What travellers are talking about
TMA- The sadness of return
Have you ever heard someone say, after a stay in any of the Maldivian resorts, that the trip back home was really desired and impatiently waited, or that he was eager to return to normal daily life between home and work, without any regret or melancholy?
Well, I did not, not yet, at least.
Maybe someone has specific complaints to make about some aspect of his stay, but the homecoming really lets everyone with sadness in his heart, with the regret of paradise that leaves.
I, too, whenever it's time to pack up and go home, I feel the same things. I leave the Maldives with a lump in my throat and the sadness in my heart.
Also this year, while I was leaving from Gangehi with the speedy boat and I was looking at one side the seaplane that already was waiting for us ,and at the other side Gangehi that was becaming increasingly distant, under the sunglasses I had tears in my eyes.
In my heart I was saying "Goodbye" to Gangehi, but every time I leave the Maldives I wonder what the future holds for me, if I will have the health and the opportunity to go back, if I will see again those fantastic and loved islands.
The arrival to the platform of the seaplane was too fast. We took the suitcases and hand luggage and we waited for their boarding before getting ourselves on the small seaplane yellow, white and blue.
From Gangehi we were us and another German couple , but when we got on the seaplane, we occupied practically the last four free places in that small aircraft.
It was about 4 p.m. and in the passenger compartment there was a sweltering heat and a strong smell of sweat.
There wasn’t, of course, air conditioning and I have not seen ventilators, no one. I asked me if in the first round there was a small fan, but that time I had not noticed it. The plane was very similar to that of the first round (which was white and red), but in this I continued to find some fault, who knows why ... .the seats were small and narrow, the windows were dirty, noisy engines, too many noisy people ....
Maybe it was the sadness for the return ....
After the usual explanations and recommendations of crew before every departure, the seaplane took off and, after a wide curve in front of the reef over the open ocean, turned toward Malé.
Below us there were islands with green lagoons, the blue sea rippled by long waves with white foam. I was wondering if below us, hidden in the blue, there were dolphins ... or sharks ... or maybe ... manta rays.
The other passengers were talking loudly over the noise of the engines, telling the events of the last days or planning the next hours, waiting for the flight to home.
We were all sweaty and we continued to make us air, helping us with a card, found in the pocket of the seat-back in front.
Fortunately, in 25 minutes we arrived in Male, where the transportation, by minibus to the airport, was very fast.
When we got off at the airport, we hurried to go with our suitcases in the departures area, which was much more fresh, resigned to the inevitable, and with our mind full of good memories, but already projected towards future programs.
Round trip, my first time with TMA
Arrived in Male at about 8 with a slight delay (from Dubai, flying with Emirates Airline), and taken care of formalities quickly with our Tour Operator, we were sent to Trans Maldivian Airways check-in desk for our transportation to Gangehi Island Resort.
The desks of the TMA were all very crowded, due to the almost contemporary aircraft arrivals of Qatar and Emirates Airline lines, so we started to stay queued patiently.
Despite the confusion, I had the impression that everyone was really well organized: on our side of the desk a guy was taking the bags of tourists and putting them on a balance, in the meantime he was showing to people where they had to support documents and where to attach the labels that were delivered.
On the other side of the desk another guy was weighing suitcases and hand luggage, noting everything on a notepad, then he printed the necessary documents and handed the labels to be pasted on baggage and hand luggage. In a few minutes (this was my impression), we were ready to get out through a side door on the right, where already many people were waiting to get on the shuttle buses, which would bring us to the waiting rooms of the TMA. A few more minutes of waiting and we too left with the minibus .
I do not know why, but I expected that the starting area of seaplanes were very close to the airport; instead our shuttle bus, queued with several others, toured around a really wide deserted area adjacent to the airport (and on this tour I could also review the Emirates aircraft with which we had arrived), stopping at the red traffic lights even in places where no one seemed to come from the other side. Finally the shuttle bus has arrived in front of the waiting rooms of the TMA. We got off and we realized how wide was the water basin for seaplanes and how many air carriers were in it "parked".
With surprising speed all tourists were identified and divided into groups, which were made to sit in an neighboring room on chairs or at the right, or at center, or at left, depending on the final destination, into which atoll they have to go.
Every few minutes it was announced a departing flight, and then a group of tourists stood up and went out following a guy who accompanied them to the seaplane.
During those ten, fifteen minutes spent in the waiting room I had the first surprise of the day. A boy came to me, he had an envelope in his hand on which my name was written. He approached me and asked me "Are you 'Mrs Piermaria Simionato? ".
"But how did he spot me in the midst of all these people?" I asked myself, while I answered “yes”. He handed me the envelope, saying it was for me and ... .that nice surprise !!!! It was the prize that I had requested to Maldives Traveller !!!! Instead in Gangehi, it had even arrived for me in Male !!!!
I put it carefully in my carry-on, imagining the joy that I felt when I opened the envelope on my arrival to the resort.
I just had time to put the envelope in my bag, when a member of TMA announced the departure of the seaplane bound for Kuramathi and Gangehi ... Oh yes, it was up to us !!!!
A tour among the wharves and immediately boarding. I was the first to board the seaplane, so I could choose the first seat on the left, where the seat are in line for one.
The pilots were two: a Maldivian and an European, blond and tanned (he could have been a German), both barefoot and experts, how could I guess.
One of them turned to us and provided us with information on the flight, then ... start!
The first stop would be Kuramathi after 15 minutes, the second stop Gangehi, after another 5 minutes.
I am ready with my camera: the day was beautiful, the view even better, my fifth Maldivian dream was beginning... Could I give up the pleasure of fixing the images of the beautiful islands in the blue and green sea from the sky?
And so... those twenty minutes to get to Gangehi are flown. Before I photographed the beautiful Male from above, then some other island with its ring of emerald sea, then the blue below us for about ten minutes. So even islands, more or less large and ... Kuramathi Island Resort in sight!.
Some passengers were already impatient, eager to get down to their resort that they had already recognized from above.
The landing from the seaplane was fast, just a few minutes, , then some other tourists went up on our seaplane, because they had to return to Malè, of course not before having accompanied us to Gangehi.
