Family Seychelles: Rain Forests and Reefs of the Indian Ocean

March 17—29, 2017

In 1990, 2009, and 2013, Museum Curator Chris Raxworthy and research teams traveled to the Seychelles, where they scoured lush canyons, rocky shores, and steep cliffsides to survey amphibians and reptiles of the Indian Ocean. The information, observations, and genetic samples collected during these expeditions are helping scientists understand the evolutionary history of these organisms and have proven critical to the development of conservation strategies in the region.

Embark on your own expedition custom-designed exclusively for Patrons Circle Members by Dr. Raxworthy to highlight the extraordinary biodiversity of the Seychelles’ verdant tropical rain forests and spectacular coral reefs. Activities created by Museum educator Jean Rosenfeld make learning a fun and exciting adventure for the entire family.  

HIGHLIGHTS

Seychelles Tortoise in a tropical envirnonment

EXPLORE the forests of Silhouette Island during the day and at night to search for native wildlife.

WONDER at the iconic Coco de Mer, the world’s largest nut of 130-foot-tall palm trees, and hunt for a giant gecko that went missing to science for more than one hundred years.

MEET conservation specialists who monitor bird populations on Aride Island, home to the most significant seabird population in the Indian Ocean.

SPOT abundant endemic species on Cousin Island, a former coconut plantation that has been reclaimed as a diverse ecosystem, and get close to giant Indian Ocean tortoises.

SNORKEL with rare marine life such as hawksbill and green turtles, octopuses, and a kaleidoscope of fish species found on the vibrant reefs of Mahé and Praslin Islands. 

DISCOVER the history of Victoria, Seychelles’ charming capital city, including the ornate Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple, the only Hindu temple in the Seychelles.

HAVE FUN LEARNING through activities created by a Museum educator experienced in teaching science and engaging young people.

TRAVEL HASSLE-FREE throughout the trip with a professional tour manager who attends to every detail.

ENJOY MEMBERSHIP in the Museum’s Patrons Circle and continue your exploration of the natural world throughout the coming year.

  Leader Bios

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Christopher J. Raxworthy
Curator-in-Charge of Herpetology


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Jean Rosenfeld
Associate Director of The Science and Nature Program

 

 


Christopher J. Raxworthy, American Museum of Natural History curator-in-charge the Department of Herpetology, studies amphibian and reptile evolution and conservation, mainly in Madagascar, where he has worked since 1985. His research is focused on snake, gecko, and chameleon systematics, and the use of remotely sensed data to help predict distributions and model the ecological niches of species. Dr. Raxworthy led the Constantine S. Niarchos Expedition in 2013, a survey of the Seychelles island system and Mascarene Islands, that provided valuable data about the distribution of endemic and introduced reptiles. The information his team collected is helping researchers learn more about what happens in an ecosystem after extinction, and how reptile communities are rebuilt.

Jean Rosenfeld is the associate director of the Science and Nature Program and manager of The Science Alliance Program for middle school students.  Over the course of her 25-year career as an educator, Ms. Rosenfeld has inspired students of all ages with her enthusiasm for teaching and her love of nature. Her ability to spark children’s natural curiosity to investigate and explore the world around them has had a lasting impact on the many children that she has taught throughout her 18-year tenure at the Museum.

Seychelles map

Itinerary

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, MARCH 17–18, 2017 HOME > MAHÉ, SEYCHELLES Depart from home on independent flights to Mahé, Seychelles.

SUNDAY, MARCH 19 MAHÉ > SILHOUETTE Transfer from the airport to the pier and board your boat to Silhouette Island (45 minutes).  Ninety-three percent of the island was declared a national park in 2010 and it lies within a marine protected area that is one of the most important biological hotspots in the Indian Ocean. After settling into your room and a bit of relaxation, stroll through La Passe, the only settlement on the entire island. The small population of 135 residents now work to protect the island’s wildlife and habitats. After a delicious Creole lunch, the afternoon is at leisure. In the evening, gather for a welcome dinner at the resort.  Overnight at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa for three nights.

