If you’re planning a trip to Vilanculos in Mozambique (which you really should be, for reasons I will be going into very soon), be sure to set aside three days for a Sailaway Dhow Safari. It is, quite simply, the best way to explore the extraordinary Bazaruto Archipelago.
The Bazaruto Archipelago National Park is one of the largest marine parks in Africa, with a wide range of ecosystems – from sand dunes to freshwater lakes, sea grass to coral reefs and, of course, miles and miles of unspoilt sandy beaches and a wonderful array of marine and birdlife.
To explore the best of this archipelago, made up of Bazaruto, the largest island with giant dunes and amazing views, Benguerra, the second largest island, with the famous Two Mile Reef offshore, and Magaruque, a lovely little island that can be walked around in a few hours and has a beautiful base reef on one side, you need a boat. To explore the archipelago while having an authentic Mozambican experience and experiencing the ultimate in relaxation, you need a Sailaway Dhow Safari.
Essentially, you spend three full days on the dhow – travelling to a different island each day. Depending on the wind, the dhow either uses the sail or the motor to get you to where you’re going, and either way the pace is slow and relaxing, the motion of the ocean like rocking a baby to sleep. The dhows are staffed by a capable, friendly crew, including a magician of a chef who can whip up the most delicious seafood feasts on the back of the boat! I kid you not. Our first day he cooked us a mound of freshly caught crab, grilled fish, salad, rolls, fresh avocado and fruit, all on the back of a boat. Extraordinary.
Extraordinary, too, is the chance to explore the islands on foot and flipper. Sailaway has all the snorkelling equipment, fins and boots you need to clamber over rocks and jump into ideal snorkelling spots. The array of tropical fish and marine life is stunning; an hour or two spent snorkelling in clear, warm water is an experience that’s very difficult to beat.
That is, until you’re sailing home on the dhow and the chef whips up a giant bowl of hot, salty popcorn to be enjoyed as the sun dips into the sea. Oh yes, the dhow comes equipped with popcorn, too. And iced drinks. Which, after a long day in the sun and the sea, is as close to heaven as anyone will be able to find. I guarantee it.
So what are you waiting for? Go and book your ticket to Vilanculos. And once you’re there, book a Sailaway Dhow Safari. If you want the authentic experience, choose the camping option (Sailaway has its own campsite). If you want the luxe option, stay at Villas do Indico, a beautiful hotel a few kilometres from the camp. But either way, make it top of your Travelling List of Priorities!