Five more minutes and the island, which I had long looked in photographs and various images on the web, has appeared on the horizon, recognizable.
It took a few minutes to disembark us from the seaplane and get on the speedy boat that would take us to Gangehi, beginning so our wonderful holiday to the Maldives of this year.
Flying with TMA
Getting to the island where you will spend a dream period, though short, is always nice, whether you do it with the speedy boat or with a seaplane. Each mode of travel has its own charm, with the speedy boat you feel the air on your face, sometimes even some spray of water, you can see flying fish, and sometimes dolphins along the way, but if you do it with the seaplane, in my opinion, it is even more beautiful, although sometimes the heat makes you suffer a little bit.
This year for the first time I tried a round-trip flight by seaplane from Male to the chosen resort, Gangehi, in the North Ari atoll.
First of all I was amazed by the speed and efficiency with which all the formalities of the flight were carried, from the weighing of luggage, to transportation by shuttle bus to the airport for seaplanes, from the very efficient way in which they were able to gather tourists according to the final destination, to the calls for quick boarding each one in their own seaplane.
I am a bit off topic, but why not also mention the efficiency of Maldives Traveller, that just in the waiting room of seaplanes was able to find me, to give me the prizes which I had required only a couple of days before?
I wanted to laugh a bit, when I got on the seaplane and I saw the pilots who were getting ready to start flying ... barefoot! I felt even more quiet, thinking about everyday life of that gesture, to the serenity with which they were preparing to take off to take us beyond the sea, that was certainly beautiful and quiet, but still immense and deep.
I thought back to a very dear friend of mine, who unfortunately is afraid of high water and doesn't want to come with me to the Maldives because, she says, the islets are "too much at sea level".
If she had seen the pilots get to commands barefoot, perhaps she would have precipitated out from the seaplane, presaging some kind of plane crash!
And then, the vision of the islets from above is priceless! They make you think about gems, light as a feather, which are floating on a pool, with a green halo around it.
The vision, that you can have through the window, does overshadow any tiredness, any discomfort, especially if you're GOING, in that paradise. You do not hear even engine’s noise, for someone a bit annoying, while you are trying to see, and maybe recognize, every islet present in your visual field. Then the emotion in recognizing "your" resort from the sky is very strong, and every time I cannot not to thank God for the beauty of his creation. If there is a heaven on Earth, for me is this, and you can enjoy it even better, thanks to TMA flights.
Gangehi: the REEF
When you are preparing to choose on which Maldivian island you want to spend your holiday, usually you express your own priorities in choosing.
There is who prefers a village where the absolute tranquility of nature prevails (small island, without animation, with few bungalows, no TV ....), who prefers to find good food in the resort, who wants comfort in the rooms (maybe with a pool side), who searches an "all inclusive" in which all comforts are present, who likes the presence of children, or a doctor ... .on the contrary first I look at the reef , if there are many corals and fishes and how they are.
There are Maldivian islands that have a beautiful lagoon with stunning colors, but they are without the reef nearby, and if you want to go snorkeling along the corals, where colorful fish are never lacking, you have to rely on the resort, which often provides free transportation over the surrounding reef, once or even twice a day, but of course you have to accept their schedules and their programs.
We prefer the freedom to go into the water when and how much we want, to stay more or less time in a section rather than in another, to follow with a camera a beautiful fish or a turtle, to stand in the water waiting for a moray with its head out of a hole in the rocks ....
The reef at Gangehi surrounds the island for three quarters but it is not nice at all points in the same way.
It must be said also that in Gangehi there is always a marine biologist available to tourists, and this is certainly an added value to the stay. While we were at the resort, there was Valerie, expert and nice, from Switzerland. The biologist once a day accompanies those who want to do snorkeling, starting at 4 pm, or from the end of the strip of sand or from the lagoon, near the pier, depending on the sea currents. During the guided snorkeling the biologist shows you from where you should enter the water, she teaches you the name of some fish species, makes you noticed the corals or fish more details ( because maybe at the beginning you can escape), calls you back if you go too close to the corals with your fins ...
We usually went into the water in the morning for a long ride on our own, and in the afternoon at the beginning we always followed biologist Valerie with her guided tour, and then we continued to remain still in the water, after having greeted her and all the comrades at the end of the round. There were never many people who took advantage of this service, at most three or four persons every day.
If you want to snorkel along the pass on the side of the strip of sand, it is always better to start from the end, rarely from the bar, because according to our experience the sea currents always push from the Ocean towards the inside of the atoll.
The currents are never strong, and it's really easy, while you are swimming with fins, to be gently pushed toward the bar. When you arrive to the bar, you can go back to the beach ,if you are tired, or swim towards the coral garden, to the side of the lagoon around the pier.
The corals along the pass are not very colorful, nor very dense, they are much more beautiful from the bar going to the lagoon, however you can find equally some nice fish. It was while I was swimming out to the pass, from the strip of sand, that I met a couple of oriental sweetlip with the juvenile colors, in spots instead of stripes, very beautiful.
Along the pass I could then see, in blue, a napoleon fish, and a couple of long white tip sharks, while near the reef we easily met moray eels, pipefish Schultz, once an octopus, in addition to the usual variety of reef fish, which here, however, are less numerous than on the corals in coral garden. Along the pass you can then do special meetings, such as eagle rays or manta rays, if you are lucky.
If instead you want to swim in the coral garden, you should exit from the space between the second and third wall anti-erosion, on the side of the first Beach Bungalows towards the jetty.
It was coming out from there that one day, with the biologist, we saw a huge moray eel coming out with its head by the grid that covered a wall ... how it did to get in, in that hole so tight, it was a mystery to me!
As soon as you exit from the opening, you can see the first brain corals, which promptly the biologist shows plunging to the bottom, and you see immediately also big fish, like the titan triggerfish or very big parrotfishes. From that moment onwards, it's easy also to meet some quiet turtle (there are five, settled on that reef), surgeon fish ... and every reef fish. Swimming towards a red buoy, moored off, you cannot mistake, because about at that point the reef forms a sort of curve to the north, which closes a bit the lagoon around the pier.
