Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 2 and 3 -- Indian Ocean and Giant Tortoise

Day Two, Open Water and Cousine Island
S04 10’ 90”  E55 30’ 90”

On day two we took a significant journey to Cousine Island.
The Seychelle Islands off the coast of Africa.
Cousine Island north of Mahe Island in the Seychelle Islands.

To travel from the west side of Mahe Island to Cousine Island was approximately 20Nmiles of open water – the Indian Ocean.

We lifted the anchor at 9:30; cut the engines and sailed at 10:05. We arrived in Cousine at 12:35.  We had 4 to 6 foot swells and wind almost the entire trip.

Our Captain at the helm.
Getting ready to head out.
KT ready to sail.
DT and KT had a rough crossing.  I think everyone except our Captain struggled a bit.

NS watching from the front of the boat.
Boswain Hubby D, Purser DT and our Captain.
DT hoisting the sails.
Day one in the First Mate's (ES) log book.
First Mate ES making his notes.

I was petrified most of the time when we were sailing in the open water of the Indian Ocean.   I mean REALLY, REALLY scared.

I kept asking SW (the Captain) if everything was okay, and he kept telling me stories of other trips where the swells were much higher and the conditions much harder.  He assured me we were in great condition.

I could not watch the front of the boat because after we crested a wave it looked like we were going straight down into the water.

I am such a whimp.

ES and NS were very seasoned sailors. They never flinched. Although NS came home with a nasty bruise on her shoulder.

When we reached Counsine Island, it was stunning and made the rough journey worth it.

First siting.
DW at the front of the boat with Cousine ahead.

The winds were not calm enough and visibility of the water not good enough for great snorkeling but we did go for a dip in the refreshing water after we arrived at Cousine.

Captain SW suggested that we motor sail around Praslin Island to the Anse Lazio beach. We would anchor for the rest of the day and spend the night there. We thought that was a great idea.

S04 18’ 26”  E55 44’ 05”
Anse LazioPraslin Island

With stunning white sand beaches and lush tropical forests covering the hills, Praslin Island and Anse Lazio beach are a delight.

Our second sunset.

Despite being the second biggest island in the Seychelles Praslin has a fraction of the population, inhabited by a mere 6,500 people. It is sleepy, laid back and far less developed than neighboring Mahe, yet still large enough to explore when you tire of your nearest beach.

The beaches on Praslin stand out, with famous names like Anse Lazio and Anse Geogette frequently making top ten lists of best beaches and most beautiful destinations worldwide, and with good reason. On Praslin you can also discover the amazing Coco De Mer, an exotic plant that lead to the belief the Seychelles were the true Garden of Eden.

We anchored just off a beautiful beach, Anse Lazio.

Anse Lazio, possibly the most beautiful beach you will set eyes upon. With half a mile of perfect, fine white sands and gorgeous turquoise waters that are so clear you can watch the fish swim around you, it's no surprise Anse Lazio is frequently called 'the best beach in the world' with views that take your breath away.

There's no doubt that Anse Lazio deserves its reputation - it really was a spectacular sight

Four at a time, we all traveled ashore in the dinghy. The beach was soft sand with granite boulders. We were hoping to find a restaurant but instead found HONESTY BAR.

I had read about the Honesty Bar prior to our visit.

Basically, you help yourself to the drinks and are trusted to leave the correct payment in a box on the bar. It's all very laid back. And trusting. Just as it should be.

The location is excellent. It is perched on a hillside overlooking the beach.

This was the view of the bay from the table where we enjoyed a beer in the Honesty Bar.
Beers and rum for the crew.

A wood and corrugated iron canopy shades a handful of tables on a sandy floor. 

Behind the bar is a large fridge which is filled with water, soft drinks, beer, wine and spirits.

Bartender - bring me a beer!
Books at the bar with comments from visitors world wide.

The owner stopped by while we were there. He is a native Seychellian born in Victoria. 

As we drank our beers under the rainforest canopy looking out on the powdery sand with the turquoise Indian Ocean beyond, I could swear I was on the set of movie South Pacific.

