Vamizi Island

QUIRIMBAS ARCHIPELAGO, MOZAMBIQUE

This slender and fragile coral island set among Mozambique’s remote Quirimbas Archipelago is home to one of Africa’s finest coastal lodges. Vamizi’s lodge and kitalas (villas) offer guests a tropical idyll, designed with an eye on local influences.  Deemed one of the healthiest coral ecosystems in the world, divers are lured to Vamizi Island’s azure and abundant waters, alongside deserted beaches and nature-filled adventures.

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Conservation has always been at the heart of Vamizi Island’s development, which was started by a group of friends concerned for the island’s future.  Since 2002 the Friends of Vamizi have worked towards combining wildlife conservation, community development, and tourism to protect this unspoilt area of the Indian Ocean. The Vamizi Marine Conservation Research Centre works towards protecting the island’s 180 species of unbleached coral and endangered hawksbill and green turtle. As a coral island with very little soil or freshwater, providing livelihoods for the local population is also a priority.

 

Vamizi Island is operated by &Beyond who use their own influence and expertise to help protect it.  Guests are given the opportunity to watch green turtles lay their eggs, humpback whales migrate through the surrounding Indian Ocean and dive Neptune’s Arm — one of the world’s top scuba sites. Eager to instil a sense of place, the private villas and lodge have been designed to incorporate the influences of Mozambique’s cultural fabric, including Arabic, Swahili and Portuguese.

 

www.vamizi.com

The 4Cs

Vamizi Island joined The Long Run in 2015 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.

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CONSERVATION

Conservation plays a vital role at Vamizi and it’s easy to understand why. Vamizi Island and the surrounding sear harbour some of the most significant and endangered habitats and wildlife in the western Indian Ocean, with over 180 species of unbleached coral and over 400 species of reef fish. It is also a significant wildlife refuge in Mozambique, with 112 different bird species recorded to date. Samango monkeys, Giant Coconut Crabs and 2 turtle species also call Vamizi their home.

 

To maintain the pristine environment that defines Vamizi Island, the owners have created a conservation team. In 2006 a community Marine Sanctuary of Vamizi was declared by the Fisheries Community Council of Vamizi, which the conservation team actively supports in its day-to-day conservation activities.

 

Vamizi Island is also an important destination for both the Green and Hawksbill turtle which are both listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as either endangered or critically endangered. To ensure their survival and to counteract poaching for their meat and shell, Vamizi Island has created the first long-term intensive monitoring of turtles in Mozambique and East Africa.

 

These and many other projects of Vamizi Island are part of their quest to make tourism work for conservation. Like many grand schemes, there’s a long way to go but a great start has been made.

 

COMMUNITY

The involvement of the local community has been a priority from the very beginning for Vamizi Island as conservation and community are inextricably linked. Through the Friends of the Vamizi Trust, it aims to help its communities to beat poverty and improve their daily lives.

 

The Trust’s dedication to highlight the importance of Vamizi as a unique and particularly valuable island in the Indian Ocean to the local community, thus, showing the island residents how important a role they are playing in the bigger picture. Although the Trust was only established in 2013, a significant number of joint endeavours have already started.

 

A clinic and school on Vamizi Island for the local families have been built ensuring better education and health care for their community. Because education is key to the prosperous development of Vamizi’s Island community, a range of educational programmes have been put in place, including environmental programmes for staff and school children.

 

In the years to come the Trust aims to strengthen the existing production of potable water through simple technology or rainwater collection systems for each household.  It will also continue to build latrines and access to them for every household and make the Homestead Garden Production self- sustainable and then close the circle to improve health, nutrition and self- sustainability.

 

CULTURE

Vamizi Island lies in the region of the Mwani people, meaning “people of the coast”. Fishing, small-scale agriculture and animal husbandry have always been the economic background of the Mwani. Their religious traditions, and their moral values are based upon these and by showing sustainable methods to improve these activities alongside the development of new income generating alternatives it is mutually beneficial for conservation, tourism and the quality of life of the Vamizi Island community.

 

In 2005 a local Women’s Association was established, and is involved in a number of projects: from handicraft, dancing, theatre and the supply of regional produce to the Lodge and private villas, is helping the community to keep their traditions alive while strengthening their income base. The private villas and the Lodge have also been designed to incorporate the influences of the various cultures in Mozambique into their design – Arabic, Swahili vernacular, Portuguese – creating a unique blend of culture for guests to experience.

 

COMMERCE

Over a decade ago, the original visionaries of the project visited the Quirimbas Archipelago, where Vamizi lies. They believed that this undeveloped – and unprotected – area to be of huge significance as a marine nursery and sanctuary for the whole of Mozambican coast.

 

Thus, the Maluane Project, now superseded by the Vamizi Island Project combines tourism with wildlife conservation and community development to protect this unspoilt area. In 2005, the 24-bed Vamizi Island Lodge was opened and has since grown in size.  As well as this there are now 4 completed private villas on the island with two  more very close to completion.

 

Guests can relax and rejuvenate or take part in one of many activities that are offered including world-class blue water fishing and fly fishing, as well as scuba diving and snorkelling in some of the most pristine coral reefs of the Indian Ocean. Vamizi has been rated as one of the world’s top 10 dive sites. Guided snorkelling trips are also offered, as well as Sea kayaking, Dhow sailing, beach picnics, private dining and guided bird watching.

 

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