Seychelles Gardens of Eden with Variety Cruises – Part 2

Noddy and the chocolate

Each evening Vivek (Cruise Coordinator) would brief us, in the lounge, on the following day’s activities and excursions. Cocktail of the day in hand (Tequila Sunrise) I sat and was told that the boat from Cousin Island would pick us up and drive (I heard crash) directly onto the beach, D Day landing style. Beach landingActually it was a bit of an anticlimax as we slid gracefully from the waves onto the soft sand beach. The objective of visiting this Nature Reserve was to find Noddy! No not the one that may or may not have been taken by Big Ears but the feathered kind and indeed all the other wildlife (primarily birds) that make this sanctuary their home. The most fascinating for me was the White-tailed tropicbird which, with no significant predator on the island, lay their eggs on the floor, often at the base of a tree. This sleek white feathered bird could be seen either sat with a white fluff ball (her chick) or powering through the sky trailing a long white tail like a plane trailing an advertising banner. Despite the abundance of brilliant plumage on display (there are so many bids here it’s hard not to get a decent photo) a small cautionary note. A paradise habitat left to the wild is ideal for the birds but also nirvana for mosquitoes, spray yourself liberally prior to setting foot on the island or be prepared to make a sizeable blood donation whilst here.

Back onboard and my choice from the lunch buffet was Moussaka and it was perfection but hey, if you can’t get a great moussaka on a Greek owned yacht, then there’s something wrong.

Anse Lazio BeachAnse Lazio is ranked as one of the top beaches in The Seychelles and was our afternoon venue. The immense stretch of powder white sand, sandwiched between crystal clear blue seas and a green belt of palm and takamaka trees, was a joy to stick your toes into. Huge granite boulders not only bookend the long stretch of sand and create intimate little sandy coves, but provide an excellent playground for the local fish. It was a delight to snorkel in those warm waters and watch the brightly coloured fish dart about under the waves. A bride and groom took advantage of the picture postcard setting just as we left the beach. Wow, what a setting for your wedding photos.

Captain Venetantis runs a tight ship and his crew are highly trained, hugely attentive and careful over our safety, particularly during excursions ashore. Assistance was always provided both on and off the Zodiacs and wearing of the fashion item that every girl dreams of (yes a bright orange life vest) was obligatory. The crew would always relieve you of your bags, snorkel equipment etc. so that you could concentrate fully on the transfer process. They were always there with a friendly smile, cold towel and drink to welcome us back on board. The Captain also used his experience of these waters to find a nice sheltered spot to anchor so that Pegasus would gently rock me to sleep each night.

White-tailed tropic birdAride Island, the most northerly of the granite islands, was purchased by Christopher Cadbury, so everything on this island is made of chocolate. That, of course, is a complete lie as everything would melt in the heat anyway but the island was donated by the Cadbury family for Nature Conservation. The island is so named (Arid) because there is no natural source of water on the island, so the 5 conservationists living on the island have to collect and purify rain water. The highlight of this guided trip was a rather demanding climb to the top of the island (about 150m) but oh the views! Our vantage point also put us above many of the frigate birds wheeling and soaring on the thermals close to the cliff, an amazing aerobatic display. This was also another landing direct on the beach (we were getting blasé about it now) and you can see it on the short video clip below.

Interestingly, The Seychelles feature in Sir David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II. It shows that islands are often wildlife sanctuaries but isolation comes with extreme challenges. We were delighted that we managed to see all of the birds featured in that episode.

A short ride to St Pierre Island in the bay of Cote d’Or gave us the opportunity for more snorkelling in the wonderful waters. The crew provide complimentary (loan) masks, snorkel and flippers to everyone who requires them and a short zodiac ride dropped  us off close to the granite outcrop which was teeming with fish. This was rush hour in fish world with blizzards of multicoloured fish frolicking in front of your face mask. The comedy element provided by the big fish swimming in tight continuous circles trying to get at the tiny one nibbling at its sides.

Creole evening diningAn action packed day ended with a Creole evening of dining, music and dancing provided by a local group. It was good to see so many passengers joining in the fun, even the Captain had a little dance. I was up there too including limbo dancing which, but for some liberal cheating with another passenger, would have seen me land on my backside.

Next stop Praslin.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Variety Cruises

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Steve Aldridge

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