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Published: December 12th 2015
Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion Island, Mauritius
The next three days we had at sea before arriving for two days at Seychelles on 5th
December 2015. There was a special offer on laundry – 20 Euros for 25 pieces that we decided to do as there is no laundrette on the ship! The washing had to be put in the ‘magic’ bag and collected by 15.00 but by 17.00 it still hadn’t been collected! Eventually took it up to reception….it was supposed to be delivered back the next day……….
Ok…so the washing only took two days to re-appear! All present and correct, folded nicely….just a few items need ironing. It has been humid, hot and sunny but the last couple of days we have had showers! They last about 5 minutes and then the sun re-appears! We also had a hitchhiker for a day – a falcon! It was flying around the boat all day, landing periodically on the string of lights, but by the next day it had disappeared - hope it makes it to land ok! We also crossed the equator which is the first time we have done this on a ship so were looking forward to the
On Deck Party! There were waving of flags, passengers queued up to be “christened” with water ladled from a silver bowl by one of Neptune’s helpers, , and an appearance by ‘Neptune’ himself who wandered around and then waded across the swimming pool! All good fun!!
We arrived at Victoria, on Mahe, the largest of the Seychelles islands on Saturday 5th
December. It was quite different from anything we had seen so far! Lots of little islands, very green, loads of plants and trees in flower and flocks of bright orange birds!! Walked into town hoping to catch the 08.30am boat, Anahita from the small harbour but got there just as it was leaving! Negotiated a trip to Moyenne Island at the Marine Charter Terminal (ask for Maxim!) for 90 euros each, from 09.30am – 16.00pm. This included a glass bottom boat so that we could see the corals and many fish swimming around, a session of fish feeding, snorkelling from the boat, lunch on Moyenne Island and then back via the Ile au Cerf.
It was an excellent trip! After seeing the fish and corals, Chris went snorkelling and then we landed on Moyenne Island which is
only about 8km from the island of Mahe.
Moyenne Island is situated in the Ste Anne Marine National Park and was bought by an Englishman, Brendon Grimshaw in 1962 who transformed the island to a natural wooded environment, and created the smallest National Park in the World. He created an environment in which Giant Aldabra Tortoises can roam freely and there are reputedly over 100 on the island. (We saw about 20!) Before then the island was owned by Miss Emma Best, an Englishwoman who collected stray dogs and gave them a home on the island. The earliest traceable ownership of the island was in 1850 when the island was owned by Melidor Louange, a carpenter and Julie Chiffon, a seamstress who lived on the island for 42years. There are also tales of pirates (two of which are buried in the small cemetery) and huge treasure – as yet unfound!!
Had a very pleasant, 45minute, walk around the island, visiting the small chapel and cemetery, (only four graves – 2 pirates, Brendon and his father!) as well as the other beach cove and encountered a few giant tortoises along the way, although most of the tortoises hover around
where the walk begins. We were lucky to see lots of giant fruit Bats flying around (in the daytime?!!) as well as a tree absolutely loaded with flocks of the orange birds!!
Lunch was cooked by our boat captain, a barbeque of roast chicken, curry, rice, salad and 2 x very fresh delicious barracuda fish! Washing up was done in the sea, whilst we had another chance to swim, and then we all boarded back on the boat for a trip around the bay to the sand banks and rocks and turquoise sea! It was stunningly beautiful and just like the postcards!
Back about 16.00 and as we were staying overnight in Seychelles, decided we would take the No 20 bus from the bus station that does a loop of the north of the island, via Machabee and Glasis, to Beau Vallon and then back to Victoria! The buses are beaten up Tata buses and are driven at speed around the many bends and up and down the hills, so a bit of a boneshaker but good fun, lovely scenery and good to see a bit of the island. It is General Election day here, today so there
are huge queues of people waiting to vote at many of the villages.
