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The Seychelles is an archipelago of some 115 islands sitting in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. Its position is blessed with year round temperates between 24C and 32C and our Variety Cruise started from Mahé the largest and most developed of its islands.
We were warmly welcomed aboard the twin hulled M/Y Pegasus and after a cool drink, taken to our cabin where our bags were already waiting. On a Motor Yacht that exclusively accommodates 44 passengers our cabin was quite spacious with plenty of room to walk around our double bed and a sitting area too. With ample wardrobe space and mini safe our cabin also sported a fridge, TV, VCR and a wet room style en-suite with shower. Most importantly we had individually controlled A/C, so we could cool off and enjoy our nicely decorated cabin and its soft colour fabrics when things got too hot outside. Half an hour after leaving Mahé we were in a zodiac bound for the beach at Ste Anne for a swim stop. Lying on my back in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean we watched the blazing sun disappear into the black cleavage of nearby mountains, whilst dusting the clouds with pink hues. What a great way to start this cruise.
Our day ended with dinner, served in the lovely Dining Room with adjacent comfortable lounge. Although an al fresco option is also available. we chose to eat inside tonight in the cool. The dress code on board was casual, so you can travel light without suits or long dresses in your suitcase, and we really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere as we got to know the attentive staff and our friendly fellow passengers. Throughout the cruise we found that the cuisine was always to a high standard and included many local flavours.
In view of how costly eating out in The Seychelles was, it made this “meals inclusive” cruise excellent value. Complimentary tea, coffee and drinking water were available 24/7. My favourite place onboard was the Sun Deck. Being an early riser I loved to sit on one of the comfortable deck chairs or lie back on a padded lounger and watch the sunrise. As I watched the sun paint the sky and the clouds a kaleidoscope of warm colours I could dream that Pegasus was all mine (everyone else was still in bed). It was also a great place to sunbathe later in the day, or read a book from the on board library in a shady spot. A place to just gaze at the enchanting sea views or be entertained by dolphins frolicking around the vessel.
We quickly fell into the pattern of the days, with Zodiac rides taking us to some sparsely populated island to admire some of the unique and amazing wildlife of the Seychelles. Like Curieuse Island where we met the giant Aldabra Tortoise a remarkably loveable animal. Cousin and Aride Islands had some extraordinary birds, my favourite being the white-tailed tropicbird which, with no significant predator on the island, lay their eggs on the floor often at the base of a tree. There’s plenty of other wildlife to see, crabs of all shapes and sizes scuttle about, mud/rock skippers, spiders and more. In fact David Attenborough featured the Seychelles in Part 1 (Islands) of the recent Planet Earth II.
Most days included a beach stop, like Anse Lazio which is ranked as one of the top beaches in The Seychelles. The immense stretch of powder white sand, sandwiched between crystal clear blue seas and a green belt of palm and takamaka trees, was a joy to stick your toes into. Huge granite boulders not only bookend the long stretch of sand and create intimate little sandy coves, but provide an excellent playground for the local fish. The many snorkel stops were a delight in these warm waters and we loved watching the brightly coloured fish dart about under the waves. At some stops it was like rush hour in fish world with blizzards of multicoloured fish frolicking in front of your face mask.
Excursions also informed us about the plantlike and local culture. At Praslin we visited the UNESCO listed Vallée de Mai. Here our guide told us all we wanted to know about Palm trees but were afraid to ask, plus covered other elements of nature we encountered on our walk through the reserve. Whilst there are 6 endemic palms of The Seychelles on display, it is the coco de mer that gets star billing with its "buxom" nuts. At La Digue we boarded our "truck with benches in the back" style transport (padded benches of course) which have replaced the Ox and cart as the primary form of transport for groups. Individuals can rent one of the many bicycles for hire to get around an island that is mercifully flat and has little motorised transport.
We headed for L'Union Estate and Copra Factory, once a thriving coconut plantation but now is largely a tourist attraction. Here we were shown the method by which coconut oil is extracted and with the help of the very game Victor (an Ox) turning the mill that presses the powdered cooked coconut to release the oil. To be fair Victor was more interested in sniffing the tourists than turning the wheel.
Variety give exactly what it says on the tin (what do you mean that slogan has been done!). A cruise that samples the variety the Seychelles islands have to offer and goes beyond the glorious beaches to explore unique species and more. Done the Variety way I believe this must rank as a one of the dream holiday destinations.
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Some fabulous pictures Steve took on his cruise
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Variety Cruises website