Expedition 196 reaches Seychelles


(Posted 23rd July 2016)

Our generation, ‘The Millennia’s’, have a unique opportunity to change the world with the internet and instant communication which has no borders. We are all connected and my journey is showing that connection. Millennials can unite the world’ says 26-year-old Connecticut native Cassandra De Pecol, who is visiting Seychelles this week from 21st to 24th as part of her Guinness World Record-setting Expedition that includes stopovers in 196 countries.

Dubbed, ‘The Peaceful Travelers Journey’, Ms. De Pecol is attempting to become the first documented Woman to travel to 196 Nations in record time to set a Guinness World Record. In the process, she wishes to promote Women’s Achievement, peace and sustainability claiming that Millennials can unite the world.

As part of her tour, she also hopes to demonstrate that her generation can create positive, peaceful relations with all countries, in part through sustainable tourism, which brings cultures together and makes a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. An educational documentary will follow upon successful completion of her Expedition.

Visiting each country as an Ambassador of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Ms. De Pecol is planting trees and collecting water samples for the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (adventurescience.org) project, to then test for the presence of microplastics.

Tourism is one of the only industries in the world that has seen constant growth over the past 25 years with over 1 billion people traveling in 2014’ said De Pecol.

By traveling and meeting others and being accepting of different cultures, traditions and beliefs we can break down the barriers of mistrust and suspicion and really start a drive to a better and more humane world where people just simply enjoy and embrace the differences amongst us’ she added.

During her visit to the Seychelles Cassie stayed at the luxury MAIA resort, filming the property and focusing on sustainability. She also met with the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Alain St. Ange and tourism and hospitality students at the Seychelles Tourism Academy.

Cassie now hopes to inform the citizens of Seychelles of her updates which includes having visited 139 countries within 12 months, presenting to over 11,500 students and dignitaries across 31 countries, and planting 40 trees across 12 countries, including in Seychelles with the Minister of Tourism and STA Principal Mr. Flavien Joubert.

Cassandra De Pecol

Expedition 196, LLC


Flash Packing or Ultralight Packing; Six Tips you’ll Need on the Road

Lillian Gaitho’s thoughts on how and what to pack before hitting the trails …

Flash Packing or Ultralight Packing; Six Tips you’ll Need on the Road

Backpacking as a model of travel attracts a manifold of interpretations depending on an individual’s experience, or as described in travel journals. However, one common belief for the free spirited travelers who chose to hit the road with their life bundled up in a carry-on is that, the world is their home and thus their playing field. A back packer may chose to go ‘ultra-light’ by limiting their luggage to the bare minimals of survival or pump up some splendor on the trail, by adding some style in a “flash” fashion. Whichever you fancy, here are a number of tips from travelers to help you backpack your way to nirvana!

When Packing

Pack sensibly, for the sake of your back and the speed on the trail. As older wanderers with a longer experience will tell you; you’ll only use half of what you carry. Having an itinerary ahead or a good idea of where your paths may take you is crucial to ensuring that you pack accordingly. Also, check the weather patterns and predictions at your destination; you will need to keep cool in hot weather, as well as keep warm in the cold. If you are choosing a jacket, pick one with as many pockets as comfort can take, they’ll prove useful for quick storage space. Cargo pants maybe the century’s most overrated in a backpacker’s limited wardrobe, but their usefulness cannot be downplayed.

While On the road…

From dehydration and diarrhea to malaria and sexually transmitted infections; a myriad of maladies pose one of the greatest threats a backpacker’s merriment. This can be linked to an ever-changing environment, uncontrollable external conditions, changes in nutrition and diet as well as general fatigue. On the other side, the carefree spirit in hostels and camping areas especially since everyone (well, most) travelers seem to be on a permanent high and hunt for the next rush. Best advice would be to keep your morals and sense of judgment alert at all times, but remember safe is always better than sorry.

Please don’t kill the vibe

Of course, we all do not agree on the unwritten backpackers rule to “stay lit” night and day, but neither do you want to be the ultimate anti-social party-popper. Engage other travelers whenever time and topic allows as opposed to burying yourself in books or losing your head in endless playlists. Chatting up those on your course will definitely open your mind up to new experiences, as well as get you a chance to discover more and exchange ideas. Away from the travelers, interact as much as possible with the locals and seek to learn their way of life and culture, remember the best and most effective way to learn is through immersion. Where language barriers occur, try to be more imaginative and look for ways to communicate-this could be a chance to learn a new language, or even invent one!

