Six am in winter and it’s already hot and sunny on Vamizi and this untouched island is waiting to be explored. But first you have to get out your huge four-poster bed – the ten chalets on Vamizi are enormous and truly luxurious, each with a private deck overlooking a private stretch of beach. The distance between them (approx 70 metres) ensures great privacy. Eight-kilometres of white beach fills the space between the lush indigenous forest and the warm sea. Vamizi Lodge is expensive, but it is worth it. To go to Vamizi is to enjoy the best the Quirimbas in Mozambique can offer – an untouched environment, first-class accommodation, isolation, a passion for conservation, world-class diving. It’s not the luxury that you are paying for, it’s the extreme location, and the exclusivity. And here you can see clearly how your tourist dollar directly supports important conservation work.
The Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism project, known as ‘Maluane’, is possibly the most ambitious tourism project in the world. The Mozambique government, Zoological Society of London, local community and private donors have formed a partnership to conserve and develop three islands and a vast area of mainland. Vamizi was the first lodge to open, in January 2006.
Projects include monitoring turtles, dugongs, coral, fisheries and elephants. Over 300 turtle nests (Hawksbill and Green) have been recorded and protected to date, and between July and April you may see one of these ancient creatures come up on the beach to lay it’s eggs.
Diving in the Quirimbas, Mozambique
The diving and snorkelling are out of this world. Already 350 species of reef fish and 30 different genera of coral have been recorded. The waters are crystal clear and the reef untouched by the ravages of man.
There are more than 10 dive sites available. Most are only 10 or 15 minutes from Vamizi by boat and diving costs from £25 per person per dive. There is a fully equipped dive centre and certified diving courses are available for the inexperienced. For the experienced, there is a wall dive which drops from 15 to 190 metres.
Fishing at Vamizi
The sea teems with game fish including sailfish, marlin, tuna, barracuda and wahoo. For fly-fishers, bone-fish are regularly caught. Vamizi has a 33 ft custom built boat fully equipped for deep sea / blue water fishing.
International contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood including lobster, prawns, calamari, crab and whatever has come out of the sea today.
If all you want to do is relax, the coastline is dotted with tiny coves calling to be explored; or walk through the forests, disturbed only by the birdlife (132 species recorded) and the samango monkeys. The island is the shape of a thin crescent moon, 12 kms in length and about 1½ kms wide. There are various mountain bike trails, and you can visit the fishing village to meet the locals and see their way of life. If the island feels too small, ask to be taken to Runghi, a deserted neighbouring island. You can be left on the beach there with a picnic lunch. What else? Swim, paint, read, drink, play chess, soak up the sun, take a dhow cruise – there is almost too much to do here.
The ten spacious and well-equipped sea-facing chalets have been designed to allow cool air to circulate. There is a paddle-fan above the bed, and another in the sitting area, but no air-conditioning. The bathroom has a powerful shower.
The chalets are spaced out for privacy and, though set back from the beach, there is a sea-view from both bed and verandah. The sitting room is open, with comfortable armchairs and a mini-bar. In front of the sitting room there is an open deck with sun-loungers.
There are two family units – each has two en-suite bedrooms with a shared sitting area. The rooms are 25 metres apart and connected by a raised deck. Suitable for two couples, two singles or a family.
The common areas are equally comfortable and stylish. One structure houses a large lounge and bar, a second contains the dining room. Dinner often takes place on the adjoining beach.
Getting to Vamizi
The island is in the far north of the archipelago, 260 kms north of Pemba and just 60 kms south of the Tanzanian border. Vamizi has its own new 12-seater plane, and the flight from Pemba takes about 75 minutes. The airstrip is at the opposite end of the island, close to the village, and it is a 30 minute drive across the island to the lodge. Scheduled flights to/from Pemba run twice-weekly and cost from £180 per person one-way (based on two people). Alternatively, you can fly from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. There are three scheduled flights a week to connect with the BA flights. These scheduled flights cost from £395 per person one-way (based on two people).