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.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup