An up-close encounter with nesting seabirds, endemic bird species, giant land tortoises, and depending on the season, a nesting sea turtle -- these are what conservation lovers are being invited to discover by visiting the small Seychelles’ island of Cousine.
Located some eight kilometres off the west coast of Praslin -- the Seychelles’ second most inhabited island -- Cousine is now offering day visits for small groups.
The new excursion experience on the secluded island, also home to a small boutique hotel, is open to both Seychellois and tourists.
Describing what the excursion has to offer, the Guest Relations Manager on Cousine Island Mrs. Michelle Pretorius said visitors would be welcomed by the conservation team upon arrival, who will brief them on the island’s conservation programme.
The visitors would then be taken on a guided tour of the island’s plateau to encounter and learn about the various species that call Cousine their home, while all precautions are taken to minimize any disturbances to the wildlife.
“To minimize any disturbance to the wildlife and guests on the island we can accommodate up to a maximum of six visitors per day,” Mrs Pretorius said.
The visit takes around 5 hours, including a three-course lunch and time for the visitors to relax and enjoy the scenery, including the clear azure waters surrounding the island.
“As we are a conservation island with strict invasive species protocol we only allow our boat to beach the island. We therefore can collect visitors from Praslin or we can arrange a helicopter transfer both at an additional rate,” said Mrs Pretorius.
Cousine spans 25 hectares in size, 1.4 kilometres in length and 800 metres in width. Although small in size the island has a big heart for conservation.
Rich in natural habitat, it boasts an array of endemic vegetation, which creates the perfect habitat for land, sea and migratory bird species that call the island their home. Nesting sea birds that can be found on the island include the white-tailed tropic birds and fairy terns.
A thriving population of 40 Seychelles Magpie Robin, listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list of Threatened species due to its small population, can also be found on Cousine.
Visitors can also expect to meet one of the 80 giant Aldabra tortoises roaming around freely on the island. And if one is lucky to be on the island during the nesting season, the unique sight of a Hawksbill turtle laying its eggs on the beach will come as a special treat.
Aside of the newly introduced day visits, Cousine also has the capacity to welcome an intimate compliment of up to 12 adults & 6 children at its small boutique hotel, which underwent major renovations in 2011, reopening in April 2016.
The hotel boasts 4 luxury villas and a new stately Presidential villa that have been built to blend in well with the island’s lush tropical vegetation.