursion list on a cruise ship, the idea of taking a quad bike to some hotel ruins didn't exactly sound like the most unique way to spend our day on land.

But the photo of a broken wall among the greenery of a tropical forest piqued my interest, and figured the journey there would be worth the drive. In the end, I wished I had more times to disappear into them.

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When we finally landed at Pomene in Mozambique - our only port stop on a cruise with MSC Musica from Durban - we wandered into your typical beach resort - umbrellas for rent on a scorching beach, cabanas and wicker loungers spread around for those more interested in the quenching their thirst and a small hut that acts as the excursions office.

From here, roaring on the back of our red and yellow steeds, we wove our way through forests and villages - a line of tourists trying to keep up with the seasoned guide who could probably do the route in his sleep.

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quad bike

The start of the quad bike ride. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

village hut

Passing through the villages. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

welcome sign under palm trees in village

(Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

After a quick drinks break at Pomene City - a quirky sarcastic sign that leaves you chuckling - we made our way to the edge of the peninsula where a man-made structure stood barely peeking out from green chaos.

Walking up those steps, withered by many a cruise passenger, you are overcome by the views of paradise and see why a hotel once existed here so far from anything.

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landscape of tropics and hotel ruins

What is left of the Pomene Hotel. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

According to our guide, it was built in 1964 after the Portuguese ship Berea shipwrecked on Pomene's pristine beach, which necessitated the construction of a road to rescue its cargo - making the isolated heaven accessible to the rest of the world.

The Pomene Hotel was built, and in the short six years of operation it was a popular holiday spot for Samora Machel, the man who eventually became the first president of an independent Mozambique in 1975.

The hotel however never saw the independent Mozambique. It was forcibly abandoned in 1974 during the war for independence against the Portuguese colonial government, the area falling under the control of guerrilla fighters.

Now all that remains of its former grandeur are graffiti walls, piles of broken tiles and rotting wooden beams - but somehow it remains beautiful. The surrounding nature has taken back its developed land, but somehow the ruins have fought back just enough to let visitors walk back in time.

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Graffiti of a woman on abandoned hotel

Marks left by previous visitors. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Abandoned hotel with tropical background

(Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Hotel ruins

(Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

Beside the green, the ruins are also surrounded by blue - golden beaches and ocean stretching out forever, as well as a rock pool where you could easily forget yourself. I unfortunately was rushed through this paradise as the quad bike tour was on a tight schedule, but I dream about returning one day for a better look into the past.

view of tropical forest and beach

The hotel's views across Pomene Beach. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

View of beach and rock pool

The rock pool next to the hotel. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

If you don't visit the area by way of a cruise, it might require a little extra vooma to get to these ruins - accommodation is limited in the area and you'll need a lekker 4x4 to navigate through the village roads, but finding this slice of heaven will make the journey and cursing at goats worth it.

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abandoned hotel and palm trees

(Photo: Gabi Zietsman)

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