St Helena is the ultimate destination for a bucket-list adventure. This 122km volcanic sub-tropical island boasts unparalleled, undulating landscapes, an abundance of wildlife and vegetation, and a fascinating history.
Previously tourists could only get to St Helena island by travelling for five days aboard a mail ship. The island is now easily accessible with Airlink’s scheduled flights from Johannesburg on Saturdays and additional flights from Cape Town between December 2019 and February 2020.
This Atlantic Ocean jewel offers hiking, birding, sport fishing, and diving for the experiential traveller during peak season.
How about taking time out to spot spectacular sea life? Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to glimpse humpback whales, bottlenose and rough-toothed dolphins, or even hawksbill and green turtles, as well as devil rays. Alternatively, in off-peak season, indulge in a guided photography tour, a writer’s breakaway, or a yoga retreat.
A full island tour is a great way to discover stark geology, nature, architecture and historical attractions. Hiking is year-round; there are 22 Post Box walks (yes, you do actually walk between that number of post boxes) and the Festival of Running in November.
A PRESENT FROM THE PAST
As you explore the island, be sure to make time to meet Jonathan, the world’s oldest tortoise, believed to have hatched in 1832 — just a decade after Napoleon Bonaparte died on St Helena after being exiled to the island by the British. You can also visit Longwood House, where Bonaparte and a small group of attendants spent the final days of his lengthy exile, or visit the military genius’ tomb in the Sane Valley.
Bonaparte was not the only famous prisoner to have been sent to the island by the British government. Our own Zulu king Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo was exiled here in 1890 for leading his army in rebellion against British rule in KwaZulu-Natal.
In addition, more than 6,000 Boer soldiers were exiled to St Helena after the Second Boer War. Pay a visit to the prisoner-of-war camp at Deadwood Plain, the Boer cemetery at Knollcombes, Ladder Hill Fort, and High Knoll Fort to learn more about the incredible events that have played out on the island.
Oh, and bet you didn’t know:
- The St Helena Gin Distillery is the remotest distillery in the world, and
- St Helena coffee is one of the world’s rarest and most expensive coffees.
• This article was paid for by Airlink.