In that sort of submerged peninsula there is a splendid set of corals and fish, always, all days. At one point there is usually also a lobster, rather in depth, that the biologist has also tried to photograph for me. Turning around the tip of this submerged peninsula, you swim back to the south and west, and from there onwards the discoveries and special meetings follow each other without interruption.
If you want, you can swim above the reef also coming out from all the other openings that are between the walls anti-erosion, but in that case the path ahead towards blue and the edge of the reef is long enough, because there the reef is very broad and it is easier to do this if the tide is high.
You can very well to swim above the reef even at low tide, but in that case you must sometimes bypass the emerged corals, so as not to damage them.
The discovery of the most strange and wonderful corals, similar to very dense succulent plants or like labyrinths, and view the most beautiful fish is assured ... just look at the photos!
Welcome to LUCKY RICKY
Before going to Gangehi, for long months, I had dreamed to meet mantas, and this I've written many times, but I never would have expected to be able even to give the name to one of them!
I had read on a forum for lovers of the Maldives (MondoMaldive) that there was an organization called Manta Trust, which from 2011 was lavish in making known to many people as possible their project for research, preservation, protection and monitoring of manta rays in all the world, including Maldives.
To make known their activities to as many people as possible, Manta Trust also had asked the help of MondoMaldive, and precisely in this forum I had documented myself how to do in order to give my help.
I should have to take a picture, but not a picture any, I should have to photograph the belly of a manta!
"Easier said than done!" - I said to myself!
In the forum it was explained that one of the major elements of the research of Manta Trust are the so-called photo ID, or photo identification. The photo ID are simple photos of the "belly" of manta rays, which are taken during sightings, whether they occurred while snorkeling or while diving. Taken the photo, you had to send it to the Manta Trust (IDtheManta@mantatrust.org,), or upload it on a page of their site.
They explained that each manta has, between the two sets of gill slits, a drawing with spots that allows to identify every single subject, as happens with fingerprints for men. In practice, it's like if every manta had its "fingerprint."
Photos taken in water are then analyzed and compared with the archive of Manta Trust (and the archive of the Maldives currently includes over 3000 manta rays).
Through this system Manta Trust can know, for example, where and when a certain manta has been sighted the last time, if it has moved or if it stayed in the same area, even how old it is, approximately.
This helps, of course, to draw a kind of "map" of manta rays and to understand many things about their life cycle.
If the made photo corresponds to one of the photos in the archive, it means that the manta has already been reported, cataloged, and it has already been given a name, if it is not already present in Manta Trust archive, to the lucky photographer it is given the opportunity to name it! Obviously with the photo you should have sent also other information, on the place and date of the sighting, for example.
When in Kandu Pass of Gangehi, almost opposite to the bar, turning to my husband I saw a beautiful manta at a short distance from my face, my heart jumped in my chest! I was so excited that I have not thought to Manta Trust. I enjoyed that presence, I took more possible pictures, to fix those images and I wanted to dance in the water. My husband has been wiser: instead of taking pictures he shot a movie. During all afternoon I wanted to sing for joy and I could not wait to meet the marine biologist of the resort, Valerie, to tell her our sighting, because we had done two excursions to see manta rays with her, but without being able to live a similar experience.
In the evening, after seeing photos and video, Valerie reminded me the opportunity to send a picture to Manta Trust, and suddenly I came back to mind all the information that I had read, including the opportunity to give a name to our manta, if it had been a new sighting.
We began to dream ... if our manta was a female we would have liked to call it Giulia (as our first granddaughter), but if it was a male? Our first two grandsons are called Luca and Riccardo ....
Valerie (a darling girl!) took charge of everything: she made a copy of my husband’s movie, she sent it to the association Manta Trust, asked my email address and she promised to keep me informed on developments of this matter.
After not even 20 days Valerie wrote me an email in which she informed me that the manta we had photographed was a new sighting, that it was a young male, to whom it had been assigned the code MV-MA-3723, and within four weeks we could send two possible names to be assigned to the manta, in order of preference.
Giulia (our granddaughter), had expressed a desire to call the manta "Jumbo", so we sent to Valerie and Tam Sawers (of Manta Trust) these two names:
2- Lucky Ricky (it means lucky Ricky, in Italian, but also this is a name that reminded us in some way "Luke-Riccardo")
Here's the answer of Tam Sawers
“Great-Thank you for providing us with these manta names for MV-MA-3723. Unfortunately the name Jumbo is already assigned to another manta but I had some luck with the name "Lucky Ricky". :D The name has now been officially registered in our database and I am sending out a very big welcome to Lucky Ricky (MV-MA-3723). I hope we have many wonderful encounters with this handsome young manta . I have attached the manta certificate here for you).
With regards about following Lucky Ricky's progress, unfortunately at present there is no system in place for him to monitor his patterns. However we are very excited to be working on a brand new piece of automated software that is intended to provide in-depth feedback to every individual who uploads a sighting encounter to the mainframe database via the Manta Trust website and to provide researchers with the opportunity to monitor manta migratory behaviour and movement patterns. Who is interested in learning more, I would encourage him to take a read about it at the following web address http://www.mantatrust.org/make-a-difference/id-the-manta/“.
So, welcome to Lucky Ricky, and ... good bye!!!!
Promoted with restriction
Our relationship with this airline has started very well, since before our departure.
The night before leaving in fact I was surprised to find in my mail an email sent to me by Emirates, which reminded me of the booking details and that I could do check in on line, saving time at the airport.
I had never received such reminders with the other airlines used so far.
Flight almost on time (we started from Venice at 16.10 with 20 minutes delay) and very quiet, made in two sections (Venice - Dubai and Dubai - Male) with the same type of plane, a 777-300ER.
The seats were those required at the time of booking, next to the window, quite comfortable for your legs. Unfortunately we were sitting on rows of three seats, and my husband and I were blocked by a third passenger who never got up, and we didn’t want to disturb him.
Good food (in the standard, in line with that received with Qatar or Turkish Airlines), but better in the first section, from Venice to Dubai; in the second part, even after choosing a dish made with chicken rather than another, a hostess came to apologize, saying that it was finished!
Very good service on board and rather welcome the unexpected offer of a great ice cream!
