Seychelles - part 1

Island hopping on a catamaran. It's the best way to discover some of the archipelago's most beautiful islands: aboard a six-cabin catamaran, with a skipper and a cook. Snorkeling stops, visits and culinary discoveries add to the change of scenery.

Latest edition : 17 May 2016

The trip was long. Very long. Because, to save € 300 per person on the flight, we left the direct connection to go with Ethiopian Airlines. This meant a stopover of several hours in Adis Ababa.

It was, how to say, a little average ... Nothing to say about the plane, the meals. But the hostess in our row forgot to smile and obviously didn't know the meaning of "being helpful".
We were therefore relieved to finally land in Adis Ababa. But at 5 am, the local airport is hardly welcoming.

With many other planes calling, this lacked seats for everyone. The only cafe was closed and the toilets .... let's not talk about it. So when the security check finally opens, we decide to go through the check - because, beyond the post, the waiting rooms were empty.

Except that - on the other side, no coffee or even a water dispenser. So we were stuck for a few hours of waiting. At least we had room to settle down as best we could. Except that ..... And yes, there is a lot of "except that" in this story ... The airport was under construction and as the workers were redoing the roof, we really had the impression that the sky was going to us. fall on the head!

At least there was a spectacle in front of the bay windows: upon the arrival of each plane, a battalion of housekeepers stormed the plane to be stopped so short before going through the door: each one was searched, security obliges! They are searched again when leaving the plane. Well, we were at least reassured about our safety. The continuation of our trip was nevertheless more pleasant, with charming hostesses! Phew!

But hey, we are in Africa. “Forget your European standards”, moreover, advised us Bernd Loeffel of the Leidhold travel agency in Freiburg-im-Breisgau.

Mahé, here we are!

Three hours later, we discover this wonderful and long-awaited world from the windows of our plane. A beautiful moist heat greeted us as we left the plane. Here we are in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles on the island of Mahé. While waiting for our friends to go through customs, I go to the small duty free shop, buy a bottle of local rum for the ti'punch aperitifs. Here we are, the holidays could finally begin!

After a short transfer on a road nibbled on the sea, here we are in the pretty marina of Victoria, Eden Islands. On "our" catamaran, the Bacchus, the other passengers are waiting for us, looking a little scowl: our plane was a little late and some of them had arrived in the morning ....

Normally the catamaran should have left the marina at 5 p.m. We were still on schedule. Except (and yes, the “except that” series continues!) - there was no skipper! Bernd Loeffel's words come back to me "you are in Africa ...."

In short: the 1st skipper had a family emergency, the second had missed his plane (?), The 3rd was about to arrive. Night falling quickly, there was no longer any question of leaving the marina. It started badly ....

The excellent dinner prepared by Steeve, cook and good soul of Bacchus, puts everyone in a good mood again: punch, parrot fish with ginger, rice with exotic sauce, small flambéed bananas ... Just like the little one. - lunch with exotic fruits after a night without much sleep: the restaurants around the bay have turned into nightclubs and made us enjoy their decibels!

The next day, our skipper, Derek, finally arrived at the last minute to replace his colleagues. We can finally leave the marina, explore these paradisiacal islands, these turquoise waters .... Except that ...

Anse Lazio, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

What torture! Go for hours on a catamaran, on a sea of an incredible turquoise color and not being able to dive ... But nothing to do, we must cover the four hours of navigation to Praslin, from where we are going wandering from island to island. Little distraction:

Steve, the cook, leaves two fishing lines behind the catamaran. A yellowfin bites. It will enhance our dinner, promises Steve, lifting the nets with surprising dexterity. When Derek, the skipper, finally launches anchor, everyone jumps into translucent water that is over 30 ° C. Only snorkels still protrude from the surface, everyone heads under the water, admiring the multicolored fish that do not let themselves be disturbed. It's like swimming in a giant aquarium!

But the beach also exerts its attraction: Anse Lazio is one of the most beautiful in the world. White sand, lush vegetation, coconut palms, picturesque rocks and the nice little "honesty" bar invite you to explore.

