A welcoming sight of green, trees, paved paths and thatched huts in the distance greeted us. We were told that this is really indeed paradise, and I managed to process that this is where I am going to be living for the next nine months. The car rove up the cobbled path to the biggest building, which had a roof made out of pleated bamboo leaves. Inside I could see a couple of people sitting, my boss and supposedly the managers of the resort, waiting for me to arrive. I felt an enormous relief as I stepped out of the van. The luggage was whisked away to its various destinations, my backpack was taken from my sweating and aching shoulders and a cold coconut was placed in my hands. Is it possible that paradise does exist?
Of course, as soon as I was settled at the bar making the first introductions and drinking my coconut, a raincloud with pouring rain came over. I waited in the main restaurant until the main rains have passed, and then set out of a tour of the property. The restaurant is a 15x15m square structure, with white cement beems supporting wooden poles. The roof itself is made out of their traditionally braided palm leaves, giving the entire room a jungle vibe. Big white orbs hang gently in the breeze, which will light the restaurant with a calming yellowish light in the evenings.
Once the rain had stopped, I was lead to my little beach front bungalow room. The first in a row of bungalows, it has a little porch with some comfortable chairs, a double bed with an overhanging mosquito net, a set of cupboards and a bathroom tucked away in the back. Luckily, my luggage is 70% dive gear, so I do not need much space for my belongings.
Bungalow Room at Moheli Laka Lodge
The bungalo is split into two rooms, each around 3x5m, with a good sized bathroom tucked away at the back. There is a little porch out the front where two lounge chairs are situated, the windows and doors have mesh screen to stop the worst of the creepy crawlies to get in. The bed is a two mattress double bed, allowing it to be split into two singles or one queen (?) size bed depending on the guest. There is a desk, wall hangers and a chest of drawers to store personal belongings in.
The mosquito net on top of the bed is new, and hangs elegantly off a wooden frame. The bathrooms are tiled in pretty blues and whites. There is running and hot water available all day.
Highlights of Moheli Laka Lodge
After fully unpacking and reorganizing my bedroom, I went to speak to the local managers to get my bearings around the place. They showed me the whale lookout; where a bar with the view of the islands was (prior to a cyclone). The vegetable garden, where just about everything from lettuce, tomatoes, spicy chillis and a whole range of little green unknown plants. Since it is the rainy season, most things had stopped growing. This means that there is an island wide shortage of fruit, and I will have to wait before I can gorge myself on local papaya, mango, bananas and everything else. The other piece of sad news was that due to the increasing cost of ilang ilang, many of the avocado plantations had been replaced with the sweet smelling flower tree. Meaning fewer avocados for me!
Now this may not seem like a big deal, however in a Muslim country, having a private beach is an enormous benefit. It allows us ‘westerners’ to jump into the water clothed as we deem appropriate and allows for a peaceful and relaxing get away with nobody there except the guests from the other 10 rooms at Laka Lodge.
Internet on Moheli
The main restaurant area has WIFI available for guests to use, however while you will be able to check your emails and occasionally play a video on youtube, it does get frustratingly slow. Luckily : for people who are desperate to have internet connection the 3g and 4g systems work extremely well. When in Moroni, (the capital of Grand Comore) it would be worth your time to purchase a TELMA simcard, where 20 Euros will get you 10GB of fast internet.
**MAKE SURE TO DO THIS BEFORE FLYING TO THE SMALL ISLAND OF MOHELI
Electricity at Laka Lodge
While the entire island depends on a few generators, which are switched on from 2-4pm until around midnight (on a good day), Moheli Laka Lodge Eco Resort has developed an entire off grid system with solar panels and batteries designed to handle (almost) everything that can be thrown at them. The water heaters, scuba diving air compressors, ovens, lights and electricity all run from the power of the sun. Only occasionally requiring some assistance from the generator.
What is the Food Like?
Every single day, there is a set menu created based on the available produce having arrived to the isolated hotel. Due to the difficulty of getting to a market ( the closest small one is 1.5h away) , Laka Lodge needs to plan ahead for all their guests and meals. The food itself is always freshly made and an exquisite combination of western meals including : pizza, pesto pasta, olive tomatoe pasta and a wide range of local fare.
This is my current obsession, the breadfruit friend into potato like chips.
The kitchen is fully familiar with vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free requirements, and is able to make adjustments to any individual hotel guest’s dietary requirements.
Is It Eco?
Now I know I have personally travelled to many places around the world which claim themselves to be eco, however, they simply slapped on the name to try and tempt tourists to come visit. At Moheli Laka Lodge eco means several things :
- Your laundry, bedsheets, towels will be washed at your request.
- The Solar Power system powering everything
- UV Water filter water to eliminate plastic bottles
- Attempts to reuse, reduce, reuse : from single use napkins, plastic bottles and straws
- Emphasis on environmentally friendly behaviours in the marine park and islands
- Steel straws alternatives coming soon
- Collaboration with the village to properly dispose of garbage
- Beach clean up events subsidized to help keep the marine park clean
Overall, not only is it a beautiful place, feels like my own personal paradise, but it is one of the few options for people to stay at in Moheli. While the prices may seem high, the cost of having this fully off grid system is large and shipment of anything is difficult to the isolated island of Moheli.
After becoming a little orientated, I was told to study the dive sites as I was going to be jumping into the deep end tomorrow. Two exploratory dives to prepare myself to start taking customers around as soon as possible!