Kisawa Sanctuary on Mozambique’s Benguerra Island has been consciously designed to nurture the bond between people and place, life and land – with the express purpose of blending the wilderness and ocean surrounds with the resort’s impeccable hospitality and style.
Benguerra Island, Bazaruto Archipelago
The much anticipated recently opened eco-retreat is located on a 300-hectare sanctuary of forest, beach and burnt sand dunes on the southernmost point of Benguerra Island just 14 kilometres off Vilanculos on the Eastern coast of Africa. The unspoilt and sparsely inhabited island forms part of the Bazaruto Archipelago, neighbouring the WWF proclaimed National Marine Park which is home to some of the richest and least explored subtropical ocean ecosystems in the Indian Ocean.
A pristine paradise ringed by powdery white sand beaches and clear blue waters crisscrossed by local dhows plying their trade. Sunny days and star-studded nights as well as the dramatically ebbing tides set the rhythm for your stay on this destination that’s famed for diving and snorkelling some of the world’s finest coral reefs, horseback riding through the dunes, and extended shoreline walks.
The Private Residences
Kisawa Sanctuary brings wellbeing and generous hospitality together in the form of their remarkable spaces, the Residences. Each 200sqm Residence is housed within its one-acre plot, offering minimum disturbance and maximum appreciation of the natural environment. This approach allows guests to feel looked after in a way that is relaxed and suited to them. Offering a combination of 12 one, two and three-bedroom bungalows, each positioned with a private beach, open-air deck, infinity pool, an outdoor day area and kitchen.
Each has been individually furnished with a unique interior and colour palette featuring predominantly custom-designed and African made furniture. The feeling of privacy is achieved through distance and volume; high ceilings and abundant private deck space, connecting day areas and personal pools that are not in view of neighbouring bungalows. Impeccably styled in natural woods, thatch and carefully curated materials enhanced by splashes of colour brought by the traditional art and fabrics. Each enjoys an expansive bathroom, large stone bath, outdoor shower and perfectly positioned day beds.
The primary Founding Residence features two bungalows connected via an open-air deck, each with custom-built interiors featuring large living rooms, king bedrooms, two dressing rooms each, joint bathrooms and two individual powder rooms per bungalow. The bungalows share an open-air deck space with a separate day area, an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor living room, an outdoor shower and an infinity pool.
Each Residence comes with a dedicated personal butler, chef and housekeeper. Plus mini mokes for getting around the island. Beyond the Residences are the restaurants, lounge areas, pools and bars, which guests meet at to linger over sundowners, or to simply appreciate a slightly different view of this paradise.
Design has led the Kisawa story
Kisawa Sanctuary is a proud pairing of innovation and tradition. Believing in inclusive design, they work closely with skilled artisans from Benguerra Island as well as patented 3D printing technology in keeping with their innovative space in the tourism industry. All decisions have been taken with the protection of the environment in mind, and to ensure a light footprint on this pristine natural landscape. The resort’s vision is to be regenerative, rather than disruptive. True to their eco-retreat form, the design is placed to ensure the guest experience is fully and consciously integrated into Mozambique.
Dine the Seven Seas
Throughout Kisawa Sanctuary find seven culinary locations, each in keeping with the property’s ethos and commitment to bring the best of Africa to the guests in fresh and modern ways. Led by Culinary Director, Joseph Moubayed, they have built a network of farmers and fishermen from within the Inhambane province, supplying natural, local produce from within 300km of Kisawa Sanctuary, with as much as possible grown and made in the Kisawa Kitchen. Across four dining venues, two bars and multiple on-location culinary experiences, at Kisawa, the cuisine is focused on local produce and personalisation.
The dining options include The Cove Mussassa – a relaxed, outdoor beach cafe with an emphasis on laid back dining, fresh dishes and catch of the day. The Ocean Mussassa, Main Terrace and Library – the extended living room with a wood-burning fireplace offering refined global cuisine with a custom robata counter. The Baracca – serving Mozambican dishes with South Indian flavours to match on a secluded part of Kisawa most easily accessed by dhow.
Curated Ocean Driven Activities
The model at Kisawa Sanctuary is to allow guests to explore the range of adventures and activities on offer at their own pace. There are no schedules here, just self-proclaimed island time. Among the offerings is a range of adventure, water sports, conservation and community orientated activities to choose from, as the option of a night out well dune glamping, moonlight BBQs and beachside picnics.
If you’re on the island for the water sports, look to the SUP outside your room or kayak the protected cove beyond the property. Snorkel on one of the three Kisawa house reefs or travel with your guide to Magaruque Island, 2-mile reef or 5-mile reef for additional snorkelling adventures within the marine reserve. Skilled PADI certified divers can enjoy expeditions to the nearby underwater cave systems, seamounts and pinnacles, or simply explore the open ocean reef with its plentiful sea life.
