Ultimate Aldabra: A Voyage through the Seychelles

November 16, 2014 - December 2, 2014

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

Nov 16 - Nov 18 Depart USA / Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles

Depart on your independent flights and arrive in Mahé early on Tuesday morning. Transfer to our hotel for brunch, with the afternoon at leisure. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.

November 19 Sainte Anne Marine Reserve / Embark Island Sky

This morning enjoy the first of many snorkeling excursions with a visit to Sainte Anne Marine National Park—a wonderful introduction to the Seychelles. This group of six islands, off the coast of Mahé, was the first marine park to be founded in the Indian Ocean, over 30 years ago. Enjoy a traditional Creole lunch in the park before returning to Victoria to embark the Island Sky.

November 20 Cousin / La Digue

Cousin is a small granitic island protected by Seychelles law as a nature reserve. This island provides a safe haven for a number of endangered bird species, notably the Seychelles fody, Seychelles warbler, Seychelles magpie robin, and Seychelles blue-pigeon. Nearly uninhabited, a number of seabirds breed on Cousin’s wild interior and rocky shores. Dense concentrations of nesting seabirds show no fear of humans, allowing for fabulous photo opportunities. You may also encounter the resident group of giant tortoises.

Famed biologist Sir Julian Huxley described the Seychelles as akin to Hawaii and Tahiti in the 1700s, an untouched Garden of Eden, and no island could be more deserving of this description than La Digue. Giant granite boulders and swaying palms offset postcard-perfect white beaches. Explore this tranquil island like a local and bike or stroll along picturesque, sandy roads. Pass quaint balconied houses and shops, a vanilla plantation, and a copra factory to reach the small Veuve Nature Reserve, where you may observe the endangered Seychelles paradise-flycatcher in its native habitat. Other common sights include the yellow bittern, Seychelles swiftlet, and common waxbill. Spend time on one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful beaches, Anse La Source d’Argent, to beachcomb, swim, or simply soak in your surroundings.

November 21 Poivre Atoll, Amirantes

The Amirante Islands are named in honor of Portuguese admiral Vasco da Gama’s 1501 visit. Take Zodiacs to Poivre Atoll for beachcombing, nature walks, birding, and a visit to the copra plantation. Snorkel over coral gardens inhabited by brilliantly-hued tropical fish, as manta rays glide through the waters below and black-naped terns soar in the skies above.

November 22 At Sea

Enjoy a relaxing day at sea and attend lectures on the natural history of these fascinating islands.

Nov 23 - Nov 24 Assumption Island

Assumption Island is famous for clear surrounding waters, populated by a profusion of marine life. These qualities led Jacques Cousteau to film much of his documentary The Silent World at Assumption. Snorkel among corals teeming with over 100 species of fish, including black lionfish, blue-ribbon eels, black-streak surgeonfish, and Indian Ocean steephead parrotfish. Assumption is also home to around 100 giant tortoises introduced to the island from Aldabra.

November 25 Astove Atoll

Board Zodiacs to land on this deserted island’s sandy beach. Part of the Aldabra Group, Astove was formerly inhabited by African slaves who escaped a Portuguese ship in 1760. More recently, Astove was the site of a copra plantation—its houses, drying sheds, and other buildings are in various states of disrepair since being abandoned in the 1980s. Mature casuarina and Indian almond trees host the finely woven pendant nests of Abbott’s sunbird. Snorkelers will delight in the crystal clear waters of the large lagoon, frequented by turtles, groupers, and clouds of tropical fish.

Nov 26 - Nov 29 Aldabra Atoll

Spend four full days at magnificent Aldabra, a World Heritage Site, and a highlight of your adventure. With a perimeter of 70 miles, Aldabra is one of the largest atolls in the world, comprising four major islands separated by channels. Because of the atoll’s extreme isolation, many of Aldabra’s species are endemics. Giant Aldabra tortoises—estimated to number over 100,000—roam wild over the islands. Tides permitting, cruise by Zodiac through the narrow passes to drift through a landscape of fascinating eroded limestone topography. The tides have sculpted small islets into fantastical formations known as champignons, or “mushrooms.” Hundreds of lesser and great frigatebirds soar overhead; on land, search for the rare Aldabra white-throated rail, the only flightless bird found on any Indian Ocean island. Robber crabs, whose claws are strong enough to crack coconuts, scamper across the turf. Enjoy an exhilarating drift snorkel where the incoming tide whisks you through the pass and into a lagoon populated by turtles and eagle rays. Visit the small scientific research station on Picard Island and photograph the mighty tortoises of this magical, isolated island that few travelers ever have the privilege to see.

November 30 At Sea

Be on deck to search for dolphins and other marine mammals and attend lectures recaping your experiences in the magical Seychelles.

Dec 1 - Dec 2 Zanzibar, Tanzania / USA

Zanzibar lives up to its storied Arabian Nights reputation—a lush palm-fringed island, often referred to as the Bali of East Africa. This morning visit Stone Town; a World Heritage Site, its mélange of architecture reflects a unique mix of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian, and European influences. This afternoon take a hike along the nature trails of Jozani Natural Forest Reserve to spot the red colobus monkey. Other species found here include Skye’s monkeys, small buck, and bush pigs. Or, join a tour that passes by the house of Dr. David Livingstone, visits the ruins of Maruhubi Palace, then proceeds to the countryside where you will have the chance to observe the cultivation of fragrant spices and seasonal fruits, as well as plants used for medicinal purposes. Transfer to the airport this afternoon for your independent homeward flight arriving in the USA on December 2.