A pioneering safari to the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena, swimming with whale sharks and other marine wildlife and discovering the unique volcanic landscapes and history of the island.
The small British Overseas Territory of St Helena is one of the most remote islands in the world, which has given it a rich and unique ecosystem characterised by its endemic flora and fauna. This safari provides you with the opportunity to become one of the first travellers to arrive by air to discover St Helena’s breathtaking landscapes, from verdant green hillsides to rugged volcanic cliffs, and discover the cultural and natural highlights of the island. In the warmer months of January and February, whale sharks can be seen gliding through the clear ocean waters, allowing you to swim alongside them as you explore the rocky coral reefs and shipwrecks off the coast.
On arrival into Johannesburg Airport, pass through immigration and luggage retrieval and make your way to the Gautrain rapid railway link. Take the Gautrain to the upmarket suburb of Sandton and then disembark. Your hotel base for the night lies just 50 metres away. Depending on your time of arrival, you may like to arrange a guided tour of this vibrant city; contact us to make arrangements.
Depart with an NWS representative for the Gautrain journey back to Johannesburg Airport, where you will check in for your 4h 15m flight. On arrival in St Helene you will be met by a local representative and transferred to your accommodation. This afternoon will be spent at leisure, giving you the opportunity to explore the capital of Jamestown independently or simply relax at your hotel, Mantis St Helena. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the Mantis.
After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will embark on a boat cruise through the clear waters of St Helena. Here you will have your first opportunity to snorkel with the incredible whale sharks, who appear in remarkable numbers off the coast of St Helena in the warmer months of January and February. Despite their enormous size, whale sharks are gentle giants, and you will be able to swim alongside them as you observe them gliding slowly through the waters. Several species of dolphins and seabirds may also be viewed from the boat. Return to the shore in time for lunch at Rosie’s Bar & Restaurant, followed by a scenic drive to Blue Hill on the western side of the island, which offers amazing landscape and coastal views. Evening at leisure, dinner own arrangements.
Set off after breakfast for a boat tour focusing on St Helena’s marine wildlife and coastal fortifications. Dolphin sightings are highly likely – a pod of 500-600 pantropical dolphins is known to frequent the area – but you may also spot other local marine life like seabirds and possibly a whale shark. Look out for St Helena’s coastal fortifications, including signal stations and lookout posts, which have played a significant role in the island’s protection over the years. Lemon Valley, the designated medical area for St Helena’s slaves and the first slave burial site on the island, will also be on the tour. All viewings will be from the boat – no landings are permitted. Disembark for a light lunch at the Mule Yard on the waterfront. In the afternoon ,set off for your second whale shark snorkel trip. Depending on the movement of these star-dappled marine creatures, you may encounter them shortly after leaving harbour, or have to travel a little further out. Evening at leisure, dinner own arrangements.
Depart after an early breakfast for a morning walk to the central peaks. At 2,684 ft above sea level, the summit of Diana’s Peak is the highest point on the island, providing spectacular views over the surrounding landscapes. En route you will also observe St Helena’s endemic flora and fauna, and learn about the conservation efforts surrounding them. Continue on to Plantation House for a tour of the Governor’s Residence, where you will be able to meet Jonathan the tortoise, the oldest terrestrial animal in the world at 186 years! Enjoy a light lunch at Rosemary Plain before taking a coffee plantation tour in the afternoon. The Green-Tipped Bourbon Arabica varietal coffee was introduced to St Helena in 1733 by the island’s then owner, the East India Company; it is now rated one of the best-tasting coffees worldwide. Return to Jamestown for an evening at leisure and dinner by your own arrangements.
This morning, head out on a guided 4x4 excursion to explore the unique landscapes of St Helena with your specialist guide. You’ll explore the fascinating volcanic formations dotted across the island as well as its rolling green hills. Stop en route to enjoy a picnic lunch, taking in the scenery and the wonderful birdlife that St Helena is renowned for, including many endemic species. The remainder of your afternoon and evening will be spent at leisure. You may like to tackle Jacob’s Ladder, a vertical climb of 600 ft made up of 699 steps that will take you to a summit overlooking Jamestown. Jacob’s Ladder is a former tramway that was built in 1829 to haul manure up from the town to clifftop farms, as well as send goods back down. Moderate fitness will have you at the summit within 30 minutes, and while doing anything less than 15 minutes is impressive, the current record for ascending is just 5 minutes and 38 seconds! Dinner at leisure, own arrangements.
Today you will set out on your third and final excursion to swim with whale sharks. Look out for other marine wildlife that can be found among the rocky coral reefs, including devil rays and both green and hawksbill turtles. You may choose to assist with the whale sharks’ identification process, spotting the unique features and confirming the sex and size of these magnificent marine megafauna. Enjoy lunch at Bertrand’s Cottage before spending the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Your Napoleonic tour will begin by visiting Briar’s Pavilion, the first place in which Napoleon stayed during his exile on St Helena. Take a tour of the local distillery and then head to Longwood House, the manor in which Napoleon died and the location of his original tomb. Take lunch in the Millennium Forest overlooking the airport and Turks Cap, then return back to Jamestown via Rupert’s Valley. Enjoy a farewell group dinner this evening at the Mantis.
Today you will bid farewell to St Helena and be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Johannesburg. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel for the final night of your trip.
Today you will bid farewell to your fellow travel companions as you make your own way back to the airport for your journey home. Alternatively, if you would like NWS to make further arrangements for your onward travels, do speak to your destination specialist.
St Helena is one of the most remote places on earth. 1,200 miles from the nearest major landmass, the island was only accessible to visitors by a Royal Mail ship until October 2017, when the first commercial airport was opened. This isolation has fostered a vibrant local culture and history that is best explored from your base at this charming boutique hotel. Situated at the heart of the island’s capital, Jamestown, Mantis St Helena offers its guests a blend of the modern and the traditional that is sure to delight travellers seeking to experience this unique destination for the first time.