Due to the lack of planning and short time we saved money, our African Safari has been governed by the cheapest places to stay. We love when we get lucky couchsurfing, but due to the spontaneity nature of our travels, doesn't happen as often as we'd like. That's where hostels and budget hotels come in. Most times, we're looking for the cheapest, and sometimes we have the option to choose between several places based on user review or location. All the hostels and accommodation so far has at least met our standards or exceeded them and we really haven't come across too many lemons.
And then every so often we come across a real gem and are wowed by the luxury for such a low budget. Enter The Zombie Cucumber
in Vilankulos, Mozambique.
There are three levels of comfort depending on your budget: dorms, chalets, and rooms. We stayed in the dorms for two nights, so that's all I can comment on at the moment, but the chalets were double bed huts without bathrooms, and the rooms were behind the bar and more like hotel rooms. The dorms were just 350 Meticals a person, which comes to around $12 USD a night, pretty average for us and definitely on the lower end of prices in all of Mozambique.
The dorm was simply a large communal-style hut with 8 or 10 twin beds laid in a circle complete with mosquito netting (and those buggers are everywhere here!). The bathrooms (Casa de Banho) was just outside next door with two showers that have the option of hot water upon request. The whole place felt tropical and adorably quaint, but very simple if you don't mind that type of thing (Jake and I are more for atmosphere than amenities, so we were in heaven).
There is a restaurant "building" to order a very good selection of food at pretty reasonable prices (or super reasonable when you think about "going out" prices anywhere in the world) but with so few people there while we were (we had the place to ourselves the first night!) it felt more natural to eat around the bar and talk with the workers and Bruno, the owner, when he was around.
The bar surrounds a nice pool with a few tables and chairs laid out for more eating and/or drinking, and the entire encampment is connected with dirt pathways lined with lantern-topped posts.
We arrived a little late in the evening via chapa, and when we got out were greeted by the nicest staff who helped carry our bags up to the bar and offered us food and drinks. Shortly after Bruno came by, an ex-Belgium whose heart was stolen by the Vilankulos paradise, and we all got to chat for several hours over local beer and extra garlicky pizza. We were told the week was desolate and we were the only people to come for days. The high season hadn't started yet, and though we normally like when more people are around to chat with, it was pretty nice to have a quiet night and be welcomed so warmly.
The following day a couple French girls came to stay in the newly renovated rooms up top, but otherwise we really had the place all to ourselves. The staff are all very fun to talk to and even the guys outside who try to sell their boat rides to the islands are very nice as well and due to the quiet week, we got to hang out with them a good while our second day there.
Vilankulos is overall a very relaxing and beautiful place to be and with budget options like The Zombie Cucumber right on the beach that take care of you so well, it's easy to spend a lot of time there and participate in all the activities it has to offer, like snorkeling, diving, going to the islands with monkeys, or do what we did and hunt for crabs and seashells along the amazing coast.