Carpet design

NJF Design creates thatched-roof resort surrounded by dunes in Mozambique

Thatched-roof beachfront bungalows overlook the Indian Ocean from this hotel named Kisawa Sanctuary in Mozambique, which was built in tandem with a marine conservation center.


the Kisawa Shrine occupies 300 hectares of forest, dunes and seafront at the southern tip of the island of Benguerra, located 14 kilometers from the Mozambican mainland.

Kisawa Shrine is located at the southern tip of Benguerra Island

This is the first hospitality project created by entrepreneur Nina Flohr, whose NJF Design studio collaborated with skilled local weavers, thatched cottages and carpenters to complete the project.

Opened in November 2021, the hotel comprises 22 suites in 12 thatched-roof villas set in the dunes.

Aerial view of Kisawa guest bungalow and pool
The residences were built along the beach and in the dunes

“Some are on the quieter side of the cove, others take shelter in the dunes on the ocean side, but all are carefully positioned in their own secluded grounds; providing maximum privacy and an optimal appreciation of the sea. natural environment, ”said the hotel team.

Built without the use of heavy machinery, the timber structures throughout the site are thatched and surfaced in a variety of styles based on the regional vernacular.

Interior of bungalow Kisawa
Bungalows have woven doors that slide to open the bedrooms

The guest bungalows are shaped like long villas and are covered with wavy patterned roofs, echoing the shape of the waves.

Inside, they have mottled plaster walls and wooden floors covered with large rugs. Textiles with colorful prints add warmth and variety to the neutral decor.

Kisawa room with neutral decor
The neutral decor is embellished with patterned textiles and African objects

Woven grass door panels slide to open bedrooms and bathrooms to living spaces and the outdoors, letting in the breeze.

A wooden terrace surrounds the bungalows and forms paths to other terraces that support the surrounding cabins and swimming pools.

Bathroom with beach view
Each bungalow has access to a private beach

Contemporary, locally made furniture is mixed with crafts and artefacts from all over Africa to give interiors an authentic feel.

Common dining spaces across the resort have a similarly designed treatment and serve traditional cuisine based on seafood and fresh produce, with a zero waste policy and using no processed ingredients.

Wellness center seen from above
The property includes a wellness center formed by a group of conical volumes

A wellness center hidden in the dunes is formed by clusters of round thatched volumes with conical tops.

Along with the hotel, Flohr also launched the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies, a research hub for ocean conservation.

“Their parallel operations create a new, symbiotic business model in which for-profit hospitality directly contributes to non-profit marine science and research,” the team said.

Guests of the resort can participate in search efforts through activities such as trips to the research vessel, which is used to tag and monitor local shark populations.

“The combination of cultural celebration and environmental conservation in Kisawa presents a new forward-looking narrative for the Mozambique and island escapes,” the team said.

Thatched volumes of the wellness center
Local thatched cottages covered the building using a traditional regional technique

Located in the south-eastern part of the African continent, Mozambique is gaining popularity as a tourist destination. Sussurro, a series of private bungalows in the south of the country, won three awards at the 2021 AHEAD MEA awards.