Screens with entertainment proposals were very rich and well working, but even in this regard I have not found anything more than other airlines so far known ... certainly nothing to do with the services that are in charter flights, there is no doubt about it, but maybe I expected a little more, given the reputation of Emirates
Huge and spectacular the Terminal 3, during the transit in Dubai. A colorful crowd of people, of all races, nationalities and ages, was moving along long hallways, spectacular and sparkly, in a succession of shops and attractions. We even crossed an indoor garden, with trees and a little swimming pool with a small waterfall, and we saw in a showcase a huge geode of amethyst that left me stunned for its size.
As I had been anticipated by friendly people, we had no trouble finding the directions to get to our departure gate for Male, despite the enormous size of the terminal.
The return trip was heavy enough for us, due to waiting time, as we had imagined.
We started from Male at about 11 pm, after waiting for more than five hours. Certainly this was not a fault of Emirates, we knew we'd arrived at the airport in the afternoon, as the seaplanes cannot fly with the darkness, but it was inevitable that fatigue began to be felt.
All right in the first stage of the journey, from Male to Dubai: we were only we two, in the three seats of our row, so we also widened ourselves and we rested a bit.
Once in Dubai, the terminal seemed to me even bigger and more spectacular than the first time. I felt like a delighted child, who was walking with the nose up, looking left and right. There were restaurants and shops to no end and even a high wall that looked like a huge waterfall. Following the signs to get to the departure gate we even got on a fast train, and moving is not lasted a few seconds, as I had thought when I had got on! The most pleasant thing was then to find in a waiting room some chairs, similar to beds, with a supporting-legs that allowed us to feel almost relaxed, with your legs raised (never seen similar chairs in other airports!) ... shame that at the beginning they were all occupied.
When we could finally fill a couple of them, the waiting time has become less heavy, but always very long (7 hours and 40 minutes!).
It was hard to sleep some with people who moved, children who were complaining (poor babies) and announcements of flights.
In the second stage of flight I was also able to get some sleep, but not my husband, who arrived home very tired.
Great the Emirates Airlane service (once again we were offered ice cream!), but the plane was really full and you could not move much.
If it weren't for the waiting time so long, I approved this airline with honor... to evaluate in future choices!!
shopping, what a passion!
I think there are few women who doesn't like to go shopping, and I speak in general, without reference to specific places or situations.
I am no exception: I ALWAYS like to go shopping, but for me it is almost a must when I'm traveling abroad ... and I must add that in this passion I have infected a little also my husband, generally reluctant, when we are at home, to spend money on unnecessary items.
I already started with this "passion" several years ago, when, from every place where I spent a vacation, I took home at least a shirt with the name of the place well printed out front.
I never did overspending, but I wanted every time to put at least a tangible "memory" into my suitcase to return home.
The first time I went to Maldives, I remember having bought several t-shirts for my grandchildren during the excursion to the fishing village, of various sizes for different ages, and it was fun to choose colors and pictures of fish with them in my mind. Then I could expand the choice, my grandchildren began to attend school, and then I could buy pencil cases, stickers, pencils with a minnow on the tip, copybooks with images of fishes, magnets, calendars ...
In the resorts there is always a wide choice of items. In Gangehi this year we found a really great assortment of objects, even sunglasses, handbags made with pearls, earrings for all tastes, long blouses and sundresses, soft toys and even clothes for young girls, sarongs and tablecloths of different sizes ….. There were even two tailors always working to adapt the clothes of not perfect size for you, or sewing what you wanted. Actually we didn’t find articles of clothing for little boys (that we searched), but you can‘t have everything.
In the fishermen’s villages then you can find even more articles and better prices, and for those who forget something, then there is always the airport duty free, colorful and well stocked ... it is impossible to resist an such eye catcher!
I would almost say that there is TOO MUCH choice, between hats, costumes, sarongs, wooden fishes of various shapes, sizes and colors, as well as for different uses, shells, necklaces and earrings, posters and postcards ... if a person does not have the clear ideas, really can't decide what to buy! ... And these objects are only "little things", affordable to all, because next to these simple articles there are other exhibitors with proposals that have absolutely exaggerated prices, at least for my budget.
You can find bottles of wine or liquor that cost thousands of euro, bags, belts, designer wallets, beautiful jewelry... and you can’t not stop to admire and be dazzled by the beauty of such articles, although I wonder every time: “How many people actually stop to buy them?”
At the airport this year I searched a book about plants present in the Maldives. I had kept in my purse for much time the title of this book, in English, expectant to find it at the airport in Male. It was "Trees and flowers of a tropical paradise," it had been suggested to me by Paola M.L., but I did not find it, what a pity!
In the end, as usual, we bought something only for our grandchildren, we have been satisfied (so to speak!) of what we have had and lived during the beautiful days spent at Gangehi.
excursion: MANTA CHECK
When I planned my Maldivian holiday, this year I tried to prepare and inform myself very well about mantas and about areas that they could frequent more, for obvious reasons of food, throughout the year (and I have sincerely to thank my friends for help they have given me in this research).
I did this because it was my dream, not only to see, but also to swim with these huge wonderful fishes.
Then I came to know that during the dry monsoon, which lasts until about the end of April, you can meet mantas especially next to Pass that lie in the west of the atolls ... .and this is the cause of my choice of Gangehi Island Resort, which is located just next to a pass in the west of North Ari Atoll.
The day of my arrival to the resort I went to look for the list of excursions. The excursion to the sighting of mantas was already present and it was scheduled for the following Monday, after three days.
We immediately registered. My husband and I were the second pair (the minimum number of participants was 6, the maximum number was 12).
After two days the seats were already all sold out.
On monday morning, at 10:00, we started with the speedy boat. With us there were other 8 adults, three kids, the marine biologist Valerie who accompanied us and three seamen. While browsing, Valerie gave us informations about the size of manta rays and their nutrition, explained to us how we should behave in the water, where we shouldn't have put ourselves, to make sure that mantas were not scared because of our presence.
The day seemed perfect, warm and quiet, with the calm sea. In 15-20 minutes by boat, we reached the place indicated by the biologist and we started to search the sea all around ... and shortly after one of us has seen a dark silhouette near the surface! To me it seemed to see a large black shape that was on the verge of the surface of the water and we started all excited shouting "there ... there ... there."
