Nothing can prepare you for a first flight over the shimmering seas surrounding the small limerick of islands evocatively known as the Bazaruto.
Leaving behind the palm fringes and alabaster shores of Vilanculos, one enters a parallel universe; a vast canvass of blues as beautiful as it is surreal.
Iridescent ribbons of cobalt and cerulean curl through low tide sand shoals dotted in cheerful wooden fishing dhows; butterfly sails toing and froing on an Indian ocean breeze.
This grand oceanic tapestry is home to a plethora of life and it is not unusual to spot giant Manta, stingray, whale shark, hammerhead and more rarely, the illusive Dugong from above.
The Dugong, mermaid of the seas; is a creature steeped in myth and legend. Once ranging from Ethiopia to southern Mozambique, they have now found their last refuge in the sea grass meadows surrounding the Bazaruto Marine Reserve. Protected from the indifferent plunderings of commercial fishing by the fervent efforts of The Endangered Wildlife Trust it is here where these gentle grazers endure.
The monsoon winds seem to bring with them memories of a grand and turbulent past. This is the east coast of Africa; epicentre for centuries, of the relentless pursuit of wealth and dominance by Dutch, Portuguese and Arab. Slaves, gold, ivory… concepts that seem immaterial when gliding at 1000ft over what must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Meanwhile, on terra firma, away from the esoteric musings brought on by flight, visiting Vilanculos and the Bazaruto never looses its allure. The soporific Indian ocean days meld into each other; a waking dream of sand and sea. Catching a dhow out to Margaruque Island for a snorkel and an afternoon doze under a palm tree is a must, watching young fishermen, bodies sleek and toned practicing capoeira dancing on main beach at sunset captivating, contemplating the vagrancies of the ocean as it swells and recedes a meditation. This a place where time moves slowly; and although there is always something to keep the restless intrigued; horse riding, snorkelling, fishing, kite surfing, gastronomy and the colourful larger than life inhabitants of this unique shore; it is here that one catches glimpses of the old ways, far away from the rat race of cities and the wild perambulations of the mind.