Monday, May 19, 2014

North Mozambique: the Undiscovered Kite Paradise

Kitesurf, kiteboarding, Murrebue, lagoon, crystal clear waters

European and North American summer is approaching, but you might be in time for some exotic adventure in the Southern Hemisphere: there are still some places left in the world, which can be considered true kitesurfing paradises with incredible conditions, yet undiscovered by the masses of regular kitesurfers.

Fishermen, boat, sandbank, Murrebue, Mozambique
If you want to have off-the-beaten-track experience and are dreaming of taking a kitesurfing trip that is completely away from usual tourist destinations, where you would find yourself as the only kitesurfer in beautiful turquoise water lagoons, surrounded by the breathtaking view of white sandbanks emerging all around, then Cabo Delgado, the northern-most Mozambican region, won’t disappoint you.

Murrebue is a small unknown beach village on the outskirts of Pemba (the capital of the region), but it gives the name to one of the most beautiful lagoons you have ever seen. Thirty kilometers by four of crystal turquoise waters, closed between beautiful white sandy beaches and a gorgeous reef.

Kitesurf, kiteboarding, Murrebue, lagoon, crystal clear waters

This magnificent kitesurfing spot is amazingly influenced by the Indian ocean tides, which change the kiteboarding conditions every hour, allowing you to kite from flat water at low tide to the nice waves (normally 1-2 meters high, depending on wind conditions) breaking on the reef at high tide.

Any tourism is practically nonexistent in this area, and the few expats who live here are mainly employees of gas companies from all over the world. There is a really limited number of lodges in Murrebue and the prices are quite high, but you can find some little jewels, like Il Pirata lodge, where you will still have reasonable prices and great food.

Murrebue, Mozambique, beach, bungalow, Il Pirata

I had the pleasure of staying at this kitesurfing paradise for three months, giving kitesurfing lessons to the oil and gas workers or to some local Mozambican guy, and having great kitesurfing sessions myself, spending most of the time surfing practically alone in this kiteboarding paradise.

The life here is regulated by Nature and the flow of tides: when the ocean starts to get low, all the surrounding villagers take over the lagoon to collect shellfish, which remain trapped in small puddles formed by withdrawing waters: myriads of people coming from the surrounding hills in search of some sea delicacy. You can still kite while they are around and if you attempt some jump or trick, you will suddenly hear big awwwww’s coming all around.

Kitesurf, kiteboarding, jump, Murrebue, MozambiqueThere is a very small kitesurfers community, led by Carlo Macchiarulo, the owner of the local kitesurfing school, but they mainly kite on weekends, leaving the whole lagoon to the few tourists staying in local lodges. Carlo often organizes great downwind sessions starting from local surrounding villages, such as Mecufi (30 km south from Murrebue), giving you the incredible emotion of kitesurfing on savage and uncivilized shores.

Murrebue, Lagoon, Mozambique, Pemba, Beach, Low tideThe best season to visit this kitesurfing paradise starts from May and goes up to August, when Cuzi, the south East trade winds, blow practically 90% of the days between 15 and 30 knots. You can also find wind from November to March in the Kasi Kasi season (North East trade winds), but it can rain in this period, which might often interfere with the consistence of the wind. The average temperatures during the windy season are always around 26°-28°C, and the waters are perfect for just lycra and shorts or a shorty in the really strong wind days.

The kitesurfing spot has a few dangers (some rocks and sea urchins in limited areas), but it is basically a huge stretch of coral sand and crystal clear water: a great place for kitesurfers of all levels.

kitesurf, jump, Murrebue, lagoon, Pemba, Mozambique

So if you don't need cocktails with umbrellas and some all-inclusive fattening resort for retired people, if you aren't scared by a couple airplane changes and you want to experience a great adventure and kitesurfing exploration, Murrebue is one of the best places you want to pay a visit to.

