In 2015 findet wieder eine der seltenen Expeditionen zum Aldabra Atoll an Bord der MV Maya’s Dugong statt.
Der Termin für die nächste Expedition zum Aldabra Atoll steht! Vom 27. März bis zum 3. April 2015 können Sie dieses einmalige Naturschauspiel erleben. Anfragen für diese Reise nehmen wir gerne entgegen. Der Preis inkl. Flug von Mahé nach Assumption exkl. Flug auf die Seychellen liegt je nach Kabine bei ca. 8.200 € pro Person. Die Details zum Schiff und zur Reise finden Sie hier:
Aldabra – Expedition aboard the MV Maya’s Dugong
Aldabra has inspired ancient explorers, some of the world’s most famous scientists and now the modern travellers of today. The name itself is a mystery, believed to be a word of Arabic origin but with any number of theories about its actual meaning, which could be ‚green‘ or ‚doorknocker‘ or possibly the navigational star Aldebaran. Indeed, it seems there has always been a mythical aura attached to the name of the most far-flung and isolated of all the islands of the Seychelles archipelago.
Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, is the finest surviving tropical atoll ecosystem on earth. The giant tortoises on the island form by far the world’s largest population and the marine life is prolific. The last surviving flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, the Aldabra rail, is found only here as are many other unique land birds and it is a vital breeding ground for turtles and seabirds.
The atoll was known for centuries by Arab navigators and was first charted by the Portuguese in 1511. The French were the first recorded visitors when Captain Lazare Picault, sent to chart Seychelles in 1742, came upon Aldabra. In more recent times, Aldabra has been the centrepiece of numerous conservation initiatives on account of its unspoilt environment. The unique species that have evolved over time in complete isolation on the atoll have prompted some to call Aldabra the „Galapagos of the Indian Ocean“.
In fact, Charles Darwin himself, whose work in the Galapagos is largely responsible for that archipelago’s esteemed status as naturalist’s paradise, recognised Aldabra’s unique natural properties, as well as being the only other place in the world aside from the Galapogas where giant tortoises could be found naturally, and recommended to British authorities that they ensure the atoll would be protected from exploitation or development.
Soon after Seychelles‘ independence, the government granted Aldabra protected status as a nature reserve, and in 1982 Aldabra became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, only a small team of rangers and scientists inhabit the island, with the limited funding but wholehearted support of the Seychelles Islands Foundation, which manages the atoll for conservation and research purposes. Despite its status as one of the world’s most strictly protected natural wonders, travel to Aldabra is still – and will likely always be – incredibly difficult due to its extreme isolation.
With the MV Maya’s Dugong, a 40-metre expeditionary vessel owned and operated by Silhouette Cruises, one of the most recognised names in live-aboard cruising in the Seychelles, a handful of visitors will be able to experience the atoll of Aldabra and its fascinating sights and treasures as part of an in-depth 7 or 11-nights eco-tourism and diving expedition – this is your opportunity to be one of them!
7-nights expedition with embarkation and disembarkation at Assumption
Day 1 – A two-hour flight from the main island of Mahé brings guests to Assumption Island, where passengers will embark aboard the Maya’s Dugong. Afternoon dive at Assumption, and later guests will be briefed about the week’s, before enjoying a welcome BBQ onboard in the evening.
Day 2 – Early morning we head to the World Heritage Site of Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll. Depending on sea conditions there may be a rare opportunity to observe whales near either island along the way. Visit Aldabra Research station, dive and Snorkel the West Channel. Many of the endemic land birds can be seen ashore, including Aldabra Drongo, Aldabra Fody and Madagascar Sacred Ibis and Aldabra Rail, together with the world’s largest population of giant tortoises.
Day 3 – Dive and visit the main channel of Aldabra, experiencing the exhilaration of being swept along by the shoals, observing both pelagic and reef fish in the shallow waters of the lagoon. Visit the mangroves forest and the channel. In the afternoon visit the Booby colony at Johnny channel and the world’s second largest colony of frigatebirds (10.000 pairs of two species, Great Frigatebird and Lesser Frigatebird), snorkel at the mangroves forest and the channel in high tide. Visiting the Johnny Channel depends on the time of high tide therefore the itinerary might vary.
