In the Mozambique Channel, 700 km north of Maputo, five sparsely inhabited, tropical coral reef islands form the Bazaruto Marine Park. Here, warm turquoise seas shelter a wealth of marine life. Venture inland from the crystal white beaches and you will find freshwater lakes inhabited by crocodiles and myriad birds; or sail silently up to the graceful flamingos in a traditional dhow and watch some of the 125 species of bird of the area. Access to the area is through Vilanculos airport on the mainland, followed by either a boat ride or a short flight, by helicopter or light aircraft, to the islands.
Flamingos frequent the tidal flats and you can silently approach them in a traditional dhow, with its triangular sail, and watch some of the 160+ species of bird identified in the area. Bird species include olive bee-eaters, green coucals, green pigeons, mannikins, paradise fly-catchers, purple banded and black sunbirds, bartailed godwits, whimbrels and crab plovers.
The archipelago is renowned for its pristine reefs and for the diversity of its marine life, and offers world-class diving and fishing. Take a boat trip and you may be rewarded with sightings of dolphins, marine turtles, humpback whales (in season) or the endangered dugong.
Bazaruto Island is 37 km long and 7 km wide. The west of the island is savannah grassland and thicket. By contrast, the east side is characterised by towering sand dunes, which change colour in the different lights of the day. The island of Benguerra is even smaller, just 11 km long by 5 km wide and has an incredible diversity of habitat including marine grass meadows, tidal flats, swamp forests and sand dunes, evergreen forest and grasslands. The freshwater lakes are evidence of the island’s ancient connection to the mainland.
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