Our 10-night Granitic Island Eco-Seafari is the perfect cruise for those seeking enrichment and understanding of one of the most unique natural environments in the world.
More than a dozen islands. Countless endemic species. One extraordinary experience Seychelles Granitic Island Eco-Seafari & Nature Cruise - 10 nights – Itinerary
The Seychelles archipelago was once cleverly compared to an “armada” of Noah’s Arks. The only granite isles to be found mid-ocean, these lush green islands represent the most ancient archipelago in the world - the highest peaks of a submerged landmass that, over millions of years, broke apart from the super-continent of Gondwanaland and drifted into isolation in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Throughout the millienia ever since, the lifeforms cocooned within these islands were left to evolve in complete isolation. The result, as man would discover no more than a few hundreds years ago, was a group of islands unlike any other, with astounding species of flora and fauna littered throughout the archipelago, some completely unique to a single island
Aboard the M.V. Maya’s Dugong, a handful of individuals will be able to experience this unique destination in an even more unique way - with an expedition cruise across almost all of the inner granitic islands of the Seychelles which make up the ‘lost’ continental shard of Gondwana. The Granitic Island Eco-Seafari & Nature Cruise accommodates guests aboard the M.V. Maya’s Dugong in supreme comfort across its airconditioned cabins and public areas, which include a dining salon and lounge, an outdoor leisure and dining deck, and a spacious bridge from which to take in the beautiful surrounds of Seychelles. A service-oriented crew, which aside from the captain and engineer includes 2 deckhands, a dive instructor, 2 stewardesses and a dedicated chef, all ensure a pampered and comfortable experience onboard - the perfect relaxing retreat from the adventure of discovering the natural wonders of Seychelles’ mangrove swamps, shaded palm forests and mountain cliffs, as well as its bustling underwater world. The Granitic Island Eco-Seafari and Nature Cruise also features an experienced naturalist onboard who will personally accompany all nature tours and island excursions, as well as conduct discussions and presentations onboard to give guests a special insight into Seychelles and its fascinating ecology. DAY 1
Embarkation at 10.30 at the Inter Island Quay in Victoria, Mahé for a welcome briefing by the captain and an early lunch onboard in port, before an afternoon of exploring Mahé itself, the largest and most populated of the islands. Mahé is characterised by its massive granite mountains and cliffs, the highest point being Morne Seychellois at nearly 3,000ft. The eco-seafari begins in the Morne Seychellois National Park, with a pleasant hike up the Trois Freres nature trail to its viewpoint overlooking Victoria, the Ste Anne Marine park and a host of other islands. This is one of the few accessible areas to witness the carnivorous Seychelles pitcher plant and, higher up in the forest, the curiously loud chirp of the Sooglossus may be heard. No bigger than the size of a fingernail, this is reputed to be the smallest frog in the world. Later we visit the ruins of the Mission at Sans Souci, a former colonial boarding school for freed slave children which now serves as a beautiful viewpoint across the western and southern coasts of the island. After returning onboard, the vessel sails into the Ste Anne Marine Park, where a welcome Creole BBQ is served for dinner. DAY 2
After an early morning sail across to Praslin, the second largest of the inner islands, disembark at Anse Possession for a visit to the Vallee de Mai, one of Seychelles' two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Explore this forest's eerie pathways beneath its massive canopy, which is home to all six of Seychelles' endemic palms and all four of the endemic screwpines. The valley also hosts the endemic black parrot, unique to Praslin, together with twenty-eight endemic plant species. This includes the famous Coco de Mer palm with its large, curiously shaped nut (the world's largest seed), which served as the inspiration for General Gordon of Khartoum to declare he had found the biblical Garden of Eden when he visited Praslin in 1881. DAY 3
After breakfast, disembark at the island of Curieuse, just off Praslin, for a visit of this virtually uninhabited island and nature park. Curieuse features an expansive mangrove forest, accessible through an elevated boardwalk, where cardisoma crabs and mudskippers can be seen. The walk leads to the ruins of an old leper colony and the renovated doctor's house, which is now a small museum. Enjoy a BBQ lunch on the beach before re-embarking on the vessel for an afternoon spent relaxing at the beautiful granite outcrop of St Pierre within the Curieuse Marine National Park and, for those who wish, swimming and snorkelling and a first opportunity to experience the spectacular and colourful marine life that abounds in these warm waters. In the evening, enjoy a pre-dinner talk about the fascinating geology of Seychelles, the only mid-ocean remnants of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland.DAY 4
