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The increasingly derelict husk later served as a military base during the civil war, then was left to the mercy of storms and cyclones. His partner in the venture was John Bredenkamp, a Zimbabwean billionaire accused of arms-dealing during the Iran-Iraq war. The project never happened, although Bredenkamp has since built a private lair on nearby Magaruque Island.

Many breathed a sigh of relief when the deal to redevelop Paradise Island fell through, for such is the power of nostalgia that couples who honeymooned here in the old days still revisit the ruins for a booster-shot of memories, and many will tell you, with great conviction but no proof whatsoever, that Bob Dylan composed his song 'Mozambique' on the very piano from which my grandmother was serenaded.

The four lodges on Bazaruto and Benguerra islands are the only places to stay in the archipelago. The two oldest opened back in as basic fishing camps, but have grown in sophistication over the years, dictated by the demands of fishermen's wives and girlfriends who objected to roughing it in such a paradisiacal setting. My old favourite, Benguerra Lodge, was recently bought by a consortium including South African businessman Dick Enthoven who also owns the Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch and given a makeover.

Now managed by the respected safari conservation outfit AndBeyond, the rejuvenated property is laid out like a traditional bush camp with guest cottages on either side of a central dining and living room.

Island of Mozambique - Wikipedia

Each has a private plunge pool and outdoor shower; the new interiors are smart-colonial and the setting is cool and shady, a refreshing glade set back from the refractive, bouncing light of the sand and sea. In its previous incarnation the lodge was managed for a quarter of a century by Sally Bryson, an instinctive and generous host who taught the staff how to cook superb meals and inducted them into the often-perplexing ways of fussy Westerners. Bryson has since retired, but most of the original members of staff are still here, which lends the place a relaxed, practiced rhythm.

The cheerful beach bar in front of the lodge is built from a traditional dhow of the sort still used by local fishermen.

Mozambique articles

The elegant sailing vessels are everywhere, a constant reminder that Mozambique was once the southernmost Indian Ocean outpost for Swahili and Arab traders long before Vasco da Gama washed ashore in and kick-started years of Portuguese rule. The other place to stay on Benguerra is beautiful Azura, owned by a British banking couple, Chris and Stella Bettany, and built on the site of Gabriel's backpacker hostel, which I remember with fuzzy-edged fondness as a place of undiluted revelry.

Its replacement is a far more restrained and sophisticated honeypot, a laidback beach hotel with a sunny disposition, a great wine list and excellent chalkboard menu. Like AndBeyond - just a short dhow ride down the beach at high tide - Azura slots into island life beautifully: even before opening the lodge, the Bettanys had built a school and set up a charity for villagers, who also built the lodge from scratch. These are not isolated pockets of indulgence of the Maldivian variety.


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More than 1, people live on the islands and you will undoubtedly wake to the sound of fishermen as they set off at dawn; take a walk on the beach in the milky early-morning light and children will call after you, splashing happily in the shallows as their mothers collect sand oysters in baskets woven from lala palms. The Indian Ocean here is fabulously warm and rich in marine life, with plentiful manta rays and whale sharks, schools of dolphins and loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles.

Isles of Zen – An Escape to Mozambique

It is also home to about dugongs, Africa's last sustainable population of the big grey mammals thought to have given rise to the myth of the mermaid. Thanks to the Endangered Wildlife Trust, they have a guardian angel in Karen Allen, a determined young South African based on Benguerra who has made it her life's mission to save them. Benguerra has also proved itself a safe haven for eight horses rescued from Zimbabwe by Pat and Mandy Retzlaff, who were forced off their farm during Mugabe's land invasions.

After it was destroyed, the couple returned after dark to save their horses and those of their neighbours. As time went on and more and more farmers left Zimbabwe, the couple amassed a herd of more than abandoned thoroughbreds, part-Arabian stallions, polo ponies, foals and elderly mares. Finally, they managed to spirit the horses across the border into Mozambique, where they have set up a horse-safari outfit based in Vilankulo and on Benguerra Island.

