Walking with the giants of the Seychelles is now an option thanks to a new investment by Hilton Labriz on their Silhouette Island resort, creating the Giant Tortoise Sanctuary, housing tiny vulnerable tortoises found in the National Park.
The sanctuary is located a 40 minute boat ride from the main island of Mahe where the resort island of Silhouette is spilt between a major Hilton Hotel resort and one of the largest wildlife reserves within the Seychelles.
The sanctuary and educational facility is home to nine juvenile Giant Tortoises: here they can live safely in a protected environment until they are large enough (20 kilos) to be released back into the wild on the other side of the island where adult tortoises roam in total freedom within the dense and lush forest.
Opened this year, the 600 square metre enclosure is where guests and their families can come to learn more about these ancient beasts from the local conservation team. Within the fenced-off area the tortoises can roam freely over different habitats identical to those they will encounter on the Silhouette Island National Park itself, varying from a cooling waterfall soak, a grassy area or numerous shady spots to escape the heat of the day.
Conservation volunteers take members of the hotel’s kids club and introduce the youngsters to these mini-giants, explaining to them about the tortoises’ life cycle, feeding habits and how they fit into the environment of Silhouette itself. The young guests have a chance to get hands-on with the creatures and help record the growth of each one by weighing and measuring them under close supervision.
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) is a species endemic to the Seychelles. These gentle giants can grow to sizes of over 1.5 metres in length and weigh 300 kilos. Plus, in the right conditions they can live to 150 years!
Designated as a National Park, the staff at Hilton Labriz work together to educate guests about the Aldabra giant tortoise supported by the Island Conservation Society (ICS). Their members provide additional and more detailed information from their own office in the resort.
They encourage guests to learn about the myriad of other animals and plants that the island also supports, particularly by leading guided hikes. Spotting the wild giant tortoises in their own habitat is a highlight, as is seeing the varied birds and animals that live alongside them in this jungle habitat.
Nasreen Khan of ICS said, ‘It is important that we take a keen interest in the conservation of our beloved gentle giants. Fortunately for the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, since 1984, scientists have seen the need to take measures in safeguarding this enigmatic creature. Giant tortoises are incredibly important in the ecology of the Seychelles – they are known as ecosystem engineers because they assist in restoring native environments. The conservation venture that Hilton Labriz has undertaken for several years now has allowed us to ensure these majestic animals will continue to flourish on Silhouette.’
‘Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa are fully in support of the amazing work that ICS and the local community have achieved on Silhouette Island. We have thus far backed their incredible efforts and will continue to do so to ensure Silhouette remains a haven for rare indigenous flora and fauna. We look forward to seeing the giant tortoise population of Silhouette and the Seychelles continue to flourish,’ stated Andre Borg, Area General Manager of Hilton Seychelles.
The resort itself has 8 restaurants and the main beach is lined by villas, many with their own pools or having direct beach access. There are rooms are spread throughout the extensive gardens and others have great views over the forest to the rear of the property. These are ideal for spotting birds and charming golden furred fruit bats that entertain at dusk and dawn. Tucked away in a jungle setting, the Eforea Spa offers six treatment rooms for body wraps, massages and facials.
To visit this resort and the Giant Tortoise Sanctuary, or to book a holiday on any of the stunning Seychelle islands, call 0800 412 5678.
This archipelago in the Indian Ocean is a place of outstanding beauty with superb accommodation.