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MONDAY, MARCH 20 SILHOUETTE Enjoy a full-day excursion exploring Silhouette’s unspoiled forests and astonishing barrier reef. Learn about exotic orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, diminutive frogs, strange caecilians (amphibians), chameleons, and the Seychelles sheath-tailed bat, against a backdrop of dramatic views. Head to the coast for a picnic lunch at the idyllic Anse Mondon beach. After lunch, snorkel among colorful fishes and examine the striking variety of corals on Silhouette’s barrier reef. Return to the hotel by boat.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 21 SILHOUETTE After breakfast, set out for a hike to Jardin Marron and across the island to Grand Barbe, where you can see the iconic Coco de Mer trees and spot endemic animals such as the giant millipede, Seychelles Bulbul and different species of skinks. In the evening, grab your flashlight and search for wildlife in the forest at night, such as geckos, uncommon chameleons, and frogs. Explore the same trails surveyed by Chris Raxworthy and the team in 2013, where they found new populations of rare species.  

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Christopher Raxworthy


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22 SILHOUETTE > PRASLIN After breakfast, board a boat back to Mahé and then transfer to Praslin Island by ferry (one hour). Sparsely populated Praslin is the second-largest island in the Seychelles and its famously beautiful beaches are rivaled by its rich natural history. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the amenities of the hotel or relax on the beach. Overnight at Constance Lemuria Seychelles for four nights.

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Christopher Raxworthy


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Christopher Raxworthy


THURSDAY, MARCH 23 PRASLIN Travel to Vallee de Mai, where the world-renowned Coco de Mer, the world’s largest nut, grows high on ancient 130-foot palms. Listen for the haunting calls of unusual birds; and discover frogs, caecilians, giant geckos, lizards, stick insects, chameleons, and the Seychelles Black Parrot—one of the rarest birds on Earth. The Vallee de Mai is managed by the Seychelles Island Foundation, and was surveyed by Chris Raxworthy and team for rare chameleons. End this magical day with an optional visit to the breathtaking beach of Anse Lazio, with its powder-soft sand and clear azure water.

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Gerwin Strum


FRIDAY, MARCH 24 PRASLIN > ARIDE > PRASLIN Depart by boat for a full-day excursion to Aride Island. This enchanting uninhabited island is a protected reserve, home to the most important seabird population in the Indian Ocean with more breeding species than any other island in the Seychelles. The resident research staff introduces you to conservation strategies, the various bird colonies, and the local flora. Enjoy a buffet lunch and a swim before returning to Praslin in the afternoon. 

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SATURDAY, MARCH 25 PRASLIN > COUSIN > PRASLIN This morning, depart by boat (20 minutes) for Cousin Island, a nature reserve that was once a coconut plantation. Through intensive restoration efforts, the island has regenerated into a diverse ecosystem that is now home to various land and seabirds, hawksbill turtles, and a few Aldabra giant tortoises. Reserve staff members explain the unique biodiversity of the island and take you on a nature walk to discover an abundance of wildlife. Cruise back to Praslin for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. 

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SUNDAY, MARCH 26 PRASLIN > MAHÉ Today, board a boat for the hour-long journey back to Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles. In the afternoon you may choose a hike through the Morne Seychellois National Park to view fruit bats and many other types of wildlife; or take a thrilling zip-line ride through the forest canopy; or rock-climb on a 60-foot natural granite rock face. Overnight at the Constance Ephelia for three nights.

FRIDAY, MARCH 27 MAHÉ After breakfast, travel to the west coast of Mahé. On the way, stop at La Misere Exotics Garden. Watch for birds as you wander along winding paths of this meticulously landscaped and lush tropical garden that features nearly 300 plant varieties. Enjoy lunch in the capital city, Victoria, before visiting the Seychelles Natural History Museum, with its biological and anthropological displays. Stop at the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens, a great place to see fruit bats and other creatures, before returning to the hotel.