We quickly wore mask, snorkel and fins, and we fell into the water, in small groups of 2-3 people, trying not to make too much confusion. When I fell into the water, I saw immediately beside me a large manta which was passing, with with wide open "wings"... it was about two meters wide. Manta turned on her stomach and then it flew into the blue on my right. Shortly after a second manta passed under me, fast and deep enough ... luckily this I could take at least one photo !!!
Someone in the group said they saw three mantas, other four mantas... I only two, but what a thrill!
As manta rays moved away quickly from us, we were back on speedy-boat to look for another sighting point on the way back ... and instead we crossed a large group of dolphins, which were doing laps and stunts in the water. They were little ones, but really a lot, they seemed united in small families, groups of 2, 3 or 4.
Gangehi was now in sight, down the passageway that connects to the ocean, and the return time was near. We are therefore stayed to enjoy the dolphin show for 10-15 minutes, then quickly we went back to the resort.
Beautiful excursion but, not completely satisfied ... after three days, on Thursday, my husband and I wanted to try our luck and we participated again to the same trip.
This time with the speedy-boat we went to another area of the sea different than the first time, to the north.
We have reached a point where another small boat had already stopped. In the water there were already four people who swam and you could see just off the now familiar shapes of manta rays.
Also this time we fell quickly into the water, but I had time only to see one manta that slipped very quickly beneath me toward the deep blue of the sea.
We were 14 people, definitely too many, and most likely the mantas were frightened.
We climbed aboard and then we have long tried to see some of them....
At first our speedy-boat went to the south, then to west, entered the open ocean through the pass beside Gangehi, still to south, turned next to the Nika resort, then to "home" ... nothing!
For consolation the biologist Valerie allowed us to do 15 minutes of snorkeling in a reef very nice not far from Gangehi ....
Probably for this year the season of mantas is over around here... be content!
P.S. Four days after this excursion, while we were doing snorkeling in Kandu Pass in front of the bar, my husband and I have met, very close, a manta only to ourselves, wonderful, which quietly was continuing on its way to the ocean! My husband was able to give her a short film. In the evening, after having told the biologist Valerie, she asked us a copy of the movie, to check on the internet if the manta we sighted had already been reported previously ... otherwise we could give it a name !!! ... fingers crossed !!!!
Excursion to Madoogali’s reef
Excursion to Madoogali’s reef
This year I choose Gangehi for my Maldivian stay, but initially I was very torn between this resort and Madoogali.
For this reason, when I saw that between snorkeling excursions the biologist Valerie proposed also the reef of Madoogali, even combining it with another, that of Vihamaafaru, I had no doubts.
Among other things, I had not even realized that after all Madoogali was relatively close to Gangehi.
After some days, at 9.30, we left Gangehi together other ten people, and with a speedy boat we went to Madoogali.
I do not know exactly the time it took to get there, it seemed to me a little, looking at the beautiful colors of sea water along the way ... and then I could already see the silhouette of Madoogali in the distance, so I was already looking for what I could see and admire along the coasts of that island.
The first thing I noticed was the beach surrounding the island ... it looked like a white ring, beautiful, it seemed that there were not places in which sand wasn’t.
I remembered then that from March the resort had been closed, so I was surprised to see around the island still sunbeds scattered here and there, as if the guests might have momentarily forgotten them...
With the boat we stopped at a point where there was no current and we went down into the water accompanied by biologist Valerie, who was trying to stay close to a Chinese couple who didn’t seem very practical in snorkeling.
We covered perhaps a quarter turn of the island ... .beautiful reef, but we have not been particularly affected. Beautiful corals, a good presence of fish ... but not more than Gangehi, in my opinion. Maybe I expected more, but I said to myself that we could explore only a small part of the reef of the island ...
Edged up on speedy-boat, we left for Vihamaafaru, which is an island that is close enough to Madoogali and frequented only for picnics or hikes. In the island there aren’t residences for tourists, so the reef is quite healthy, alive, colorful, not ruined by an excessive presence of people. This reef is very close to the surface, so you could appreciate better the beauty and variety of corals, you had only to be very careful to swim always on the surface of the water to avoid the risk of touching the corals..
Until this moment I have seen there the corals most beautiful of my life!
They were big, huge or small, colorful, of an infinite number of forms ... I saw even a lobster hidden under a coral! A wonder of nature!
Valerie has helped the Chinese girl in snorkeling , putting a lifesaver ring under the belly, and pulling her, so arranged , with a rope!
I never was tired of swimming above that coral paradise!
I was really happy to have participated to this excursion. It was really a good choice.
Gangehi - Veli Restaurant
The " Veli Restaurant " is the resort's main restaurant, where everyone goes to eat, with buffet service for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This restaurant consists of two rooms, Bodu Veli Room with 80 seats, and Kuda Veli Room with 30 seats, and it offers a Mediterranean and international cuisine.
In the resort, when you make a reservation, you can choose from all-inclusive, full board or half board, and you notice this when you go to eat.
Matthew, an italian chef (native of Biella) who works in Gangehi now from two years, told me in fact that in that period (May) at least half of the guests had chosen half-board, so the lunch room was much more quiet and empty than in the evening, when almost all the guests were present. Matthew is definitely very sociable and friendly, as well as very professionally prepared. When you went to choose between a well-stocked assortment of dishes, after asking from where you came, he explained really everything: what was in each bowl, pot or dish that you had in front, the ingredients, what kind of fish or meat it was .... and they were a lot !!!
We start from the beginning : breakfast is served from 8 am to 10:30 am.
After an oven for toasting bread, you can find sliced bread, cakes of various kinds, croissants empty, or stuffed with chocolate or jam, donuts, a basket with different kinds of jam, several large bowls with breakfast cereals, soy milk, whole milk and hot coffee, a box with twelve different kinds of tea bags, hot water, two other thermal coffee carafes, four pitchers with cold drinks (usually natural water, mango or orange juice, pineapple juice and watermelon juice), already sliced fresh fruit (pineapple, papaya, passion fruit).
Behind this table, separated, a boy is willing to make an omelet with ingredients of your choice.
