AFRICA SPECIAL

24-Hour Room Service: Azura, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

There's time, there's African time and then there's Azura time. The lodge, on Benguerra Island, sets its clocks later than the mainland to allow guests an extra hour of sunshine. You even get your own host to cater to your every whim.

After almost two decades of civil war and over a decade of peace, Mozambique is once again Africa's hottest beach destination. Benguerra is one of five tropical idylls that make up the Bazaruto Archipelago, and enterprising British couple, Christopher and Stella Bettany – along with their Mozambican partner, Gabriel – have turned the site of a backpacker's hostel into a luxurious environmentally sensitive haven.

A pebble's throw from the startling blues of the Indian Ocean, on powder-fine sand, Azura is perfect for a post-safari wind down. The rustic beach-chic lounge, Star Bar, Gecko Deck and dining room were all constructed by locals from fallen trees, with bushy jekka-thatched roofs open to the sea breeze.

Guests can spend their days in blissful indolence, flitting from day bed to lounger, pool to ocean or picnic on a shell-strewn sand spit then sail into the sunset on a creaky dhow. For the more energetic there is snorkelling and scuba diving on the pristine reefs or fly-fishing in the shallows.

In the evenings, guests gather for cocktails and relaxed chat to the strains of ambient marrabenta – a blend of pop, Mozambican and Portuguese folk music – accompanied by the freshest sushi, before feasting on the catch of the day. It doesn't get more romantic than dining with your feet in the sand under the star-studded sky, surrounded by a multitude of twinkling candles.

Azura does its bit to preserve the idyllic surroundings. It was built from sustainable materials, uses solar-powered showers and boasts environmentally friendly bathroom products. As well as implementing a recycling scheme, the lodge provides employment for the local population, while its Rainbow Fund offsets your hedonism with a variety of community and environmental projects, including the island's only school.



Location

Azura at Gabriel's, Benguerra Island, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique (00 27 11 258 0180, www.azura-retreats.com). Situated in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, Benguerra Island lies 14km north east of Vilanculos, the nearest mainland town.

Time to international airport: There's a daily two-hour flight from Johannesburg to Vilanculos. From there, you can hop into Azura's private helicopter or speedboat; 15 minutes later you'll be sipping your welcome drink and booking your complimentary de-stress massage.



Comfortable?

The 14 spacious villas are cool, calm and contemporary. A huge bed clad in sea-coloured linens sits within a netting cocoon, while shell-encrusted lampshades and driftwood-framed mirrors complement the marine theme. In the equally large bathroom, the mosaic-tiled shower and tub are large enough to share, or opt for the twin al fresco showers.

Sliding glass doors open on to a wooden veranda, artfully uniting inside and outside space. The veranda itself overlooks a luxuriant private garden and infinity pool, just footsteps from the beach. If you're feeling sun-frazzled, head to the spa for a soothing treatment using traditional African ingredients: the aloe and tamarind wrap, perhaps, or a warm marula oil massage.

Freebies: Mini-bar, Molton Brown lotions, laundry service, internet access, de-stress massage, island drive, sunset dhow cruise.

Keeping in touch: Direct-dial telephones in every villa; TV, DVDs, Wi-Fi and free internet access in the library.



The Bottom Line

Villas start at $900 (£514), full board; minimum two-night stay. A helicopter transfer from Vilanculos costs $150 (£86) per person each way.

I'm not paying that: Casa Rex (00 258 293 82048, www.casa-rex.com) in Vilanculos has doubles from $190 (£109) per night.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power