Luxury escapes to Bazaruto & Benguerra

The Bazaruto Archipelago is characterised by enormous, towering dunes and endlessly shifting sandbanks. It’s a tropical wonderland – one of my favourites – of luxury lodges set on perfect palm-rimmed islands.

Situated near the mainland towns of Vilankulo and Inhassoro, the archipelago consists of six main islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island), Bangué and the tiny Shell.

Since 1971, much of the archipelago has been protected as Bazaruto National Park. You’ll see dozens of bird species, including fish eagles and flamingos. There are also red duikers, bushbucks and, especially on Benguerra Island, Nile crocodile.

Dolphins swim through the clear waters, along with 2,000 fish species, as well as loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Most intriguing are the elusive dugongs, which visitors have the chance of spotting. It makes sense then that these clear, turquoise waters offer excellent snorkelling, and, for those who want to venture deeper, scuba diving.

There are several, well-spaced-out luxury Mozambican lodges that offer various other watersports too, including windsurfing, kayaking and water-skiing. A visit to the coast would be incomplete without an iconic sunset dhow cruise, while having a picnic on a shrinking sandbar is a thrilling way to pass the day. There’s also the opportunity to go helicopter sightseeing over the archipelago, or to explore the islands on horseback.

Whatever you choose to do on the islands, you can do in complete comfort and style. The lodges are comfortable and fully equipped, with rim-flow pools, elegant décor and delicious food (often plucked straight from the waters of the archipelago). In fact, it’s the whole ‘barefoot luxury’ thing done perfectly. In my opinion a luxury Bazaruto and Benguerra escape is perfect if you’re looking for a quintessential Indian Ocean island holiday.

When to Go

Mozambique has a tropical climate, with year-round warm temperatures. The cooler, dry winter season is the best time for visiting the Bazaruto Archipelago, as the temperatures average a comfortable 27ºC. It’s sunny and the water is still pleasantly warm. Sailfish are found in these waters from May to September while humpback whales migrate through from June to September. There’s good marlin fishing from September to November. Towards the end of this period (from October to December), you’ll also have a good chance of seeing whale sharks.

This is the hot and wet summer season. The average coastal temperature is 31ºC and the rainfall is generally heaviest between December and March, with especially steamy and humid months in December and January. February to March is also hurricane season, so if you go at this time, be prepared for dramatically stormy skies and downpours. On the plus side, the air is filled with migrant birds and you can see whale sharks in early summer (October to December). There’s also good marlin fishing in December and January.

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