On another table there are various type salty food: stuffed croissants with ham and cheese, quiche already cut into slices, grilled tomatoes, potatoes with bacon, boiled eggs, sliced ham and cheese, various vegetables.
The waiters turn near the tables and they bring you coffee, tea ... or whatever you prefer.
During breakfast there isn’t Matthew (who, among other things, said that in June he will leave Gangehi), while he is always present at lunch and at dinner, every day of the week except Friday, the day dedicated to the Maldivian cuisine.
During lunch and dinner you will find the great buffet counter with many varieties of vegetables, raw or cooked. The cooked vegetables are prepared each day differently, tasty, tempting, with unusual and appetizing combinations of ingredients . You can always find lamb, beef and chicken, grilled or with more or less spicy sauces. The meat is always tender and tasty.
Rice, cold pasta salad and small bowls with sauces of various kind are among the other containers of meat.
Then the fish is outstanding. I do not know how Matthew does (and of course the chefs who work with him) to find so many ways to prepare the fish, which is presented in single portions, wrapped in rolls, or cut into pieces, covered with chopped vegetables, or caramelized, or cut into thin strips ... with an endless imagination, not to mention the goodness of such preparations !!! The fish are different: jackfish snappers, groupers, ... all fresh, they are brought daily from fisherman's island opposite to Gangehi. Towards the end of this long buffet table, behind the dishes, there is a large hot-plate and a cook broils chicken fillets, beef or fish ... and finally, in a thermal container, you find a huge roasted fish (daily different), covered with herbs and chopped vegetables, which the chef cuts for you if you like it.
A few steps away from this corner, on a separate table, a boy is involved in the preparation of pasta.
I have never got pasta (because there were TOO MANY good foods to choose from !!!!), but my husband has never failed to enjoy the pasta. Never overcooked, it was almost always of two different types and seasoned with imagination and taste, both with fish and vegetables or with meat.
Finally, near to the north entrance of the restaurant, on a large table there are fruit, cakes and ice cream.
The fruit are always papaya, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, dwarf bananas and watermelon, rarely fruit salad.
When I was there, the watermelon was not very sweet, but the mango, papaya and pineapple were delicious in my opinion.
The ice cream was always two or three kinds, but I never ate it. There were always two types of cakes and pastries portioned, caramelized peanuts and bowls of mousse which were absolutely delicious, irresistible to the eyes and the palate.
For the sweet tooth and chocolate lovers a bowl of melted chocolate was available to garnish or add flavor to your cake, if you wished.
Even during lunch and dinner of course the waiters turn near the tables to bring you drinks and pick up the empty plates.
I was very glad about what I found in the restaurant in Gangehi (excellent from all points of view), and happy by choosing the full board.
THARI RESTAURANT, on the water of the lagoon
This is the second restaurant of the resort, located at the end of the pier on the lagoon and it is open from 6.30 pm as Lounge Bar, to sip an aperitif watching the sunset, and then as a la carte restaurant, on reservation, until late .
It proposes a different drink for each evening: the classic, the vegetarian, the "mise en bouche" and the Italian. And if guests want to book also dinner, those who make use of the full board or the all-inclusive can get a discount of 30% on dinner. Lobster or special fish are offered also on request
However, given the variety and the quality of the buffet offered by the restaurant Veli, we never had the desire to try a dinner in this restaurant.
The Kandu Bar is the main bar of the island, open all day from 8 am till late (another bar is at the Thari restaurant, which opens only from 6.30 pm for cocktails).
Kandu Bar offers, such as the reception, a free Wi-Fi connection (this year is also available from all rooms with a password that you receive from the reception, even if they apprize you that in the rooms it is slower than in the two places mentioned above ).
At the bar, in addition to the usual drinks of all kinds, alcoholic and not, hot or cold, you will also find various salads or snacks, toast or fruit salad ... and this can certainly be useful for those who want to choose a half board accommodation in the island, rather than a full board or an all-inclusive. To us it was useful on the day of departure, when we didn't have wanted to stop for a full lunch at the Restaurant Veli, which would have cost us 30 euro each.
Bar prices are not very affordable, according to me... although it is certainly subjective.
To take some examples, a glass of juice costs 3 euros, a toast with ham and cheese 8 euros, most cocktails 8 euros and a half ... to which of course you add taxes (10% plus 12%).
Inside the bar area is also a screen for viewing video (mostly on marine life) proposed by the biologist, and an area where you can take vision of the activities and excursions offered for the same day or the next days and give your accession to the excursions that interest you.
Very attractive cards, with explanations in English and sometimes in Chinese, invite you to choose between fishing (sea fishing, evening or in the morning), snorkelling trips to nearby islands (Bathala, Madoogali and Vihamaafaru), by speedy boat or by dhoni, or snorkelling with manta rays, or at night, or private, or excursions to the island of fishermen.
Even the excursions are offered with prices not exactly cheap. Some examples: 35 € plus tax for the excursion to fishing evening, 50 euros plus taxes for snorkeling with manta rays, the same for the output to see the dolphins and snorkeling in the various islands ... however I have to say that in excursions to which I have participated was always present even the marine biologist, who, during the trip by speedboat ,explained precisely what we could see and what we should do, and who accompanied us even in water.
WAITING for EMIRATES
Dreaming the Maldives (how do you do, after you have visited them only once, not to fall in love immediately and not to dream every day when you can come back?) and having become a little (nay, very, very much) headstrong in wanting to see the manta rays, behold, I begin to study WHERE I might stay the next time to get more chance to fulfil my dream and, in parallel, I start to investigate prices and schedules of the airlines that fly from Venice to Malè. This happened at the end of January (this year, of course).
I thought that I would NEVER have chosen Emirates, because, unfortunately, this Airline has good times on the outbound travel to Male, with a stopover in Dubai for 2 hours and 55 minutes, but TOO waiting time at the same airport on the return journey (seven hours and 40 minutes !!!!!). And unfortunately this is the time which is always the same every day of the week and which I had also noticed last year ... .I hope it will change, at least in the future ... no one complains, besides me?
I checked other airlines, but they did not give much other choice ......they have or disproportionately higher prices than Emirates (which at that time brought really good offers), or in any case higher prices and stopovers only slightly more advantageous as duration, when even not worst.
