After 5 or 6 days at sea, I lost track, we arrived at La Digue, Seychelle on Tuesday, March 15th. La Digue is the 3rd largest island in the Seychelles archipelago and has about 2,000 permanent residents. There are no airport so the main transportation is by ferry to Praslin, my next stop, and then Mahe. The waters here on incredibly blue, clear and warm year round. We’re about 3 degrees south of the equator, so year round it’s warm and then hotter. The water temperature runs between 84 and 86 degrees, so really nice for snorkeling and swimming. Even though we’re this close to the equator, the water and sea breeze keeps it very comfortable on land. The beaches are the finest sugar sand we’re told exists in the world. There are no private beaches, so even the 4 Seasons has to allow you access to the beach through their property if you like. Also, because there are so many beaches they are never crowded, at least by US standards. You might see 50 people on a large beach if it was busy. The nearest land is Kenya, which is a little over 1,000 miles away.
First thing in La Digue was a snorkel trip to Coco Island. Island is being very generous as it’s a granite outcropping of rocks and a few palm trees. The real attraction is the area around it with reefs and colorful fish. The group I was with went in the morning and we saw a lot of the reef fish but the afternoon group was there when the tide was coming in and they saw sea turtles, dolphins and a few sharks. This was a short stop and then on to the island of Praslin which was only an hour away.
Next stop is Praslin which is known for beaches and the Vallee De Mai forest which is the home to the Coco de Mer palm. The Coco de Mer nut is the largest nut in the world and weighs 50-60 pounds when ripe. It’s also known for it’s unique shape and there are many local stories and superstitions around it. This is the only place in the world you can see this in a native environment. There are a handful of other places that have planted the nut and grown trees but it takes over 15 years just to find out if it’s a male or female then another 10 years to start producing the giant nuts. The tree is now heavily protected and there are heavy fines if you are found in possession of one without out all the approvals and permits. After walking through the forest, we had some beach time just to hang out before returning to the ship.
Mahe Island, March 15/16 port of Victoria. Mahe is the largest island and has the largest population in Seychelles with about 55,000 people living here. There are only about 80,000 in all of Seychelles which spreads over a little over 100 islands, many of which are uninhabited. The language here is Creole, which is a mixture of French and African language. The island is about 35 miles long and 15 miles wide with beaches all around it.
First day was just a walking tour of Victoria and then a trip to the botanical garden which is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Because of the weather, they have a growing season for almost everything year round.
Last day was a tour of the southern end of the island, an old spice plantation and a beach. Mainly just a lot of great scenery and views. The giant turtles are native here and in the Galapagos Islands. These were not like the ones we see in the zoo at home. Lots of them and very active.
Next stop Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after 7 sea days. We will dock in Jeddah on Wednesday, March 23rd. This was not a planned stop but Egypt made a change to their Covid requirements and now if ANY one on board tests positive, they can’t dock. This was a real disappointment for many because this stop including Luxor, Valley of the Kings. Silversea didn’t want to risk us having to sit for several days, so opted for more time in Saudi Arabia. We will be headed through the Suez Canal a few days after this and that is a timed passage, so if we got there early, we would just have to wait.
Now for the real fun, we’re in pirate waters and had a 2 page letter outlining procedures in case we encounter any. We’re off the coast of Somalia now and the ship is darkened at night and has security with binoculars posted on the upper decks at all times. The captain informed us on the noon announcement today that we’ll be entering the Gulf of Aden which runs between Somalia and Yemen in a little over a day at which time, we’ll pick up a military escorts until we get closer to Jeddah.