Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique - Stein Travel
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Bazaruto Archipelago

Consisting of five paradisiacal islands off the coast of Vilanculos in Mozambique's Inhambane Province, the Bazaruto Archipelago is the most popular tourist area in Mozambique and widely considered to be the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean'. It is a luxury destination sought after by divers, fishermen, nature lovers and well-to-do sun seekers.

The main islands of Bazaruto and Benguerra, as well as the smaller Santa Catalina, Magaruque and Bangue islands, are protected within a national park, one of the largest of its kind in the Indian Ocean. The warm seas are home to whales, dolphins, manta rays, turtles and the endangered dugong, while unspoilt coral reefs provide underwater enthusiasts with first-rate diving and snorkelling opportunities amid thousands of fish and mammal species. On land, miles of deserted sandy beaches shaded by palm trees offer frazzled city executives a dream holiday getaway, where the most stressful thing is deciding between activities like bird watching, fishing and shell collecting, or simply lying on the sand and enjoying the sunshine.

The largest and most popular island is Bazaruto, which gives the archipelago its name. To the west is the smallest island, Santa Carolina, nearly two miles (3km) long and less than half a mile (500m) wide, surrounded by protective coral reefs and deep water ideally suited to big game fishing. A narrow channel separates Bazaruto from its southerly neighbour Benguela, the second largest in the chain; followed by Magaruque, which is the closest island to Vilanculos on the mainland and primarily a diving resort. From Magaruque, the tiny uninhabited island of Bangue can be explored.

Information & Facts

Climate

The Bazaruto Archipelago enjoys a warm, tropical climate. Evenings are seldom cold, except for a few nights in June and July and the region experiences less rainfall than areas further south. In summer temperatures can soar but the islands experience less humidity than the mainland because of their exposed position.

Language

Portuguese is the official language, and there are 13 main national languages spoken. English is taught in secondary schools, but is only spoken in the southern tourist regions.

Money

The official currency is the New Metical (MZN), which is divided into 100 centavos. In the southern parts of the country, South African Rand, US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are also accepted to pay for accommodation. Credit cards are accepted in some upmarket hotels in Maputo, but facilities throughout the rest of the country are limited; it is advisable to carry cash or travellers cheques. ATMs are limited and tend to be unreliable, but local banks have branches in most cities.

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