It is not only the Galapagos which has giant tortoise! You can find them in the Seychelles, too. These extraordinary reptiles grow up to four feet long, weigh as much as 770 lbs, and some of them are more than 100 years old. They’ve survived here because their populations were isolated, protecting them against predators. Spotting them is a rare treat, as they are found in so few other places.
La Digue is one of the larger islands in the Seychelles, though that’s relative: fewer than 3,000 people live here. That makes all the more room for the giant tortoise, which were reintroduced from Aldabra after La Digue’s own subspecies became extinct. Stay on La Digue in the attractive beach chalets of L’Union Estate, which covers one third of the island. The estate was originally a coconut plantation, but now it is a protected area where you can easily spot both giant tortoise and the sea turtle which come up onto the beaches to nest.
To see the giant tortoise in their original habitat, however, it is better to go to Aldabra, the second largest coral atoll in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. David Attenborough calls Aldabra “One of the wonders of the world," and it truly is remarkable as so many of the species here -- both animals and plants -- have evolved in isolation. It is estimated that there are a whopping 100,000 giant tortoise on Aldabra. They are herbivores and in addition to plants they also eat the algae in freshwater pools. Staying at Cerf Island Resort, you can see the tortoise as you stroll through the coconut groves.
If you want to combine giant tortoise with sumptuous luxury then Four Seasons Desroches Island is perfect. It is more easily accessible than Aldabra, and of course the accommodation is world class. The island still feels quite wild - the Four Seasons is the only hotel - and it is the location of the Island Conservation Society’s Tortoise Sanctuary. Guests are encouraged to visit the tortoise here to learn about their characteristics and habits, as well as the conservation challenges they face. There are currently 150 giant tortoise on Desroches - some of which are roaming wild - and it is hoped that the population will grow as the breeding programme takes effect.