Ultimate Seychelles with Aldabra Atoll

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

30th Anniversary Signature Voyage

February 14, 2020
16 Days
Small-Ship Cruise
135 Guests
From $11,980

Optional Pre-Extension: Tanzania

Itinerary

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.

Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.

USEY2001 Map

Depart USA

February 14

Board your independent flight to Tanzania.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

February 15
Zanzibar

Arrive in exotic Zanzibar and transfer to our group hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before gathering this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.

Zanzibar / Embark Le Bougainville

February 16
red colobus monkey

Zanzibar is a lush, palm-fringed island with a long and storied history. 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. After lunch, take a hike along the nature trails of Jozani Natural Forest Reserve where you are likely to spot the red colobus monkey. Embark Le Bougainville this evening.

At Sea

February 17

Today, relax on board enjoying the ship's amenities and attending informative lectures to prepare you for your exploration of the magical Seychelles islands.

Assumption Island, Seychelles

February 18
Yellowback Fusiliers, St. Joseph Atoll, Seychelles

Assumption 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 or dive among corals teeming with over 100 species of fish, including black lionfish, blue-ribbon eels, and Indian Ocean steephead parrotfish. 

Aldabra Atoll

February 19February 20
Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Spend two 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. Keep an eye out for robber crabs, whose claws are strong enough to crack coconuts, as they 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.

Astove Atoll

February 21
Tropical fish

Board Zodiacs to land on this uninhabited island’s sandy beach. Part of the Aldabra Group, Astove was formerly the home of 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 in various states of disrepair since being abandoned in the 1980s. Mature casuarina and Indian almond trees host the pendant nests of Souimanga sunbird, while snorkelers will delight in the crystal-clear waters of the large lagoon, frequented by turtles, groupers, and schools of tropical fish.     

Cosmoledo Atoll

February 22
Red-Footed Booby in Cosmoledo Atoll

Part of the Aldabra group, the vast majority of this huge atoll, measuring about nine miles across, is lagoon. Approximately 15,000 pairs of red-footed boobies nest in the bushy vegetation of the island, the largest breeding colonies of this species in the entire Indian Ocean. Other species found here include brown and masked booby, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbird; and black-naped, sooty, and great crested tern. Take a walk along the beach and snorkel in the vast, shallow lagoon where turtles can often be found grazing on sea grass.  

At Sea

February 23

Spend the day at sea attending lectures and joining naturalists on deck to search for sea birds and marine mammals.

Alphonse Island Group

February 24
batfish

We anchor in the Alphonse Island group to experience the beauty and serenity of these three islands that lie in the heart of the Seychelles Archipelago. Their remote location provides many opportunities for unspoiled exploration, including beachcombing on powdery white-sand beaches, and snorkeling and diving to spot the Madras snapper or any of the nine species of butterflyfish.

Poivre Atoll, Amirantes

February 25
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. 

Desroches

February 26
emperor angelfish

Desroches’ low-lying coral reef encloses a serene lagoon. This reef-surrounded island offers opportunities for snorkelers and divers to spot more colorful tropical fish or even a hawksbill turtle, or to stroll the white-sand beaches.

La Digue / Praslin

February 27
La Digue, Seychelles

Giant granite boulders and swaying palms offset the postcard-perfect white beaches of La Digue. Explore this tranquil island by bike or take a stroll along the 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 Seychelles swiftlet, Seychelles blue-pigeon, and Seychelles bulbul. 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.

After lunch on board, step ashore on Praslin and visit enchanting Vallée de Mai National Park, a World Heritage Site. The high-canopied, primeval palm forest is home to 4,000 coco-de-mer palms, which can grow to over 100 feet and live 800-1,000 years. The palm bears the world’s largest nut, weighing 20 - 40 pounds. Several other endemic palm species, as well as the Seychelles flying fox, populate this magical valley. We may spot the rare Seychelles black parrot and other birds of interest, including the Seychelles blue-pigeon and Seychelles sunbird.

Mahé / Disembark / USA

February 28February 29
Seychelles bulbul

After breakfast, disembark for a tour of the Seychelles’ charming capital city. Mahé’s century-old botanical garden is home to 80 indigenous plant species, including five palm species, the vanilla orchid, and the rare jellyfish tree. An abundance of birds inhabit the area as well, including the Seychelles kestrel, Seychelles white-eye, and the rare, endangered Seychelles sunbird. After lunch, transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the next day.