Wild Isle: The Seychelles’ Frégate Island

The island encourages visitors to share their food with animals.
Frégate Island offers visitors stunning views and enchanting wildlife.

Some years ago I had an annual ticket to the zoo, and one of the first animals I encountered on every visit was a giant tortoise. He was enclosed in a little pen, usually munching away on some lettuce leaves.

When visiting a zoo, the question about the ethics of caging wild animals inevitably comes up yet, somehow, it never seemed quite as cruel to lock up a tortoise as it would be a tiger or a similarly vivacious and energetic animal. After all, the tortoise was slow, old and had its lettuce leaves, what more could it possibly want?

While on vacation, as I was veering around the corner on my electric golf cart on the way to the beach, I had to make a very ungainly stop in order not to run over one of those ancient animals.

Comparing the strength of the tortoise’s shell and its size (they can weigh up to 600 pounds) with the fragility of my little cart, I could easily work out who would have come off worse, yet that would simply not do on an island were they roam free and are protected.

A herd of more than 400 wild Aldabra giant tortoises inhabit Frégate Island — the most remote of the Seychelles Islands, located in the Indian Ocean. Along with countless rare turtles, protected birds, geckos, lizards and other animals, the sheer number of multiple-leg species heavily outweighs human visitors to the island.

At its most crowded, there are some 160 people on the 1.15-square-mile (3 km 2) island, which includes 120 staff to a maximum of 40 guests.The guests, often celebrities or royalty, visit in search of privacy and luxury, and to experience first-hand what it is like to play second fiddle to an animal, any animal.

Frégate Island Private resort is one of those places where nature is nurtured and given the priority it deserves. A privately owned island, one of 115 that make up the Seychelles, and situated some 1,000 miles off the nearest mainland, Frégate has been named after the elegant frigate bird which, with its 12-foot wingspan, can often be seen gliding across the speck in the vast Indian Ocean that is Frégate.

Previously frequented by pirates, and later by adventurers who tried to find and retrieve the aforesaid pirates’ treasure, such as Ian Fleming of James Bond fame, Frégate Island is now a treasure in its own right.

Sixteen secluded, traditional-style villas overlook the sea. Each 2,000-square-foot dwelling features luxurious facilities, a private sunken whirlpool and a vast, teak-decked sun terrace. The villas, the main house, staff accommodation and other facilities have been built to blend in with the natural terrain; everything was planned so that nature is always given priority.

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