Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Seychelles August 2023

Before I give you an update on the Seychelles. I have a quick story about our adventure in Nairobi. Just before arriving, I got this message. 

"Friends have a son who does a podcast reviewing cereal from around the world. If you have time and room, please let me know if you can bring back something interesting, he can review."
The podcast is Cereal Killers.
Not one to disappoint. We found the best supermarket in Nairobi; it is located in the Westgate Mall. That name may ring a bell. It was the location of one of the worst terrorist attacks in Kenya's history. To say the least, it is now very secure.

Our mission was successful, the issue now, will the cereal make it home without getting crushed.

We landed on the Island of Mahe just a few minutes late. The three-hour flight was a bit bumpy but nothing unbearable.
The Seychelles has a very tech-savvy immigration process. A maximum of ten days before you arrive, you give them through an app or website all your biometrics and PDFs of all your travel documentation. Then when you arrive, you walk through this tech tunnel that scans all your biometrics. If your scan matches what you submitted, you cleared immigration and are on your way. If not, you go to a second screening. It was impressive. It was global entry on steroids.
We had a ride arranged to get to the dock to meet our skipper. Our skippers name was Mark. Mark gave us a quick briefing and told us the 21-mile crossing from Mahe to Praslin would take about an hour and a half. He explained it would be rough, but we would be fine.

Rough was an understatement!

About halfway across, 45 minutes into the trip, Mark suggested we turn back. It was now pitch black, the storm clouds blocked any ambient light from the moon and stars. The winds had increased and were coming at us from the direction we were heading. The waves were now cresting the bow of the boat, some reaching well over 15 feet (4.57 meters), swamping the boat. The self-bailing scuppers were working overtime.

We agreed with Mark, not that we had a choice. Once the wind and waves were at our backs, the ride was still rough but tolerable.

We returned to the same dock we had left an hour and a half before, except now we were drenched through to our skivvies.

Our booking agent, Ocean Blue Travel Seychelles, arranged for a driver and a hotel for the night. We will attempt another crossing tomorrow.

This video does not even come close to showing what the boat ride was like. About 20 minutes into the crossing, I had to put my camera away, or it would have gotten destroyed by the water. - Video

 Boat Trip Mahe to Praslin - NOT! Mark said, "In five years of doing this crossing, this is the first time I turned back, and this is the roughest I have ever seen the seas in this area."

We thanked him for putting safety over ego.

I forgot to mention. On our way back to Mahe, I guess we were about halfway back. Mark's girlfriend reached us over the radio. She had been trying to reach us for the last 20 minutes. With the noise from the wind and crashing waves, we never heard her. She was in tears. Three other boats had made mayday distressed calls. When Mark did not answer her on the radio, she thought we had gone down.
We got picked up at 9:30 a.m. Our alternative plan was to take the 10:30 AM ferry to Praslin. A boat a bit larger than Mark's boat.

The seas had not calmed much, but it was daylight. I don't think I have seen this many people throwing up in one place before. Either there was a bad case of food poisoning, or numerous people were seasick.
The crew was handing out barf bags quicker than the barf could hit the ground. Picture that, but I guess if you are the one who has to clean up the barf, you get good at getting the barf bag to the passenger before the barf makes a mess.

People continued to barf as they exited the ferry.
We are staying at the L'Hirondelle Self-Catering Guesthouse. Once settled in, we decided to visit the National Park, Vallée de Mai. This park is way up in the hills. It is home to a tree that produces the largest nut in the world.
Of course, Seychelles is known for its beautiful beaches. After the park, we visited a few of the beaches on Praslin. At the last beach there was a bar, where we enjoyed a local beer.
We had a wonderful dinner at Pirogue Lodge, a two-minute walk from our apartment.

Tomorrow, we take a fifteen-minute ferry to La Digue. We will spend the day there, returning to Praslin in the late afternoon.
We arrived at La Digue after a fifteen-minute ferry ride. The time is 9:15 AM. We had arranged to have bikes for the day. Well, at least until 4:00 PM, when we would return to Praslin by ferry.
If you are curious about where we are. Click this link and Google Maps will open with our location.

We decided to head south on the bikes and then pick up a hiking trail to a remote beach. Here is a short video of the hike and then a bike ride along the northwest side of the Island.

Hiking and Biking on La Digue, Seychelles. - Video

 We had a wonderful lunch at the Natural Bar & Grill.
After lunch, we biked a bit south to the famous Bikini Bottom Bar, not only great drinks, but several giant tortoises hang out there.
Next, we headed back North to a juice bar. They had nice lounge chairs you could use. There were two options. Rent the chairs and get free drinks, or buy your drinks and use the lounge chairs for free. A tough choice, in fact, a very hard choice because you don't know the price of the chair rental or the drinks until you settle the bill.
The owner was nice, and we wanted to use the lounge chairs, so we let her pick the option.

It was getting close to 4:00 PM, so we headed back to the Ferry Dock, returned the bikes, and returned to Praslin.
Tomorrow, we take a fifteen-minute flight from Praslin to Mahe. We are told this flight is known as the world's highest rollercoaster. Wish us luck.
We left the beautiful beaches of Praslin via a short fifteen-minute flight, which was way smoother than expected.
Praslin to Mahe - Faster than a Boat - Video 

 We were met in Mahe by Allister. Allister is going to give us a four-hour tour of Mahe.
Mahe is a bit bigger than Praslin, with 100,000 people vs. 7,500 on Praslin. We first visited the capital of the Seychelles, Victoria.
We bought some fruit in the open-air market.
We then drove up a very steep, windy road where we could look down on Victoria, Eden Island, an electric power generating island (both solar and wind), and the tuna factory.
Eden Island is a man-made island and is the only place in all the Seychelles where non-citizens can buy property.
The tuna factory is vital to the economy. Right now, the drivers of the economy are 70% tourism and 30% fishing. Since COVID they are working to become less reliant on tourism. The people of the Seychelles learned a hard lesson during the pandemic.
Once at the top of the mountain, we took a tour of the Tea Factory and Tea Museum. Once privately owned by a gentleman from Kenya who brought the seeds and started growing tea and lemon grass. The farm and factory are now owned by the government.
After the tour, Allister dropped us off at our beachfront apartment, Sables D'or Luxury Apartments, where we will be staying for the next three days.
Today, we hiked to a remote beach. The hike is called Anse Major Trail. While the hike had many steep ups and downs, the views of the ocean were worth the effort.
The highlight was a Fruit Bat eating fruit from Margarite's shoulder. I guess this was only fair since the other night I had Fruit Bat Curry for dinner.
We had drinks and lunch at the Boat House Restaurant. A local Beach Bar Restaurant is just a stone's throw from our apartment.
Today is our last day in the Seychelles. I had not mentioned, but this is the rainy season like most tropical paradises during the rainy season you get rain on and off throughout the day.
As you can see, this does not deter beachgoers.
Today's mission is to find the best ice cream in the Seychelles. This trip has been a dud when it comes to ice cream, but today that ends. We heard whispers that a new ice cream shop opened only a week ago. Owned by a French lady who claims the best ice cream in the Seychelles.
The ice cream did not disappoint.
That is, it, until our next trip in six weeks…. to Panama.



All Pictures from the Seychelles