Pearls of the Indian Ocean (Mahe to Nosy Be)
10 days with Ponant Rating:
DAY 1 VICTORIA, MAHÉ
Discover Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles and also the largest of the archipelago, home to the capital, Victoria. Mahé has almost 70 beaches of fine sand, framed by the emblematic granite rocks, and whose crystal clear waters are renowned for their rich underwater life. The island is also famous for its splendid mountain panoramas accessible on hikes, such as the Morne Seychellois, which is 905 metres high and overlooks the Indian Ocean. Mahé is also an island full of history where fine colonial properties rub shoulders with Creole houses - and don’t forget the marvellous Botanical Gardens in Victoria.
DAY 2 PRASLIN ISLAND
Situated some forty kilometres away from Victoria, Praslin is the second largest island in the Seychelles. Its idyllic beaches where granite rocks nestle in immaculate sand correspond perfectly to how we imagine the Seychelles to be. They invite visitors to dive into the turquoise waters, which are ideal for snorkelling. In the centre of the island, hidden in the heart of a stunning tropical rainforest, lies the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this veritable plant sanctuary, several endemic species of palm trees can be observed, as well as the famous sea coconut, which can weigh up to 20 kg and is sometimes called “coco fesse” because its shape calls to mind a pair of buttocks.
DAY 3 SAINT JOSEPH ATOLL
In the heart of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands, the coral islands located more than 200 km south of Mahé, the Saint-Joseph Atoll is a magnificent ring of coral islets surrounding a splendid lagoon sparkling in turquoise and emerald green. Since 2014, it has been an integral part of the “D'Arros and St. Joseph Atoll Special Reserve”, a national park and protected marine area that preserve the unique biodiversity of these sites. This veritable nursery for Hawksbill sea turtles, juvenile reef fish, including several species of ray and shark (blacktip reef shark, sicklefin lemon shark) attracts big fish that swim up from the drop-off of the Amirantes plateau, located only two kilometres from the atoll.
DAY 4 ALPHONSE ISLAND
L’île Alphonse est située au large de l’archipel des Seychelles. Découverte en 1730 par le chevalier Alphonse de Pontevez, cette île, autrefois spécialisée dans la transformation de la noix de coco, est aujourd’hui une véritable réserve naturelle, abritant différentes espèces de mammifères marins, des tortues de mer et de nombreux oiseaux. L’île Alphonse est également réputée pour la richesse de ses fonds marins, et pour ses coraux, qui comptent parmi les mieux préservés de l’océan Indien. Un spectacle merveilleux qui se laisse admirer avec un simple masque !
DAY 5 COSMOLEDO ATOLL
The Cosmoledo Atoll owes its nickname, the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, to the beauty of its underwater world, which attracts the most experienced divers: parrotfish, giant rays and clams inhabit the reefs of its crystal waters. The fascinating marine life comes alive as the multi-coloured fish, making the most of the protection of the extraordinary coral reef, come together to feed in the currents formed by the sweeping movements of the tides. Exploited in the past for coconut and agave, the atoll is now uninhabited, apart from an eco-resort in the heart of the nature reserve, which shelters green turtles and significant colonies of sooty terns and red-footed boobies.
DAY 6 ASSUMPTION ISLAND
Assumption Island is part of the Aldabra group (Outer Islands), situated in the south-west of the Seychelles. Discovered in the mid-18th century by the French captain Nicolas Morphey, this bean-shaped island covered in dunes and shrubs is relatively flat. A handful of people live there, in a small village in the island’s west. The island’s beaches are a major egg-laying and breeding site for sea turtles. The surrounding waters are ideal for scuba diving. This is where Jacques-Yves Cousteau filmed some of the scenes for his famous documentary film “The Silent World”, released in 1956.
DAY 7 ASTOVE ISLAND
Closer to Madagascar than to Victoria, Astove is the southernmost island in the Seychelles. It is part of the Aldabra group, in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. Now uninhabited, this coral island covered in coconut trees was once home to the employees that worked on the coconut plantations. Renowned for the richness of its seabeds, Astove Atoll is now a top destination for fishing enthusiasts. It also attracts experienced divers, who visit the atoll to explore the “Astove Wall”, where the sea floor drops to a depth of about 40 metres. The wall is covered in coral and many fish and green sea turtles can be found there.
DAY 8 GLORIEUSES, SCATTERED ISLANDS
The Scattered Islands are like minuscule confetti sprinkled around Madagascar of unrivalled beauty. Their geographical isolation, and their very limited human settlement make them a true geological sanctuary, classed as a nature reserve since 1975. Regularly used as the “zero point” in scientific studies, they offer their rare visitors almost pristine vegetation composed mainly of mangrove, as well as long beaches of shimmering sand stretching out behind turquoise lagoons, and coral reefs that are home to the world’s highest concentration of sea turtles.
DAY 9 NOSY KOMBA / NOSY TANIKELY
During your cruise, your ship will stop in Nosy Komba, otherwise known as “lemur island”. Not far from the Madagascar mainland, this volcanic island shaped like a gigantic turtle shell is covered in dense tropical rainforest. This vegetation is home to amusing black lemurs – furry orange-brown and black creatures that are surprisingly agile and call to each other from amongst the trees. The many small beaches and the emerald-coloured water make Nosy Komba a natural gem that only a select few visit.
In the heart of the Nosy Be archipelago, discover Nosy Tanikely, nicknamed the “island of little earth.” In addition to a magnificent white sand beach bordering a lagoon of crystal-clear waters, the island, which is uninhabited, has exceptional marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Thanks to this, the area has been classified as a “marine and coastal protected area” since 2010. It is a perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling. Hiking fans won’t be left out either: a stunning walk that climbs to the summit of the island will enable them to discover the old lighthouse built at the beginning of the 20th century and enjoy superb views over the ocean and surrounding islands.
DAY 10 NOSY BE
Nosy Be (from the Malagasy: Nosy meaning island and Be meaning large), in the Mozambique Channel, is located near the north-eastern coastlines of Madagascar. A former French protectorate, known under the promising name of “the scented island”, of volcanic origin, it is located on a maritime route with access to India and Asia. Cosmopolitan, a boulevard of encounters, its mixed-race and multicultural population still remembers its past as a significant trading post. Today, its 321 km² enchant lovers of nature and idyllic beaches. Its sumptuous primary forest is home to animals that are endemic to the island as well as surprising flora.
All This Included
Embark with PONANT on a brand-new expedition cruise to the “Vanilla Islands”, from the Seychelles to Madagascar. This 10-day itinerary aboard Le Bougainville will be an opportunity to discover little-known places of breathtaking natural beauty, an original fauna and flora, as well as meet the locals.
Thanks to the on-board presence of a diving instructor, you will be able to enjoy unforgettable dives in an exceptional underwater environment.
From Victoria on the island of Mahé, you will first sail to Praslin. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. There you will find sea coconuts, gigantic endemic fruits with a very evocative shape, nicknamed the “love nut”. Further on, the small islands of Alphonse and Astove will be an opportunity to snorkel and dive among brightly-coloured sea life.
You will then reach the Glorioso Islands, part of the Scattered Islands. This beautiful archipelago with very few inhabitants is home to exceptional fauna and flora including, in particular, marine turtles.
Finally, you will reach Madagascar, the island continent, and disembark in Nosy Be, known for its beautiful old-growth forests where rosewood, camphor and ylang-ylang trees thrive.
The encounters with the wildlife described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Le Bougainville
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.