Each day at low tide, the waters of the Mozambique Channel recede just enough to reveal the Bazaruto Archipelago’s sandy shoals, stretching far into the ocean and blurring the boundary between land and sea. From above, the scene is a swirl of pearl and turquoise—a vision that greets guests of Benguerra Island when the helicopter ride is timed just right, and a breathtaking introduction to the isle’s dazzling natural wonders.
Strung along a splendid crescent of sand, the thatched cottages of andBeyond Benguerra Island look out over Bazaruto National Park—Mozambique’s only marine reserve, home to a stunning array of creatures big and small. While the sparkling waters always beckon, inland encounters reveal an unexpected tropical paradise of towering sand dunes, flamingo-filled lakes, and traditional fishing villages dotted with beached dhows. Back at the lodge, the program is all ocean dips and hammock naps, capped off with a lantern-lit meal at the water’s edge.
When andBeyond purchased Benguerra in 2015, they set out to transform the property from a rustic fishing lodge into a multifaceted eco retreat, infusing a conservation ethos into its reincarnation. The new owners began with an environmentally conscious remodel, and then took their sustainability initiatives out to sea. Though the surrounding waters were already protected by a marine reserve, inhabitants of the undersea were still facing significant threats from the nets of traditional fishing dhows.
The lodge took a two-pronged approach to the problem, partnering with Ocean Without Borders to fund marine patrols and aerial surveillance programs, while also helping islanders establish alternative food sources and livelihoods to reduce their dependency on the ocean’s resources. In the process, Benguerra has taken care to honor fishing as a defining tradition of the island, encouraging local fishermen to target more abundant species and hiring them to skipper catch-and-release excursions for guests.
The waters surrounding Benguerra Island are home to Africa's last sustainable population of dugongs, and guests who book their stay through National Geographic are exclusively invited on a boating excursion in the Mozambique Channel to seek out these rare marine mammals. Set out with a marine conservationist or an expert guide and learn about the dugong and other wildlife that inhabit the channel, and hear about the important conservation initiatives the lodge is involved in, such as the Dugong Emergency Protection Project. Then dive into the turquoise waters for a chance to snorkel or swim with these elusive creatures.
From its earliest days on the archipelago, andBeyond Benguerra Island has engaged the local community in their operation, continually seeking out ways to sustainably develop the surrounding villages. The lodge has partnered with the Africa Foundation to plant vegetable gardens, build a much-needed community center for the island’s spread-out population, distribute safe lighting sources to prevent fires, and relocate fresh water wells closer to the main village. and Beyond Benguerra Island almost exclusively hires locals, with nearly 95% of staff hailing from the islands. An annual lodge-sponsored internship program prepares young people for future employment opportunities at the property or, if they wish, beyond the archipelago.
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