The wild Seychelles
Eye tot eye with giant tortoises; 300 kilos each. Swim with turtles, rays and sharks. And I’m wondering around on the unique and desolated Bird Island.
Jurassic Park. It’s my first association with the noise surrounding me. This is what I imagine a dinosaur would sound like. Just outside my bedroom it sounds like chaos. A female tortoise is being ambushed by three big guys. Each weighing about 300 kilos. It’s my first and rather noisy encounter with these famous and fascinating creatures. Endemic to the Seychelles. Huge, heavy but unique in its own way.
They shortly look at me. But no time to waste, it is mating season. time is very limited and valuable; female tortoises are only fertile/susceptible for a very short period. And if time is wasted, it takes a whole year before this unique spectacle can take place again. Some giant tortoise do get about 200 years old, so you could say they have all the time in the world. Hmm, I feel a bit like a voyeur. Every thing happens in slow-motion with these animals. Even whilst mating. Wow, what an incredible experience.
I’m being surrounded, like I’m the attraction here.
,,Did you know that has twice the amount of giant tortoises than inhabitants? What other country can live up to that?”. Robin is my guide for the day. His face is weatherworn, but his eyes sparkle and are extremely clear. He doesn’t like the big city with its crowds. He prefers fresh air, endless views and ‘no hassle’. So he moved to this unique place on one of the islands.
Bright yellow, clear blue and dark blue; otherwise beach, sea and sky. This must be Paradise Island? No it is Bird Island and its name might give you a hint. This island is the territory of many birds. Yearly, between April and October, millions of birds settle down to lay their eggs. Amongst them hundred thousands of white terns and brown noddy’s.
The Seychelles is quite a remote destination. However this gave nature the opportunity to develop itself in a unique way. Also, wildlife hasn’t been hunted so most animals aren’t afraid of people. This comes in quite handy when you take a picture. They almost pose…. And the tortoises? They really don’t care about their audience.
When the sun reaches its highest point and temperature is at its maximum, the giant tortoises choose the shade for a little siesta. Thet just lay down. Their neck and head on the cool sand. A fantastic view. I can’t wait to join, however I will do my siesta on the beach with my feet in the clear blue seawaters.
It’s April, the beginning of the breeding season. They fly and sing all day, whilst searching for the perfect spot to breed. Quite some birds have already found their spot. Robin gives me a little hint: ,,Go, just before sunset, to the end of the island. I won’t tell you why, you have to see it for yourself…”
Now I am curious of course. What does he mean? At the end of the day, I am wandering along the shoreline. There is no one there, just me. I hear a noise and it slowly comes closer and becomes louder. I have no idea what I am listening to or where it comes from. Then all of a sudden, I see a huge group of birds, heading my way. Thousands of them. Circling above the island. Thousands of terns, getting ready for the breeding season. Spectacular.
Mimo dives into the clear and warm waters. He is a rastafari, like many of them on the island. I ask him what it is like to live like a rastafari. Proudly he announces: ,,Welcome to the tropics, no hurry needed, it’s way to warm for that!” He puts his long dreadlocks backwards and gives me a wide smile.
Now it’s my turn to go snorkeling. Beautiful sight of fishes every where. My eye catches a haze of sand…. A big manta ray is looking for food. Violantly he uses his one and a half meter long wings to plough the soil. He is followed by other, small fish. Ready for some leftovers, but they stay at a wise distant. The shallow water is extremely clear.
Just ahead four green turtles swim by. They are not afraid of this long and weird looking snorkeling creature. Instead, they come take a look, curious as they are. They surround me, like I am the attraction. This is what travel is all about. Memories for a lifetime. It’s the Seychelles, in it’s purest form.
The wildlife on the Seychelles was never hunted. Therefore, they are quite curious and easy to approach: