Mozambique: Exploring the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago

Explore Mozambique with our partner GILTEDGE

Written by Charlotte Smith, Product Manager at GILTEDGE

After 25 months of staying put, I could feel the excitement mounting as we began our descent to Vilanculos, with its azure sea and islands dotted below. Vilanculos is easily reached on a daily 1.5-hour SA Airlink flight from Johannesburg, which makes it the perfect launchpad for an unforgettable Mozambican holiday.

The idyllic islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, situated 20 km from the mainland, are known for their unspoilt beauty and diverse ecologies. In fact, the pristine coral reefs are home to more than 2000 species of fish, as well as whales, dolphins, turtles and the very rare, endangered Dugong.

This tiny group of islands also boasts 500 species of marine and coastal molluscs, 186 species of birds, 45 species of reptile and 16 species of terrestrial mammals. A true natural wonderland!

Lovers of the great outdoors will also find themselves in awe on a visit to the 143,000-hectare Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (founded in 1971), which is home to some of the richest and least explored subtropical ecosystems in the Indian Ocean. Declared part of an IMMA – Important Marine Mammal Area – the national park comprises 5 islands, namely Bazaruto (the largest at 35x7km), Benguerra (the second largest at 11.5x5km) and then the much smaller islands of Magaruque, Santa Carolina (Paradise Island) and Bangue.

All of the islands’ beaches are tidal, meaning that there are a couple of hundred metres of exposed beach when the tide is low but as the tide comes in, the beach is covered again. These tidal flats are fascinating to explore at low tide, with iridescent star fish, sea cucumbers, crabs and sea grass adorning the dampened sand.

The best way to access the islands is via a very short, incredibly scenic helicopter flip, which saves time. However, it’s also possible to hop aboard a speedboat for a 25 – 60-minute journey, depending on which island or resort you have chosen. That is, as long as you don’t mind wading into the sea to catch your lift! The good news is that towels are provided on all boats so you can easily dry off as you speed towards your resort.

Speaking of which, no visit would be complete without a stay at one of the Bazaruto Archipelago’s incredible resorts, ranging from the ultra-luxe, private Kisawa Sanctuary to the smaller, more intimate Azura and the busier resort-style Anantara – and I was lucky enough to experience all 3!



If I had to describe this property in 5 words:

Need-to-knows and things to do:
• Be sure to complete the pre arrival form – you can select in-room snacks, tea/coffee, flipper and rash vest size and it even allows you to select arrival room temperature outside or air-conditioning!
• Dine at all 3 restaurants: Cove Mussassa, Main Terrace and Baracca. They’re all spectacular!
• Visit the amazing spa housed in cone-shaped, grass covered buildings – each guest gets a 90-minute welcome treatment.
• Explore the island in your own electric mini moke.
• Take a soothing stroll on a deserted beach.
• Snorkel in crystal-clear water.

How did this stay make me feel?
Like I was able to find my own rhythm. I truly felt like a celebrity – totally pampered and cared for.



If I had to describe this property in 5 words:

Need-to-knows and things to do:
• Go Snorkelling or diving at the nearby 2-mile deep reef.
• Venture out on an island drive with Carlos, the resort’s experienced and engaging guide, where you’ll visit 2 villages and the Azura Rainbow Fund which supports a school and clinic.
• Climb a red sand dune for magnificent views of the wilder sea side of the island.
• Go in search of a crocodile in the 2 crocodile lakes.
• Keep your eyes peeled for tiny duikers.
• Explore plants used by locals as a toothbrushes, shampoo and eye drops.
• Sip a cocktail at Peri Peri Beach Club located a 10-minute stroll along the beach with a vibey beach bar and restaurant.

How did this stay make me feel?
Well taken care of!



If I had to describe this property in 5 words:

Need-to knows and things to do:
• Take a day trip to Santa Carolina (Paradise Island) where you can enjoy plenty of activities, including incredible snorkelling, walking tours and a BBQ lunch.
• Savour a Mozambican barbeque and oceanside dining at Tartaruga.
• Tuck into delicious, enormous grilled prawns at Club Navale.
• Embrace the culinary culture of Mozambique in a Spice Spoons private cooking class.
• Go deep sea fishing and perhaps reel in a sailfish or marlin (catch and release only).

This is a holiday destination that has it all: fun, adventure, relaxation and the time, means and freedom to reconnect with friends and colleagues. In short, you can’t go wrong with a getaway to Mozambique and its magical Bazaruto Archipelago!

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