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“Amazing Marimba”

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Marimba Secret Gardens
Reviewed 29 August 2013

During my month long stay in Vilankulo I was lucky enough to stay at the beautiful haven that Marcel and Isabelle have created. The generosity of this wonderful couple started with the long adn bump but fasinating journey-picked up from our front gate and taken through the Macunhe bush to end up in the peaceful and beautiful Marimba Secret Gardens. The children were very excited and ran around happily below each stilt house for hours! We sent many a relaxing hour on the beach and reading in the shade of the shelters. The stilt houses were beautiful and the 4 poster beds with Mozi nets felt like pure luxury-I loved hearing the wind whisper gently through the reed walls. The wonderful staff (all local and trained up by M+I) made delicous food and we all felt very welcome. The food highlights for me were the banana pancakes (which we tried very hard to recreate once home again) and the hot chocolate- actually the breakfast was totally awesome too- delcious muesli and yoghurt. There are so many lovely touches-blackboads showing specials (tangerine juice-yipppe), tide times and the Dinner menu, to the lending Library of books and beautiful solar lanterns. The deco was amazing from the beautiful root lamps hanging above the dinner tables to the round shower block (with very hot water-another luxury!). However what made this visit so special is the warmth and generosity of a beautiful young couple who have such a passion for this place and the community surrounding it- I am already planning my return for 2014-can't wait to book more nights in the beautiful Secret Gardens.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank KateHarris2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 7 September 2013

WOW - we are speechless.. Reviews like this really keep us going!!! And enjoying and appreciating our everyday work a lot!! We are very much looking forward to welcoming you again next year!!

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Reviewed 26 August 2013

This place is simply the best place we stayed at during our trip in Mozambique and probably one of the best lodgings also in all of our journeys. The concept, the location, the staff, the food, the beach, the surroundings, the atmosphere: everything is just perfect. Marcel and Isabelle have created a real heaven. The huts are very clean and cozy and so are the bathrooms. Everything is super comfortable and offers you just everything you need. The beach in front of Marimba is also heaven. We highly recommend the day trip to the islands and also the bush walk with José. Both are unique experiences. Regarding food, the dish of the day is always amazing, and so are the other meals they cook and bake, for example the muffins. They also offer a wide range of drinks and snacks. Marcel and Isabelle just designed this place to make your life easy and happy while in Mozambique. Plan to stay here at least 4 days and don't forget to walk around the beach and interact with the local fishermen. This is a place to relax and enjoy. Also, it is very affordable. So if you are planning a trip to Mozambique, make sure you contact Marcel and Isabelle in advance and book 4 days in heaven.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank AstridMarc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 28 August 2013

Thanks very much, guys!! We feel very flattered by your review!!

Knowing that we have such satisfied and happy guests provides the whole team with a lot of energy and motivation!

Best regards!

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Reviewed 19 August 2013

My girlfriend and i spent 4 nights in Marimba. like most people we work hard during the week and had not been on holiday for more than 4 months so we wanted something off the beaten track. We were looking for a place to relax, read, and not have cellphones ringing, emails coming in etc.

We got what we asked for.

Marimba is very remote although only 20km north of Vilanculos, the only way to get there is on a dirt road so it will take between 1h - 1h30min.

Once there the truth is there is not that much to do except completely chill out. my days were basically spent reading, sleeping, eating, drinking and then more sleeping which is exactly what i needed but this kind of place is not for everyone. The beach in this part of the world has extreme tides so for most of the afternoon you cannot swim because there is such low tide that you will literally have to walk 800m out to find any water (my gf and i measured it.) This means the beach is generally out during the day. so Again sleep , eat and drinks is really your day. However, the beach is completely yours, i walked South Once for about 3km on the beach and only found a few locals fishing.

The rooms are clean and comfortable to sleep in they are on stilts and i cannot fault them at all. The rooms do not have their own toilets or shower this is in a common area. Which i liked but again not for everyone, there is hot water and the toilets were spotless always clean and a pleasure to use.

Electricity only comes on by the generater for about 3-4 hours at night so going to the toilet at 3am is interesting if no one told you to bring a torch but again i didnt mind the adventure. The night sky is beautiful.

Basically, take a torch with. Also a good idea would be to take some snacks, drinks etc as it can get expensive always eating in the restaurant. Keep in mind once at Marimba there are no shops within an 20km radius and you not going to be going for a quick drive there.

We went to Bazaruto island from the hotel and it was a good day trip.