Day 4 – Visit Aldabra, East channel, Passe Houareau. The second biggest channel in size from the different Aldabra’s channels offers perfect opportunity to dive and snorkel in the channel and its mouth to the ocean. Evening we continue our way towards Cosmoledo.
Day 5 – Visit the deserted settlement and dive the West Island of Cosmoledo (Menai) where turtles abound. A race of Madagascar White-eye (named menaienis) is unique to the island.
Day 6 – Visit, dive and snorkel the North island where colonies of boobies of three species (Red-footed, Brown and masked) are nesting and underwater walls are home to perfect marine life.
Day 7 – Early morning sail towards Astove. Visit the abandoned settlement including the incongruous Veevers-Carter house and old chapel, then cross the island to the lagoon. Dive the West walls. Evening sailing at sea towards Assumption.
Day 8 – Early morning arrival to Assumption. Disembarkation and flight to Mahé.
*Note: All above itinerary may change due to weather conditions and the captain’s discretion
Expedition aboard MV Maya’s Dugong – about Ocean Odysseys
There’s cruising, and then there’s expedition cruising. For travellers who consider themselves adventurers and not just tourists, who seek fulfilment from a holiday and not just leisure, and who appreciate the excitement and unpredictable nature of travelling to isolated locales in a unique way, there may be no better way to make use of a holiday than on an expedition cruise.
The Ocean Odysseys portfolio of expedition cruises has been specifically designed for this small niche of travel pioneers. Operated by Silhouette Cruises, the leading live-aboard cruise operator in the Seychelles Islands, Ocean Odysseys travel programmes are hosted aboard the oceanographic vessel MV Maya’s Dugong, an ideal hybrid vessel sturdy enough to autonomously reach the far corners of the globe, while backed by more than a decade of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Other programmes offered as part of the Ocean Odysseys portfolio include a 7-nights eco-tourism based expedition across Seychelles‘ granitic isles. Travelling on an Expedition One of the most exciting aspects of an expedition cruise is the fact that natural events and sightings can help shape our journey. For this reason, the expedition plan featured in this document should only be used as a general guide instead of being treated as an exact scheduled itinerary.
It is expected that no two expeditions will be exactly like, because weather, tides and chance nature encounters will influence the day-to-day activities that are possible throughout a given week. Therefore, we kindly ask for the patience and understanding of all of our guests if there are certain adjustments to the expedition plan to cater for these event. Rest assured our crew will do their utmost to ensure the proposed activities for each day are in the spirit of the expedition plan and aimed at providing the maximum possible level of enjoyment for all our guests.
Excursions & Tides
Aldabra’s massive lagoon is subject to unique tidal currents which require all excursions into the lagoon to follow strict timelines. The speed at which water travels in and out of the channels means that certain areas of the atoll can be experiencing high tide at the same time as other areas in the lagoon are impassable at low tide. Especially in a place as remote as Aldabra, ensuring the safety of our passengers is the number one priority of our crew, so the timings for some excursions may have to be modified according to the tide movements of a given day.
MV Maya’s Dugong – Facilities & Cabins
About the Vessel
The MV Maya’s Dugong boasts the space and comfort of a modern yacht, combined with the durability and functionality required for scientific and long-distance expeditions. Originally built as a research vessel by the Canadian Government in 1966, the Maya’s Dugong was completely retro-fitted in the early 2000s as a private yacht, before being overhauled once again in 2009 to accommodate charters and cabin cruise voyages. It now serves as an oceanographic and expedition cruising vessel throughout the Indian Ocean.
Large public areas and facilities allow for maximum enjoyment of guests‘ time onboard Maya’s Dugong. A spacious dining salon and lounge hosts guests in air conditioned comfort for meals and entertainment, and the outdoor leisure deck provides opportunities for al fresco dining and also serves as a comfortable lounge area. There is also plenty of open deck space onboard for sun bathing and relaxing, and a spacious bridge and observation deck allow guests to take in the adventure with a captain’s eye view of all the surroundings.