A sail to Aride, the most northerly of the granitic islands, which is owned and managed by the Island Conservation Society. Over a span of more than 30 years, the management has re-established its native woodland ecology and as a result the island has become one of the world's most important reserves. It boasts more breeding species of seabirds than any of the other islands, including the world's largest colony of lesser noddy. From the Cliffside viewpoint, the sky becomes thick overhead in a swarm of noddies, terns, as well as red-tailed tropicbirds and massive frigate birds, while below one may be able to see a passing pod of dolphins, giant rays or hawksbill turtles. The island has its own endemic flower, Wright’s gardenia, and five of the land bird species unique to Seychelles breed on Aride, including the magpie robin, sunbird, and the fody, as well as 80% of the world population of the Seychelles warbler. Weather permitting, a sail to the north of the island puts the vessel in position to see the roost of more than 5,000 frigatebirds. DAY 5
A morning sail to La Digue - its huge fissured boulders towering over perfect beaches make it one of the most beautiful of the Seychelles' islands. Using ox cart, which along with bicycles remain the most common mode of transportation on this sleepy island community, take a leisurely ride to Union Estate, a sprawling network of traditional island activities, including a copra mill, vanilla plantation, and shipyard. Later in the morning, experience the Veuve reserve with its takamaka and Indian almond trees, in which the black Seychelles paradise flycatcher feeds and nests. This endangered endemic – the male has extremely long black tail feathers and the female is chestnut and white with a black hood – is only found naturally on La Digue. After lunch onboard, spend time relaxing on the yacht or return to La Digue to explore more of the island, perhaps hiring a bicycle. DAY 6
A relaxing day ahead, with a morning visit to the Sister islands – a pair of small, uninhabited Robinson Crusoe-like islands with beautiful beaches and excellent surrounding marine life, which can be enjoyed by snorkelling or diving. In the afternoon a visit to Coco Island, also a fantastic site for snorkelling in a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, turtles and other curiosities of the sea. Before dinner, enjoy a presentation on conservation in the Seychelles and the ongoing efforts to preserve its many endemic species. DAY 7
A visit to Cousin Island, one of the smallest of the granitic islands of the Seychelles, which is a wildlife reserve managed by Nature Seychelles and an important refuge for endemic birds as well as a sea turtle nesting site. A guided tour of Cousin allows for up-close viewing of endemics such as the Seychelles fody, warbler and magpie robin, as well as beautiful white fairy terns and magnificent white-tailed tropic birds. The giant tortoise has been introduced onto Cousin and this is also a potential opportunity to witness sea turtles landing on the beach to lay eggs. DAY 8
The vessel arrives in Silhouette, the third largest of Seychelles' granitic group of islands and also featuring the second highest elevation point - the imposing Mt Dauban. The vast majority of this island remains untouched and uninhabited, aside from the small settlement at the harbour and a recently opened 5-star resort. Upon disembarking on the island in the morning, visit the headquarters of the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles for an inside look into the giant tortoise and terrapin breeding programmes that it runs here, followed by a walk to the beautiful beach of Anse Lascars. After a late lunch, relax onboard the vessel as we sail to the northern coast of Silhouette near Anse Mondon, for an opportunity to snorkel and dive amidst underwater granite formations.DAY 9
A morning sail back towards Mahé and the beautiful cove of Baie Ternay on the northwestern coast of Mahé, for an opportunity to snorkel or dive in this nationally protected marine park with crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life. Corals here have recovered amazingly well following the 1998 El Nino event in which many corals around the world were devastated. In the evening, a sail to Bel Ombre puts the vessel in one of the best spots to enjoy a Seychelles sunset. DAY 10
Enjoy an early breakfast and disembark at Bel Ombre for a short bus ride up to Danzil, from which to start a relatively easy hike along the winding granite cliffs of Northwest Mahé, toward the secluded cove of Anse Major. Much of this trail lies within the boundary of the Morne Seychellois National Park, and the native vegetation seen along the way is representative of the more arid areas of Mahé. Spend the morning enjoying the beach at Anse Major, before returning along the trail and back to Bel Ombre for a well deserved lunch. A late afternoon sail across Beau Vallon leads to the granite outcrop of Îlot at the northern tip of Mahé, for one last talk and reflection on the cruise before enjoying a farewell BBQ dinner and anchorage overnight. DAY 11
Disembarkation at the Inter Island Quay at 8.30 a.m.