This trip is a wonderful way for a couple or a small group to explore in detail the natural history of some of the most stunning and wonderfully preserved islands in the Indian Ocean.
It takes special arrangements to see the best natural history of the widely scattered Seychelles islands. For protected islands and wildlife sanctuaries such as Aride, Cousin Island, Curieuse and St Pierre where no one is allowed to stay overnight, we make use of a private charter yacht with your own skipper (you can also skipper the yacht yourself if you have an RYA or similar license). On islands such as Praslin, La Digue and Bird island where there are some wonderful choices of accommodation, we use hotels and provide expert guides to show you their natural history such as the Coco de Mer forest, rare birdlife such as the black parrot, giant tortoises, and for snorkelers and divers, a most abundant marine life ecosystem.
To the extreme north of the Seychelles, we fly you on a small prop plane to Bird Island – so called because of the literally millions of birds found here. Bright white fairy terns, the Madagascan fody and some ½ million brown noddys are resident throughout the year. Between May and October some 2 million sooty terns join them to further give justice to the name of this island. The largest living tortoise can also be found here, a male Aldabra specimen called Esmeralda, who weighs in at 300kg and is at least 200 years old.
October through to March is a good time firstly to see turtles laying their eggs onshore, and later to see hatchlings making their way into the sea. The two main types of marine turtle seen in the Seychelles are Hawksbill and Green Turtles. Hawksbills tend to lay their eggs during the day whilst Green turtles do so at night.
On the Seychelles largest island of Mahe, you can take the opportunity to relax on stunning white sand beaches, kayak, windsurf, snorkel, or if you scuba dive we can take you to some of the best dive sites of the Inner Islands. There is excellent fish life here and it is quite likely that you will see marine turtles as well as opportunities for schools of trevally, blue spotted rays, octopus and some wonderful granite boulder underwater scenery.
On Mahe we will also take you on guided treks into island’s forests across two day, led by an expert local natural history guide. Mahe’s forests grow on a giant tumble of granite rock and boulders reaching almost a kilometer above sea level. When dry, your first route will be the Copolia Trail which is a steep path through a classic combination of native forest and exotic flora. These exotics include cinnamon and acacia trees. When wet, the granite and tree roots alike can be incredibly slippery so we will take you along a lower slightly flatter trail. This passes through habitat which is home to the extremely rare Jellyfish Tree (Medusagyne oppositifolia). This tree is the only species of the family Medusagynaceae and was thought to be extinct until a few specimens were discovered in the 1970’s. The tree draws its name from the shape of its stigmas which resemble jellyfish tentacles.
A longer day trek on Mahe follows which is a 5 - 6 hour trek along a trail called the Congo Rouge. At 750 metres, Congo Rouge is the second highest peak in the Seychelles, whose summit can provide some fantastic views over Mahe's rainforests and the island's western coast. There are many carinvorous plants growing in the dense forest close to the peak and more than half of the island's endemic botany is found above 500 metres. Whilst every branch of every tree on the upper parts of this trail are covered in mosses, orchids and other epiphytic plant life, aside from the noisy Bulbul bird, it takes the keen eye of your guide to spot fauna such as slow moving insects, fingernail sized frogs and Tiger Chameleons (Calumna tigris).
Praslin is the Seychelles second largest island and home to one of the natural highlights of the Seychelles: the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we take you on a guided exploration of this unique palm forest which is the native home of the world’s largest nut: the Coco de Mer. On land we accommodate you at a hotel which sits directly beneath another native forest reserve which is probably the best place to see the critically endangered Seychelles Black Parrot. Around 250 out of the remaining 400 can be found here and sightings are relatively easy. Free guided trips are available on an irregular basis (when dry) along the Jean Baptiste Nature Trail to the top of the reserve. The trail takes you through rare vegetation including square grass, Coco de Mer trees, and other native palms; to a hill top where granite boulders provide superb viewpoints to the surrounding islands.
We can incorporate diving from Praslin if you wish, or you can opt to relax at your hotel, make use of sea kayaks, or take a free day trip to Anse Lazio – arguably the most beautiful beach in the world.
It is from Praslin that you transfer to your private yacht in order to reach protected islands where there is nowhere to stay. You will need to plan your route depending upon sea and wind conditions, but if a circumnavigation of Praslin is possible, then you will be able to stop for guided visits at the bird sanctuary of Aride, Cousin Island, Curieuse and the stunning rocky islet of St Pierre.
After stepping off your yacht, we transfer you to La Digue which is the Seychelles 4th largest island, yet it is small enough for cars no longer to be a part of life. The best ways to get around are on foot, on a rented bicycle, or by ox-drawn cart. The island has a stunning coastline of beaches and granite boulders, and a central peak which provides excellent views of surrounding islands and the fringing reef which encircles La Digue. The reefs are often a good place to see turtles or blue spotted rays whilst snorkelling, the flat sandy shallows are also a likely place to see a rare Guitar Shark.
Included in your visit is a fully guided day where, transported by ox cart, we will take you to visit the Veuve Forest Reserve and L’Union Estate with its giant tortoises, colonial house, copra kiln and vanilla plantation. Your guide will also try to locate for you a Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher. These birds are found almost exclusively on La Digue and with an approximate 230 individuals left they are part of an emergency recovery programme. The all-black males are particularly distinct with their pale blue eye rings and metre long tail feathers.
Click Here for information about sailing in the Seychelles, including seasonal winds and tides.
15 Day Sample Itinerary
We can tailor this experience for any duration and level of luxury / budget you wish.
Arrive Mahé island in the Seychelles where you will be met and taken to your hotel close to the Beau Vallon beach.
Overnight in Beau Vallon, Mahé.