Also available onboard:
– Flat-screen TV in the Dining Salon/Lounge
– DVD player & Stereo
– Games, cards, small library
– Ice Machine
– Laundry Service (extra charge)
All cabins are equipped with air conditioning, reading lights and a storage cupboard. Accommodation is offered across three categories:
COMMANDER CABINS x3
These well-appointed cabins are the largest and most comfortable that Maya’s Dugong has to offer. Situated on the top two decks of the vessel, these cabins boast en-suite bathrooms/showers as well as windows from which to view the beautiful coastal surrounds. Two of the Commander Cabins feature a double-bed plus an extra single bed, while one Commander Cabin offers two single beds in the cabin.
EXPLORER CABINS x4
Classic and comfortable, these cabins are situated below the main public-area decks. Complete with ensuite bathrooms/showers, there is one Explorer Cabin offering a double-bed plus a single bed, and three Explorer Cabins with two single beds and an extra fold-out bunk.
MV Maya’s Dugong – Service & Activities & Diving
Maya’s Dugong boasts a high staff-to-guest ratio to ensure all of our passengers are well looked-after throughout the expedition. In addition to the captain, engineer, and two deckhands, all expedition cruises are staffed with two stewardesses, a dive instructor and a dedicated chef.
Dining & Cuisine
Cruises aboard Maya’s Dugong are full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and also include afternoon tea/coffee and cake. A dedicated chef prepares an enticing blend of authentic Indian Ocean cuisine and traditional European fare.
Table water and tea & coffee are served with all meals. A full range of beverages are also available onboard at extra charge, including mineral water, soft drinks, beer, wine, spirits and champagne. Price list available on request.
Water sports & Activities
Throughout the cruise there will be opportunities for snorkelling and kayaking, equipment for which is included in the cost of the cruise. It is recommended that only strong swimmers and paddlers should take part in such activities near the channels of the lagoon. Please note that Aldabra is a ’no-take‘ nature reserve, meaning that fishing is prohibited on this cruise, and visitors are not allowed to collect shells or to damage or interfere with the plants and animals. No biological or geological specimen can be collected, and visitors are also required to abide to sanitary measures to avoid introducing alien plant seeds. All visitors to Aldabra must at all times be accompanied by an Aldabra staff member and it is not permitted to wander about unsupervised.
Maya’s Dugong is a certified PADI dive resort, with a full range of equipment onboard as well as a dedicated dive instructor with vast Indian Ocean experience. A variety of interesting dive sites will be accessible throughout the expedition, and may vary on each voyage depending on sea conditions, visibility and itinerary timings. Drift dives in the channels are possible but are recommended only for experienced divers and strong swimmers. Maya’s Dugong features a convenient rear deck platform allowing divers to easily access the water directly from the vessel. Other dives will utilise the vessel’s tender boat for dives sites which are further afield or inaccessible by Maya’s Dugong. Available onboard: 18 dive tanks, 7 full diving sets for rent and 2 dive compressors.
Aldabra – Useful Information
Aldabra is one of the most remote and pristine places on earth for a reason: the atoll is completely isolated from civilisation in every sense and is, to a certain degree, inhospitable for humans. We have operated many expeditions safely to Aldabra over the past decade, but due to the remoteness and nature of this expedition, as a precaution we require all of our guests to show proof of adequate travel insurance which would cover the cost of any emergencies that could possibly arise during the cruise.
Your safety and comfort are our highest priority. In the event of adverse conditions, all itineraries are subject to change at the captain’s discretion. Be sure to bring plenty of sun-screen, a cap or hat and sunglasses – Seychelles is generally warm and sunny throughout the year and the sun’s rays can be especially impactful onboard the vessel, due to the reflection from the sea. Bring suitable footwear for walking on deck and on the beach/shore. Some areas of Aldabra can be quite rugged so good walking shoes / boots are recommended.
Other items to consider bringing along include: binoculars, notebooks/logbooks for birding and diving finds, and any personal medicinal supplies, such as mosquito repellent (please note that there is NO malaria in Seychelles, however).
Supporting Aldabra & the SIF
The Seychelles Islands Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation entrusted with the management and protection of Aldabra. The SIF has implemented and maintained a wide range of scientific research and conservation initiatives on the island, including one of the longest running monitoring programmes for turtles and tortoises in the Western Indian Ocean, with over 40 years worth of data. If you would like to support the SIF with contributions toward these research and conservation initiatives to ensure the sustained protection of Aldabra, please contact the SIF by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org. A variety of SIF sundries and souvenirs will be available for purchase, and will also go towards the SIF.