This expedition focuses on the remote Outer Seychelles, tiny untouched islands and atolls of the Amirante Islands, Farquhar, Aldabra and Alphonse Groups. These minute dots on an atlas are truly magical places. For many the greatest highlight will be Aldabra, the world’s largest coral atoll and the last breeding ground of the giant tortoise. We should also encounter dolphins, turtles and whales as well as countless birds including the flightless rail, the last flightless bird in the Indian Ocean.
Day 1 - Mahe, Seychelles
Arrive independently and make your way to Le Meridien Fisherman’s
Cove (or similar) for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is
at leisure to acclimatise before meeting the group and leaders for
dinner this evening.
Day 2 - Mahe - embark
Spend the morning at leisure enjoying the hotel facilities, relaxing
or exploring independently before we check out of our hotel. After
lunch we will make our way to Victoria, one of the world’s tiniest
capitals where we visit the market and the Botanical Gardens, home of
the giant land tortoises, fruit bats and endemic plants which include
the world famous coco de mer palms. Transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky
in the late afternoon and enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail
the short distance to Praslin for our overnight anchorage.
Day 3 - Praslin & Grande Soeur
This morning we will land on Praslin to explore the
‘Vallee de Mai’, the last remnant of the original high canopied
Seychelles palm forest and home to the coco de mer. We will walk its
paths looking out for the rare black parrot and enjoying its natural
beauty. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch as we sail the short
distance to Grande Soeur, an idyllic uninhabited island. Spend the
afternoon walking the island trails which link the island’s white sand
beaches and maybe catch sight of some of the giant Aldabra tortoises
or enjoy our first snorkelling opportunity in the turquoise waters.
Day 4 - Amirante Islands
Arrive over breakfast at the 28 islands in the Amirante Group of
islands which were discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1501 and are
considered to be some of the most pristine and untouched islands in
the world. If conditions permit, we will spend the morning on
Desroches, the largest of the islands, although still only measuring
six kilometres by 1.5 kilometres. Enjoy nature walks with our
naturalists and the island’s conservation team observing the flora and
fauna and in particular the giant tortoises and nesting turtles.
Whilst keen snorkellers will have the chance to swim over the outlying
coral. Return to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 5 - Farquhar Islands
This morning we will arrive at the Farquhar group of
islands. We will use our Zodiacs to explore the sparkling lagoon of
this remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees.
Hawksbill and green sea turtles come to the islands to nest and
several of the Farquhar Group’s islands are Important Bird and
Biodiversity Areas. We will spend the morning either snorkelling over
the coral reef or exploring the island’s past wandering around the
settlement which once housed a thriving copra and fishing industry.
Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch as we continue our journey
through the Outer Seychelles islands.
Days 6 & 7 - Aldabra Island Group
We have two days at the Aldabra group of islands. Our itinerary will
be in the hands of our Expedition Leader and Captain who will monitor
the local conditions to ensure we maximise our time here. Whilst our
itinerary is flexible, we will hope to reach Cosmoledo where a huge
ring of twelve islands circle a lagoon. Many of the atolls are still
to be surveyed and we will explore some of them by Zodiac. This is an
important bird area with all three species of booby found in the
Seychelles including the last breeding site for the brown booby. Also
spot sooty terns and great frigate birds. Additionally we will spend
time on Aldabra, the island referred to by Sir Julian Huxley as “One
of nature’s treasures and should belong to the whole world”. Aldabra
is unique and every time we call at what is believed to be the world’s
largest atoll, we find something new of interest. Sightings have been
made of the extremely rare white throated rail and the atoll is also
home to the world’s second largest colony of frigate birds and to the
largest crab, the coconut crab. Whilst exploring by Zodiac it is
difficult to know in which direction to look. The clear blue seas
abound with life, the skies are alive with varied birdlife and ashore
giant land tortoises forage as they have done for millions of years.
We hope to explore Picard Island with a short walk to see some of the
thousands of tortoises and numerous robber crabs or swim in the
lagoon, a vast 17 mile stretch of shallow clear water. From our
Zodiacs we can watch the everchanging undersea world and snorkel in
colourful coral waters.
Day 8 - At Sea
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as we head back to the Inner Seychelles
islands. Our lecture programme will continue or maybe find a spot on
Day 9 - Alphonse Islands
There are three islands in the Alphonse group which is located
directly south of the Amirantes. As we approach the islands in the
early morning, you will understand why they are regarded by many to be
the most beautiful of the 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago.
On the main island the circular lagoon offers good snorkelling and
there are several tracks across the island to enjoy island walks.
Spend the morning exploring before returning to the MS Caledonian Sky
for lunch and an afternoon cruising.
Day 10 - Aride & Curieuse
We will use our Zodiacs to land on Aride, one of the finest and most
important seabird islands in the Indian Ocean. Over one million
seabirds breed on the island including tropical shearwater, lesser
noddy, frigate birds and roseate tern in addition to five species
unique to the Seychelles such as the Seychelles warbler and Seychelles
magpie robin. The island is largely covered in native woodland
including the endemic Wright’s gardenia, a shrub with beautifully
scented flowers found nowhere else in the world. We will sail over
lunch to Curieuse, a rugged island which was once home to a leper
colony and now houses an eco-museum and visitor centre. The island is
an important nesting site for hawksbill turtles and boasts endemic
vine and mangroves which we explore on an island walk. This evening we
will return to Mahe and moor overnight.
Day 11 Mahe - disembark
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for your departure