Sunday 19 November 2023

Seychelles Day 12: Salazie Track, Praslin

For my last day on Praslin island, a run to the start of the Salazie trail on the eastern side of Praslin. 

The trail then goes over the island to the other side.

Forested and shady on the eastern side and more exposed, with a view, on the western side overlooking Grand Anse and with views of the Cousine and Cousin islands.

I'd arranged to meet my cousin at the church on the main road but as I was early, I said to Fred I'd walk in the direction of the airport; he'd find me along the road. 

In January 1994 (that is almost clear on 30 years ago), before I started university, I spent a month in the Seychelles. Back then my uncle (dad's brother) and my aunt (dad's sister) were running a hotel on Grand Anse, Praslin. I was interested to see whether I would recognise it and my uncle's house across the road. I did! Other properties around these were very unfamiliar.

Walking along the road had me thinking about the 17-year old me vs the 47-year old me. Back then, I spent a lot of time in the water swimming and watching fish, I read and I hung out with my aunt's partner's son who was also here on holiday. I remember going to La Digue, visiting the Valley de Mei, enjoying lovely outings with some young German guests (we maintained a letter-writing friendship for a number of years), a wonderful trip to Curieuse Island to see the turtle reserve and spending some days on Mahe with other cousins. I don't remember a town here but there would have been shops just down the road. I must have driven past them but I have absolutely no recollection of them. We had meals at the hotel so I certainly didn't need to go to any shops for food.

The 47-year old me still reads and generally only goes to shops out of necessity - like for food. But I'm significantly different in that I favour exploring any place on foot or bike, walking to look at buildings and happenings, and aiming to hit available trails. If I had a month here I'd probably start building trails 😂 Days passed slower when I was 17. 

I also have Google now to find things to see and do; I like to hope that with the same resources my 17-year old self would have found a lot more things to do.

That said, coming off the back of my Seychelles trip in 1994, I joined the Underwater Club at Wits to play underwater hockey. Would I have done so if I hadn't spent the bulk of 4 weeks in the water? I was primed to join. Underwater was a huge part of my life for 6.5 years. I made many wonderful friends, and got into website design and sports admin through that sport

Phew! How time has passed. Those 30 years, and these two weeks.

We then headed for Anse Lazio, a really beautiful beach in the north of the island. Spectacular colours today. We swam, walked the beach and then headed home for lunch before my ferry back to Mahe.

Tomorrow, a visit to the market, hopefully time for a run and then off to the airport.

Seychelles Day 11: Paddle on Praslin

Today, I came across to Praslin island to see the home that cousin Fred and his wife Verena have been building. It is spectacular. 

Picture window view.

This afternoon, Fred and I went for a paddle, this time paddling a double Mazowe together.

 We had those beautiful topical aqua colours again today, making for a pretty paddle. 
We headed south and stopped for a swim, then reached the bottom of the island and swung around the other side. 
We looped around a little rock outcrop (barely an island) and paddled back. 

A really nice social paddle together with a mocktail (for me; a real cocktail for Fred) to celebrate the outing.

Tomorrow morning, I'll do a trail here on Praslin, then we'll see a bit of the island, go for a swim, get back for a shower and then I take the evening ferry back to my uncle on Mahe. I start travelling home on Monday evening.

Friday 17 November 2023

Seychelles Day 10: Coastal hike, La Digue

Where yesterday it was rainy and grey with low cloud and murky colours, today the island of La Digue delivered postcard perfection.

My cousin dropped us off here - the end of the drivable road.

My hiking buddy Olivier

A beauty of a day

A cobbled section

I enjoyed the most awesome outing today. My cousin's friend Olivier, a member of the paddle chllenge support team, knows the trails of the island well. He organises an annual around-the-island run challenge (it takes place each October). In fact, the green or yellow arrows marking the route through the tricky rock boulder sections (two of them) were put there by him. 

La Digue is known for its rocks.

A beach section.

The boulder sections are quite difficult if you're not used to stepping and scrambling over big boulders. The route through is mostly marked but you have to concentrate and look around.

About halfway, we picked up a Slovenian guy who had struggled to find the right way through a boulder section. A mountain climber, he was fit and capable and good company.

Our starting of the route was timed to hit the Anse Pierrot section at low tide as you have to wade in the sea - there is no trail around the massive rock features. It was fabulous and just added to the experience.

For the rest, we were blessed with a magnificent day with island blues and greens with white beaches and the rock features that La Digue is famous for.

We walked back to town and I then carried on to my cousin's place. Time for a shower and then to put my feet up with a book. We're going to a birthday celebration on the beach tonight.

This hike was definitely a highlight of my trip.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Seychelles Day 9: Paddle, La Digue

I spent yesterday still on Mahe - collected my new passport and then hung out with cousin Fred doing errands. We took the Cat Cocos ferry across to La Digue where Fred lives. I took a Valoid and slept, avoiding any risk of seasickness.

Rain fell during the night and most of today was rainy. After lunchtime, the weather broke and we headed off for a paddle. 

I paddled his Carbonology Boost, the one he used for his around-Mahe challenge, along the coast to meet him further down where his Vagabond Marimba is stored. We then swapped kayaks. The Boost is light and faster to paddle but the familiarity and comfort of the Marimba was nice.

 I had the chance to use my new CEKR Gear Vango paddle. It is a split paddle, which makes it travel friendly. My older CEKR paddle is great and has seen a lot of use and many trips. This new one is lighter and even nicer. I'll paddle at least once or twice more while I'm here to really christen my new paddle.

Paddling inside the reef, the water is pretty calm. Sure, some rocking, but otherwise very pleasant. With low, grey clouds, we didn't have the whole island-azure thing, but it was pretty regardless.

Tomorrow, probably a coastal trail. One of the guys on Fred's team organises an annual run challenge on this section. He will join me. That will be fun.