Mozambique Islands

African Safaris

Azura (Benguerra Island) Mozambique

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Azura (Benguerra Island) Mozambique

Azura Lodge, Benguerra Island - www.aricansafaris.travel

 

Location:

Imagine an unspoilt island within a National Park, deserted beaches of pure white sand, sparkling turquoise seas crisscrossed by local dhows plying their trade, swaying palms, sunny days and star studded nights…and you have Azura Mozambique.

Azura is the country’s first luxury 'eco' boutique retreat. Built entirely by hand by the local community and operated in partnership with them, it has just 14 villas, each with their own infinity pool and designed for both pampering and barefoot escapism. Azura is located on Benguerra Island within the Bazaruto Marine National Park. Benguerra Island lies 14km north east of Vilanculos, the nearest town and site of the international airport.

 

Azura Lodge, Benguerra Island - www.aricansafaris.travel

 

Getting There:

There are daily flights from Johannesburg International airport (OR Tambo) to Vilanculos International Airport which connect well with the major international flights to Europe. The flying time from Johannesburg is 2 hours on a 42 seat ATR aircraft. On Tuesdays and Fridays these flights collect passengers from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, with an onward flying time of just 1 hour. This facilitates an effortless beach and bush experience.

There are also regular flights on Travelmax from Lanseria northern Johannesburg, LAM from OR Tambo, Lanseria and Maputo, and on Swazi Airlines connecting with Matsapha and Durban. Visas are available on arrival (currently US$31 but note this is subject to frequent change). Airport taxes are charged at the airport, US Dollars, South African Rands and Meticals are accepted. Currently US$3 on arrival and US$ 30 on departure.

Azura operates a state of the art 6 seater Eurocopter helicopter for the transfers from Vilanculos to Benguerra Island. The flying time is approx. 10 minutes, and will connect with your arriving/departing flight. This should be booked at the same time as your accommodation.

For those with an aversion to air travel, Azura will transfer you by speedboat on request and subject to availability. Transfer time is 15 minutes by minibus to the port, then 25-45 minutes by boat depending on sea conditions. Guests choosing to transfer by boat should be prepared for a knee deep walk through the sea.

 

Azura Lodge, Benguerra Island - www.aricansafaris.travel


Accommodation:

Our hand built villas blend modern chic with all that is traditional in Mozambique. The creature comforts you would expect from a luxury boutique resort are there, set off by locally sourced wooden beams and traditional artwork beneath a thatched jekka roof.

Each is just footsteps from the beach, yet designed with seclusion in mind. Nestled amidst indigenous gardens, we have created your own sanctuary. A haven of rest and relaxation, where you can feel at one with the environment. A fusion of indoor and outdoor space where time becomes your own.

Wander down to the pristine white beach and welcoming azure sea beyond. Lounge around on plump cushions on your daybed, or tan in private and cool off in your sparkling plunge pool. Dine on your deck, or sip champagne in your beachside Sala as the sun goes down. Lie in your bath and gaze at the view, or shower beneath the stars. Do whatever you want to do. Our villas are a welcoming place to stay. You may not want to leave them at all.

You’ll have a dedicated Mozambican host to look after you during your stay. They’ll take care of all your needs, including serving your meals, arranging activities and joining you on excursions . They are part of Azura’s commitment to the community and upliftment of the country’s people. Many of them have very little in the way of formal education, but they have a genuine warmth and friendliness, and will delight in looking after you.

 

Azura Lodge, Benguerra Island - www.aricansafaris.travel


Facilities:

Our public areas are open to the beach and sea with amazing vistas across calm blue waters to the Indian Ocean beyond. Furnished with cool contemporary cottons and the textures of Africa, they are open to the breezes, in harmony with nature. Comfortable, simple, spacious and chic.

Wander in and out as you please. Find a quiet corner to read a book, or a place to share the stories of your day with others. Sip the cocktail of the day on the beach with your feet in the sand, or snack on fresh sushi in the Star Bar when the fishermen have been lucky in their catch. All meals and ‘house’ beverages are included at Azura.

Learn more about the environment you are in with our Marine Biologist or Community Guide, be amazed by our signature Island Hopping Experience, or browse our collection of handcrafted artifacts, designer clothing and jewelry at the Trading Store. The mod cons are there too if you need them, with TV and internet discreetly tucked away in our library.

Our staff are always on hand to look after your every need. Or simply wander off and discover more of what this beautiful island has to offer. It all right there, waiting for you.

