Stefania’s fam trip for European operators to The Oyster Bay, Beho Beho and Vamizi Island – June 2014

After the fantastic experience in the bush of Southern Tanzania we all have been excited about a change of scenery – from bush to beach and from greens and gold to blues and white, but all enjoyed under the bluest of blue equatorial skies, and of course to a different type of action: swimming, snorkelling, diving, fishing, kayaking, beach combing, but still being in touch with nature at its finest.

The transfer was very smooth and we went from an early coffee in the bush to a latish lunch on the beach! The 0700 hrs flight from Beho Beho airstrip to Dar was 40 minutes, where upon arrival we were welcomed and assisted by Danstan, the very professional Vamizi airport manager, and taken to the Vamizi private air-conditioned lounge (if clients like they can also leave part of their luggage here and get it back when they return from Vamizi), filling in of immigration papers and being escorted to the small immigration office directly in the domestic terminal. Considering where we were (Dar es Salaam domestic airport can, to the uninitiated, appear quite chaotic) all went very smoothly and quickly.

At 10.00 we left for Vamizi in the twelve seater Cessna Grand Caravan via Mocimboa for immigration & customs into Mozambique (2 hours + another 12 minutes to the island). The stop at Mocimboa was very quick and efficient with Julio from Vamizi assisting in getting all passports stamped (for those who already had obtained a visa beforehand) and for getting the visa (for the 2 agents who did not have it – a bit longer process so it is advisable that all guests arrive with a visa). Whilst you wait all bags are scanned and some checked by security. In all the stop was 20 minutes and it gave us an opportunity to meet Paolo Kasa, the Coastal Aviation representative in Mozambique who was about to leave in his plane for Vamizi to collect guests and take them to Pemba Mozambique (only 50 minutes flight) to connect with their onward flight to Johannesburg. Saturdays and Wednesdays are ‘key days’ for guests arriving and leaving Vamizi – as the schedule services both from and to Dar and Pemba ( Mozambique) operate on these days.

Landing on Vamizi was great despite a strong wind and the newly surfaced runway being a major improvement since my visit of a year ago. We boarded the open 4×4 vehicle and went across the island on the bumpy coral road surrounded by forest … had we not left the bush???  Without any doubt Vamizi is an incredibly beautiful natural paradise where “deluxe” consists, not in the classic amenities of comfort found in five star resorts, but rather in being surrounded by an amazing pristine nature with almost no other human being.

We were welcomed by Ellie and Hamish Norris the new Island Managers, and by Philippa Glazer, now acting lodge manager, on behalf of Rob Palmer who was on holidays; when Rob gets back to the island then Phi will be taking over from Leigh as Private Villa Manager.

Unfortunately the weather was not as it normally is at this time of year, a front of wind and rain had just started and they expected it to last the usual couple of days …. but in truth only one day out of four was raining and two nights, for the rest of the time the sun was always shining. This certainly did not interrupt any of our activities and we managed to do it all: inspections of all the kitalas of the lodge and of all the private villas, fishing, snorkeling to the reef by boat, diving (my passion and soooo special in Vamizi), cultural visit to the local villages, nature walk across the forest to the south beach of the island where we also saw the castaway style – thatched facility at Muntu Nkulu used for special breakfasts, lunches, aperitifs and dinners. Then we went to see all the special picnic sites where they arrange incredibly romantic moments for honeymooners and couples and the new Clarabell’s site for sunset picnics. The only things we did not manage to do were the fantastic kayak trip up the estuary ( I did this last year) and the sunset dhow cruise (under repair but should be ready soon). You will not be surprised to learn that the wellness therapies were also “tested”: sunrise yoga and relaxing massages by Melissa, who is replacing Meg who was on holidays … Both really very very good.

We also tested ‘assistance in case of emergency’ – unwanted test this one! – but luckily all turned out very well: Africa Assist acted promptly and professionally and the emergency turned out not to be one, but better to take no risk when on an isolated island, but great to see such an efficient response.

As all good things come to an end so our four days on Vamizi finished and we flew back to Dar, via the same route and always with ground assistance granted by both Julio in Mocimboa da Paria and Danstan in Dar. Important to add here that the arrival time in Dar (1635) allows guests to connect directly to the Qatar Airways flight (check-in smoothly done at the transit desk without the necessity of a visa).  For Swiss and KLM flights a transit visa (30 usd) is required.

A beautiful trip indeed which will leave incredible memories for us all and which surely has been very instructive for all the agents.
I know that it’s a tough job that I have – but somebody has to do it!!!

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