Day 1 — Mahe, Seychelles
Embark Silver Discoverer and become acquainted with the outer decks and amenities found on board. After settling in, a mandatory safety drill will be held. Your Expedition Leader will then introduce some of the key personnel and the Expedition Team. Enjoy your first dinner aboard as the crew ready Silver Discoverer to drop her dock lines and head for Desroches.
Day 2 — Desroches Island, Seychelles
Desroches is one of the Outer Islands and the main island of the Amirante group of the Seychelles. Located 230 km southwest of Mahé, it has a land area of only 3.24 km², but has a staggering 15 kilometers of fine sand beaches. The northern part of the island is a coconut plantation and farm, with a settlement on the far shore. The first coconut plantations were started in 1875 and copra is still processed on the island before being transported to Mahé for export. After spending the morning exploring this beautiful beach, we plan to return to Silver Discoverer for lunch.
During the late afternoon, Silver Discoverer will start the voyage to spectacular Aldabra – a natural paradise on earth.
Day 3 — At Sea, Cruising the Indian Ocean
Make full use of our small, manoeuvrable ship while we start covering part of the Indian Ocean. Our lecturers will offer talks preparing you for our visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Aldabra. In addition, you can unwind, relax, and make use of the gym or Spa, or any of the other amenities Silver Discoverer can offer.
Days 4-5 — Aldabra, Seychelles
For two days Silver Discoverer will anchor off Aldabra and we will have the opportunity to visit this remote part of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands. Aldabra is reputedly the world’s second-largest atoll and has been described as one of nature’s treasures. It will truly be a privilege to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to its extreme isolation, Aldabra is virtually untouched by humans. Its distinctive island fauna includes the Aldabra giant tortoise. About two thirds of the world population of giant tortoises lives on Aldabra. As Aldabra lacks freshwater and is difficult to access, the island has not been developed for tourism. Only a handful of smaller ships with special permits are allowed to call at this unique atoll.
We hope to enjoy exhilarating drift snorkels as the incoming tide whisks us into a lagoon populated with eagle rays, turtles, and coral gardens teeming with marine life. Time and tides permitting, we may cruise via Zodiac through narrow channels between fossilized coral islands, and between mangrove-covered islands to observe large colonies of nesting boobies and Great Frigatebirds soaring overhead. As the tides pump water in and out of the lagoon, massive numbers of fish come and go through channels to feed. We can snorkel in these same channels, allowing the current to carry us along in a magical scene.
Conditions permitting, we will go ashore to visit the small research station on Picard Island and photograph the mighty tortoises living on this isolated island.
Day 6 — Cosmoledo, Seychelles
Cosmoledo is an atoll about 85 miles east of Aldabra. The atoll has more than 20 small islands and islets and has been repeatedly used by humans for the harvesting of local resources including guano and fish. Abandoned in 1992, the islands have recovered naturally, assisted by a conservation organization that works to eradicate introduced species. Cosmoledo is an Important Bird Area and we will see the Indian Ocean’s largest colony of Red-footed Boobies, the Seychelles’ largest colony of Sooty Terns, as well as Black-naped Terns, Crested terns and Red-tailed Tropicbirds. If conditions cooperate, two narrow passes on the southern side will permit Zodiacs to enter the lagoon where several beaches wait to be explored. Here snorkelers will find an interesting underwater world to occupy their time.
Day 7 — Farquhar, Seychelles
The Farquhar Group is some 400 miles southwest of Mahe. Of this group, Farquhar Atoll is the southernmost. The two main islands of the atoll (Farquhar North and Farquhar South) look somewhat like a reined in sea horse, with the roads and an airstrip on North Island being the reins. North Island has a small settlement. We will scout the conditions today and decide where to go ashore by Zodiac to make use of North Island’s beaches and meet some rarely visited inhabitants. Hawksbill and green sea turtles come to the atoll to nest, and several of the Farquhar islands are Important Bird Areas. Goelettes, the southernmost of the atoll’s islets, holds Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Black-naped Terns.