Getting around

The ability to make decisions on-the-go is perhaps the best survival skill for a backpacker. Forget all the pretty painted sketches that every journal says you should trot, and let your imagination and the itch to explore guide you. Once you’ve picked where to make your memories (or impressions), check out the most effective as well as imaginative mode of transport that will give you the ne plus ultra

experience. For instance, you may find hopping on a train from Nairobi to Mombasa more rewarding than flying, as you’ll have a chance to take in more from the scenery en-route. Also, if you’ll be walking, do a bit of research on the terrain to enable you prepare accordingly. You could consider hiring a bike too, if you plan to hitchhike, do a quick study on security and look up reviews from others who have been there.

Your security

Every market is said to have it’s madman, or a fair share of bonkers! While you do not really need to worry about market days and their craft, you certainly need to stay aware of your surroundings. Muggings, pick pocketing and other petty crimes cannot be ruled out in many areas, and especially because the town’s new faces seem to attract just the wrong attention. Other measures to take include not flashing your latest iPods and selfie sticks as well as securing your cash and card transactions throughout.

Backpacking etiquette

Just like rules of the jungle, there are rules of the trail. Top on the rovers commandments is the all-important note to do some distance before you dump; at least 200 ft away from the trail, campsite or water source. This is for the obvious need for environmental sanitation, take time to sink it deep enough. The second (unwritten) rule is to leave the cairns and other markers as you find them; remember this could mean life or death for the next hiker without a clue of the trail. One last bit, always remember hikers going uphill have the right of way but apply common sense; if for example there is an injured hiker, the rules could change. Slow down and say hello, even catch a quick chat on the conditions “up there or the other side”

This is just a top-of-the mind set of rules, you can make some on the go. Whether flash packing, ultralight packing or experimenting with the yet-to-be-discovered; do not break the rules!

Air Austral plans for additional Johannesburg flight from November


(Posted 23rd July 2016)

A high powered delegation from Reunion visited South Africa to attend the French Embassy’s Bastille Day commemoration in Pretoria. The team used the opportunity to showcase the island to the more than 900 embassy guests in the South African capital before meeting over 600 guests of the French Consulate in Johannesburg, all representing the who is who in commerce, industry, politics and of course tourism in South Africa.
Air Austral will, come November, launch a third weekly flight between Reunion’s capital St. Denis and Johannesburg, using their two class Boeing B737-800NG on the route.
Pictured above are among others the Director of IRT, short for Isle de la Reunion Tourisme, the Deputy CEO of Air Austral and Mr. Didier Robert, President of the Region of Reunion and a French Senator.
South Africa has become a market of growing importance for Reunion, set free since the need for Visa was abolished for tourists staying up to two weeks back in 2013.
The team of Air Austral and IRT also met with South Africa’s Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, both sides keen to expand cooperation in the field. Notably did Minister Hanekom accept an invitation by Reunion to be the island’s guest of honour during the Liberte Metisse Festival in December, which is also a major Vanilla Island event.
Reunion and South Africa are both keen to expand cruise tourism and cruise and fly tourism and have both, together with other Vanilla Islands, lobbied major international cruise lines to return to the region with regular itineraries.
For added information about Destination Reunion click on www.reunion.fr

Blood ivory kingpin jailed for 20 years


(Posted 22nd July 2016)

20 years in jail and 20 million Kenya Shillings fine, that was the verdict handed down to Feisal Mohammed as his trial came to an end earlier today. The fine translates to around 200.000 US Dollars, the maximum the present law permits.
Once wanted by Interpol with a red notice after fleeing from Kenya was he later apprehended in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam and extradited to Kenya to stand trial.
The trial proved to be a rocky one as earlier magistrates hearing the case were alleged to have been gotten to by the accused, with one senior magistrate removed from the case, removed from office and indicted.
The verdict brings closure to Kenya’s conservation fraternity which saw Feisal as one of the key orchestrators of the trafficking of blood ivory.
While his five co-accused were acquitted for lack of evidence is it expected that both prosecution as well as defence lawyers for Feisal will appeal the verdict, for the state to seek the conviction of the other accused while Feisal’s lawyers will no doubt seek an acquittal on appeal.
Meanwhile though is the verdict a sound warning for other poachers, ivory traders and financiers, that the full force of the law will be applied on them should they be found guilty in court.
The verdict is also a slap in the face of former Inspector General of Police, the hapless David Kimaiyo, who at one stage kept one of Kenya’s leading conservationists, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, waiting in his office for an entire day and only most reluctantly received a petition to affect the arrest of Feisal. His behaviour at the time suggested to many that he was almost unwilling to intensify the manhunt and have Feisal arrested, leading to a range of allegations and eventually, in part due to his other failures on the job, sacking from Kenya’s top police position.

