Beach after Safari

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Nov 16th, 2005, 06:11 PM
  #1
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Beach after Safari

We are trying to decide where to go after a safari experience in zimbabwe or zambia. We were thinking of the Seychelles, but they are generally expensive, and bone fishing is pretty much completely tied up by the very pricey resorts. So that means we're open to suggestions for beach areas to visit for 5 days or so in or near southern africa in april or May. All we really want is sun, sand, good snorkeling (hopefully right off the beach) and maybe some fishing opportunities. Any suggestions? All will be appreciated, since we are total "newbies" to this area of the world. Thanks for your help. Sharon T.
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Nov 17th, 2005, 04:57 AM
  #2
 
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I have not been there, but i've been researching a lot about a beach area in southern africa, maybe look into the Bazaruto Archipelago off the coast of Mozambique. Read the thread below, and then do a search for it on here and you will see other threads about it. Good luck.

What follows will be a very long and detailed response so in the future there will be at least one review for this area.

I was just there in mid-November and have not had a chance to write it up or post photos yet. It was a belated honeymoon trip and we had 6 nights on Bazaruto and Benguerra Islands following 10 nights in Namibia.

First 3 nights were at Indigo Bay Lodge on Bazaruto Island and next 3 at Benguerra Lodge on Benguerra Island. For starters - it was easy to get to from Joburg. I think it took 2 or 2 1/2 hours to get to Vilanculos. From there it was less than 1/2 hr to get through customs and board a transfer plane that takes 10 minutes to Bazaruto.

The islands themselves are breathtaking. Long stretches of fine, white powder sand (not course coral sand). The water was very warm and enjoyable to wade/swim in. Be prepared, there is a large tidal flucuation so sometimes the water is way up the beach and you can wade right in, at other times you have to walk a good way through the shallows to get waist deep -- at this point its nice to stay where there is a pool. The underwater environment is prisitine with very healthy coral and fish populations. We snorkeled a couple of times and it was outstanding, on par with the best we have ever done along with the Surin Islands off of Thailand. Probably a little better than Oahu or off of Belize. We did not dive on this trip as we are not certified and would have had to take a resort course but the diving is reported to be exceptional as well with many Manta rays and sharks spotted. I was told by other guests that the diving compared well with the Seychelles.

The islands have small populations of people and very little lodging so there is a lot of beach space available. On three separate occasions we were dropped off and had private picnics on beautiful beaches and did not see a sole for a couple of hours, with one time seeing only a fisherman go by in his dhow. Taking a sunset cruise sailing on a traditional dhow was a very nice experience as well.

Interior of the islands contains fresh water lakes with endemic crocodiles. I saw one although he bolted fast when he saw me. There were also flamingos in the lakes and lots of other interesting birds on the islands.

Lodging: Indigo Bay. This was a little hotelish for my tastes but could be what some people would prefer. It is nesteled within nicely vegetated grounds with many bungalows (about 50 maybe), some 20 yards or so from the beach. The accomodation itself has a standard hotelish feel to it (3 star type) - especially if coming from high end safari accomodation. It was perfectly comfortable, just no real wow factor -- most of the time you want to be outside enjoying the fabulous sun, water, and beaches. Things that could be a plus or minus - it is air conditioned, has satellite t.v. and phones. Normally in Africa I would prefer to be without all these, however, after 10 days in Namibia where it was really hot it was kind of nice to have A/C and it had been long enough that it was cool to watch a movie or sports in the evening. There was a good sized pool, with a swim up bar. All in all the place felt a lot like a vacation at a Mexican resort in Cozumel except that its all Europeans and S. Africans instead of Americans and it is in a much more pristine environment.

The exception to this comparison is the food. The food was incredible! Every night there was a spread that rivals any I have ever experienced. Two tables of appetizers, salads, accompaniments. Then a huge braais turning out amazing seafood. All you can eat lobster tails, giant tender prawns, calmari, crab, and fish. They would also throw on fresh chicken and steaks. This seafood was as good as any I have ever had and you ate as much as you please. Breakfeast also had a cook to make egg dishes and waffles to order in addition to the big help yourself spread. I was glad I stayed here just for the food factor.

Benguerra Lodge had a similar island setting and offered about the same exact activities but the lodging was a comletely different experience. There were only 13 bungalows here and ours (#13) had a great view of the sea and was about 20 steps to the beach. Spaced along the beach for each bungalow is a palapa umbrella cover and two lounge chairs. For two of our nights there was only one other couple and they were diving most of the time so we had the whole place basically to ourselves. There is a small pool right by the beach that is very nice. There is an old boat made into a bar also on the beach that was fun for sundowners. You see a few locals fishing in their boats or carrying goods on their heads to their village up the beach.

The bungalow itself was very nicely appointed with east African style. It should be noted that the bungalows are open sided, although you can drop blinds -- so you will see geckos and millipedes in addition to moths and other bugs in your room. I had a millipede relocation program every evening where I would transfer them with a piece of paper from the walls to the outside. The mosquito net kept all the bugs and geckos out from our sleeping area and in daytime there were no bugs around. There is plenty of hot water and the ceiling fan was sufficient to keep us cool at night even though it was the start of summer. The main lodge and eating area are similarly open and have east African flavor to them. Basically they have created a safari style lodge on the islands. Personally I really like that feel but I'm sure its not for everyone. Plus, you have to realize Mozambique is a young country at this point and the tourism is developing. They are trying to follow Botswana's model of high end, low volume to protect their environment which I think is awesome -- however, they are still in a growing process. Therefore, accomodation and service is not at a Botswana or Sabi Sand luxury safari standard. At Benguerra it definitely has a rustic safari level of lodging and not an exquisite world class feel. We thought it was quite handsome though and enjoyed the outdoor/beach feel. Food here was plated meals usually with two choices to order from. Again, seafood was the specialty and the food was very good.

Summary: The beaches, island beauty and underwater envivronment were as good as any we have experienced. As for island paradise with a lack of people this area is exceptional!

Accomodation is the tricky part. We experienced the standard resort type accomodation and then a safari style but more rustic and open to some outdoor critters which may not work for some. Finally, it is not cheap as each activities and your alcohol all cost additional $ on top of lodging. Bazaruto Island Lodge and the Marlin Lodge would be the other two options in the area -- which may offer something different.
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Nov 17th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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If anyone else is researching combining Mozambique with a safari, Pelican Air flies twice a week from JNB to Kruger to the Mozambique islands. So if you are doing a safari in Kruger, it is not necssary to backtrack to JNB.

There was also a detailed article in October Travel& Leisure about the northern Mozambique Islands (Pemba, etc).
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Nov 17th, 2005, 05:19 PM
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Bethsprack - thanks so much for the wonderfully detailed report on Mozambique. We will definitely look into this area as it seems to have everything we're looking for.
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Nov 19th, 2005, 02:07 PM
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There used to be direct LAM flights from Harare to Vilanculos. You can make connections from there if necessary. If they still fly, how about combining Mana Pools with the beach.Benguerra Lodge, Mozambique?
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