Fishermen, streets, Pembakitesurf, jump, Murrebue, lagoon, Pemba, MozambiqueCarlo Macchiarulo, owner, Pirata, Lodge

Have a look to the 2013 Murrebue season Video:

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The Murrebue lagoon, a real kitesurfing paradise in the North of Mozambique.
Date published: 05/19/2014
Date Update: 06/02/2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Kitesurf on Italy's Alpine Lakes

kitesurf, kiteboard, lake, idro, italy, kitesurf lake idro italy

With the approaching of summer and the weather getting warmer, it's about time to start the kitesurfing season in Italy.

Many people will naturally think of the beautiful coastlines of Sardinia, Sicily or the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Sea, but have you ever heard about the hidden secret gems in the Alps?

Peppered along the northern Italian mountains, there are several lakes of various sizes. The biggest one is the Garda Lake followed by the Lake Como, the so called “Maggiore”, then there is Iseo, Idro and so on.

During the warm season there are spots on these lakes that are among the most windy in Italy, because of their particular orographic conditions, making them the gathering point of many Italian and other European kitesurfers.

kitesurf, kiteboard, lake, Garda, italy, kitesurf lake Garda italy

Located midway between high, fresh peeks of the mountains and the warm, humid air of the Padanian lowland (the flat area that runs along the Alps from Turin to Venice), these lakes literally are a kitesurfing paradise. The difference of temperature that we are talking about produces a very steady and reliable thermal effect, which turns out to guarantee winds from 13-14 knots and above for the majority of the spring-summer-autumn days.

Another interesting effect is actually the density of the air on these lakes: coming from the highly humid lowland (especially in the afternoon), the specific air weight is significantly higher than the air on the seacoast. This produces the special effect that will allow you to kite with weaker winds than normal: a 12 knots wind here will generate the equivalent power of a 14 knot wind in the sea. As result you'll find yourself having a great kitesurfing experience with just a breeze.

Another surprise is the beautiful panorama that these lakes offer: wedged between the mountains, they show a unique landscape where local vegetation and bare rocks alternate, creating a colorful sequence of greens, grays and yellows.

kitesurf, kiteboard, lake, idro, italy, kitesurf lake idro italyTalking about the water temperature, let’s be clear: no Caribbean warm waters here! The water comes down from the mountains and especially in the spring it will be pretty chilly (you’ll need a 5/4 long wetsuit), even if by the end of June you can start kiteboarding with a shorty. The good news is that due to the thermal water inertia, you’ll be able to have warm water until the mid/end of October: let’s say what you paid in spring you get back doubled in autumn.

The fresh water is another cool side of kiting in the lakes, and after the session you won’t need to clean your kiteboarding gear from salt, just make sure to dry it completely in order to avoid formation of mold, which is prevented by salt if you kitesurf in the sea.
The only real downside of kitesurfing on these lakes is the access to the water: there are really few and small beaches, which makes these spots accessible only to skilled kitesurfers.

But there’s a solution to this problem: there are various kiteboarding schools on most of these lakes, offering really good level of training and a lift service, which drops you off directly on the water by a motor boat.

kitesurf, kiteboard, lake, Garda,lift service, italy, kitesurf lake garda

I met many of these guys working in the local schools and I have to say that they do really a great job, letting you enjoy your kitesurfing session without even bothering about up-winding, since they come and pick you up with their boats.

There’s not much more to say: if you are in north Italy, make sure to pay a visit to one of these lakes, it’s really worth the try!

And of course, if you need some directions, don’t hesitate to ask, I’ll be happy to give some good hints on local spots and facilities.

kitesurf, kiteboard, lake, Como, italy, kitesurf lake Como italy

If you want some local school reference, some of the best I found are:

Garda Lake: Xkite
Lake of Como: Adrenakite and Kitezoo
Lake of Iseo and of Idro: MKS

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In this post you can find great info about some Italy's north lakes' spots mostly known only by locals
Date published: 05/09/2014
Date Update: 05/18/2014