Huge fuck off great big tortoises are a thing that exist here in The Seychelles. They’re commonly kept as pets which is amazing as long as they’re treated properly. We were told that back in the day anyone could have one but there ended up bring so much mistreatment with these beautiful animals being kept in appalling conditions. These days you need a licence to have one and welfare officers will visit your home to make sure you have the space to look after them properly. As well they fucking should.
They’re from Aldabra, an atoll over 1000 kilometres from Mahé but still part of The Seychelles. Very few people go there, firstly because it costs a bastard fortune and you have to spend longer than is comfortable on some manner of boat on open water and, quite frankly, fuck that shit I’d rather swim, and secondly, access to the islands is very restricted. If you’re not a scientist or a volunteer then you have to be part of a guided tour group that has prior permission to go there. If you’ve been to Vallée De Mai, half of your entrance fee goes towards supporting the atoll, because the don’t get enough visitors to support themselves.
In the late 70’s / early 80’s, they introduced the Giant Aldabra Tortoises to Curieuse. They’re pretty much wild, they have the run of the island. I say run. I mean plod. A shit tonne of them just hang out at the sanctuary being fed leaves and getting neck strokes off tourists. It’s a mere 15 minute boat ride from Cote D’or. Even my fragile stomach can handle that, it’d be rude not to wouldn’t it? We duly booked a ride as tourists are gonna tourist.
We were told we’d probably only need half an hour with the tortoises, 40 minutes for the mangrove walk, then a load of time on the beach. Yeah nah, we spent about an hour with the tortoises. We were told not to sit on them or put our fingers too close to them, but straight away we saw tour guides petting them. Yeah, I want a piece of that! They seem quite happy to have their necks stroked. I mean, they can’t run away, we were told the really big ones over 200kgs which isn’t conducive to a sprint, but they could easily give you a nasty bite. They feel like really soft leather.
There’s a nursery here too where they keep the babies until they’re around 5 years old before releasing them. They’re kind of just normal tortoise size at that age. They had a couple at one year old, they’re tiny! Pocket sized! The explains the signage threatening bag searches to stop people nicking off with them. I’d love a giant tortoise in my life but I’m really not sure where I’d keep it and it’s not exactly something you could cuddle up on the sofa with unless the sofa was comprised of reinforced steel and you weren’t bothered about having circulation in your legs. Or legs at all.
The mangrove walk was about 40 minutes but only because we were loitering behind a tour group trying to glean information. Largely about crabs. The mangroves were full of them and Tarrant has an obsession with crabs. I’m not sure why. She has tendencies to try and dig them up and is then confused when she ends up with crab claws wrapped around her extremities.
We eventually emerged onto Anse St Jose. The doctor’s house is usually a museum but it’s closed for renovations. The island used to be a leper colony and apparently ruins do remain along with the doctor’s house. We just chilled on the beach and the sea whilst we waited for our boatman to arrive, watching low cloud roll in. Even the crap weather here is a bit lovely. Hard life though isn’t it.
Curieuse Island, The Seychelles
Stayed at: Villa Bedier, Cote D’or, Praslin
Useful shit to know…
- We used Sagittarius Water Taxi to get to Curieuse and back. It’s €40 plus the Rs300 tax, but you pay everything to Sagittarius. You can pay the tax in Euros too, at the time of writing it’s £25.
- They have a presence on the beach near the Berjaya Pizzeria which we didn’t know so we booked online through Villa Belle Plage.
- We did initially book an excursion including Ste. Pierre as we didn’t think we had a choice but you can just book to go to Curieuse if you want. Speak to them on the beach.
- They’ll drop you at the turtle sanctuary (they call them turtles though they’re very definitely not) and pick you up at Anse St Jose, about a 40 minute stroll through the mangroves, at a time of your choosing. Three hours was plenty of time.
- Whilst the Coco De Mer does grow naturally on Curieuse you’re unlikely to see them as they’re way off the trail, growing on the hillsides. They’re also smaller than the ones at Vallée De Mai because they don’t have to fight for space.