Azura (Benguerra Island) Mozambique - www.africansafaris.travelOur uniquely African spa:

Azura’s spa has 2 double treatment rooms located right on the beach and open to the breezes so that you feel at one with nature. Our signature treatments are based on local ingredients and traditions, and offer a wonderfully relaxing and pampering experience.

On arrival you will change into your gown and our therapists will explain your treatment while undertaking a traditional African foot washing ritual out on the deck of the treatment room. Afterwards you can shower off in the open air shower, before relaxing once again on the sea view deck with refreshments.

Our signature treatments take their inspiration from the very heart of Africa. Be rubbed down with 5 carats of genuine diamond dust in our ‘Diamonds are Forever’ Scrub for the ultimate in glitz. Or try a ‘Butter me up’ wrap using a unique blend of African body butters and oils, including the highly prized Mongongo Nut Oil. Follow that up with a relaxing massage using the new beauty miracle, Marula Oil.

Or try something different with our Tribal Traditions massage, where olive and shea butter is poured all over the body, massage strokes mimic the beating of African drums, and massage staffs hued from local wood are used on both body and face, finishing off with African rainsticks to leave you with a sense of lasting peace and calm. Nothing is hurried at the Azura Spa. Relax, lie back and be pampered. Couples are encouraged to have their treatments together to take advantage of the Azura Spa’s beautiful romantic setting!




Azura (Benguerra Island) Mozambique - www.africansafaris.travel

Dining at Azura is an important part of your experience with us. .

Our top chef combines local ingredients with contemporary style and flair, with an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood. We always offer a choice of dishes, and our chef will happily try to accommodate any personal requests that you may have. Breakfast is to order in the restaurant, including a special of the day or your choice of full English. Lunch may be a picnic if you are out enjoying an activity, or informal dining at the Star Bar, or at the Gekko Deck with your feet in the sand.

Dinner is always a special event, eaten on the beach by candlelight beneath the stars whenever we can. There’s a choice of main course, with the emphasis on local seafood, and we offer snacks in the Star Bar before dinner including fresh sushi when our fishermen have been lucky in their catch. Our 7 course tasting menu showcasing the chef’s favorite creations is a highlight of the week, along with our ‘Fruits de Mer’ platter and Traditional Dhow Barbeque.

We offer a variety of special dining options too, including secluded beach picnics or romantic candle lit private beach dinners at your villa. We ask younger children to eat supper early or in their villa, and our chef will happily make a range of children’s meals in discussion with you on arrival. A wonderful selection of house wines, local beers and spirits is included in your stay at Azura, as well as a cocktail of the day which your butler/host will bring to your Sala as the sun goes down. We also have a range of premium wines, champagnes and spirits available on request.




Azura (Benguerra Island) Mozambique - www.africansafaris.travel

Activities:

A kaleidoscope of colours greets you above and below the ocean. Magnificent reefs for diving and snorkeling, home to the turtles that nest on the island’s outer shores. Migrating whales, dolphins, and the elusive and protected dugong ply these waters, along with marlin, sailfish and tuna to tempt the sports fishermen. On land, towering sand dunes give way to indigenous bush abundant with local flora and fauna, an interesting variety of birdlife, as well as the odd crocodile or two at the lakes. The island’s local people make for fascinating cultural encounters, and the starry night sky is quite magnificent to behold. Guests staying more than 3 nights will receive a free Landrover island drive, sunset dhow cruise, and 15 minute refresher massage on arrival (subject to availability). We also arrange lots of special treats for honeymooners!

Many of our activities are focused around the sea and reefs of Benguerra Island. You can snorkel, dive or fish the waters which are abundant with marine life. Watch the sunset as you sail on our dhow, or cruise to deserted beaches to look for pansy shells. Gaze at the dolphins, who are regular visitors to our beach, or track down humpback whales on their migration past the island’s shores (seasonal). Scuba Diving •Padi 5 Star dive centre with all new Scubapro equipment

 

 

Azura (Benguerra Island) Mozambique - www.africansafaris.travelScuba Diving

• Padi 5 Star dive centre with all new Scubapro equipment
• Full range of instructional courses from discover scuba upwards (Padi MSDT Instructor• Dedicated watersports centre with dive training pool
• DAN equipped 8m diving rib
•• Varied and interesting reefs with several species of turtle, dolphins, shark, pelagics, moray eels, eagle rays and a wonderful array of reef fish and corals

Snorkeling

• The world famous aquarium at 2 mile reef
• Nearby Ponto Dundo

Fishing

• Wonderful selection of reef fish for beginners and advanced alike
• Some of the world’s best fishing for Marlin, Sailfish and Tuna• Giant Trevally (GT’s) are the area’s speciality and occur year round
• Azura has a fully equipped fishing boat with local guides
• Specialist guides are available in the area and can usually be arranged if required
• Tag and release policy

