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Two-month-old Aldabra tortoise
Two-month-old Aldabra tortoise
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

It's easy to take a day-tour of Curieuse, just a 20-minute boat trip northwest of Praslin in the Seychelles Islands. Between 1978 and 1982, Curieuse National Park became home to 250 giant tortoises moved from Aldabra for a conservation project, managed by the Seychelles Center for Marine Technology under the Marine Parks Authority.

The free-roaming tortoises graze on leaves and grasses. A ranger showed us a small two-month-old Aldabra tortoise in the nursery.

As we looked at its tiny scaled legs and domed carapace, it was difficult for us to imagine that it would grow up to 130 kilograms in size.

How to make a giant tortoise happy

He explained that the tortoises love to be gently stroked on the back of their necks. As he tenderly moved his fingernails along the neck of a massive tortoise, the creature stretched out like a kitten, extending its head towards him to encourage more caresses.

Giant tortoises love gentle neck strokes
Giant tortoises love gentle neck strokes
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Then, we swear, it smiled.

Coco-de-mer grows naturally on only two islands in the world

Based on the number of mating tortoises that we viewed, the park's breeding program is a success. Their bellowing mmph, mmph mating sounds resonated throughout the island. We wondered if the tortoises had eaten the coco-de-mer's reputed Viagra-like jelly.

Other than Praslin, Curieuse is the only island where the coco-de-mer grows naturally.

We were amused to watch a tortoise amble by an outhouse with a coco-de-mer seed and catkin designating his and hers doors.

Free guided walks

Later, we spotted the coco-de-mer's fan-shaped fronds as we hiked along a two-kilometer boardwalk trail. Curieuse was a leper colony between 1833 and 1965.

Curieuse National Park boardwalk trail
Curieuse National Park boardwalk trail
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Today, park rangers lead free guided tours along the trail to the former doctor's house, which is now a museum.

Our guide pointed out cashew nuts, some of the eight species of mangroves on the island and pink cocoplums. "They are edible, but taste like cotton wool," he explained. "Birds eat the fruit and spread the seeds."

Breathtaking beaches

Our Curieuse tour finished at Anse St. (José) Joseph, one of many pristine beaches in the Seychelles. We snorkeled in water the color of peacock feathers.

Over the years, The Seychelles' dazzling beaches have enticed many honeymooners, including celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and Prince William and Duchess Kate.

Anse St. Joseph beach
Anse St. Joseph beach
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Although Curieuse is small, only 2.9 square kilometers in size, it offers nature-lovers giant tortoises, exotic vegetation, a fascinating history and idyllic beaches. We regretted that the island has no hotels, camping or other accommodations, so we could stay longer.


Seychelles Tourism Board

More things to see and do in the Seychelles:

La Digue Seychelles Beach - Anse Source d'Argent

Victoria Mahe - Seychelles National Botanical Gardens