Back to the ship about 18.30pm ready for an early start the next day! We wandered around Victoria (The Worlds smallest Capital), visited the Cathedral, the Hindu Temple – most of everything else was shut as it was a Sunday!! Then the heavens opened! We have had a few showers before but they have only lasted a few minutes but this one was torrential and lasted a lot longer!! Sheltered for the worst of it, then decided to take the bus (No 22) over to Beau Vallon to see if we could find internet! Not so much as a sniff of it, but we had a pleasant wander around on the beach, watching the ocean rollers and along past the few stalls selling bits and bobs! Got the No 20 bus back, and as it had stopped raining walked to the Botanical Gardens. We had about an hour there, but it started raining again, so we had to abandon all the little trails as it was pretty sodden by now!! Saw the Giant Tortoises and the Coco de Mer planted by the Duke of Edinburgh in
1956, now a magnificent 30’ specimen. The Coco de Mer has the largest seed in the World which can weigh up to 18 Kg (40 lbs). Also saw a newly planted Coco de Mer by a local Dignatary. Walked the 20 minutes back to the ship - it was a pretty noisy walk as all the cars were driving around waving flags re the election! We thought that the SNP must have won, but apparently, they came a close 2nd
, forcing a run off and another vote on December 18th
as there was no overall majority.
Ship left on time @ 2pm sailing through the Seychelles archipelago en route for Antsiranana Madagascar on December 8th
Docked about 05.30am and got up about 06.30am! We were going on a Costa Cruise 5hr trip to the Amber Mountains by Jeep so after breakfast we donned our mosquito spray, long trousers, shirts etc ready for the expedition into the rain forest! First disappointment was that we were in a car and not a jeep, as we were the last people to be allocated a vehicle! Gutted!! However, off we went, through the Capital, Diego Suarez (now called Antsiranana)
towards the mountains.
Madagascar is very poor! It’s very similar to India, with tin shacks, dogs, chickens, cows and rubbish everywhere, lots of dust and dirt roads. We soon left the tarmacked road and climbed slowly upwards on a dirt track (avoiding as many pot holes as possible!) Our driver spoke no English so communication was …er…..difficult in Chris’ basic French, but we did manage to convey that we wanted to stop, the same as the other jeeps, to see the chameleons!
Saw quite a few chameleons as it turned out (they are everywhere!!!) including the World’s smallest chameleon (thumb-nail size) in the rain forest! Also were lucky enough to spot two tribes of lemurs high in the tree tops as well as a huge snail, a massive chrysalis, millipede and orchids! Took us about an hour to walk around the well-worn tourist trail in the rain forest, with a bit of a hurry at the end as huge, dark rain clouds came over, and it started thundering!
However, we were lucky and escaped the rain, but a lot of the roads driving back were muddy or flooded! Stopped at Joffre Ville for a walk through the
village and spotted trees of Durians (Jack Fruits) and lychees. It was very misty in the village and still thundering, so was a bit of an eerie feel to it!
We stopped at a ‘tourist’ shop in Diego Suarez where we decided to go off on our own and had a wander around the streets and the huge market. Quite a few beggars, disabled people and people wanting food from us, or poking us, so not that comfortable walking about, so we got a tuk-tuk for an hours tour of the town being shown the highlights – of which there weren’t many!!! Saw the Stadium, the English, French and Madagascar Cemetery, the Sacred Island, the University and the Franz Joseph (?) school. Chris then asked if we could visit the Cathedral. After taking pics and peering inside during a service, and looking at the little grotto outside – our tuk tuk driver misconstrued a question from Chris about whether it was a Catholic Cathedral. He thought we wanted to see more Catholic places, and took us to …....well…..I’m not sure what it was ……..it could have been a Convent, a baby clinic or a birth control clinic!! It could
have been all of these, as there were queues of families, mostly with babies or young children, and also a grotto at the back....but still a mystery visit !!!
Not much more to see, so back to the ship about 15.30pm ish ready to set sail for Reunion Island at 17.00. Lovely sunset leaving the 3rd
largest natural harbour in the World ….after Sydney and Rio !!
We didn’t have a good visit here! Totally messed it up!! We had a Costa Trip (Half Day – Landscapes of Reunion) and the day started fine – on the coast! As we climbed up the Piton to 2170 metres to see the Maido, the weather very quickly deteriorated. Thick fog…or it could have just been cloud! Whatever it was, when we reached the top, there was NO view at all – just a thick blanket of cloud!! Disappointing!! Stopped at a Geranium Essential Oil Distillery, with the obligatory gift shop for an hour – managed to get a few pics of birds but a lot of waiting around! Back to the ship by 12.30ish and we asked the guide if we could get a bus into the
Capital – St Denis. Oh he made it sound so easy – yes – bus stop outside the Port, they run every 1/2hr – only a 20minute ride.