On a late afternoon ride across the island with Mandy Retzlaff, through villages and up sand dunes with views across its pretty inland lakes to the ocean, she showed me where my mount - a patient and gentle grey mare named Princess - still bears the scar of a bullet wound on her withers. One of the others, a spirited bay called Tequila, was taken to Benguerra to foil his repeated attempts to head back to Zimbabwe.

Tequila's escapist tendencies still manage to get him into trouble on the island, where he is known for his night-time escapades, often accompanied by his willing accomplice Slash.

4th body in Mozambique drowning to be repatriated to SA on Monday

The northern tip of benguerra reaches out but doesn't quite touch its much larger neighbour, Bazaruto. The bigger island is perhaps even more beautiful, if only because there is so much more of it. There are a great many freshwater lakes, five with crocodiles, all stocked with fat bream and tilapia.

Flamingos are regular visitors, as are flocks of white-breasted cormorants, grey herons, pelicans, and elegant great ibis. There are meadows of sea grass, mangrove swamps and swaying savannah grassland; evergreen forests shelter shy red duiker antelope. In places the island calls to mind Africa miniaturised, especially in the villages where women grow sweet potatoes, sorghum and cassava and children run out from mud huts to wave at passing strangers, still enough of a novelty to induce great squeals of excitement.

This year the island's Indigo Bay hotel was rebranded following a management deal between its owner, Adel Aujan, and the Bangkok-based Anantara group. Even when it first opened in , it marked a radical departure from the islands' quieter, more intimate lodges and the newly christened Anantara Bazaruto Island is still the biggest and brashest around. July to December are the best months for anglers, with the early part of the season ideal for sailfish off Bazaruto.

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All along the coast you can expect warm, clear weather and some of the best diving and snorkelling conditions of the year. July is a popular time in Mozambique so be sure to book your holiday well in advance. View Full Itinerary. These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates. White sandy beaches and the warm waters of an Indian Ocean island make a perfect setting for the most romantic getaway of your life In this exciting safari holiday, you'll get to experience both Southern Africa's bush and beach beauty Powder white beaches and crystal clear, warm ocean water is what honeymoons are made of - and this is the perfect honeymoon option for you if this is what you are looking for.

Combining the bush and the wildlife found in the famous Sabi Sand in the Kruger National Park with a tropical stay in one of the sublime lodges of Mozambique's Ponta Mamoli Experience the Okavango Delta and the tropical Indian Ocean island of Benguerra for the best of both the bush and the beach Romance, exclusivity and barefoot luxury are the themes of this honeymoon The Machangulo Peninsula offers gorgeous, serviced beach villas and tasteful hotels, while the handful of lodges on the Bazaruto and Quirimbas islands serve up laid-back,….

Bazaruto Island is the largest, sporting a kilometre spine of dazzling dunes that roll down its eastern flank above an impossibly turquoise see. Across a narrow channel to the south, Benguerra Island is less than half the size, and Magaruque Island and Santa…. Affordable, mid-range hotels and resorts are more common along the southern coast of Mozambique. Generally speaking, the most affordable option will be to hire a house and self-cater, and all three regions have holiday cottages and villas where guests can cook for themselves. Also, look out for…. September in Mozambique sees steadily warming days and nights.

Where to stay in Mozambique

Most visitors, quite rightly, come to Mozambique for the sea. There are hundreds of dive and snorkelling sites along this quite extraordinary coast. And besides the abundant reef fish and spectacular coral, there are also the glorious marine giants. The soft-shelled leatherback turtle grows to over two-and-a-half metres long and the beach town of Tofo is famous for its whale shark….

April is usually a lovely month in Mozambique, as the summer rains slowly clear, starting in the south. Mozambique has long been a family holiday favourite with South Africans and over Christmas and Easter in particular, the wide, southern beaches are a playground for kids.

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Bazaruto Archipelago: The Mozambique islands where horses play in the surf

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