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Seychelles Private Yacht & Lodge Safaris
     

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The endangered Seychelles Black Parrot


Yachts moored at La Digue Island


A Tenrec in the forests of Praslin Island

 

This trip is a wonderful way for a couple or a small group to explore in detail the natural history of some of the most stunning and wonderfully preserved islands in the Indian Ocean.  

It takes special arrangements to see the best natural history of the widely scattered Seychelles islands.  For protected islands and wildlife sanctuaries such as Aride, Cousin Island, Curieuse and St Pierre where no one is allowed to stay overnight, we make use of a private charter yacht with your own skipper (you can also skipper the yacht yourself if you have an RYA or similar license).  On islands such as Praslin, La Digue and Bird island where there are some wonderful choices of accommodation, we use hotels and provide expert guides to show you their natural history such as the Coco de Mer forest, rare birdlife such as the black parrot, giant tortoises, and for snorkelers and divers, a most abundant marine life ecosystem.

To the extreme north of the Seychelles, we fly you on a small prop plane to Bird Island – so called because of the literally millions of birds found here. Bright white fairy terns, the Madagascan fody and some ½ million brown noddys are resident throughout the year. Between May and October some 2 million sooty terns join them to further give justice to the name of this island. The largest living tortoise can also be found here, a male Aldabra specimen called Esmeralda, who weighs in at 300kg and is at least 200 years old.

October through to March is a good time firstly to see turtles laying their eggs onshore, and later to see hatchlings making their way into the sea.  The two main types of marine turtle seen in the Seychelles are Hawksbill and Green Turtles.  Hawksbills tend to lay their eggs during the day whilst Green turtles do so at night.

On the Seychelles largest island of Mahe, you can take the opportunity to relax on stunning white sand beaches, kayak, windsurf, snorkel, or if you scuba dive we can take you to some of the best dive sites of the Inner Islands.  There is excellent fish life here and it is quite likely that you will see marine turtles as well as opportunities for schools of trevally, blue spotted rays, octopus and some wonderful granite boulder underwater scenery.

On Mahe we will also take you on guided treks into island’s forests across two day, led by an expert local natural history guide.  Mahe’s forests grow on a giant tumble of granite rock and boulders reaching almost a kilometer above sea level.  When dry, your first route will be the Copolia Trail which is a steep path through a classic combination of native forest and exotic flora.  These exotics include cinnamon and acacia trees.  When wet, the granite and tree roots alike can be incredibly slippery so we will take you along a lower slightly flatter trail.  This passes through habitat which is home to the extremely rare Jellyfish Tree (Medusagyne oppositifolia).  This tree is the only species of the family Medusagynaceae and was thought to be extinct until a few specimens were discovered in the 1970’s.  The tree draws its name from the shape of its stigmas which resemble jellyfish tentacles.

A longer day trek on Mahe follows which is a 5 - 6 hour trek along a trail called the Congo Rouge. At 750 metres, Congo Rouge is the second highest peak in the Seychelles, whose summit can provide some fantastic views over Mahe's rainforests and the island's western coast. There are many carinvorous plants growing in the dense forest close to the peak and more than half of the island's endemic botany is found above 500 metres. Whilst every branch of every tree on the upper parts of this trail are covered in mosses, orchids and other epiphytic plant life, aside from the noisy Bulbul bird, it takes the keen eye of your guide to spot fauna such as slow moving insects, fingernail sized frogs and Tiger Chameleons (Calumna tigris).

Praslin is the Seychelles second largest island and home to one of the natural highlights of the Seychelles: the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Here we take you on a guided exploration of this unique palm forest which is the native home of the world’s largest nut: the Coco de Mer.  On land we accommodate you at a hotel which sits directly beneath another native forest reserve which is probably the best place to see the critically endangered Seychelles Black Parrot.  Around 250 out of the remaining 400 can be found here and sightings are relatively easy.  Free guided trips are available on an irregular basis (when dry) along the Jean Baptiste Nature Trail to the top of the reserve.  The trail takes you through rare vegetation including square grass, Coco de Mer trees, and other native palms; to a hill top where granite boulders provide superb viewpoints to the surrounding islands.

We can incorporate diving from Praslin if you wish, or you can opt to relax at your hotel, make use of sea kayaks, or take a free day trip to Anse Lazio – arguably the most beautiful beach in the world. 

It is from Praslin that you transfer to your private yacht in order to reach protected islands where there is nowhere to stay.  You will need to plan your route depending upon sea and wind conditions, but if a circumnavigation of Praslin is possible, then you will be able to stop for guided visits at the bird sanctuary of Aride, Cousin Island, Curieuse and the stunning rocky islet of St Pierre.

After stepping off your yacht, we transfer you to La Digue which is the Seychelles 4th largest island, yet it is small enough for cars no longer to be a part of life.  The best ways to get around are on foot, on a rented bicycle, or by ox-drawn cart.  The island has a stunning coastline of beaches and granite boulders, and a central peak which provides excellent views of surrounding islands and the fringing reef which encircles La Digue.  The reefs are often a good place to see turtles or blue spotted rays whilst snorkelling, the flat sandy shallows are also a likely place to see a rare Guitar Shark.

Included in your visit is a fully guided day where, transported by ox cart, we will take you to visit the Veuve Forest Reserve and L’Union Estate with its giant tortoises, colonial house, copra kiln and vanilla plantation.  Your guide will also try to locate for you a Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher.  These birds are found almost exclusively on La Digue and with an approximate 230 individuals left they are part of an emergency recovery programme.  The all-black males are particularly distinct with their pale blue eye rings and metre long tail feathers.

Click Here for information about sailing in the Seychelles, including seasonal winds and tides.

Photographs kindly provided by Charlotte Caffrey, STB, Ralph Pannell, David Rowat


The endngered Magpie Robin is endemic to the Seychelles


Esmeralda on Bird Island is possibly the largest Giant Tortoise in the World