A full day to relax, snorkel, visit Mahé or if you dive, we can incorporate up to three dives today to some of the best dive sites within the Inner Islands.
Overnight in Beau Vallon, Mahé .
Day 3: Diving or Guided Trekking
For those who dive, we can arrange an additional two dives this morning.
PM: Your private local natural history guide will collect you from your hotel and take you into the magnificent mountains in the centre of Mahé for a ½ day guided trek.
Overnight in Beau Vallon, Mahé.
Day 4: Hiking Congo Rouge
Today your guide will take you on a privately guided natural history trek some 5 - 6 hours to Mahé's second highest peak: the Congo Rouge.
Overnight in Beau Vallon, Mahé.
Important note: All trekking selected is subject to weather conditions prevailing on the day and may be changed if conditions are too wet and slippery. The granite boulders of the Seychelles can make trekking in considerably more slippery than other rainforest environments.
Day 5: Fly to Bird Island
After a relaxed breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel and taken to the airport for a small aircraft flight to the Seychelles most northerly point: Bird Island. As you fly in, you should be able to see the turquoise waters around the island giving way to a darker blue off its northern tip. This is where the relatively shallow Inner Islands 'shelf' drops off some 2 kilometres into the deep Indian Ocean.
As soon as you step off the plane you will see the hundreds of thousands of birds which are either resident or seasonal visitors to this island. There are some stunning white sand beaches here, good snorkelling, the World's oldest known living tortoise and opportunities at some times of the year to see turtles.
Day 7: Fly onward to Praslin
After relaxed breakfast you will be flown back to Mahé.
Upon arrival you will be transferred to Victoria and a speed ferry through the St Anne Marine Park and across to Praslin. Here you will be taken to your secluded hotel beneath one of the best patches of forest on the island, and a superb place from which to see the Seychelles Fruit Bat and Seychelles Black Parrot. There are some lovely small beaches here which you can relax on or explore by kayak.
You can take dinner in the hotel or request a taxi to take you to somewhere in the busier section of the island at Anse Volbert.
Overnight on Praslin Island.
Day 8: Day to explore Praslin
The hotel often arranges early morning guided treks into the Black Parrot Forest where there are regular sightings of these rare birds and many others. You can also enjoy stunning views at the top of this walk across to La Digue, Mahe and other islands.
Today you can either pre-arrange to spend the day on Anse Lazio (often quoted as the World's most beautiful beach), or be taken on a guided trek to the Vallée de Mai National Park - home of the Coco de Mer Palm. This is a truly unique island forest ecosystem - a classic example of evolution in mid ocean isolation.
Overnight on Praslin Island.
Day 9: Embark Yacht Safari
When you are ready, ask the hotel to call a taxi to take you to the nearby marina. Here you will be fully briefed about your yacht safari and if relevant, meet your skipper. Someone will help you to plan your router over the next few days. 4 days / 3 nights is sufficient to reach many of the islands in the Praslin and La Digue area. These include the Sisters islands, Cousine and Cousin, Curieuse, Marianne, Aride, St Pierre and more. Wind, weather and time may dictate where is most suitable for you to visit on this holiday and this can only be determined on the day itself - either by you as skipper, or by your onboard skipper.
The yacht based itinerary from Day 9 - 14 below is a sample itinerary:-
Set sail for Cousin Island. There you have the opportunity to join a warden led natural history walk around the island.
Sail on to Anse Lazio - a stunning bay which though visited by many during the day, is often deserted by the evening and in the morning.
Sail from Anse Lazio to Aride Island. This is one of the best sites for the endemic birdlife of the Seychelles. Landing is usually wet one i.e. requiring you to step into shallow water and drag your tender onto the beach.
You will have the opportunity to join warden led natural history walk on Aride.
Sail on to Curieuse Island for your overnight mooring and opportunities to snorkel.
In the morning you will be able to join one of the wardens on Curieuse for a natural history walk on the island and see the tortoise breeding programme.
PM: Sail on to St Pierre for some excellent snorkeling.
Anchor off Anse Volbert with access to plenty of restaurants onshore. It is also close enough for a quick morning sail to Baie St Anne.
Early AM Sail back to Baie St Anne where you need to arrive before 9am. Here you will leave the yacht and then join a sail ferry (or speed ferry) across to La Digue. You will be met upon arrival by your private guide who will show you some of the natural history, birdlife and scenic highlights of the island.
Day 13 - 14: Explore La Digue
La Digue really is a stunning island and well worth spending two full days to relax and explore. You can do this by walking, renting a bicycle or joining an ox drawn cart taxi (there are no cars on La Digue).
Day 15: Disembark & Depart Seychelles
You will be collected from your hotel by an ox drawn taxi and transfer to the ferry terminal.
Ferry to Praslin where you will join a ferry back to Mahe.
Upon arrival in Mahe join a shuttle to the airport for your flight home.
Prices are subject to choice of yacht. Prices above are based on a 3 cabin 36 feet long Beneteau Oceanis monohull built in 2003 (Click Here for details). Yachts available up to 45 feet long catamarans with air conditioning and en-suite cabins.
Single Supplement please enquire
To include 5 dives from Mahe add £180 pp
Private yacht charter
Guided excursions as specified
Meals as specified
Security insurance for the yacht
All transfers except taxi a short distance from your hotel on Praslin to the yacht marina.
Excursions not specified
Meals not specified*.
Meals or your skipper onboard the yacht.
Landing fees on national park islands such as Cousin, Aride and Curieuse. There are no landing fees for Mahe, Praslin or La Digue.
Taxi from hotel on Praslin to the marina.
*Meals onboard your yacht are not included. There are facilities onboard to cook if you wish. There are also opportunities in parts of Praslin to eat at restaurants and cafes onshore. You can decide at your yacht briefing how you would like to manage food.