Bazaruto Archipelago is a gem of the Indian Ocean that consists of five islands; Bazaruto, Benguera, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. They lie about 20 km offshore, between Vilankulo in the south and Inhassoro in the northwest. Since 1971, the archipelago has been protected as a national park and is managed by the National Directorate for Conservation Areas of the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Bazaruto, the largest of the island in the archipelago, is home to Anantara Bazaruto Resort, a world class luxury retreat, complete with a spa, tennis courts and a variety of activities, from horseback riding to snorkeling in the crystal clear ocean. The thing with big hotels, is that often they feel, well, big. Anantara hotel on Bazaruto Island is not one of those. From the moment you set foot onto the warm, soft sand, to the moment your boat takes you back to the real world, you feel that you are in a fairy tale that’s been written just for you.
Arriving in Anantara
Anantara’s 44 luxury villas, built from local materials, are nestled in the coastal jungle, in perfect harmony with their environment. As our boat gets closer to the shore, I start making out the thatched roofs peaking through the treetops. By the water, there is a congregation of brightly-dressed locals who appear to be waiting for our arrival. Upon reaching the shoreline, we are greeted with traditional song and dance, like long-awaited visitors. Unable to resist their energy, I join in the dance. While I twirl to the beat of the drum and their song, someone from the welcome team is handing out cool hand-towels and glasses of fresh melon juice. I stop to enjoy the welcome drink. While I catch my breath, Thomas, our butler, loads our suitcases onto a golf cart.
Villa with Dreamy Views
We whizz our way past the reception, past the perfectly landscaped grounds, towards our Deluxe Sea view pool villa; 250 square metres of luxury hideaway with jaw-dropping views. As Thomas gives us the grand tour of the master suite, I stand absorbed by the shimmer of the ocean beyond the terrace. Turquoise and flat, it seems almost too beautiful to be real. “If you need anything at all, please dial 0.” Thomas advises. How could I ever need anything else, I wonder to myself.
Once I am able to bring my focus back into the room, I notice the exquisite setting. A four-poster king size bed in the centre of the bedroom and a curved standalone bathtub in the corner. The shower is linked to another outdoor shower. Everything faces the ocean. Outside, on the decked terrace, we have sun loungers and a plunge pool.
Snorkeling in Paradise
In the afternoon, we go snorkeling out on Neptune’s Nursery – a reef off the coast of Santa Carolina, affectionately dubbed Paradise Island.
When I jump in the water and open my eyes, I scream with delight, amazed by the diversity of marine life in front of me: clown trigger fish, box fish, angel fish, parrot fish, trumpet fish, gorgeous anemones and corals all in front of me, all at once.
The reef is a testimony to marine conservation and the hard work put in by the Bazaruto park administration and lodges to protect the local environment. It’s truly inspiring.
We head back to the hotel for sunset and watch the sun go down from our terrace. There is a sailing boat slowly making its way back to the harbour as the sun dips into the ocean, leaving just a soft glow at the edge of the darkening sky.
For dinner, we head to Club Naval where we were treated to another delectable dinning experience in a truly romantic setting. Soft candlelight bounces off the silver and dances in my glass of chilled South African rosé as I drink in the atmosphere. The starry sky, the whisper of the ocean, the soft tap of shoes on the polished wooden floors, the smell of grilled seafood drifting from the kitchen.
We start with ceviche of crab followed by a selection of grilled skewers – tiger prawns, chicken and prime steak. The very best produce, prepared to perfection. Chef George, a tall South African man with a warm smile and a solid handshake, comes over and chats to the guests, taking well-deserved compliments on the dinner.
After dinner, we sit on our terrace for a while, admiring the milky way and spotting constellations. The stars are so clear and close, you think they might start falling out of the sky right into your hands.
Day of Activities
The next the morning, we have a busy schedule – horseback riding followed by dune boarding.
We explore the nearby village and beachfront on horseback. Beautiful and well trained, the horses are an absolute pleasure to ride. We even get to dip our feet in the water!
After a short break, we drive out onto the dunes to try out dune boarding. I embrace my inner child and slide down into the valley, no hands, yelling to my hearts content. While the boarding is fun, the dunes are the real show-stoppers.
The smooth curves of white sand sit in stark contrast with the bright blue sky. In the distance you can see the whiskers of sand in the turquoises waters surrounding Punto Dundo. It is a wilderness that makes you want to run, dance and jump like no one’s looking.
We head back to the hotel before lunch, to freshen up after a busy morning and pack before we head to our next destination. As we gather our things, I feel a sadness coming over me. Like Cinderella before the stroke of midnight, I savour the last few hours in the magical world of Anantara.
When we board our boat back to reality, the same band that welcomed us breaks out into a melancholic song in Xitsonga, the local dialect, which translates to “When will they be back?” Brimming with emotions, I wonder the same, as our boat gains speed and the waving figures get smaller and smaller.
Soon, I hope.
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