Kimaiyo only recently was relieved of his next job as Chairman of the Kenya Airport Authority where, true to his nature, he also failed to make an impression, sending him finally into disgraced retirement.
All those who contributed to keeping the case of Feisal in the public spotlight must be congratulated as his conviction is a major win for conservation not just in Kenya but the entire East Africa.

Wasini Island – a step back in time


(Posted 22nd July 2016)

It has been a while since Amina Sabel has written about her adopted home, the island of Wasini, where she lives and works with her husband Feisal Abdalla operating island and ocean tours and an accommodation facility.
Read on to find out what in her view makes a visit, and more so a stay on Wasini, such a unique proposition.

1. Because it is an island!

In general, every island has some great advantages for the intrepid traveler. One of them once put it like this: "being out at sea away from the mainland seems to magnify everything – the drama of the weather, the wildlife and even the colors," or “the opportunity for absolute privacy. Nobody can get to you. There are no cars, just the gentle sound of water rippling all around." Well, it is not a coincidence that in some languages the idiom "to be ready for the island" is commonly used!

Wasini Island Impression

2. Because it is not connected to the power grid, has no fresh groundwater, and there are no cars

What might seem like a disadvantage at first sight actually turns into an advantage for the conscious traveler. The lack of conventional luxury keeps partying crowds and annoying mass tourism away. This leads to a very healthy ratio inhabitants/travelers which is keeping Wasini Island astonishingly authentic, welcoming, and peaceful.

Wasini child helping her grandma with household chores

3. Because it is budget-friendly

Where else can you find accommodations right at the seafront starting from KShs 900? A healthy vegan meal for less than KShs 600? A delicious seafood dish incl. freshest mangrove crabs for KShs 1000? A half-day boat cruise to a marine park for around KShs 2000?

4. Because it is surrounded by reefs

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. Nowhere else such a variety of beautiful colorful fish species can be spotted. This ranges from single coral formations in front of your cottage, to a medium-sized reef in the protected Wasini channel, up to the immense reef in Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park located off the southern shores of the island.

Coral Reef Fish off Wasini Island

5. Because it is a dolphin and turtle territory

There are several resident schools of dolphins and chances to meet them in the vicinity of the island are extremely favorable. The green turtle is also frequently spotted by snorkelers in Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park. Although turtles do not hatch in the Marine Park, it is one of their favorite feeding grounds in the area. The experience of swimming with these graceful sea reptiles cannot be beaten by much.

Green Turtle Spotted on a Dolphin & Snorkeling Tour with Wasini’s Blue Whale Boat Operators

6. Because it has a ‘Coral Garden’

The ‘Coral Garden’ is a unique community conservation project supported by the European Union and the Kenyan Government. Mesmerizing fossilized coral structures, up to about 3 meter height, are dispersed in a creek, where also sea purslane and mangroves grow. A boardwalk allows an easy access even when the area is flooded at high tide. This is one of the most sought after photo shooting locations while the setting sun is bathing the rock formations in orange light.

Wasini’s Coral Garden at High Tide

7. Because the local chefs prepare the most amazing Swahili dishes

Wasini’s chefs prepare such tasty Swahili dishes that their services are even requested for events outside the island. Their delicious seafood dishes, accompanied by Wasini’s famous sea pruslane, are a highlight of many travelers’ stay.

8. Because of its untamed nature

Exploring the island on foot is a special experience. The coastal forest and bush vegetation is home to a wide range of birds, chameleons, turtoises, monitor lizards, blue monkeys – and the lucky ones may even spot one of the elusive duikers, a small horned antelope. Walks in the intertidal zone along its northern cliff shore offer amazing sights of dense, impenetrable jungle and baobab forests.

A Blue Monkey in Wasini’s Coastal Forest

9. Because you can get in direct contact with the local population and traditions

Wasini is inhabited by the Wavumba, a very good-hearted and welcoming tribe. Overnight guest numbers are low and every traveler is treated like a guest! People have time for a chat and are more than happy to share local knowledge and anectodes. Would you like to see how fishermen catch the mud-dwelling mangrove crabs? Learn how to rig a local dhow or catch fish like a local? You are more than welcome to explore all this and more.

Local Fishermen on their Way to the Fishing Grounds off Wasini Island

10. Because it is totally safe

With its modest size of approx. 6 x 1.5 km and about 3000 inhabitants in two main villages and one hamlet, the island population is tightly knit. People are either related or, at least, know each other well, i.e. there is no space at all for bad elements to hide. On Wasini, you can peacefully walk anywhere, at any time you like.