Pulled a deep sigh of resignation (in having to spend so much time in Dubai, after you are already tired of the trip), I booked on Emirates.
The trip will begin on April 30.
Thank goodness Paola made her beautiful review on this airline! With her experience, I refrained from selecting a "special meal"! ... Already I did not care much, let alone think about spending a lot of time with the tray in front because I was served among the first ... it is better to avoid it!
However, that, to which I really have not wanted to give up, was the window seat, during both directions, when we get at around seven thirty in the morning, and when we depart at 23 in the night and maybe we will not see anything because it is dark ... but you never know, maybe I can see some illuminated island .... I will tell you how this my first experience "Emirates" will be , in May, to return
Meanwhile, I hope I don’t encounter difficulties in transit in Dubai, which I don’t know and that I guess is huge ... maybe Paola can reassure me or explain to me how to do to not lose us ... perhaps, from this point of view , it would have been almost better that the duration of stop was on the contrary, the longer in the first part of travel, ... ..but no, we would have arrived later to Male and we would have lost precious minutes to live in this paradise !!!
Gangehi Island Resort (the fourth part)
PLANTS and other
In the island the trees are not dense and, apart from the palms, they do not appear to be very old (they don't have a wide foliage or a huge trunk like the very big banyan tree that I had seen in Biyadhoo, for instance).
The biologist Valerie once a week is available to take you on a naturalistic tour to discover the plants of the island.
Valerie made us to know the "spider lily" or "poison lily" and its poisonous characteristics, the yellow hibiscus and the red one, other typical Maldivian plants that well tolerate the salty environment as the "seashore screw pine" and the "tree heliotrope ", and a banyan tree ... I do not know how old was that plant , to eye the trunk could have had a diameter of about one meter ... it seemed small to me, thinking back with a bit of nostalgia to the huge banyan tree in Biyadhoo!
During the same tour then she accompanied us to see an inside corner of the island, where many leaves are amassed, all which are daily raked and collected from the wooden footpaths or on the sand in every corner of the resort. From that huge pile of leaves they would have made the fertile soil, useful for growing of many young seedlings, well arranged in vases of various sizes in an area near there.
In the same area a kind of canopy made of a network held several orchid plants of various colors and sizes, planted and grown in clay pots, wooden, in coconuts, pieces of wood or even pieces of concrete. The orchid, she explained, does not require much water to live, because its aerial roots, thin and dry, absorb water from atmospheric moisture.
In Gangehi orchids are everywhere: in front of the SPA, at the library, in the bathrooms next to the diving, at the reception, many of them are hung along the road that takes you to the bar and boutique ... a marvel of colors and scents.
The last point I want to make about this resort is that I noticed in all the staff a great attention to the respect and protection of the environment, starting from recommendations on moderate use of water and electricity to the invitation to bring back used batteries and any other material, difficult to dispose of, the recommendations, sometimes unfortunately not heard from some tourists, not to touch or step on the corals, not to harass turtles and fish, and not to buy souvenirs made from coral or fish teeth.
The biologist greatly strives with her recommendations on this subject every day, when she makes her guided snorkeling, and always calls, when she can, those who goes too close to the coral with feet or fins.
There is not much entertainment in the island: it is very soft for both adults and children.
Everyone is very friendly and willing to help you in every way, but no one gets to ask you to participate in this or that activity.
In the morning at 10.30 Stefania is available close to the strip of sand to propose you to do some 'muscle awakening’ , then at 12:00 a little water aerobics next to Kandu Bar.
At 16.00 instead the marine biologist takes you to snorkel from the beach; the meeting point is always at the Kandu Bar.
At 17.00 , for those who want, there is the beach volleyball in the little volleyball field in the middle of the island, and at 17.30 a little of yoga, meeting point at the reception.
In the evening, very often, there is something at about 21:30.
On Saturdays, for example, the theme is dedicated to the sea, it is the '' Ocean Day "and the biologist shows a sea video very nice, which is preceded by a brief commentary (accompanied by images) on the need to have certain behaviors which are respectful of the marine environment in all its aspects.
In another evening there is a fashion show with clothes sold by the boutique ... and extraction of two small prizes among the participants ....... unfortunately I seem to have noticed that participation in each of the proposed activities is rather poor and it gives little satisfaction to the animators!
Gangehi Island Resort (the third part)
SPIT of SAND
Since about the bar and restaurant I will speak in the section reserved for them, now I want to tell you about the beautiful strip of sand that characterizes this island.
It 'wonderful, long, white, ... it is in the west area of the island between the bar and the Overwater Villas and it extends towards the sea between a huge green and blue lagoon on the right and the deep blue sea on the left. When it emerged, at the height of low tide, you get the impression that it is at least a kilometre long.
Walking along this strip of sand often you can see black-tip sharks, small gray or mustard-coloured breeds and other fish that swim in the sea just a few steps away from you, or meeting groups of seabirds that stop on the sand, then stand up to your passage and soon after, they lean a little further away or behind you.
At the beginning of the strip of sand is a large rocking, next to the trees and there is also a little shed, which has canoes available for guests who would like to do a tour around the island in a different way. Nearby you can find then a shower, various sun umbrellas with loungers and a hammock, this firmly planted in the sea just a few steps from the shore and much used, mainly to take souvenir photos.
This beautiful spit of sand is used not only for relaxing or romantic walks (while we were guests in Gangehi we saw two brides, who made a photo shoot there),but also to start snorkeling in Kandu Pass. In fact, since in the passage of blue sea that joins Gangehi, appropriately called Kandu Pass, the sea current almost always pushes the waves to the island to the east, the marine biologist Valerie has taught us that it is better to enter into the water to the reef left, from the end (or the center) of the stretch of sand, then gently kicking, pushed by the current, to the east and finish in front of the bar, where you can go back to shore without difficulty.
Defects? ... well, unfortunately the strip of sand isn’t there throughout the day, emerging only during low tide, at least during the period in which I was in Gangehi. At high tide, in some points, it is submerged at least by 70-80 centimeters of water. We could walk on dry sand only in the morning, after breakfast, for a couple of hours, then the water began to rise. At most of the high tide even some sun beds had their little legs of wood in water .... it was a pity!!!
