The furthest of all the Seychelles’ islands, remote Aldabra Atoll was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and since then has acquired almost legendary status amongst marine aficionados. Indeed, none other than Sir David Attenborough described Aldabra as “one of the wonders of the world” (and he should know).
Aldabra was off limits to all visitors until fairly recently, but now Reef & Rainforest is able to offer this unique two-week cruise sailing out of Mahe, the main island of The Seychelles, and en route visiting many of the most beautiful islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean, each one quite different from the next.
Virtually uninhabited, Aldabra is the world’s largest raised atoll and consists of four larger islands and 40 smaller islets and large rocks, all inside the lagoon. The atoll boasts a wide variety of wildlife, both terrestrial and marine. On land you can find many Madagascar bird species, endemics such as the Aldabra drongo, Aldabra fody and the flightless white-throated rail, plus thousands of breeding seabirds including red-tailed tropicbirds and red-footed boobies. The islands also contain a hundred thousand giant tortoises, the coconut crab (the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod), three species of lizard, three endemic bat species, many endemic insects including several butterflies, and some interesting plants. In the waters around Aldabra live large numbers of hawksbill and green turtles, various sharks, manta rays and barracuda, and a cast of thousands of other fish and corals.
In the 1960s Aldabra nearly suffered having a British military base built there, but fortunately that was averted so that now it enjoys a firm protected status and careful management by the Seychelles Island Foundation. Let’s hope it stays that way for generations to come – it’s far too important to lose. Be one of the lucky few to visit this fantastic marine outpost, most definitely “one of the wonders of the world”.