Swimming, but "dragging fins" to make these magical moments in tropical water last as long as possible, everyone joins the catamaran where the aperitif is already ready: island punch, lemon tuna carpaccio, with garlic and soy sauce (fresher, it is hardly possible), coconut, all followed by a tuna curry, lemon chicken, "sauerkraut" from Seychelles (green papaya prepared as a sauerkraut). Steve, as the days go by, transforms this trip from island to island into a small gastronomic cruise.

The beach postcard

Let's go for a week of total change of scenery. A multitude of islands and islets formed by rocks, topped with tropical vegetation, seem to have just been placed on water that takes on all shades of blue. Sometimes, the catamaran anchors far from "civilization" to allow you to see magnificent colonies of corals and their inhabitants: parrot and butterfly fish, rays, even small sharks (harmless!) Which find refuge there. . There are must-see stops like La Digue Island. Isn't this where the most photographed beach in the world is?

It is by bike (cars are prohibited on the island) that we reach Anse source of money. There is no vast beach here. When the sea rises, places to put down a towel are even scarce. Impressive blocks of pink granite emerging from exuberant vegetation create dreamlike little coves. A secret path leads from one to the other.

To access the beach, which obviously attracts tourists (better to go early in the morning) you have to cross the Union Estate, which would be a shame not to visit! This is where coconut oil is made, a vanilla plantation provides the precious spice, giant land turtles are admired. But it is also on this area that the planter's house is located, which served as the setting for the filming of the film Emmanuelle.

To access the estate, you have to pay a small entrance fee which allows you to run the ecomuseum where copra and coconut oil are still produced. Every day, 500 coconuts are processed:

you have to remove the envelopes, cut the nuts in half with a machete. The half-walnuts are then put to dry in a heated room in order to be able to detach the flesh more easily, which will then be crushed by the large grindstone of the mill, driven by an ox. Speaking of beef: cars being prohibited on La Digue (apart from a few “official” vans), transport was formerly provided by oxcarts. We don't see much of it anymore: everyone rides a bike (check the condition of the brakes and gears!).

It is therefore by pedaling that we reach another legendary beach of La Digue, Grand Anse. Immaculate white sand, a turquoise sea, imposing blocks of granite. There, swimming is prohibited, the waves are too powerful and the current too dangerous.

We console ourselves with a barbecue offered at Loutier Coco, a hut with rustic takamaka tables, the only restaurant in Grand Anse and its neighboring beaches. A monopoly situation that sometimes makes its managers forget to smile. To swim, you have to continue on foot to Petit Anse.

We prefer to return quietly to the small port, to observe life. All goods arrive by ship. A mechanical arm lifts the heaviest crates, men make the chain to load the packages onto the waiting vans. No wonder the prices are high.

Each of the 115 islands, each islet, has its peculiarities, its charms. White sand bays bordered by palm trees, granite rocks sculpted as if for a movie set, translucent water rich in colorful fish. Too bad, impossible to visit them all ...

Life on board

Getting on a small catamaran is not a luxury cruise. The cabins are small, generally not air conditioned. As it is very hot, passengers prefer to sleep on the deck, which is not always very comfortable. But with the sky above, it's magic! Since it is important to save water, there is no question of staying in the shower for a long time. Skipper and cook also appreciate a little helping hand to clear the table and tidy up his things! And we comply, of course, with their instructions. Count around € 1,300 for a week with full board on a catamaran (additional flight).

Leave with Lucie Barone

The name doesn't ring a bell. But if you've ever been on a private yacht or catamaran, chances are you've sailed on one of its boats. Because Lucie Barone is a pioneer in the field of boat charter. A passionate sailor, she launched into business in the 1970s. Since then, she has created her own little universe dedicated to the rental of yachts and catamarans.

If she started in the Mediterranean, she has a clear preference for more exotic waters such as the Caribbean or the Seychelles. Lucie Barone, who owns some 70 yachts and catamarans, explores each destination personally (she has her boat license) to determine the best tours, the most interesting stops. Several of her children have already embarked on the adventure!

The products of her company Bestsail are marketed among others in the family travel agency, one of the oldest in Freiburg, managed by her husband, Bernd Löffel.

Leidhold Reisen
Friedrichsring 33, D-79098 Freiburg
Tél. 0049/761 38 09 90