If you forget to pack your shampoo on a trip to Azura Benguerra, don’t worry: just ask for local guide Paulo Zivane. He’ll take you out and help you gather a handful of a ground-creeping plant called devil’s thorn. Pour water on it, scrunch it up and it exudes a gelatinous goo that the locals on this island in Mozambique use as shampoo. You could also use the complimentary shampoo in your five-star villa, of course, but
where’s the fun in that?
Azura Retreats designed its lodge on Benguerra to be eco- and community-friendly, training its staff on an island where unemployment was previously rife and subsistence fishing was the way of life. Zivane landscapes the gardens and leads the tours, during which he points out the native plants and takes you to a school partly built by the Azura Rainbow Fund. You leave promising to track down Portuguese books for 350 kids who attend in two shifts, because there are only two classrooms and six teachers.
Azura Benguerra lodge is gorgeous and its construction provided employment for 450 islanders, some of them handmoulding the bricks.
Each of its 17 spacious villas has its own beachfront, a small pool and his and hers outdoor showers.
The island’s big attractions are its pristine, near deserted beaches, snorkelling, diving, dhow cruises and horse-riding. In the evenings, be sure to challenge the barmen to a game of Tsoro, the addictive board game involving strategy and seed pods.
Benguerra is a short helicopter flip away from Vilanculos airport on mainland Mozambique and offers special rates for South African visitors. Visit: www.azura-retreats.com– Lesley Stones
TEL: +27 21 426 0991
FAX: +27 21 422 0337
SKYPE ID: tcorp_andrew