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Ihavandhippolhu Atoll, Maldives

The northern atolls are the least developed regions of the Maldives and are almost unknown to foreigners.  The traditional Maldivian life is virtually untouched.  The Ihavandhippolhu atoll is generally known as Haa Alifu atoll, possibly because of it’s unpronounceable name.  The island of Uligamu, where we checked in, is right at the top of Haa Alifu.

The village mosque

The village mosque

Sunday 6th March was Mother’s day in the UK and I was feeling sad because I couldn’t spend it with our sons so we went for a walk around the island instead.  Having walked around the village several times now we knew our way around.  This is their lovely mosque on the waterfront that has been recently built.  We walked past and through the village to the jungle edge and kept going across the middle of the island to the beach on the other side.  It’s only a 20 minute walk. There was quite a small beach but we headed south and started walking around the island.

 

The beach on the other side of the island

The beach on the other side of the island

The well

The well

 

 

The beach became rocky and difficult to pass so we walked back into the jungle.  Bill discovered this well by the path.  Most of the islands have a fresh water table running under them and this well had been dug to access the water.  Not sure I would drink from it.

 

 

The only vehicle on the island

The only vehicle on the island

 

There aren’t any vehicles on the island but we discovered this old truck a bit worse for wear.  Needs a new set of tyres to start with.

 

 

This crazy hermit crab is using an old aerosol top as a shell.

 

Hermit crab

Hermit crab

Only our foot prints

Only our foot prints

Eventually we got back onto the beach.  The sand was so soft under our feet; our footprints were the only ones on the beach.

 

Amazing driftwood.

Amazing driftwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The driftwood was amazing. Thinking of you Claire Fox, you would love this beach.

 

Watching waves

Watching waves

 

 

 

The waves were mesmerising as they crashed over a hard edge of coral all along the beach. Not so good for swimming but wonderful to watch.

Eventually we came to the southern tip which formed a sand bar.  Such beauty.

 

The sand bar on the southern tip of the island of Uligamu

The sandbar on the southern tip of the island of Uligamu

 

The beach on the eastern side of the sandbar

The beach on the eastern side of the sandbar

 

The view on the western side looking across to the yachts

The view on the western side looking across to the yachts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill's tree

Bill’s tree

 

 

The western side of the island was calmer being away from the swells coming in from the Indian ocean.  Bill managed to find a tree to sit under…….

 

 

 

"I'm in the Maldives"

“I’m in the Maldives”

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….. while I played in the beautiful warm azure sea.

 

 

 

A screenshot of our route on the Navionics APP

A screenshot of our route on the Navionics APP

Monday 7th I did some writing and we stayed on the boats waiting for the grocery delivery from an island further south.  I had ordered some bread and wasn’t sure what would turn up but some very nice fresh brown bread arrived in the afternoon.  Happy Birthday to my sister Amanda today.

Tuesday 8th was the day we decided to leave Uligamu.  After having been there for 5 days it was time to move on.

We didn’t go far just 5 miles south to the island of Govvaafushi.

Our position was

07 00.66N

072 55.11E

The yellow line is our route

The yellow line is our route

 

We gradually crept in until it was shallow enough to anchor.  It was still inside the Ihavandhippolhu atoll.

The yellow line is our track.

 

 

 

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This was our view

Camomile anchored off the island

Camomile anchored off the island

 

 

The island belongs to the Waldorf Astoria whose resort, which is the most northerly resort in the Maldives, is on the next island.  We went ashore and discovered the most romantic hideaway hidden in the sand dunes.  I took a video but failed to take any pictures – how silly of me! Any way there was a little hut with a table and 2 chairs on the patio with an outside shower room behind it.  Next to it was a circular outside bed surrounded with mosquito netting. As it’s US$1300 a night on the main island goodness knows how much the ‘Castaway island’ experience would cost but it looked beautiful. I’ll post the video on facebook.

The Waldorf sunloungers

The Waldorf sunloungers

The stunning beach

The stunning beach

 

 

The island was very small and you could walk around it in about half an hour but what an amazing half hour. The beach was stunning.

 

Who is this walking around the island?

Who is this walking around the island?

 

Billam

Billam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The water was like a warm bath

The water was like a warm bath

 

We spent the morning just relaxing and swimming in the warm waters before going back to the boat.

In the afternoon a resort boat turned up with 2 island workers followed by another boat 10 minutes later with 2 resort guests.  After serving them with cold drinks on the beach they were left on the island to enjoy lunch and a swim .  They only stayed a couple of hours, I wonder how much it cost them.

 

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

 

 

After the guests were taken off the island the resort staff returned and cleared everything away, mattress, mosquito netting, picnic, towels, even the shower gel. The spoil sports even turned the water off because I was going to have a shower.  We had our sundowners on the beach and watched the sun go down.

 

First impressions of Uligamu

One of the first islands

One of the first islands

Our last 24 hours at sea was motoring the wind died completely and we took the sails down.  It wasn’t so bad because the water maker was on so we could have showers and clean the boat when we arrived.  It was exciting seeing the first islands during the day although they are made of sand with jungle covering them and aren’t very high.  Some of them have villages on them but a lot of them are uninhabited.