The relaxed restaurant they have is great with chilled music at night.

Basically, this is really a basic place and as mentioned before not for everyone but for what i needed it was perfect.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank ziv o
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Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 24 August 2013

Thank you very much for your review and we are happy you enjoyed your stay with us.
You are right, Vilanculos area has very extreme tidal movements. But it is not - as you've described it - that during the day it isn't possible to go swimming. High and low tide changes every day between 20 min and 2 hours. So the days you've spent with us it was high tide in the mornings and low in the afternoon. Some days after you've left it was high tide at noon and low in the early mornings and evenings. At the moment we have high tide in the afternoons.
Moreover, the extend of the tides depend on the lunar phases. Sometimes, low tide is only 200m, sometimes 800m. This is also what makes Vilanculos beaches so special and picturesque: the colours of the ocean change several times every day with the natural movement of the tides. We actually explain this with our tide table.

Thanks for the hint with the torch. Most of our guests have one with them and the solar lights on the premises provide enough light but we will remind from now on everyone to take one with them.

We hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay in Mozambique!

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Reviewed 26 July 2013

Simply superb. A haven in Mozambique. Macel and Isabelle, the Swiss couple who built and run Marimba couldn't do enough for us. The beach is free of tourists and beach sellers which made it like having our own paradise for 4 days - we were lucky we were the only guests for 2 of the 4 nights we stayed. The local staff they have employed from the community were fantastic - and we were particularly in awe of the great food from Isabelle and her kitchen staff. Dinner of the day was amazing; fresh fish for 3 nights and peri-peri chicken one night. Highly recommend for those wanting a few days peace and quiet - no Internet, limited electricity and no hot water (but that added to the charm!). We hope they can maybe incorporate solar or some sort of renewable forms of electricity or water heating, particularly as the generator was a bit noisy in the evenings, but we fully appreciate the scale of the task they have had in setting up Marimba, their own little paradise. They will pick you up from town which is pretty much essential due to the state of the local roads! You can't really self cater here, which makes eating expensive compared to traditional backpackers hostels, but the great Marimba food made this a blessing in disguise! We wish Marcel and Isabelle all the best for the future and hope to visit again, if circumstances allow. Highly, highly recommended!!

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Joe-p-01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 6 August 2013

Thank you Joe! We appreciate your review very much and are happy you enjoyed your stay with us! Even though you stayed with us not long time ago, we approved in a very important issue:
We are very happy to announce that we now have hot water for all our showers!
We’ve always had internet in form of a modem stick and therefore only for guests traveling with their own device that comes with an usb connection. Once all of this is provided, the connection is usually 3G and to a very reasonable price.
It is also one of our next aims to incorporate solar energy or any other form of renewable energy (in small amount we already do) but it is not too easy organizing all of that from such a remote place and with a limited budget at the same time.
You are right, we have no self-catering facilities but a restaurant offering fresh and home-made food to very reasonable prices. In addition we never intended being a traditional backpacker but much more offering affordable accommodation on a constant level of quality to individual travellers – may it be backpackers, business men, families, adventurers, simply everyone that wants to explore and experience a part of Moçambique far from other touristy infrastructures and in traditional nature.

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Reviewed 13 June 2013

Marcel and Isabelle have done an amazing job building a completely unique and beautiful place to stay in the countryside north of Vilanculos. They have also done so in collaboration with the local community there. The rooms are large, cool and comfortable, the beach is a very short walk away, and there is delicious food and drink every night. Very highly recommended.

Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
1  Thank SamRigby
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Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 24 August 2013

We appreciate your review very much, Sam! We had some lovely evening with you guys in the restaurant and hope you had a beautiful time exploring the North of Mozambique!!

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Reviewed 15 May 2013

After six days on the beach in Vilanculos, we can feel the rhythm of the ocean and the need for more of its mystical therapy, so we arrange a ride up the coast to Marimba’s Secret Garden with the owner Marcel.

Marcel and his lovely wife Isabel are Swiss, but one day decided to leave all the perfection and order of Switzerland behind to create their own version of paradise carved out of the chaos of the Mozambican bush.
They were successful partly because of their vision to secure phenomenal coastline real estate and create a special environment, but more importantly because of their incredible drive, passion and focus on making you feel like you are part of their family.

We quickly settle into our charming reed casita on stilts and our daily ritual of swimming at high tide in the azure and deliciously warm ocean, beach walks at low tide across the massive tidal flats that move the shoreline over a mile, raging bonfires, soulful soundtracks and candlelight dinners. This idyllic routine put our karma in perfect order.

