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The Bazaruto Archipelago consists of five islands off the coast of Vilanculos in Mozambique's Inhambane Province. Often considered the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean, it is the most popular tourist area in Mozambique.

The main and largest of the islands are Bazaruto and Benguerra. The other 3 smaller islands are Santa Catalina, Magaruque and Bangue islands. The 5 islands are protected within a national park. The stretches of white sandy beaches are shaded by palm trees while the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean are home to dolphins, whales, manta rays, turtles and the endangered dugong, while unspoilt coral reefs provide underwater enthusiasts with first-rate diving and snorkeling.

Bazaruto Island is the largest in the Archipelago, about 37km (23 miles) long and about 7km (4 miles) wide. On the northern tip of the island is a 19th century lighthouse built by the Portuguese. The interior of the island contains large freshwater lakes which are frequented by flamingos and a wide variety of other water birds. Enormous sand dunes on the eastern coast make for exhilarating dune boarding for the entire family. Horse-riding in the forests or dunes on the island is truly memorable or a breathtaking beach ride where you can canter along the beautiful white sandy shores.

Benguerra is the second largest island and is less than half a mile (1km) south of Bazaruto. Just like Bazaruto, it has stunning beaches, large sand dunes and freshwater lakes. Its small indigenous forest and wetland areas attract a huge variety of birds and animals, the surrounding reefs offer some of the best diving and snorkeling.
The Bazaruto Archipelago is probably most well known for 2 activities besides relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, namely diving and big game-fishing.

A host of exciting dives can be experienced here with reef fish such as snapper and surgeon, as well as potato bass, kingfish, barracuda, manta rays and reef sharks.

The Bazaruto Archipelago's superb scuba diving locations include:
  • Brindle Bass Ridge (North Point) - large reef (18 metres) with impressive concentrations of snappers, angelfish, rubberlips, brindle bass & reef sharks.
  • Potholes (North Point) - series of shallow potholes (12 metres) often sheltering black-tail reef sharks.
  • Manta Ray Reef (North Point) - flat reef (15 metres) with spectacular concentrations of anemones and clownfish.
  • Rainbow Runner Reef (North Point) - (25 metres) with impressive accumulations of green-tree and whips corals.
  • Turtle Ridge (North Point) - narrow ridge (14 metres) frequented by turtles and game-fish such as barracuda.
  • Two-Mile Reef - To the east of Benguerra (2 miles), well known for excellent snorkeling inside the reef and its protected pool known as the Aquarium, and for exciting dives on the outside (6-21 metres). This underwater paradise with beautiful corals and a wealth of tropical fish is popular with both divers and snorkelers.
  • Zenguelema Point - this dive site, with a depth of 21m, is located on the western side of the island and is home to schools of Reef Fish, Scorpion Fish, Crocodile Fish and the occasional Stone Fish.

Above the water dolphin are frequently encountered whilst humpback whales can be sighted between August and October and whale sharks between April and July. Leatherback, loggerhead and green turtles are often seen in the water, coming ashore to lay their eggs on Bazaruto's sandy beaches. You may also be lucky enough to see a rare dugong - part of the largest viable breeding population in the western Indian Ocean.

The Bazaruto Archipelago offers some of the most spectacular Big game fishing in the world. Species such as Kingfish, Queenfish, Barracuda, Mackerel, Yellowfin tuna and the most prized Giant Black Marlin make this area a world renowned fishing destination.

Accommodation offered on Bazaruto and Benguerra is luxurious and the resorts offer all types of water sports.

The best time to visit the Bazaruto Archipelago is between May and September when the temperatures are slightly lower and the least amount of rainfall is experienced. January and February are cyclone season and the weather can be very destructive at this time.

Access to the islands is via Vilanculos and you will then be transferred to the island by a light aircraft, helicopter or boat. It is easy to combine a few days on safari in the Kruger National Park and then spend a few days relaxing in the Bazaruto Archipelago.
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