Often, when one thinks of Africa, thoughts of amazing wildlife, camels crossing the desert and vast barren landscapes come to mind. We’re here to add to that; picture white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters with palm trees galore – paradise can be found on the African Continent and we can take you there.
Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion
Let’s start south east of Africa, with three gems that sit in the warm waters of Indian Ocean; Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion. These wonderful archipelagos offer an exuberant clash of cultures with strong Indian, Chinese and African influences. Due to the thought-provoking histories of these islands, particularly the slave trade, there is a large population of Indian descent, alongside Chinese and ancestors of slaves from the African continent. This has resulted in distinct architecture, vibrant colours and wonderful local cuisine.
The Seychelles are truly postcard perfect but they are not just the lands of the rich and famous, or just for honeymooners! Our Tropical Islands
trip flaunts the alternative side to this destination, visiting three of the islands, whilst still offering plenty of time for relaxation on stunning white beaches. Here you can experience lush rainforest, exhilarating boat rides and get up close with protected giant tortoises.
Mauritius is not dissimilar to the Seychelles in many ways but has its own unique character as a younger island. As well as taking time to paddle in the clear, sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean, there is opportunity to try delicious creole cuisine, learn about the lucrative sugar trade that made Mauritius the fought over post it once was, and search for indigenous birds in lush rainforest.
Although the Seychelles and Mauritius are now independent republics, Reunion is a tropical region of France and part of the EU. Geologically far younger than its cousins, Reunion is far more mountainous and offers quite a different experience.
It may not feature the shallow, clear water lagoons that you’d expect but instead the waters are deep enough that spotting pods of whales from the coast is possible. With Piton de Fournaise, a live volcano, and the three cirques that are dense with greenery above the clouds, it’s like the adventurous baby brother of neighbouring Mauritius, not to be missed! The added bonus is exotic vegetables are served in a wonderfully French way with gruyere cheese and French bread; divine. Our Reunion and Mauritius two-week trip
offers fantastic opportunity to experience the contrasts.
Heading west, to the more rugged and wild Atlantic Ocean you can find tropical paradise on our Sao Tome trip
with Kathleen Becker. Sao Tome is not to be underestimated! The island is largely undiscovered to the tourist market and that makes the trip even more unique. A century ago this island was a world class producer of cocoa and a busy Portuguese colony, now it’s a colourful population of different ethnicities, cultures and traditions stemming back to the days of the slave trades. This diversity can be seen through cuisine, music and architecture. Sitting almost on top of the equator with wonderful marine life and palm trees swaying in the breeze, it is not a resort island and still offers opportunity to discover true West African culture and meet the people. This island ensures you get tranquil beach time and an African culture dose in equal measure.
Want to really get off the beaten track? Take our Explore Beyond trip and head to remote St Helena
this October. Commercial flights only started in late 2017 and before this you could only reach the island by postal ship! It’s rugged, volcanic geology and secluded location has resulted in it being almost untouched by modern tourism, perfect for those who are looking for a once in a lifetime holiday.
A one off trip by Explore, we will take you 1,200 miles off the coast of West Africa to a British territory sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Home to a small population of roughly 5,000 ‘Saints’, this colony is wonderfully quaint with red post boxes all over the island. The island also boasts many native species of flora and marine life, including the curiously named Hedgehog Butterflyfish. Craggy rocky beaches are more common in St Helena
than the white sands that you may expect when we say ‘tropical’ but it’s not to be forgotten as a destination for some diverse island exploration. Also the bonus of this exciting trip is that because the flights into St Helena’s new airport only go from Johannesburg there is time in South Africa
on either side to experience a little bit of their culture too.