For Easter, Jose from Marimba takes us on a “bush walk” to a local village where we sat under a massive tree and experienced an incredibly moving African version of Christianity. In spite of language differences our hearts were speaking the universal language of love and kindness.

The head priest thanked us for coming and told us in a way wise beyond his limited English “We are all the same regardless of where we are from and we will all meet again”. His simple yet profound words combined with their spirited singing and dancing made for a memorable Easter.

After gazing out at the Bazaruto Archipelago for the past few weeks we jump in a Dhow (the local word for crusty and charming boat) with Marcel and make our way out to the most beautiful beach I have ever seen anywhere in the world. The superlatives needed to describe it don’t exist and pictures can in no way do it justice. We spend a fairytale day swimming, collecting sand dollars, climbing the dunes, enjoying lunch and wishing we were marooned here for a few years.

Marcel scores a Kingfish from a local on the island so fresh it is still flopping and we head back to Marimba to have Isabel work her mojo and create yet another amazing meal fresh from the sea.

As with all of the places we love, we extend our time from three to eight days, but much too soon we are on our way

Marimba’s Secret has now been revealed and for that we will be forever grateful. Obrigado Marcel and Isabel!

Room Tip: All of the casitas are basically the same and comfortable but not luxury, but for the price you can...
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  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank 4Bohemians
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 30 May 2013

Dear Bohemians,

We hope so much that you enjoyed your last month of traveling as much as possible and that the energy that you have gained on your travels will be with you as long possible.
We keep on thinking of you and telling other people about you - as a source of inspiration!

We are very happy we met you, thanks for staying with us!

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Reviewed 6 May 2013

We spent 4 nights at Marimba Secret Gardens in November and I have to say that this was way too short. What Isabelle and Marcel have built in the bush is just amazing. The moment we entered the premises they made us feel at home.
The rooms are nicely built on stilts around a central “square” where Marcel lights a bonfire at night, which gives the whole place a communal feel.
The hotel is located right on the beach, which can be reached within a short walk. The beach is really and we were were the only tourists for miles. You can see the Bazaruto Archipelago from the beach. We went on a day tour to the Archipelago together with Marcel, which I can highly recommend. It is about a 1.5 hour ride by boat. We saw a lot of dolphins and even a Dugong (Ok, only the tail for about half a second). Marcel and the crew took care of everything, i.e. building up a camp including fruit, cold beer and sandwiches. We were the only guest on this trip so we could just tell the crew wherever and when we wanted to go.
The restaurant menu is quite impressive for such a remote place and very reasonably priced. The muesli is a must, so is the Mezze Platter. Speaking of food, one of the highlights definitely is the dinner. The catch of the day, ranging from freshly grilled barracuda to pasta with crab meat (which is rather crab meat with pasta), is served on a nice terrace together with the other guests (if you choose so).
Another highlight was a trip to a bush bar at night. The 4x4 ride to the bar is about 15-20 minutes and an adventure in itself. It was pretty cool to sip Tipo Tinto with the locals, some of who also work at the hotel.
What impressed us most of all is the enthusiasm and dedication with which Isabelle and Marcel run the place, being available about 24hours, always helpful and good humored, going out of their way to give us a fantastic time while at the same time giving something back to the community where they build the Marimba.
Thanks again Isabelle and Marcel, we will be back for sure
Matthias und Kati

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Mattdog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Isabelle M, Owner at Marimba Secret Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 30 May 2013

Kati and Matthias, thanks so much for this review! We hope you guys are all well and go on discovering the world. We still admire your way of traveling - you hardly ever meet anyone visiting other cultures with that much curiosity, respect and awareness.
We wish you all the best and hope that your plans for this summer came true, as beautiful and unforgettable as possible ;)

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Additional Information about Marimba Secret Gardens

Address: Macunhe, Vilanculos 1304, Mozambique
Region: Mozambique > Inhambane Province > Vilanculos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 25 Speciality Lodging in Vilanculos
Price Range: £11 - £45 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In a peaceful and pristine bay, 25km north of Vilanculos, Marimba Secret Gardens offers comfortable and unique accommodation for individual travelers. Take a time out in pure nature, get to know the traditional Mozambican way of life or discover the Bazaruto Archipelago either by diving, snorkeling or just a day trip.Our restaurant offers a combination of European and African dishes and a big range of cocktails. ... more   less 

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