A string of islands off the coast of Mocambique which form a massive natural tidal shallow by the town of Vilankulo.
The Bazaruto archipelago consists of 4 major islands (Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque and Santa Carolina) which teem with both marine and land-based wildlife and have been declared a World Heritage site. It has also in recent years (with Mocambique's emergence from a decade-old civil war) become one of the hottest ecotourism destinations in Southern Africa.
Declared a National Park in 1971, the archipelago boasts among its wildlife, 180 species of birds, several species of monkey, suni antelope and freshwater crocodiles and the reefs and beaches support dolphin, dugong, gamefish, marine turtles and thousands of species of tropical fish.
The archipelago is famed for its turquoise water and coral and rock reefs which offer excellent snorkelling and scuba diving and most tourists come to the archipelago for the diving alone. The best known reef is 2-Mile Reef on the ocean-side of Bazaruto island. Sport fishing is also popular and both Kingfish and Marlin can be found around Bazaruto.
The Bazaruto Area is part of the Inhambane Province - home to an estimated 1,25 million inhabitants. These are largely Chope and Tsonga people who make a living fishing and farming cashew and coconuts. Three of the islands (Santa Carolina excluded) are inhabited (mostly by migratory fishermen and some subsistence farmers) and several luxury lodges have also been built on the larger islands.
on a budget: Daily buses leave from Maputo for Vilankulo, the journey takes approximately 8 hours and costs $8.
if money is no object: All of the lodges on the archipelago offer direct charter flights from Maputo to Vilankulo and transfers to the islands.
if you're not in a lodge: Vilankulo is a wonderful and peaceful town which has several really good accomodation options. The best, by far, for younger travelers is Baobab Beach backpackers which has camping for $2 a night, dorms for $4 and double chalets for $12 a night.
Getting to Bazaruto from Vilankulo
Several local companies run charters from Vilankulo and a dhow for the day is about $60 (you can fit up to 10 people on one). The trip to the reefs take between 2 and 6 hours, depending on which reef or island you are going to and whether you are going by motorized or sailing dhow.
A suggested itenerary
Node your holiday
- Take the Olivieras express bus from Maputo to Vilankulo.
- At the Vilankulo market ask one of the children to show you to Baobab Beach, their service will cost around 10 000 Meticais ($0.40).
- Spend a day or so in Vilankulo on the beach and around town.
- The best place for good value (and delicious vegetarian) meals is Ultima Hora near the market.
- Arrange a day-trip to 2-Mile Reef or Magaruque through John's charters (the bar staff at Baobab will point you in the right direction).
- Alternatively, head for Gabriel's lodge (the least expensive of the lodges) and camp on the archipelago for a night or two.
- Spend a few more days either on the other islands or around Vilankulo.
- After Vilankulo either head north to Chimoio and Malawi or south to Inhambane and Tofo for more time on the beach.