The beach was covered with granite boulders so we stopped for a photo opportunity on the way back to our dingy.
DT and KT were feeling much better.
The local restaurants were closed so off we went back to the boat for another dinner on board. The trip ashore was wonderful after the rough crossing.

Day Three, Trip to Curieuse Marine National Park
S04 17’ 20”  E55 43’ 20”

The next morning we set sail early so we could arrive at Curieuse Island early and have plenty of time to tour the island.

Curieuse is one of the Inner Islands Group of the Seychelles Islands. It is 2.86 square kilometres in area and is located north-west of Praslin Island, which is the second largest island in the Seychelles. Curieuse is a bio-reserve that is managed by the Marine Parks Authority of the Seychelles Centre for Marine Technology.

Day three was a very busy day and filled with fantastic photo opportunities.

Curieuse also has a very interesting history.

Because of the red colored soil on this rugged island, it was named the Red Island. The name was changed to La Curieuse by the French in 1768. 

The huge giant tortoise population was totally destroyed with the arrival of Europeans. In 1771, thinking it would make harvesting the Coco de Mer nuts easier, sailors set fire to the island. This killed off most of the plants and the remnants of the burned area is still seen today more than 240 years later.

In 1833, the island was used as a leper colony and remained so until 1965. The colony was called Anse St. Joseph and the doctor’s residence, which dates from the 1870s, is a museum and educational center today.

There are also more than 500 tortoises walking around the island and eight different species of mangrove trees.

There are giant tortoise on the island that can only be found here and in the Galapolos Islands.

This is the first giant tortoise we spotted. As it turned out, he was not very big.
Going ashore.

After we came ashore in our dingy, we strolled up the beach toward the Marine Park.

There is a wonderful walking trail that climbs the hills and comes out at the tortoise farm. We had a wonderful time on the trail seeing all the wildlife and plants.

A Park Ranger pointed out the trail to the turtle farm.

Beginning at Baie Laraie is the trail that goes to Anse St. Joseph, which is on the other side of the island. Visitors walk through dense mangrove forests, which are considered one of the most magnificent sights on the island and past giant granite cliffs. 

These cliffs are scrubbed by the wind and rain and form natural blue and red archways along the coast.

The ruins of the ancient leper colony can be seen in the forest and has almost completely been taken over by vegetation. There is also a rocky trail to the summit of the island. It is not an easy walk and there is not much shade along the way, but the sights are spectacular. That was the route we took.

We were prepared for the rock and hill climb in our best climbing flip flops.
Our group at the beginning of the hike.

We saw mangrove forests, degraded land from fire and the 2004 tsunami, and swamps.

The boardwalk that passes through the mangrove forests near Baie Laraie allows visitors to see seven of the eight species of mangroves on the island. It is accessible even during high tide.

A really big snail.
Thousands of snails.

When we finally reached the tortoise farm, we were all ready for a break. The tortoise move faster than you would think so they did not let us sit around much.

I rounded the corner and emerged from the jungle to see SW facing off a giant tortoise.

DT converses with a sage tortoise.

I think KT was asking if she wanted to race....?

I did not have the courage to get on the ground with the tortoise like DW did. I was afraid I could not get up fast enough if the tortoise deiced to try to nibble on me.

After a full day at the Marine Park, we headed back to the boat. 

During the day, ES attracted some interesting fish to our boat with bread crumbs.

Over dinner we surprised our Captain. We had some shirts made with titles for each of us - just to rib him.  Commandant, Fleet Admiral, Commodore, Admiral, Comandante Supremeo, Admiral Flota, and Captain Eye Candy (for DW).

Our captain.

We wanted a group shot however I thought I was shooting a photo, Unfortunately I had the camera set for video.  So this is rather humorous. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page to view the video.

NS attempting to pole dance. Needless to say, it was a fun filled evening.
Another great sunset in paradise.

DW, Hubby D and I all went to bed early because we were going scuba diving the next morning, YIPEE!  Can't wait to show you the great video he took.