Bazaruto National Park

Top choice in Bazaruto Archipelago

Mozambique, Bazaruto Archipelago. Divers kit up on a zodiac, ready to explore the stunning coral reefs off Benguerra Island.

Getty Images/AWL Images RM

This1400-sq-km park protects the five islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, plus surrounding waters. Thanks to this protected status, and to the archipelago's relative isolation from the ravages of war on the mainland, nature bursts forth in full force, with dozens of bird species, including fish eagles and pink flamingos, plus red duikers, bushbucks and, especially on Benguera, Nile crocodiles.

Dolphins swim through the clear waters, along with 2000 types of fish, plus loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Most intriguing are the elusive dugongs, who spend their days foraging among seagrass meadows around the archipelago. Living amid all the natural beauty are about 3500 Mozambicans who call the archipelago home.

National-park entry fees are normally collected by the island hotels, and in advance by most Vilankulo-based dhow-safari operators. Park headquarters are located at Sitone, on the western side of Bazaruto Island. While fees for diving, walking and other activities within the archipelago have been approved in principle, they are not currently being enforced.