“This is why this place is so cool! We’ve got campsites, we’ve got self-catering chalets, we’ve got a restaurant, and we’ve got chalets that are designed for full service.” This is the ecstatic introduction from Sean Wookey to the new Membene camp. And it is easy to see why Sean, the new camp manager, is so excited about the future prospects, as the newly built Membene camp, in Maputo National Park, is officially handed over to the park and open for business.
Peace Parks Foundation provides funding and technical support to Maputo National Park and with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and it has overseen the construction of this 72-bed lodge. But the camp, which is now fully operational, is the first accommodation that will be owned exclusively by the park. This is part of a long-term development plan supported by Peace Parks Foundation and ANAC. Developing and constructing a beautiful lodge in a remote destination like this is no easy task, however. Through tight coordination between the partners involved and using smart building techniques, the camp’s construction was completed within budget and on time.
As the camp now welcomes visitors, job opportunities have opened up for locals, and revenue generated will go not only to conservation but also beyond the camp boundaries, as 20% of all revenue is set aside for a community development fund. While there are already two 5-star lodges on private concessions in the park, Membene camp will be an attractive destination for travellers looking for, as Sean says, “five-star quality, three-star prices”.
Maputo National Park is one of the most biologically diverse and endangered ecoregions on Earth, and Membene camp is an affordable gateway to experience this incredible diversity, from fresh inland water systems, swamp forests, and grasslands with mangrove forests to healthy seagrass beds and a kaleidoscope of coral reefs. Membene camp was intentionally designed to “fit in with nature, not compete with nature,” says Peace Parks Senior Project Manager in Mozambique, Antony Alexander. Tucked in under the tree line of the lush coastal dune forest, a hop-and-skip away from the seductive warm Indian Ocean, it is an idyllic eco-friendly destination to immerse oneself in extraordinarily biodiverse habitats.
Neil Crafford, the lead architect of Membene camp believes that “Ponta Membene is the development that is going to put Maputo National Park on the [tourism] map.” This, though, would not have been possible without the successful and dedicated multi-stakeholder collaboration between Peace Parks and our partners. Peace Parks TV looks forward to seeing your snaps and reels from your next visit to Membene camp and the beautiful Maputo National Park.