Over 100 million years ago, what is now India broke away from the Gondwanaland supercontinent, beginning its long, slow drift across the Indian Ocean. In its wake, the landmass left behind small granite fragments—a cluster of more than a hundred islands scattered across one of the most remote spots on the planet, a thousand miles from the nearest mainland. The Seychelles, as they’re now called, were left to evolve in isolation until the 18th century. What the first French settlers found here was a positively primitive scene: forests of prehistoric trees inhabited by lumbering tortoises and exotic birds, and powder-white sand fringed by turquoise waters. It was a virtual Eden.
Today, the private Seychellois isle of Fregate still captures the spirit of that primordial paradise. This is the home of the stunning Fregate Island Private lodge—and otherwise, it’s uninhabited. Fregate’s owners have worked diligently to restore the island’s native habitats following the country’s plantation era. Thanks to their efforts, unique and endangered wildlife are now flourishing amid these restored indigenous forests and picturesque beaches. The lodge’s thatched villas, spacious and luxurious as they are, seem hidden away on the island’s shores—some nestled in the trees, others tucked in among granite cliffs. Inland, a network of nature paths beckons jungle explorers, and just beyond the shoreline, sapphire seas seduce kayakers, snorkelers, and swimmers.
Fregate is part tropical paradise, part wild isle—a place where brochure-worthy beaches are inhabited by creatures seemingly plucked from the Galápagos. Like those famous Ecuadorian isles, the wildlife here illustrates the power and wonder of what evolution can do in isolation. The beaches are some of the only in the world where sea turtles nest during daylight hours; thousands of rare and endemic tropical birds flit through the trees; and curiously, the Seychelles are the only other place on the planet outside of Darwin’s archipelago where giant tortoises roam free.
This unique living laboratory is actively being preserved—and studied—by Fregate, and guests are invited to take part in these important research and conservation initiatives. Divers can help foster the health of surrounding marine environments by cultivating coral during their underwater expeditions. During the nesting season, from October to January, guests can join ecologists on the beaches to ensure that hawksbill and green sea turtle eggs hatch successfully. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s the option of sponsoring a baby tortoise or planting an endemic tree sapling. Even lazy days on Fregate’s beautiful beaches help with island conservation—a portion of all lodge proceeds are used to support ecosystem regeneration.
When you reserve your space through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, you’re invited to join Fregate’s chef de cuisine in the island’s extensive organic gardens to select produce for a customized gourmet meal. Then head to the plantation house kitchen for a private cooking lesson, where you’ll assist in the preparation of your ingredients and learn tips from a culinary master.
Untouched by humans throughout much of history, the Seychelles were once home to some of the world’s most pristine habitats. Yet during the plantation era, which ended in the 20th century, intensive farming of crops—including sugarcane, coconuts, vanilla, and cinnamon—left islands like Fregate stripped of their native woodland. The lodge owners and staff have been working for decades to restore the island's ecosystems, replanting indigenous flora, which in turn sustain the resident fauna. These efforts have aided in conserving several rare and endemic species, including the Seychelles magpie robin and the Seychelles warbler, which have been brought back from the brink of extinction.
Today, a spectacular array of wildlife thrives in the island’s restored environments. With the establishment of a nursery for Aldabra giant tortoises, Fregate’s resident ecologists and conservationists have successfully increased their population from 150 to more than 2,200 over the course of 25 years. On the beaches, staff members work to safeguard the nests for hundreds of endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles. Through initiatives like the removal of invasive species and the eradication of pesticides, the island is also able to provide a sanctuary for more than a hundred rare tropical bird species.
Condé Nast, Readers’ Travel Awards: The Top 100, 2015
World Travel Awards, Indian Ocean’s Leading Private Island Resort, 2015
Condé Nast Gold List, Best Holiday Hotels in the Middle East, Africa, and the Indian Ocean, 2014 and 2015
Condé Nast Gold List, Best Beach Hotels, 2014
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