We were having a late lunch at Montego Resort in Xai-Xai, Mozambique, when the manager turned to us and asked: “Have you been to the haunted hotel?”
I could see the mix of excitement and hesitation in the eyes of every person on our team. Who doesn’t like a good ghost story… and to have the opportunity to explore the ruins of what was once a glamorous hotel sounded too good to be true.
We finished our lunch and headed out to the hotel about 2km down the sand road. Montego sent one of their staff with us to watch the cars as we explored the multi-story building.
The ruins of the majestic hotel stood covered in sand like a monument from the past with an extraordinary view of the ocean.
The breeze floated through the doors and frames of the windows and carried an eery feeling into the ghostly reminders of what was once a bustling hotel. We only had a few hours of daylight left so we hurried into the buildings and scattered in different directions to see as much as possible of the place.
Very little is known about the Chongoene Hotel other than that is was built during a time when the Portuguese governed Mozambique… and was deserted during the infamous 20/24 decree in which the Portuguese were forced to leave Mozambique with 20kgs of luggage within 24 hours, when the independence war ended in 1975.
With the departure of the professionals and tradesmen the country’s economy collapsed, and only showed some sign of recovery in 1992 when the country experienced a semblance of peace for the first time in decades.
To this day Mozambican people refuse to live in houses once occupied by Portuguese, and therefore this hotel is left empty and will not be occupied by squatters. There have been some rumours about a South African company wanting to restore the old hotel, but so far no effort has been made to return the mansion to its former glory.
From what we could gather of the place it was a luxury resort with an Olympic size pool, servants’ quarters, lounges and dining rooms, ball rooms and huge patios. Each room had an en-suite bathroom.
The carport shows signs that it had a workshop for repairs to cars and then there is of course the view to the beach.
The hotel has 110 units and sits on 12,000 ha of land with 5km of private beach. It is said that it was surrounded by a 23,000 ha game reserve when Mr. D’Oliviera owned the place in the 1960s.
Previous guests to the hotel still talk about the fish prepared for them and delivered on silver platters.
And now for the ghost story…
It is said that during the war some of the Portuguese civilians had car trouble and failed to leave the country before the curfew deadline that had been set by the government. And so they hid in the vast property of the Chongoene Hotel, hoping to wait out the turmoil of the country in the seclusion of the beach hotel until they could contact their relatives in Portugal.
They were tracked by guerrilla fighters and discovered at the resort one night where a terrible fight ensued. It is not clear how long they were held hostage or exactly what the family endured… but they were finally executed by the soldiers and their bodies left to rot in the summer sun.
When the call from their relatives in Portugal came it was too late. And the legend goes that now their ghosts roam the rooms of the hotel searching for someone to rescue them, calling out to anyone who can give them a ride to the border or the harbour.
The bullet holes left in the walls of the hotel tell the story better than any storyteller ever could… and the phone in the main dining hall rings at night stirring up the bats in the pantry… even though it has been disconnected for years…
Now that we’ve scared you and made you curious – why don’t you go take a look?
For more info contact Easy Gallivant at (+27)17 634 5799… hopefully your call will come through to us and not to Chongoene…
Lizzie and Manda – two chicks brave enough to visit an old hotel.
Photo credits: Jaco van der Merwe, Manda Schoeman, Lizelle Schoeman
LIZELLE SCHOEMAN and her friend Manda, both from Mpumalanga, started a travel blog to tell stories about the places they liked and the adventures they had. Lizelle says: “Soon we started getting invitations from resorts to review them. We refuse to write anything negative so if we don’t like what they do we simply don’t write about them.” Lizelle is married to her “best friend and the craziest guy I know, Pieter”.