I wanted to go to Mozambique in July or August, and the best way to fit it in was to go over my birthday, so I booked the trip without giving much thought to where I would actually turn 30. As it turned out, I got lucky, and my birthday fell right on the highlight of the week in Mozambique — a two-day trip to the Bazaruto archipelago.
The archipelago is a group of six islands just off the coast of Mozambique, which have pristine beaches and diverse marine life. The islands were formed by sand deposits from the Save River and the entire archipelago, along with its surrounding waters, has been a national park since 1971.
We left from Vilanculos, a coastal town near Bazaruto, and spent two days sailing in a dhow (a traditional type of sailboat used all over the Indian Ocean), with stops to snorkel at various islands and coral reefs. In case you’ve forgotten what I look like (I have been away for a while now), you can find me by looking for the glittery pink hat, which everyone in my group agreed was a good birthday look.
While on the dhow, we saw several dugongs, which are manatee-like sea mammals that are currently close to extinction. The dugong is believed to be the source of the mermaid myth, although it’s not easy to see why — dugongs are not exactly the most woman-like of animals. The sailors who supposedly mistook dugongs for mermaids way back must have been at sea for a looong time, or maybe hallucinating from scurvy.
The snorkeling was beautiful and we saw countless colors and species of fish, coral, and marine plants. I did believe at times that I was being stalked by vicious gangs of jellyfish, since they seemed to turn up in whichever direction I swam, but it was worth it. I didn’t have an underwater camera, but these photos were taken from the boat — so you can imagine what you could see underwater with goggles.
The dhow was equipped with a fire pit where the crew prepared our meals, and some fishing line that they used while sailing to catch snacks for themselves.
I developed some minor concerns about the dhow’s seaworthiness when I noticed the crew periodically bailing out not-insignificant quantities of water.
Thankfully, my concerns turned out to be unwarranted, although I’m not sure I would have minded being shipwrecked on any one of these islands:
We spent the night at a lovely campsite on one of the islands, where we drank champagne (a birthday surprise thanks to my fantastic camping buddies) out of tin cups around the campfire, hung out on the deserted beach under an almost-full moon, and then woke up to another stunning sunrise.
The next day, we spent the afternoon at Bazaruto island, where we walked up huge dunes of soft white sand and were rewarded with breathtaking views of the island (after the first dune) and the entire archipelago (a few more levels up).
All in all, I would say it was an extremely happy birthday 🙂