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SATURDAY, MARCH 28 MAHÉ Enjoy a private excursion by boat to Ste. Anne Marine Park located just 30 minutes away. Snorkel in the crystal clear water of the park’s reef, home to green and hawksbill turtles, bottlenose dolphins, octopuses, and an abundant array of colorful tropical fish and coral species. Cruise to Cerf Island for a barbecue lunch and leisure time on the beach. End the day and your Seychelles adventure with a festive farewell dinner at the hotel.

SUNDAY, MARCH 29 MAHÉ > HOME The morning and lunch is on your own to prepare for the journey home. Depart for the airport in the early afternoon. 

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Christopher Raxworthy


What to Expect

This is a relatively active program and you should be in good physical condition to participate. Hiking through forests necessitate walking unassisted without handrails, sometimes over steep, slippery, and uneven terrain. Inter-island transfers will be by boat and although seas are generally calm at this time of year, there is a possibility of rough seas.  Day excursions may involve smaller boats and disembarking in shallow water. If you are unable to participate in any of the activities, we are happy to arrange an alternative at an additional cost. Please note that the itinerary is subject to modification, particularly due to tide and weather.

The Seychelles are pleasant year-round. March is warm, with northwest trade winds adding a steady breeze. The seas are generally calm and weather is consistently warm and humid. Average daily temperatures hover around 82 degrees Fahrenheit; be prepared for some cloudy days and possible rain.  

Rates

Double Occupancy $9,650 per person
Single Supplement $3,125

Reduction for travelers age 11 and younger sharing with one or more adults $2,500

Reduction for travelers age 12 to 17 sharing with an adult $1,500

Rates are based on a minimum of 15 participants and a maximum of 25 participants.

Participation is a benefit of Patrons Circle membership at or above the Collector level per traveler household.

Click here or call 212-769-5153 for more details about the Patrons Circle membership.

DOWNLOAD ITINERARY

Included:

+ Hotel accommodations for 10 nights

+ 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 9 dinners

+ Group arrival and departure transfers

+ Transportation via ferry and vehicle to and from the islands of Silhouette, Praslin, and Mahé

+ Full program of briefings, lectures, and presentations

+ Privately guided touring conducted by local, English-speaking guides

+ Admission, government, and conservation fees

+ Baggage handling and gratuities to porters, waitstaff, guides, and drivers

+ Bottled water at meals and on vehicles

+ Beer and soft drinks at lunches and dinners

+ Services of a professional tour manager

+ Practical and cultural information, suggested-reading guide, name badge, passport wallet, and luggage tags

 Not Included:

+ U.S. domestic and international airfare

+ Passport and visa fees

+ Medical expenses and immunizations

+ Travel insurance

+ Optional excursions or deviations from scheduled tour

+ Meals not specified as included; dishes and beverages not part of the included meals

+ Laundry, dry cleaning, and room service

+ Telephone, fax, internet, and e-mail charges

+ Items of a personal nature, including tips to staff for personal services beyond the program scope

 Reservations

To guarantee your place on this unique Museum journey, please contact us today.
Elizabeth DeGaetano
Associate Director of Expeditions
800-462-8687
expeditions@amnh.org

Terms and Conditions

 RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT American Museum of Natural History Expeditions (AMNHE) has appointed Absolute Travel (AT), a professional tour operator, to manage and operate this tour as an independent contractor. Throughout these Terms and Conditions, references to “we” or “us” refer to AMNHE and AT.

AMNHE provides the educational enrichment and the study leader/s for the tour. AT acts only as an agent for any transportation carrier, hotel, ground operator, or other suppliers of services connected with this tour (referred to herein as “providers”), who in turn are solely responsible and liable for providing their respective services. The passenger tickets in use by the carriers shall constitute the sole contract between the carriers and the passenger—the carriers are not responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time participants are not aboard their conveyances.

We shall not be held liable for (A) any damage to, or loss of, property or injury to, or death of, persons occasioned directly or indirectly by an act or omission of any provider, including but not limited to any defect in any aircraft, watercraft, or vehicle operated or provided by such other provider, and (B) any loss or damage due to delay, cancellation, or disruption in any manner caused by the laws, regulations, acts or failures to act, demands, orders, or interpositions of any government or any subdivision or agent, thereof, or by acts of God, strikes, fire, flood, war, rebellion, terrorism, insurrection, sickness, quarantine, epidemics, theft, or any other cause(s) beyond our control. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the participant.

