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Authentic Ecolodges

Text and photos: Hitesh Mehta

Illustrations: Matthew Lewis

Collins Design, 2010, NY, USA

'The lodge, in situ, buffered by Mozambique's idyllic coastline. The lodge is totally hidden by the dunes and barely visible from the ocean.' 'A tented banda, the bedroom enclosed in mosquito netting; Guests at the lodge can visit the historic Portuguese fort on Ibo island: Local village woman giving a guest the traditional muciro (facemask) treatment: Village staff carrying the hot shower water to one of the guest bandas; Every aspect of the ecolodge is designed to enhance relaxation. Guests are asked not to remove shells from the beach as they enjoy the scenery.' 'One of the most innovative buildings in the lodge is the composting toilet, which is raised to offer views of the ocean and is built Out of environmentally friendly materials - bamboo, coconut, and clay.'
  1. Arrival Security Gate
  2. Guest Drop-Off
  3. Main Lodge Building
  4. Guest Bandas (Cottages)
  5. Dive Center
  6. Administrative Offices
  7. Kitchen/Store
  8. Back of House
  9. Senior Staff Housing
  10. Beach
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  1. Indian Ocean
'Left: Without a doubt, the most innovative use of local technology is in the shower, which is manually operated. Above, top: Detail of a joint at one of the bridges on the property. Above: Covered patio of one of the new guest bandas.'

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Guludo Beach Lodge

Quirimbas National Park, Mozambique

DATE COMPLETED
2005
OWNERS
Amy and Neil Carter-James
ARCHITECT
Kilburn Nightingale Architects (England)

'Ideally situated between the Indian Ocean and the pristine African savannah woodlands, just north of the Quirimbas National Park, the Guludo Beach Lodge was created by husband-and-wife team Amy and Neil Carter-James, who wanted to make a difference in the local community. The entrepreneurial couple dreamed of creating an ecolodge that was as ethical in principle as it was innovative in technology. Guludo Beach Lodge far surpasses the couple's aspirations, and remains one of the world's most unique ecolodges, both in terms of its creative use of appropriate technology and its comprehensive community programs.

'The lodge's award-winning design reflects the local style of architecture, and makes ample use of indigenous material like bamboo, coconut, and clay tiles made by local women - all to chic effect. The lodge's ten palm-thatched adobe bandas and canvas tents are seamlessly integrated within their natural surroundings; their presence gently frames the landscape, rather than distracts from it. Each banda and tent have a quirky alfresco outdoor bathroom. Positioned to the side of the private bathroom and up a small staircase, it has one the best views in the lodge - Guludo's breathtaking white sand beach and the Indian Ocean.

'Guludo's use of technology is truly innovative. The shower fittings, made out of bamboo and located outdoors, are one of the most unique bathing technologies in the world. The dry composting toilet system saves water and so do the wash basins, which have no taps. Instead, water is provided in recyclable glass bottles. Additionally, Guludo utilizes several forward-thinking architectural and technological elements to minimize energy use at all levels. Thick mud walls, for example, are mixed with lime and calcium to help cool the lodge's interiors; the high roof maximizes airflow, negating the need for fans or air-conditioning. There is no electricity. Paraffin (soon to be solar-powered) lamps provide lighting as do guest-distributed flashlights and handheld torches; solar PV cells are used to charge batteries.

'Constructed to uphold the strictest environmental principles, Guludo is a testament to the ethical rigors of inspired design and building technology standards. Where the lodge seeks to minimize its stress on the environment, it conversely maximizes benefits to the local area through the NEMA Foundation, which was established by the owners to work in the areas around the lodge to achieve their charitable goals. (The word for joy and happiness in Mozambique is nema) Donating 5 percent of all accommodation revenue to NEMA. Guludo supports a variety of local-run community programs, all created to lift people out of poverty and simultaneously protect the environment. The Women's Craft Group, for example, encourages guests to learn from local women how to weave palm leaves or make traditional water pots. Guests can also purchase the artisans' wares, supporting the local community and its continued artistic heritage. The School Feeding Project ensures that every child at Guludo Primary School receives at least one nutritious meal a day. Guests can participate in this project as well. In an area of the world where life expectancy is thirty-eight years, infant mortality hovers above 30 percent, and food shortages threaten the locals' health, NEMA is truly a lifeline to the people of Guludo. From its awe-inspiring design and cutting-edge appropriate technology to its sound ethical treatment of the local culture to its conservation programs, Guludo Beach Lodge promises a truly bespoke experience.

'CUISINE: The majority of the food at Guludo is procured locally and guests can talk to the chef about the meals - and request their own specialty. Served European style but with a decidedly Mozambique twist, every meal at Guludo is a treat.

'ACTIVITIES: With everything from scuba diving to savannah woodland walks to beach archery, there is no end to the adventures at Guludo. Unique to Guludo is the "beauty on the beach" group of local women, who give female guests traditional muciro facemasks and nourishing coconut hair treatments.'