And coming to 11, my own addition, it is for the perforce absence of laptops, notebooks, tablets, smart phones and related gadgets, which gives eyes and fingers a much needed rest, like it or not and encouraged human relations, close up and personal, by talking to each other and not by WhatsApping, texting, FB’ing or other electronic means. And for some people I know, that is as much a challenge as jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge with an elastic rope tied to their feet …

If you want to read more about Wasini Island, or book your stay right away, please visit the island’s Tour & Travel Guide at www.wasini.net

(Written by Amina Sabel, co-founder and co-owner of the Wasini Tour & Travel Guide and the Blue Monkey Beach Cottages on Wasini Island)

The French connection to Seychelles’ 7 largest granitic islands


(Posted 22nd July 2016)

The French connection to Seychelles' 7 largest granitic islands

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)

Photo license

Betymie Bonnelame of the Seychelles News Agency asked – What’s in a name? When it comes to the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, that name is likely influenced by the French in one way of another.

Although this island nation has a multitude of cultures – European, Asian, African – have the French left their imprint from the name of the archipelago formerly ‘Sechelles’ – anglicized to what we know as Seychelles today – to many among the 115 islands.

Let’s look at the French connections to Seychelles’ seven largest granitic islands, in order of their sizes.

1. Mahé

Named after Bertrand-Francois Mahé de La Boudonnais, a French governor of Mauritius, at 157.3 square kilometres Mahé is the largest island in the Seychelles’ archipelago. It hosts the capital Victoria, the international airport and around 86 percent of the country’s total population.

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY

2. Praslin

First named Isle de Palmes by French explorer Lazare Picault, it was renamed Praslin after a French diplomat — César Gabriel de Choiseul — duc de Praslin.

Praslin is the second largest – 38.5 square kilometres — and hosts the well-known coco-de-mer – the world’s largest nut.

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY

3. Silhouette

The island got its name after French minister of finance Etienne de Silhouette under King Louis XV.

It is the third-largest in the granitic island group — 20.1 square kilometres and hosts the second highest peak of the archipelago — Mont Dauban of 780 metres.

(Photo 1: Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board & Photo 2: Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

4. La Digue

The island has the name of a ship as part of the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne who visited Seychelles in 1768.

It is the third-most populated island with an area of 10.08 square kilometres.

It is well known for its reserve with the endemic bird the Paradise Flycatcher.

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY

5. Curieuse

Known as “Ile Rouge" because of its red-coloured soil, it got its name after a French schooner "La Curieuse" of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne.

The island – 2.86 square kilometres — used to be a leper colony.

Curieuse is now a Marine National Park and apart from Praslin, the only place where the coco-de-mer grows naturally.

(GVI Curieuse) Photo License: CC-BY

6. Félicité

Another island with a French background — the name means fortunate in English.

With only 2.68 square kilometres the island — a former coconut plantation – was home to the exiled Sultan Abdullah of Perak from Malaysia. It is today a resort that can host 20 guests.

(Six Senses Zil Pasyon) Photo License: All Rights Reserved

7. Frégate

It was given its name by French explorer Lazare Picault after the abundance of the frigate birds on the island.

Only 2.07 square kilometres, the island is privately owned under the name Fregate Island Private.

As part of the Oetker Collection’s for luxury resort which funds environmental programme to restore habitat and protect rare species, the island hosts a bird sanctuary which has some of Seychelles rarest birds.

(Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY

Contribution courtesy of Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Seychelles

Praslin’s Culinary & Arts Fiesta postponed until after the general elections


(Posted 22nd July 2016)
Green Print

The upcoming general elections in the Seychelles, which will be held on the 08th, 09th and 10th of September, have now led to the postponement of the Praslin Culinary and Arts Festival, which was due to be held just days before the elections take place.
The organizers felt that this would take attention away from Praslin’s annual festival show case and wisely decided to shift the event to now coincide with the celebrations of World Tourism Day.
The organizing committee took the decision jointly with the Seychelles Tourism Board and private sector stakeholders and Ms. Sherin Naiken, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, was swift to say: ‘It has now been confirmed by Benjamine Rose, the Principal Secretary for Culture, that a new date will be communicated soon as discussions are already underway with the Tourism Board to try to merge it with this year’s Tourism Day Celebrations together especially as the Tourism Board wanted to put the island of Praslin in the forefront of Tourism Day 2016‘.
Praslin, Seychelles’ second largest island, is home to the Vallee de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the famous Coco de Mer, apart from offering some of the most spectacular beaches to visitors from around the world.
For more information about the Calendar of Events across the year click on to www.seychelles.travel and follow the relevant links.


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