Seychelles Gardens of Eden with Variety Cruises – Part 3

The astronaut and Victor

Reflection Chris Hadfield, the author of ‘Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’, said “the windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles and continents are surrounded by islands sprinkled across the sea like delicate shards of shattered eggshells”. In some ways the windows of Pegasus framed a close up view of some of these same islands, providing the boarders to canvases of blues and greens with slashes of white. Of course we weren’t charging round the earth at 17,500 mph either, here the world moves in slow motion. There’s time to reflect and those same windows capture a reflection of our time here and will be a worthy addition to our Reflections Thread on the Forum.

Praslin is next on our itinerary and is the second largest of the islands but still only 11×4 kms. It has a population of less that 8,000, which strangely enough is similar to the number of palm trees on the island. This leads me nicely to our excursion which took us to Vallée de Mai, one of The Seychelles two UNESCO world heritage sights. Here our guide told us all we wanted to know about Palm trees but were afraid to ask, plus covered other elements of nature we encountered on our walk through the reserve. A male Coco de Mer Whilst there are 6 endemic palms of The Seychelles on display, it is the coco de mer that gets star billing. Having already encountered the ‘buxom’ nuts of the female Palm on Curieuse Island, the male Palm enhanced the ‘sexy coconut’ reputation of the species by sporting a long brown protrusion covered in little flowers for pollination. Understandably Praslin used to be called Palm Island before being renamed in 1768 by the French Duke de Praslin. Many years on and a visiting General Gordon (of Khartoum fame) became convinced that this lush location was the original Garden of Eden. It’s was a busy morning, so time for the Silver Travel bag to hang on a bush and chill.

Arrival at La Digue and stepping onto the concrete jetty of La Passe all seemed a bit tame after a couple of James Bond style beach landings. This laid back slice of paradise is where we pick up our ‘truck with benches in the back’ style transport (padded benches of course) which have replaced the ox and cart as the primary form of transport for groups. Individuals can rent one of the many bicycles for hire to get around an island that is mercifully flat and has little motorised transport. We were heading for L’Union Estate and Copra Factory, once a thriving coconut plantation but now is largely a tourist attraction. Victor Here we were shown the method by which coconut oil is extracted and with the help of the very game Victor (an Ox) turning the mill that presses the powdered cooked coconut to release the oil. To be fair Victor was more interested in sniffing the tourists than turning the wheel. Back in the day coconut oil was used for many things, including being rubbed into the skull as a cure for headaches. This was very useful as there was no aspirin in the jungle because, wait for it, the ‘parrots-eat-em-all’ – boom boom! Vanilla production was also demonstrated (I never knew it grew on an orchid like plant)Most days on this cruise we were given the opportunity to spend some time on the powdery white sand and snorkel in the clear waters and that day was no exception.Bag chilling! After cooling drinks we were able to pick our spot between the massive granite boulders that not only provide interesting features, like the kissing rocks where one seems to be pecking the other on the cheek, but welcome shade from an intense sun this close to the equator.

To enjoy this cruise to the full, stairs and steps need to be negotiated (both aboard Pegasus and during excursions) so customers with mobility issues should check with Variety to gauge the suitability of this cruise for your circumstances.

Captain Venetantis and bag! When you thank someone for a service they have given you, it’s a real pleasure when they say “you’re welcome” and they look like they mean it. This was the case on Pegasus be it Captain Venetantis or any member of crew, they gave the impression that they enjoyed giving great service and hadn’t just swallowed the company manual. We had a passenger with severe food allergies on this cruise and the chef discussed the menu with her and cooked special meals to meet her needs. A vegetarian passenger was similarly catered for and both were delighted about the quality and treatment they had received.

Variety Cruises give exactly what it says on the tin. A cruise that samples the variety the Seychelles islands have to offer and goes beyond the glorious beaches to explore unique species and more.

Hey! Is that my bag with the Captain again? I think it has a thing for uniforms.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Variety Cruises

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Steve Aldridge

Award-winning travel writer

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