In reality, we were stood on the wrong side of the road for ½ hr, missed a number 6 bus (13.05) that would have taken us to a Bus Station in Le Port, where we then had to change buses to a Number 5. St Denis is also 30km away so it may have taken longer than half an hour – not sure! The Number 2 & 6 buses only run every hour so we had to give it up as a bad job as the ship was leaving at 18.00 and we wanted to get some internet as well.
Internet outside the Port was really slow! Managed to do a few things , saw a few more birds and then got back on the ship for afternoon tea!! (We learnt later that you can walk (about 20mins) to the Bus Station at Le Port and then catch a bus direct to St Denis! Ah well! Next time!!) Lovely sunset as we were leaving Reunion and it also looked as
though a volcano was erupting!!
Woke up early as the ship was docking fairly early (it does tend to wake us up!!) but a wonderful view of the mountains and Port Louis! A quick breakfast, a long queue for immigration that moved fairly quickly and organised when it got going, off the ship and shepherded to Bus 25 on a Costa trip – The South of the Island. We had booked a ½ day trip, and there was someone else querying it as well but our Guide insisted it was a Full Day trip! Oh well – who are we to complain! Set off in our mini-bus of 16 people for a full on day!
First stop was a ‘model ship building’ factory! Groan!! It wasn’t as bad as it sounded and was quite amazing to see the ships all being made by hand. They were for sale in the shop of course, but not actually too bad a price for the craftsmanship involved (and/or if you are into model ships!!). Second stop was to see a huge crater of a collapsed volcano! A few tourist stalls and lovely views! Drove past the island reservoir before
stopping at a huge statue of Shiva! On to the sacred lake where our Guide told us that Shiva once appeared, and that’s why its sacred. Lots of monkeys, shrines, Indian people and temples. Drove past the massive tea plantations, through Tyack to Saint Aubin – a rum factory! It was a beautiful old sugarcane plantation house, and we walked through the magnificent gardens with flowering flame trees and unusual trees, and were then shown how the sugar cane is crushed to produce liquid sugar juice, which is then distilled to make Rum – followed by a ‘Help Yourself’ rum tasting!! Very nice! We all then walked through the gardens to the Vanilla Factory where we watched a short film, and then we wandered off ourselves, finding a mini sort of farm with chickens, peacocks (female sat on eggs!) ducks, goats and a couple of monkeys in a cage who enjoyed looking at photos of themselves!!
The next stop was the Black River gorge, the deepest in Mauritius with a waterfall! Plenty of tourist stalls here where we had a little shop! Finally it was our lunch stop. It looked lovely and for the last 20 minutes, John, our
guide had been reading us the menu and tempting us with all the delicious food. Walked down the steps and ‘bagged’ the two tables nearest the stunning view of the sea…….poured our water……noticing a few frantic phone calls and another Costa Rep talking to John!! Drank our water – quickly – as it turned out we had all been rumbled, and were all on the ½ day trip – the only person who thought it was a Full Day was our guide!!! Had to find our coach driver (who had probably sat down for his lunch!!) and we all boarded the coach again – hungry!!!
The ½ day trip does not include lunch or the Rum Distillery visit that was about an extra 3hrs but we didn’t want to miss out on the National Park so we first went to the Chamarel Waterfall before going to see the seven coloured earth dunes! Something to do with the lava flow ( 3 – 1.7 million years ago) leaving onsite iron and aluminium oxides that repel each other and deplete the soil of nutrients, so no plants will ever grow here! They had a few giant tortoises here as well as
a pineapple plantation where the pineapples were just starting to grow! Our last stop was just for a viewpoint of the west coast and then it was back along the coast road getting back to the ship eventually about 17.30pm – hungry!!! Packed our suitcases as they needed to be collected by 23.00. Last supper in the main restaurant, a show featuring local dancers and musicians, and 2 sets of our favourite Los Paraguayos.
Dec was Chris’ birthday! Not very eventful as we had to disembark! No problem getting off the ship, or getting our suitcases outside but a lot of hanging around for transfers as the taxis’ were waiting at the gate, and we were all inside the Port! Got to the Holiday Inn at the Airport about 10.00am but had to wait 2hrs for the room to be ready.
