Pansy shell on Bazaruto beach

Three Days in a Mozambican Paradise

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.

Looking down on VilanculosLooking down on the town of Vilanculos, Mozambique, during my helicopter ride to Benguerra Island.

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.

Benguerra Island from the helicopterA birds-eye view of Benguerra Island at low tide.

The helicopter dropped my colleague Frances and I off at Benguerra Island’s Azura Retreat. Azura is literally paradise.

Villa at Azura RetreatMy villa at Azura.

Azura Retreat bedroomThe bedroom.

View of Azura villa from the beachThis photo gives you an idea of the villa’s proximity to the beach. I watched every sunset from that thatch-roofed lounger.

Birds in plunge pool at Azura RetreatI’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.

benguerra-island-weaverI took dozens of pictures of the birds in the pool. It was hard to choose.

Dhow on Benguerra IslandA traditional dhow that took us on a sunset cruise our first evening.

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.

PaulinoPaulino shows us the lunch menu on our first day.

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.

benguerra-sunset-toastOne evening I fell asleep on the thatched lounger. I woke up at sunset to find this margarita next to me. (Paulino delivered it without waking me up.) I toasted with the sun.

One day we took Azura’s “island-hop” tour, visiting nearby Bararuto Island and snorkelling on the pristine coral reef nearby.

Heather on Bazaruto IslandMe on Bazaruto Island. (Photo: Frances Steyn)

Bazaruto sand dunesClimbing Bazaruto’s immense sand dunes with guide Sujado (left) and honeymooners Lily and Mike (right). 

Pansy shell on Bazaruto beachA pansy shell, aka sand dollar, found on the beach. These shells all have the same design, created by nature.

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.

Flamingos and heron on BenguerraUp close with the flamingos and another water bird (an egret, I think).

Benguerra Primary SchoolThe new school building on Benguerra, which was holding an official opening ceremony while we were there.

 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.

Benguerra Chief AaronThis chief is too cool.

And then, of course, there were the sunsets.

Sunset and water on BenguerraSunsets never get old in paradise. There are so many different ways to photograph them.

Sunset and boats on BenguerraMy favorite Benguerra sunset shot.

Thanks for taking me to paradise, Airlink. You’ve made all my readers hate me but it was worth it.

This post was sponsored by Airlink and Azura Retreats. Opinions expressed are mine. 

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14 Comments

  • Reply lisa@notesfromafrica October 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Yay – been waiting for you to post this! Beautiful photos. Am jealous that you get to go to such cool places.

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks Lisa 🙂

  • Reply autumnashbough October 14, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Oh, fantastic. It looks like you had privacy and quiet. And so pretty.

    Ha, I guess your life sounds very glamorous, but traveling is exhausting and stressful. You have to worry about flights, about your pets, about return flights, packing, getting pictures, etc.

    I think shuttling between parental houses when I was kid left me with a desire to be an unstressed homebody.

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Yes. All of that (including the shuttling between parents part). And now I’m doing it again. Sigh.

  • Reply Leizl Eykelhof October 14, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Any idea of the cost?

    • Reply 2summers October 14, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      I had trouble getting a straight answer on that. I think it varies so much because people are traveling on specially booked packages. But it’s definitely not cheap – at least several hundred dollars per person, per night.

      • Reply Leizl Eykelhof October 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm

        I emailed them and never got a reply either…

        • Reply 2summers October 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm

          Wow, that’s weird.

        • Reply Salome Kgoale November 14, 2016 at 9:11 am

          Dear Leizl, I hope my email finds you well. Please advice which email address you used? It is very strange that you did not receive a response. If you can give me your email address and the dates you would like to come stay with us at Azura Benguerra Island, and I will send you a quote.

  • Reply violetonlineisonline October 14, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    I dig the chief!
    Great blog, viva Mozambique, viva.

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      I dig him too.

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish October 16, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Enjoy your paradise. You’ve earned it!

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks!

  • Reply Loren November 1, 2016 at 6:35 am

    What a beautiful few days in paradise! xo Loren // http://www.thinkelysian.com

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