What I love about the Bazaruto Archipelago and, in particular, Benguerra island is that not only are these idyllic locations for a holiday with their sun-drenched white beaches, delicate seashells and warm, iridescent turquoise seas, but Benguerra is friendly, small and the locals are so welcoming!
It is an island just 14km off the coast of southern Mozambique with luxury accommodations, but also where the locals fish for a living, and there’s a variety of habitats to explore. Of course, they have the glorious beaches and palm trees but there are also huge sand dunes, birdlife and even inner island lagoons.
For those who want to lie on a beach all day, eat and sleep, then that’s entirely possible and Benguerra Island is just for you. But if like me you get itchy feet and like to mix things up, then there is so much more on this island for those who want to be active or adventurous and explore during your vacation, in between playtime/tanning time!
In my opinion, Kisawa Sanctuary is one of the finest luxury island lodges in the southern part of Mozambique! The whole atmosphere here is one of casual elegance and I especially love the attention to detail; everything from the shaggy thatched roofs and light calming interiors, the celebration of the Mozambique culture, the fresh and sumptuous meals, to the professional staff that look after you.
Kisawa lies over 300-hectares of conserved habitat and has an entire five kilometres of beachfront comprising coastal forest and sand dunes and of course the bleached sandy beaches that Mozambique’s islands are renowned for.
The resort itself was designed with sustainability in mind, to have a light footprint, be at one with the environment and intertwine with the surroundings. For me, Kisawa combines everything that I look for when planning a vacation by the ocean: forward-thinking design, ultra-luxurious, fabulous wellness spa, privacy and personalized service, and conservation of the local ecosystem. All this alongside a beach destination, what more could you wish for?
Kisawa has 12 residences which are a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroomed luxury suites. They are all extremely private and spacious with lots of light pouring into your room and they all face the beachfront, have day areas with infinity plunge pools and a personal service team.
The service is top-class and their food is delicious. You have the choice of three places to dine:
Benguerra is a beautiful jewel in the Indian Ocean where you can be as active (or not!) as you like! Take long walks along the beach, resting up under palm trees when the sun chases you to a welcome green retreat for a while (there is no hurry, take your time, you are on holiday!)
Chat to the villagers as they go about their lives, or, as I did, meet some of the women as they look after their children and learn about their lives on the island. Meeting the local people of a country you are visiting always adds depth to your visit, don’t just stay enclosed in your resort, get out there and add another dimension to your vacation, you will be much rewarded for the insight into their lives, and the country too.
I loved the marine life I saw off the coast. The protected waters around the islands have a profusion of fish species (over 2000 species) as well as turtles (green, loggerhead, hawksbill and leatherback), dolphins and the endangered dugong and whales can be seen too.
The diving is fabulous with yellow fin tuna, marlin, manta rays and sharks, and the plethora of smaller colourful fish over the corals. One day when I was snorkelling I was joined by a green turtle – one ticked off the bucket list! I am still smiling from the experience.
However it is not only under the water that delights; on land some 140 species of birds have been recorded across the archipelago and there are guides on hand to take you on nature walks. I missed the humpback whales as I was not there in season but cannot wait to go back to see them.
I really enjoyed exploring the dunes and inner island lagoons (with crocodile!), but I also spent blissful afternoons lying on my sun lounger, cocktail in hand, watching the sun go down and wanting time to stop for a while.
Another reason to finish your African safari with a stay at Kisawa is that as a guest you can support the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS), a permanent Ocean Observatory. You can join the researchers and learn about their work to conserve the local marine environment. It is an extraordinary experience to accompany them on diving expeditions or assist them in gathering information when they tag protected marine species.
You can also learn how to record data such as temperature, oxygen and salinity and monitor coral reefs and sea grass beds (which are vital for dugongs). Alternatively, you can accompany the researchers and advisors who work with the local villagers to promote better, more sustainable and productive agricultural practices.
The BCSS guides advises the locals on the best environmental practices in agriculture and you can get involved too, making your interactions with the local people meaningful to both them and yourselves.
Kisawa is located on the southern tip of Benguerra Island, which is located just 14km from the coast of mainland Mozambique. The nearest mainland port is Vilanculos, from where you can have a personalized helicopter transfer to the Sanctuary (5-10 minutes) or you can take a private boat transfer which is around 35 minutes. You can reach Vilanculos airport on daily flights from Johannesbury and Maputo airports or by your own private charter flights.
A few days at Kisawa is the perfect way to end your safari to Africa but if you want to stay on the ocean instead, you could take a private yacht to explore Indian Ocean islands before ending at Kisawa for complete relaxation prior to your journey home! If you would like more information about exclusive holidays and safaris in Mozambique or elsewhere in Africa, please do feel free to get in touch with me. Or, if you would like to just dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.
Images by kind courtesy of Kisawa Sanctuary. Photographer: Elsa Young.