Pansy island visits

•This island emerges from the sea at low tide
•Take a picnic and look for pansy shells

Dhow sailing

• Time stands still as you enjoy snacks and drinks on our 40 foot traditional dhow as the sun goes down

Land based Activities

There are land based activities too. Take a tour of the island, and experience the local culture. Climb the dunes, some of which are scattered with the remnants of ancient Arab pottery. Visit the island’s lakes and spot a crocodile or two. Discover the local fauna and flora. Take a long walk and we will meet you with a picnic.

Or join one of our star gazing events and lie back and listen to the ancient African stories that chart the cosmos. The view of the stars and milky way from Azura is quite spectacular. /p

• Unique African spa
• Land Rover Island drives
• Cultural encounters
• Birdwatching
• Beach picnics
• Star gazing
• Day trips to Vilanculos
•• Small exercise room

Conservation:

Our dedication to conservation and the community lies at the heart of everything we do. Being a luxury resort with all mod cons we are not ‘eco’ in the traditional sense of the word, but have defined our own ‘eco’ in terms of our focus on the community and the preservation of the pristine environment that we find ourselves in. We are one of only a handful of resorts in Mozambique where the community are major contributors and stakeholders. Gabriel and his family, after whom the site is named, first established a Tourism business here several years ago. They are major stakeholders in the resort, and continue to be involved on a daily basis.

Building Azura

Rather than bring in outside contractors with no benefit to the local community, we trained the local islanders in vital building skills which will enable them to find new employment in the booming construction industry going forwards. They built Azura by hand. We used just one cement mixer and 1 truck in the construction, with everything other than sand for the building coming in by fleets of local dhows to help the community. The wood that was used was from sustainable sources, the window frames and doors made locally, our jekka sourced from local women who we established in their own business to supply us, and some of our huge supporting beams were from trees that were downed in the recent cyclone. Many of the furnishings were handmade by the local community, and as you look around Azura a number of the things you see will have been made by disadvantaged communities across Southern Africa.

We put an environmental and community specialist on the ground at Azura before even making the first brick (we made our own), as we wanted their advice on having a minimal environmental footprint whilst not compromising on the luxury elements that our clients require. We used sustainable building materials where possible, installed solar powered showers for guests and eco-detergents in our laundry, small steps but important ones. We also have a state of the art sewerage treatment plant and recycle our grey water for the gardens to prevent environmental seepage.

Ethical sustainable Tourism

Azura is seen by the Mozambican authorities as a model for ethical sustainable community based Tourism. We have a firm policy of upliftment at Azura, which means all of our butlers, housekeeping staff, gardeners and so on are Mozambican. Typically they have grown up in disadvantaged communities with poor education, and are being trained by Azura. By staying with us you are helping them to advance their skills.

At the highest level this includes Gabriel’s son Zito who is currently undertaking a 3 year Diploma in Hospitality at the International Hotel School in Durban, South Africa. Zito finished his formal education at the age of 8, like many of the local islanders we employ, and is a source of inspiration for them. When staying with us please remember they are welcoming you to their home, a country which until recently was amongst the poorest in the world. In return, with your help, we do our best to make their home a better place for them and their families.

Carbon-Neutral Status

Azura has just been approved by the Carbon Neutral Company in the UK as Mozambique’s first carbon-neutral resort. To achieve this status, Azura underwent a rigorous assessment of its total carbon emissions, which were calculated as 773 tons per year. We are currently selecting projects from which to purchase carbon credits to offset all of our emissions.

Rainbow Fund

Our Rainbow Fund supports a variety of social and environmental projects large and small. From building a new school (which was unfortunately destroyed in the cyclone but will be re-built with your donations), to sponsoring the local football team. We work alongside the National Park and local communities wherever we can and have a dedicated environmentalist and community officer at Azura.

Some of our community initiatives include running health/hygiene and AIDS awareness campaigns on the island, and basic literacy training which included English lessons for the Parks Board rangers. We are still working on a number of environmental initiatives, including our quest to be Mozambique’s first carbon neutral resort by 2010.

We will add $10 a night to your stay towards our Rainbow Fund. It’s not compulsory, but we hope that you will want to be part of helping preserve what you will have discovered during your stay at Azura.

 

  Accommodation Rates:- From $795 per person per night sharing. Please contact us for a quote and suggested itinerary. 

 

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