OTHER NATURALISTIC INFORMATIONS
In my opinion the reef of Gangehi is very beautiful.
It is true that the corals along the Kandu Pass are ruined and somewhat white, but in the lagoon to the south and east are really beautiful, especially offshore. That area is in fact also called "coral garden".
We did not find, as in Biyadhoo, many "clouds" of fish, but none can certainly say that the fish is missing !!!
I saw fish of all kinds, including some that I had never seen, and turtles every day (in one day once we have counted even four of them!) ... .little sharks over a meter long, which were above the reef or in the blue sea, whitetip and blacktip, napoleon fish, ball, box, emperor angel, angel yellow face, surgeon, butterfly, huge parrot (they were really XXL size, never seen so big !!), morays very big (and a small and thin brown clear that lined the bar, among sharks) .. and the list goes on for much longer ... it's better that you look at the photos, which I have already put (are so many!).
We even met a MANTA, in Kandu Pass, almost in front of the bar, doing snorkeling one morning.
Other animals in the island? I saw (but never heard the verse) only one timid white-breasted waterhen, many spiny lizard while they were climbing trees or were running on the sand, crabs ( by the sea on the rocks and also on earth ... one, white with a black spot, has his burrow under a broad-leafed plant next to the reception!), a few little geckos, several large ants (also at sea, sometimes on the sun beds), the usual heron, some small parakeets (or similar) in a cage next to the Garden Villa.
I saw a couple of times also a beautiful flying fox (giant fruit bat) flying at sunset with its wide open wings among the trees in the bar area.
I did not see or hear mosquitoes ... very well!
Oh, I forgot: there was also a shy white and red cat, almost always hidden under the wooden walkways.
There are, about a dozen meters from the shore to the south, the anti-erosion stone walls. They are not beautiful, of course, but they are certainly useful to protect the beach by the continuing erosion of the waves. They are made from pieces of rock covered with a metallic net and at different points there are some small corals that are now colonizing. Fish come in and out quietly from the net (you will see it also in the photoes) and one day (leaving a passage between two walls with the biologist for snorkeling) we even saw a big moray eel coming out with its head from the net . It was a bit impressive having to swim over its head, a little more than half a meter away, but there were no problems for anyone. ... when we returned it was gone, and we all wondered how it did to enter and leave an opening so narrow ...
Gangehi Island Resort (second part)
In Gangehi there are different types of accommodation. I will start from the most economic, the Club Room, very interesting especially for those who, like me, does not give importance to their room, believing that in the room you go almost exclusively to sleep.
There are six rooms (from number 60 to 65) smaller than the Beach Bungalows. Except the 64 and 65, which are larger, they are about 35 square metres, but have everything you need (you can also see from the photos that I put): double bed, wardrobe with two doors, a shelf and a safe deposit box, a large mirror, a chest of drawers with 3 drawers, two armchairs, a small table with two drawers (wide but shallow) , a very well stocked mini-bar, two small tables with lamp next to the bed.
The bathroom has a large shower, a toilet, a ceramic sink resting on a long wooden counter, a large mirror, another mirror (small, round, with lens) on a retractable arm, three small shelves, a towel rail (with towels and bathrobes) and the hair dryer.
Cleaning is carried out twice a day and daily are also changed all the towels, for bath and those for the sea . I had the room number 63. Beach umbrellas and sun beds for these rooms are to twenty meters, on the south beach, next to those reserved for Beach Bungalows. My beach umbrella was even in the front row, facing the sea !!!! Each umbrella has next two wooden beds, quite dated, with over a soft mattress.
Within the island, heading west after the Ginger SPA, there are three Beach Garden or Garden Villas, identical to the Beach Bungalows, but placed inside, about twenty meters from the narrow sandbank, where are their umbrellas with loungers.
Then there are the Beach Bungalows or Beach Villas. They are twenty bungalows of about 64 square meters (including the terrace facing the sea), placed along the southeast side of the island, roughly from the wharf up to the bar, except two (numbers 20 and 21) which are on the west side, a little hidden by vegetation, near the narrow sandbar. Whereas the only beach of the island (apart from the strip of sand, which deserves a separate discussion) lies to the south, for those who want to have the sand in front of their accomodation, these bungalows are the ideal solution ... except for numbers 17, 18 and 19, next to Kandu Bar, which have in front of only a few rocks and a ladder to descend to the sea. Their beach umbrellas with loungers are located in south beach, next to the other umbrellas of Club Rooms.
There is also a Family Villa, very spacious (about 76 square meters), with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, also suitable for large families, on the east side, just at the right of the pier, enough near to the reception.
Finally there are the Overwater Villas.
The Overwater are of two types: the Overwater Villas (which are 8, about 76 square metres, painted white, on the west of the island, and they are joined two by two by a single pier) and the Deluxe Overwater Villas, much larger (about 102 square meters). These are eight , but six of them have a terrace facing the sunset, while two have it facing the sunrise. Among the Deluxe Overwater Villas, four are on the same pier that leads to Thari Restaurant, the other four are in line with the Overwater Villas.
I think these are the Deluxe Overwater which will get a restoration during the month of June, when Gangehi will close for about a month.
All types of rooms are equipped with air conditioning, thanks to a heat exchanger also acts as a water heater. Just leave it on for a minimum of two hours a day to have hot water. This small and ingenious invention allows the resort to save about 1200 kW a day, and I do not think it is little !!!
Oh, I forgot ... along the wooden footpaths occasionally there are some bowls in concrete, which serve as any garbage holder, and identical bowls are next to each Villa, filled with water, to rinse off your feet from the sand before entering the room.
When you go to the bar or to the restaurant, you can not help but dwell to look at the well-stocked boutique, located just to the right, next to the passage leading to the restaurant.
Already through the showcase you can see carts full of hangers with a remarkable assortment of shirts, dresses, sundresses, shorts, sarong... in addition to many local crafts items for children and adults who remember the fish of Maldives in various ways.
Even outside, under a porch, there are mannequins wearing colorful clothes that change daily and, in front of the entrance, on either side, there are two tailors who work constantly to sew or change pants, shirts or other on request.
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