By registering for an AMNH Expedition, “you“ (the “participant” or “passenger”) acknowledge and agree to the Responsibility Statement and the Terms and Conditions herein. You waive and release any claim against us for any such loss, damage, injury, or death, and each participant is required to sign a confirmation of such waiver and release as a condition to participating in the tour. If the program that you enroll in has a U.S. Department of State travel warning in effect for a destination on the program, you will receive a copy of the travel warning upon confirmation along with an additional Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk & Indemnity Agreement. You can rest assured that the safety of our travelers is of the utmost importance to us and we continually monitor the political and security situation within the destinations on each itinerary.

ELIGIBILITY AND HEALTH REQUIREMENTS Anyone under 18 at the commencement of the trip must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire program. There is no upper age limit; however, all participants must be in good physical and mental health.

By paying the deposit for passage, the passenger certifies that he/she does not have any physical or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for him/her or other passengers. Any physical condition requiring special attention, diet, or treatment must be reported in writing on the passenger information form sent to you upon confirmation onto the expedition. All reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate special diets and treatment; however, we cannot guarantee special arrangements. We reserve the right to decline to accept any person as a member of an expedition or to require any traveler to withdraw from an expedition at his or her own expense at any time when such action is determined by the tour staff to be in the best interest of the health, safety, and general welfare of the expedition group or individual expedition members.

BASIS OF RATES All prices are per person based on two sharing a room, and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars. Per person rates for single, triple, or quad occupancy may be available if not already noted. Please inquire. The rates are based on current airfares, tariffs, fuel costs, and currency values which are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. The prices are based on the minimum number of participants specified in the pricing joining the expedition. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour price. If it is necessary to levy a surcharge, we reserve the right to do so with notification prior to trip departure.

SINGLE TRAVELERS A limited number of single rooms are available at extra cost on a first-come, first-served basis, but availability cannot be guaranteed. We make every effort to match single travelers who request a roommate. Neither a single room nor a share can be guaranteed. Participants will be notified if we are unsuccessful in finding a suitable roommate. In this case, the single supplement will be charged.

DEPOSITS AND PAYMENTS A deposit of $1,000 per person is required to confirm a reservation and is payable by check or credit card. Final payment is due 120 days prior to departure and must be by check or wire transfer only; credit cards are not accepted for final payment. By submitting your deposit you are bound by the terms and conditions detailed in this brochure. Full payment is required for reservations made after the final payment date.

CANCELLATIONS Cancellations that occur 120 days or more prior to departure are subject to an administrative fee of $600 per person. Cancellations that occur 119 or fewer days prior to departure are subject to full forfeiture of the trip price. AMNHE reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the designated final payment due date.

Leaving a trip in progress, for any reason whatsoever, will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portions of a trip. AMNHE reserves the right to cancel any trip because of inadequate enrollment that makes the trip economically unfeasible to operate, or because of good-faith concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the participants. If AMNHE or AT cancels an expedition prior to departure, you will receive a full refund of recoverable funds paid to AT. If we cancel the trip in progress, you will receive a prorated refund of recoverable costs based on the number of days not completed on the expedition.

TRAVEL INSURANCE For your protection, trip cancellation and travel insurance is strongly recommended. Detailed information on the cancellation and travel insurance available will be provided with your reservation confirmation and is available online at amnh.org/expeditions. This insurance is at an additional cost and is available up until you make final payment for the expedition.

AIR TICKETS PURCHASED INDEPENDENT OF THE TOUR We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since departure times and flights can change. Tours also can be cancelled due to low enrollments. We do not accept liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

ITINERARY CHANGES The itinerary and study leader staff presented is subject to modification and change. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but alterations may still occur without allowance of refund.

SMOKING POLICY For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals.