Yes, I’m a travel blogger, and yes, I travel a lot for work. Yes, I often field sarcastic Facebook comments like, “Wow, what a rough life you have!” or, “I wish could quit my REAL job and become a blogger like you.” I usually resent these comments. Travel blogging is harder than it looks and most of my travel is far from glamorous.
My most recent trip to Mozambican paradise, however, was an exception. This trip was every bit as glamorous as it looked and you should resent me for it.
We flew from Johannesburg to Vilanculos with Airlink, as part of a campaign to promote Airlink’s flights around Southern Africa. (Incidentally, the flight from Joburg to Vilanculos is ridiculously short — like an hour and 15 minutes. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to fly from Joburg to Durban.) Once in Vilanculos, we took a 10-minute helicopter ride to Benguerra Island, the second-largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago.
The helicopter dropped my colleague Frances and I off at Benguerra Island’s Azura Retreat. Azura is literally paradise.
I’ve heard legends about luxurious resort rooms with individual plunge pools, but this was my first time actually experiencing one. The pool was awesome — I loved relaxing in it. But most of all, I loved watching the birds in the plunge pool. Here are two weaver birds having fun.
Azura has only 20 villas, each of which is assigned a dedicated “host”. Our host was Paulino, who served all our meals and drinks and catered to every need during our stay.
The food at Azura was sensational. We ate local fish for every meal and there wasn’t a single buffet. (I hate buffets.) One night we even had local soft-shell crab for dinner. Soft-shell crab is one of my favorite dishes in the world — it’s a specialty in my home town of Baltimore — and this is the first time I’ve seen it on a menu anywhere outside the United States. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the Azura soft-shell crab, as we were eating that meal on the beach in the dark. I assure you though, it was paradise in my mouth.
Azura also serves delicious cocktails.
One day we took Azura’s “island-hop” tour, visiting nearby Bararuto Island and snorkelling on the pristine coral reef nearby.
Me on Bazaruto Island. (Photo: Frances Steyn)
I don’t have an underwater camera so I couldn’t take photos while snorkelling. But the coral reef was spectacular and we saw so many beautiful things. I particularly liked the giant blue starfish.
Our last full day we took a tour of Benguerra island, which is 55 square kilometers and has a population of about 1800 people. It was nice to see the interior of the island, which feels far removed from the fancy resort. We visited with a small flock of flamingos, and went to the beautiful deserted beach on the Indian Ocean side of the island. We also visited the local school, which was celebrating the official opening of two new classrooms with support from Azura.
When we got back to Azura, I was lucky to meet the chief of Benguerra Island, Aaron João Zivane. He had also been to the opening of the primary school and was dressed in his full chief regalia.
And then, of course, there were the sunsets.
Thanks for taking me to paradise, Airlink. You’ve made all my readers hate me but it was worth it.