Amazing sunset

Amazing sunset

 

 

 

 

The last part of the journey saw an amazing sunset. Not so good because we wanted to be anchored before it got dark.  We came into the anchorage as the sun went down.  There’s a ‘shelf’ inside the reef to anchor on but as we were approaching I could see coral over the bow. It was far too late to play that game so we anchored in 18 metres further out. Bit exposed but we could move in tomorrow when it was safe with the sun overhead.

 

Bill raising the Maldives courtesy flag

Bill raising the Maldives courtesy flag

 

We were anchored at

07˚ 04.71 north

072˚ 55.13 east

Our journey of 715 nautical miles had taken 5 days 8 hours giving us an average speed of 5.58 knots not bad considering we were travelling at 2 or 3 kts the first few days with the current against us. Our agent Assad brought the customs, immigration, etc out to us to check us in along with a tub of ice cream! How good is that? Check in took about half an hour then it was showers and bed. We were tired.  The next day Bill raised our Maldives courtesy flag.

As the next day was Friday we stayed on the boats.  The Maldives are 100% Sunni Muslim so Friday is their Sunday. The fact that they are muslims also means there’s no alcohol sold here, only very expensively in resorts!!! Now you can see why we stocked up.  Assad came out to the boat to get our sims sorted for the phones and to set it up as a modem.  The internet seems quite fast here so that’s a change.

The main road

The main road

On Saturday Inspiration Lady, Tintin and Camomile crews went ashore for a tour of the little village. There are only 500 people on the island and they basically belong to one of two families. There aren’t any cars.  This is the main road through the village.

This is one of the ladies of the village

This is one of the ladies of the village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the villagers have lived on the island all their life.

 

A local house

A local house

 

 

 

This was her house.

 

 

 

Beautiful banana tree.

Beautiful banana tree.

 

 

The land is mostly sand so not very much grows here but they do have some wonderful trees. This banana tree was laden with fruit. Take a look at the wall, it’s made of dressed coral which means they cut it and shape it before using it to build houses and walls. It’s not allowed any more but there are still some beautiful pieces around.

 

 

Mangos beginning to ripen.

Mangos beginning to ripen.

Breadfruit tree

Breadfruit tree

 

 

A beautiful bread fruit tree with another lovely coral wall.

 

 

 

 

Another beautiful coral house

Another beautiful coral house

The end of the road

The end of the road

 

 

This was the end of the village.  Just jungle beyond here.

Right next to the end of the road is the generator housing.

 

 

Generator housing

Generator housing

 

 

 

Pumping away 24 hours providing power for homes of the people.

 

 

 

Local shop

Local shop

 

 

There are 2 shops on the island, this is the bigger one of the two.  It seemed to have a fair sized selection of goods but very little in the way of fresh stuff.  I’ve ordered some bread which is coming on the supply ship on Monday.  I still have quite a lot of supplies from my Sri Lanka stock up but I could do with some lettuce and apples. Will be interesting to see what else turns up.

So sweet

So sweet

 

 

 

 

I found these adorable little girls at Assad’s house the one on the left is his daughter.  They were like a pair of dolls. So sweet.

Beautiful school

Beautiful school

 

 

 

 

Assad took us to see the village school although being Saturday no one was there.  It was in very good condition but being run like the schools were 50 years ago. Ages 6,7 and 8 in one class room, 9, 10 and 11 year olds in a second classroom and a couple more classrooms for the older children.  At 16 they take a Cambridge exam like a GCSE if they pass the government will pay for them to go to Mahe and at 18 they take further exams, A levels, for a place in University.  There are also Btec courses for the ones who don’t pass the exam.

School playground

School playground

 

 

There isn’t much for them to do on the island and I think most of them would probably stay on in Mahe once they had finished their education.  That means the island will slowly die out if the young people don’t return but we’ve seen that so much in our travels.

 

 

The village harbour

The village harbour

 

We walked back to the jetty and the dinghies.  Assad invited the 6 of us to a meal at his house that evening to try some local food.

Meanwhile Bill and I still hadn’t been in the water and we’ve been here for 2 days so we headed back to Camomile. Two of the other boats had left leaving two spaces on the ‘shelf’ so Camomile and Inspiration Lady took them.

 

Camomile in the beautiful water

Camomile in the beautiful water

Under the water

Under the water

We are now anchored in the most stunning aquamarine colour. It’s like being anchored in a swimming pool.

Our position is

07˚ 05.02N

072˚ 55.18 E

take a look on google earth.

 

More coral

More coral

Meanwhile in the water …..

 

Lots of fish

Lots of fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coral near Camomile

The coral near Camomile

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to get a photo of Camomile with the coral underneath but it didn’t quite work but close.

 

The keel

The keel

 

 

 

This is our keel under the water.

 

 

 

The anchor on the bottom

The anchor on the bottom

 

 

 

and the anchor in about 5 metres of water. So clear.

 

 

 

 

Bill snorkeling

Bill snorkeling

Delicious meal prepared by the ladies of the village

Delicious meal prepared by the ladies of the village

 

 

 

That evening we went back ashore for our wonderful meal.

 

 

 

Inspiration Lady, Camomile and Tintin in the evening sunset

Inspiration Lady, Camomile and Tintin in the evening sunset

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