Other options, beyond lazing in your sala and working on your tan, include hikes with your nature guide, climbing the famed Red Dune – the tallest in East Africa – that offers spectacular views towards the Indian Ocean and a visit to Crocodile Lake, where an elusive croc family has been living for the past fifty years.
For something a bit more discerning, step aboard one of the 37 ft Axopar vessels at the Barraca and travel to Bazaruto, Paradise for a day of island hopping in search of one of the 200 dugongs left in the region. Spot the three types of resident dolphins within the island channel or out at sea; Common, Spinner or Humpback. Catch a glimpse of the many birds species who frequent the archipelago reserve and settle for a picnic on one of the beautiful spots along the way.
At Kisawa, true to its Sanctuary theme, you’ll find the stand-alone spa that specialises in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic offerings. While the Natural Wellness Centre is focused on achieving health and balance ‘through unity of mind, body and spirit’. All treatments are available in the privacy of your bungalow, or the Natural Wellness Centre.
Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies
Putting her effort where her passion is, Kisawa Founder Nina Flohr has worked closely on the development of Kisawa’s sister organisation, the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS). Positioned at the opposite end of the island it uses its strategic location to collate data that supports the environmental management of the region. A visit to the BCSS provides valuable insight into the work being done by the ocean observatory, and the multi-ecosystems research in Africa it contributes to. During your stay, you can join the BCSS team in conducting fieldwork research, both on-land and in the waters of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Join a permaculture tour and visit the precious mangrove swamps, adding a feel-good impactive extension to your time in the region.
What we love about Kisawa Sanctuary
– That Kisawa has been created with heart and to bring together nature, culture and people.
– With Summer loading in the Southern Hemisphere and the warm tropical waters inviting, Kisawa is the ideal, safe and exclusive option with minimal logistics and maximum freedom once arrived. An extremely inviting factor after the last year.
– We love the concept of privately hosted and catered Residences, whether you are a couple on a romantic getaway, a family or an intimate group of friends. This facilitates the prospect of exclusivity and privacy, as you are hosted by your dedicated host, guide and cook.
– That the property is run by a passionate team of 220 staff, with 90% of the operational team from Africa and the remainder of the team combining their varied and extensive expertise from around the world.
– Kisawa welcomes children of all ages and has a lovely focus on ensuring that families relax in the surroundings and quality time with each other. It is a children’s – and adult’s playground.
Kisawa Sanctuary is accessible by sea and by air. The closest airport is Mozambique’s Vilanculos International Airport (VNX) which is serviced by flights from Johannesburg (JNB) and Maputo (MPT). From Vilankulos, Kisawa offers a personalised transfer to the island either by 8-minute helicopter flight or by 15–20 minute boat ride. Both are weather dependant.
As recommended by AMADI, a conscious luxury travel brand that designs journeys for like-minded travellers across Africa, constantly striving to source the most unique and elegant destinations for our clients. Connect with AMADI for additional information and assistance with your travel arrangements. A minimum of three nights is mandatory at Kisawa Sanctuary – we recommend more.
Pg 22-23.1. The Residences at Kisawa Sanctuary are set snug against the bleached white shoreline with uninterrupted views towards the warm Indian Ocean waters.
Pg 24-251. The accommodation is set within the cove or along the oceanfront and offers a maximum appreciation of the natural environment.2. Immaculately furnished, the bungalows showcase unique interiors featuring predominantly custom-designed and African made furniture in the most soothing of palettes.3. A generous living room, king bedroom, two dressing rooms, joint bathroom and individual powder rooms open onto the deck, outdoor living room, and infinity pool.4. The Cove Mussassa is a relaxed, outdoor beach cafe with an emphasis on laid back dining, fresh dishes and the catch of the day.5. Kisawa’s Day Area invites aspiring barefoot living on the water’s edge.
Pg 26-271. Enjoy a sunset red dune picnic, the ideal way to round off a perfect day.2. True to the Sanctuary theme, Kisawa’s Gym and Spa in their Natural Wellness Centre offer holistic treatments with a purpose.3. Join a beach clean up with the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies, Africa’s first permanent ocean observatory purposefully built alongside Kisawa.4. Sail on the Kisawa Dhow around the southern bay of the island and across the cove side of the sanctuary.
Pg 28-291. The Kisawa bungalow’s bathrooms have remarkable carved baths that open up to the beachfront.2. Dive in one the most pristine reefs where abundant marine life enjoys protection. If not PADI qualified, an instructor can train you in the comfort of your bungalow pool.3. The outdoor pool area of Kisawa’s remarkable Founding Residence.4. Join BCSS for the day to learn the best permaculture and gardening practices and how we integrate this into community initiatives.5. Kisawa’s numerous culinary locations keep with the ethos and commitment of bringing the best of Africa to the guests in fresh, delicious and modern ways.
Pg 301. Hospitality from the heart, the property is run by a passionate team of highly trained, warmly welcoming individuals that are predominantly from the area.
** Read my other articles from AMADI travel as featured in Hamaji Magazine.
** Pics supplied by Kisawa Sanctuary.