Bazaruto Archipelago

In 2012, Mozambique enjoyed an economic growth rate of 7.4% which is expected to grow to 8.5% this 2013. Part of the reason for the positive growth is the discovery of new natural gas deposits estimated at 10 trillion cubic feet. Foreign direct investment (FDI) grew from US$2.6 billion to $5.2 billion from 2011 to 2012. About 78% of the growth was from investments in natural resources.

A prime example of Mozambique’s natural resources is its coastline and the dozens of breathtaking diving spots. The Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of islands where one can enjoy scuba diving, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, or befriending the lovely residents on the islands.

The beaches are magnificent because they remain relatively untouched; the diving is outstanding because the marine life is bountiful, and the snorkeling and sailing along mangrove channels or the various islands are like being in a paradise where skyscrapers and pollution are a distant memory.

Bazaruto Archipelago

Bazaruto Archipelago is made up of 6 islands near Vilankulo in Inhambane Province. These islands evolved from sand coming from Save River (Sabi) over many years. Today, the islands are rich in coral reefs, large waves for surfing and abundance in fish and other marine animals and species.

Bazaruto Archipelago was proclaimed as a National Park around 1971 and was called Bazaruto National Park or BANP. Two of the species that were targeted for protection were the turtle and the dugong or more popularly known as the sea cow. The dugong relies on seagrass as its main food which is common in coastlines. Decades ago, they were very common but hunted down for oil and meat. According to the Save Our Species group, unless more is done, the 200 or so dugong animals in Mozambique will become extinct in 40 years.

To get to the islands, one can rent a boat or request transfer if booked into one of the accommodations on the islands. Some of the upscale resorts even offer seaplane pick-ups from Maputo or a nearby location. To jump from island to island there is no choice but to use one of the island boats.

Visitors to Mozambique are advised to bring anti-malaria pills like mefloquine. Signs that you have been bitten by an infected mosquito are dizziness, inability to walk straight and blurred vision. It is also possible to be infected by a common flatworm called bilharzia. These worms lay their eggs in fresh water and are small enough to penetrate through human skin. Once nestled under the skin, they grow into adult worms. Itchiness is the only symptom of the flatworm. There is an OTC drug available in Maputo or local pharmacists that can kill the larvae before they have a chance to grow bigger.

Exciting Dhow Safaris

One way to explore the islands is through the Dhow safaris. This is the use of an Arab dhow to go island hopping for several days. An Arab dhow is a traditional sailing sea vessel with thin hulls and at least one mast. Although historically Arab dhows were used in the early 1900s, these are still common in East Africa today. Many of them are used to transport the day’s catch but there are a number of them around the islands that are purely for touring. The usual itinerary of the Dhow safaris includes snorkeling, swimming, lounging around on the pristine beaches, diving, and sea kayaking.