Day 8 — Alphonse Island, Seychelles
Going north, Silver Discoverer is approaching civilization again. Some 220 miles south of Mahe is the 7-square mile Alphonse Atoll. Alphonse has one island – Alphonse Island – which in turn has one small airfield. Diving and sports fishing are the island’s main attractions, with a population of less than 100 residents mainly working in a small resort, fishing or farming. However, change is in the air as the Seychelles’ government plans to set up a pearl farm, and the current owners of the resort want to increase capacity. Despite the presence of people, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters breed on Alphonse and hawksbill and green sea turtles nest here. More than 100 bird species have been recorded and pending permission, we hope to visit nearby Bijoutier and Saint Francois, truely uninhabited paradises for birding, swimming, and snorkeling.
Day 9 — St. Joseph Atoll, Seychelles
Early this morning Silver Discoverer will arrive to anchor at St. Joseph Atoll, some 250 km southwest of Mahé. The remote Indian Ocean atoll is comprised of just over a dozen islands, and St. Joseph Island is the largest with an area of over 400 hectares. Only a few contract workers engaged in harvesting copra and fishing presently live on St. Joseph.
We plan to spend the morning in the atoll’s lagoon, which is home to a massive population of stingrays and a healthy number of turtles. Giant blue mud crabs migrate from the depths of the lagoon onto the surrounding flats with the high tides. Bonefish abound, as do grouper, lobster and several species of reef fish that will delight swimmers and snorkelers.
Birders will look skyward to find frigatebirds, while Blue Herons, Crested Terns, Whimbrels and plovers before returning to Silver Discoverer for the balance of the afternoon.
Day 10 — Praslin and La Digue, Seychelles
Silver Discoverer will anchor off Praslin Island, the site of the fabulous Vallée de Mai, one of the Seychelles’ two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We disembark via Zodiac to the picturesque Baie Ste Anne jetty, and then drive up the scenic coastal road through a quaint fishing village and dense forest of contrasting shades of green to Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. Praslin has substantial tracts of tropical forests with over 6,000 Coco-de-Mer palms with enormous fan-shaped fronds. These trees can grow more than 100 feet tall, living 800-1,000 years and are home to endemic birds, such as the Seychelles Bulbul and the Seychelles Black Parrot.
During our walking tour, you will discover this mystical World Heritage Site and capture the cathedral-like feeling of the primeval forest. Listen for the high pitched whistles of the rare Black Parrot as you walk. Later, we depart Vallee de Mai for Cote d’Or Beach, where we have time for a swim or stroll along this beautiful beach. Enjoy refreshments ashore before heading back to the Silver Discoverer.
In the afternoon, we visit La Digue and probably the best-known island of the Seychelles since its rock formations are so spectacular. The huge granite boulders scattered along the shore resemble modern art sculptures and have been featured in many books and on many postcards. Apart from its brilliant white beaches and strangely shaped rocks, the island has a nature reserve and colonial houses — all making for excellent photography. Take a step back in time and visit L’Union Estate to see a traditional copra mill and watch the antics of the estate’s population of giant land tortoises. Perhaps take time to stroll around the majestic Plantation House framed by giant granite boulders in landscaped gardens. The estate is classified as a National Monument and is also home to one of the most pristine beaches in Seychelles — the legendary ‘Source d’Argent’ — among the most photographed beaches on earth.
Day 11 — Aride and Curieuse, Seychelles
Aride is the northernmost island of the granitic Seychelles. The island hosts one of the most important seabird populations in the Indian Ocean with more breeding species than any other island in the Seychelles. Eighteen species of native birds breed on Aride including the world's largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Tropical Shearwater, the world’s only hilltop colony of Sooty Terns and the western Indian Ocean’s largest colony of Roseate Tern. The island has the only breeding colony of Red-tailed Tropicbird east of Aldabra and huge numbers of Brown Noddy, White Tern and Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Thousands of Great Frigatebirds and Lesser Frigatebirds soar over the northern cliffs.
During lunch Silver Discoverer repositions to Curieuse Island with its checkered and tragic history. Curieuse was a leper colony until 1965 and the doctor’s residence, which dates from the 1870s, is a museum and educational center today. More than 500 tortoises walk around the island amidst eight different species of mangrove trees. Birders will look for the Seychelles Black Parrot in rare and protected Coco de Mer trees. Whatever you choose to do on Curieuse Island, be sure to make the most of your final outing of the voyage.
Day 12 — Mahe, Seychelles
Disembark the Silver Discoverer after breakfast.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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