Shot off about noon in a taxi to Mahebourg where we had a wander along the seafront, there was some sort of Indian celebration being set up……Had a look around the market before going to the bus station and getting the No 46 Bus to Blue Bay! Lovely bay, packed out with locals, and I
think this is where the Holiday Inn runs a free shuttle bus to. Took a boat trip around the lagoon to see the coral and the fish, Chris had a snorkel! Walked the beach in both directions before getting a taxi back to the hotel (400 RS).
Celebrated Chris’ Birthday in the Hotel buffet and a quiet evening in room sipping rum and coke (vanilla rum from the St Aubin Distillery).
Our last day!! Up early and left the hotel by 09.00 with the intention of getting a taxi to Mahebourg (500 RS – about £10.00 for 20minute journey!) and then a bus to Isle Aux Cerfs which is ½ way up the island on the East Coast and a ‘must see’!! However, the taxi driver offered to drive us all the way to Trou de L’Eau Douce and arrange a boat for us for 1000 RS. Bargain!!
The road hugged the coastline all the way up and we passed through the villages, calling in at Bel Air to use the ATM and then back to the waterfront to get the boat! For another 1000 RS we were able to have a speedboat
trip out to Isle aux Cerf for about 4hrs and then another boat would pick us up! We reached Isle aux Cerf about ½ 10 and it was empty – which was nice! Had a walk to the other end of the island, stopping every few minutes to take photos! The colour of the water with the blue sky was absolutely stunning! At the other end of the island there is another stunning bay and beach with sunbeds, alongside a golf course!!
Chris had a quick swim and then we wandered back, still admiring the views, to get some lunch. (we shared a pizza!!) Watched the weaver birds building their nest for a while before we got the boat back!
Avoided the temptation to have a taxi back for 800 RS, and instead caught the No 55 bus to Flacq Central (60 RS for both of us!) where we had to change buses and get the No 18 back to Mahebourg. (75 RS for both of us!) There was this enormous, noisy, manic market at Flacq that we couldn’t resist so we didn’t get the bus until after we had a quick wander, bought lychees and had some
Bus journey home fairly uneventful, bus was somewhat crowded to start with, but it travels through the villages before getting back to the coast and its very scenic! The whole journey took about one and a half hours!
Had a walk back to the river in Mahebourg before eating at a restaurant that the taxi driver yesterday had recommended to us! ( La Vielle Rouge) It was an excellent, delicious, very reasonable meal and restaurant is very easy to find, being at the end of the Promenade!!
Anyway, that was it! We had to annoyingly pay the standard 500 RS back to the Holiday Inn, where we discovered that most people had already gone to the airport so it was a quick change and the shuttle ready for our BA flight at 23.30 (11 1/2hr flight!!)
Groans about Costa – There is a compulsory service charge of 9 euros per person per day (225 euros each for the 25 day cruise). The best value drinks package is 125 euros – this gives 6 bottles of red wine and 7 waters. Some days there is a deal for 21 euros of 2 bottles of wine
+ 2 x water. Any drink bought at Port is confiscated. Meal times were sometimes difficult as the restaurant service takes 1 ½ - 2 hrs and you could be sat with non-English speaking guests, although the service time did improve as the cruise went on. Organisation is Italian style – ie – On Italian night the menu was totally Spanish!! There are also quite a few ‘arguments’ over reserving sunbeds – the French, Italian and Germans tend to be quite greedy – food no exception – the bunches of grapes have now been cut into single grapes to stop people taking too many!! Lemon you now have to ask for as its hidden away!! Green tea has ‘finished’ and pineapple is like gold dust – although some people manage to grab whole plates of it!! It’s a bit like school really!!!
Things we liked about Costa – no photographers in your face all the time. Costa Club – just going on this cruise has earnt us 2500 points each!! Italian lessons! The dress code is quite casual and even formal nights are described as ‘elegant’ evenings and most people don’t really dress up! The bar at the back
of the ship that is open from 17.30pm and has comfortable beds and an excellent group – Los Paraguayos!! Chris has the cd!! Would we go on another Costa Cruise?– of course!! If the price was right and it was going where we wanted to go!!
Tot: 2.682s; Tpl: 0.119s; cc: 15; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0382s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb