- John J King II
Report from Africa: Ultimate Aldabra
A few weeks ago we foretold of our long anticipated expedition into a remote island group off the African east coast in the southern hemisphere. Aldabra is officially part of The Seychelles but lies 700 miles southwest of the main Seychelles group and capital Mahe. Designated a World Heritage site for the protection of its unique and magnificent biodiversity Aldabra is very seldom visited by anyone outside of the research and conservation communities. Most visitors arrive by private yachts seeking the absolute beauty and solitude among an ocean ecosystem few will ever see. We were fortunate to join a group on a small ship in Mahe and made the long journey comfortably visiting and exploring a few of the granitic Seychelles on our way to the Aldabra Group.
Upon arrival at Aldabra Atoll we coordinated our activities with the research team stationed there to take advantage of unusually calm weather to explore the atollâ's lagoon with mask and snorkel when the daily tides permitted. The Atoll itself was immense measuring more than 23 miles across making it impossible to see the outer edges of the lagoon from our entry points on the atollâ's west side channels. These incredible channels were accessible only by shallow draft inflatable boatsÂ a few hours a day when the incoming tide flooded the scorched sandy shallow seabed which goes dry at low tide every 12 hours or so. Our amazing experiences included performing fantastic drifts snorkels where one floats into the lagoon with swift moving currents running at 2 - 3 knots along with fish, rays, sharks, turtles of all shapes and sizes as they make the journey into the lagoon to feed on the high tide pools of life that flood in. Because fishing activity is illegal and the conservation zone is protected around Atoll many very large fish and sharks are present and show no fear of human presence given the protection they have enjoyed for more than 40 years. The sights were absolutely magical.