The Bazaruto Archipelago is part of the Bazaruto National Park 50 miles (80 kilometres) off the Mozambique mainland, and approximately opposite the fishing port of Inhassoro. The indigenous Vahoka people call Bazaruto Island Ushurutswa, meaning island in the mist. The adjacent coastline is a popular magnet for scuba divers hoping to see dolphins, turtles, dugong ‘sea cows’, whale sharks, manta rays and even humpback whales up close.
To reach Bazaruto Island, you first have a choice of light airplane, hire car or a shuttle service. When you arrive in Inharasso you’ll find traditional colonial hotels, smaller luxury establishments and backpacker accommodation. Most who come use traditional dhow boats to navigate to Bazaruto Island and the other five islands in the archipelago. However, light aircraft and high speed boats are also available.
Island in the mist
Numerous resorts dot white beaches renowned for their protected marine life. The Two Mile Reef has colourful fish, reef sharks and moray eels in its clear waters. Out to sea marlins and sailfish rule the waves. Bazaruto Island comprises sand that a mainland river once deposited on top of underlying limestone rock. Inland, there are limestone sinkholes to explore filled by generous rainfall. Luxurious resorts and spas boast gently waving palm trees. They inspire lazy afternoons doing absolutely nothing, a magnet for the rich and famous. However, the true stars of Bazaruto are the gentle dugong sea cows content to while away their time in peace and security.
The archipelago is rich in marine life, thanks to the warm Mozambique Current flowing south between the mainland and Madagascar. It shelters approximately 300 sea cow dugongs that comprise the last sustainable group off the East African coast. Dugongs are medium-size marine mammals sharing their species with three other types of manatee. They are strictly vegetarian and therefore highly unlikely to take a nip out of a curious scuba diver. Instead, they graze all day long and into the night on their favourite takeaway, sea grass.
A scuba diver’s dream come true
A seventy-year lifespan provides ample time to grow three metres long and put on 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) weight. They are a veritable scuba diver’s dream come true. They feed on the ocean floor surrounded by coral and seaweed sheltering tropical fish in unusually crystal-clear water. Swimming with dugongs really is a walk in the park, because the large mammals could not care less provided nobody interferes with their perennial sea grass buffet. You could walk into the water at a likely spot until your hat floats, you could float your boat over to a likely spot and a dugong may be there.
You might prefer to join a dhow fishing boat charter with a put-put motor and see what the sea brings to the end of your fishing line. What more could you want than warm, crystal clear water, a never-ending procession of sea life, gorgeous coral dressed up in its sunday best, and an obliging dugong coming into view? And if you have seen one to many dugongs – it’s possible – you’ll be delighted to know other water sports are in abundance on Bazaruto Island. Other attractions include playing captain on a traditional fishing dhow for day, sand-boarding down huge sand dunes, and dining on local seafood the Portuguese way.
Visitors travel north to Inharasso from Vilanculu Airport 35 miles (55 kilometres) distant. Vilanculu Airport (VNX) has scheduled flights by international airlines LAM and Federal Air. However in most cases, these land at Johannesburg or Maputo en route. The Bazaruto National Park has a tropical west coast climate. Therefore December to March are hot and humid, while June to August are fresh and dry. How about giving Mundana a call to see what they can offer to this beautiful part of Mozambique?