I had spent the past 10 days in Africa climbing to the highest points in Eswatini (Formally Swaziland), Botswana and Mauritius. My early Air Mauritius flight from Mauritius to the Seychelles went quickly with a nice breakfast included on the way and I landed around 11:00. I filled in the relevant paperwork and headed to passport control. I was quizzed by the passport control woman as to what I was doing here similar to when I landed in Mauritius. More disbelief on her face as I said to climb the highest mountain. After flicking my passport I was allowed to continue. I headed through to the arrivals hall and got changed as I was wearing the clothes I planned to travel home in without getting them sweaty in the humidity. I found an ATM but it wasn’t working, another nearby didn’t accept Visa cards and a Barclays one wanted 100 rupees.. ~£6 just to withdraw money. I headed to a bureau de change, the cashier was serving two women but then just pulled the blind down as I stepped towards the window after queuing, How rude!
I headed to another one I had seen around the corner but it was also closed. I met a woman in the same situation, We went to the tourist information desk and they said they are on their lunch break for 45mins to 1hr30 it just depends. I really needed to have money for the bus as soon as possible, as my hotel “Chez Lorna” had no front desk and I said I would be there between 13:00 and 14:00. Being left with little choice I decided to use the Barclays ATM and accept the charge. Handily the bus stop was directly over the road, I was sweating profusely just sitting at the bus stop, good call to change into comfy clothes. The bus came gave and I just gave the driver a 25 rupes note. It was too much so I had to wait for a handful of change as the ticket only cost 7 rupees ~£0.40. After 20 minutes I arrived at the main bus station in Victoria, There were plenty of buses but I decided to walk the 2.5km to the hotel as it was only 12.45 and I would easily get there within in my predicted time slot.
The roads were winding but quite flat, upon reached the turning for my road to the left a man approached and followed asking for money saying how poor he was, I said nope and after a while, he left me to carry on uphill to my guest house, It was a long steep winding street but then I saw it high in the hills. I pressed the button on the gate and a man answered, I went upstairs the and owner greeted me with just a towel around his waist, It turns out that’s all I ever saw him in haha! I thought I had caught him in the shower. My room was fine with a separate communal balcony that a few rooms were able to use, Unfortunately, the WiFi was poor from my room so I needed to sit on the balcony to use it. The weather was looking quite good for the following day so I decided that’s when I would head to the highest point in the Seychelles and the last high point of this trip.
After settling in I was going to head back to Victoria but after just a few minutes I was soaking went of sweat so headed to a small shop at bottom of the steep road, brought lots of nibbles for my climb. I was pleased to see that they sold cup noodles which would be perfect as I knew that I had a kettle in my room. From the shop, I headed back uphill and was saturated. I put the air con on the fastest fan setting and the temp on 16c to quickly cool down. From that short walk, It was certainly going to be a warm and sweaty day tomorrow. I spent the remainder of the evening relaxing.
After a good sleep and already having downloaded the bus timetables for the whole island I knew I needed to catch the bus to San Souci as the trailhead was just after that village. I sorted all of my gear out leaving any none essentials in my room. I took 3 litres fluid, walked the 2.5km to Victoria and waited for the bus to San Souci, I was dripping with sweat and I hadn’t even got to the start yet. The bus came and was told 7 rupees again, I assume it must be a fixed maximum fare lol! I said to the driver Mourne Seychellious trailhead but resorted to just saying San Souci after, as he didn’t know what I was on about. The bus set off from the station at sea level winding up and around several twists and turns before reaching San Souci.
My trail started at ~300m above sea level, I pressed the button and the driver just looked at me. I nodded, stood up and he stopped the bus and said where are you trying to go? I said to climb the highest mountain. Here he said? But there’s nothing here! I said yes the trail to Mourne Seychellois starts here. There is a tourist hill and viewpoint further down the road where I assume he thought I was heading as the highest mountain isn’t climbed often. He shook his head but I nodded and said thank you as he opened the doors. I stepped off the bus but couldn’t see any signs of a trail at all. I walked back down the road about 50m as shown on my phone’s map and all I could just see was a small disturbance in the trees, that must be the start I thought. I took a few photos and a video before setting off. I still wasn’t 100% convinced but it was heading in the right direction and from the right place from the Gilbertson’s GPX track I had downloaded.
It went up fairly steep winding through bushes and trees, It must have been used fairly recently as these paths overgrow in a matter of weeks if left alone. I continued up, weaving along a faint trail that I would often lose and then refind. The terrain was a tropical hill woodland with many trees with exposed roots but also due to the humidity many old decomposing trees that if you stand on simply disintegrate. They often cover large spaces and voids between boulders so due care must certainly be taken. I lost the trail several times as my phones GPX was not being very accurate at all for some reason showing my position erroneously, +-50m off for most of the day. I headed uphill forging my own route where I needed and seeing many desire trails in all directions mostly created by wild animals.
Despite the summit only being a few kilometres away by line of sight, the terrain paired with my GPS not working meant it was taking me a lot longer to get up the hill than I had anticipated. There were quite a few steeper sections that had no visible route but I continued as the headed uphill using long vines to pull me up when needed. I was pleased to make it to the 500m mark, it was quite pleasant for a while contouring across the forest where I climbed up to 600m pretty easily. From here it was anything but easy, the trail just stopped abruptly so many times, each time looking like it was an impasse. I went back and forth trying to figure out if I had missed this faint trail before pushing on in the vague direction I needed to head. It became a very time-consuming exercise indeed. Just when I felt I was getting somewhere there were no viable options just very dense vegetation or cliff leading steeply down into a gorge.
Time was ticking on and my GPS wasn’t much of a help at all jumping from being 50m one side of the GPX track to 50m the other and placing me likewise higher or lower down than I was. Not good at all. It continued like this until I found a more defined trail that had a red spot on. From the red spot, it was a more defined trail that continued around through the forest before it became a very steep section. I looked and thought I’m not sure this is the way as it just looks like a watercourse. I had no urge at all to retrace my steps as this had been the best trail since the start. I pulled myself up, thick sludge and moss everywhere but quite usefully the steep watercourse had created small pools every so often which certainly acted as a good place to step and to push off as I grabbed more tree roots to pull myself up.
At the top, I was pleased that section was out of the way as a slip there and it would have been a good 25m drop. It turned out that would be the smallest and easiest of these steep watercourse/waterfalls I would have to ascend on this route. With each one becoming more elaborate and steep. At times having to spin fully around while performing a bear hug just to circumvent trees that were blocking the way up. The only positive I could gauge was that at least I’m ascending a lot quicker now despite being covered in shit. Finally, I made it up the last gully and it brought me to a less steep section where I evaluated my progress. My GPS showed me as close* to what has been referred to as a trash tree. A tree with a few plastic bottles and litter around in a small clearing at the top of the difficult section where many desire routes converge.
From here I continued up and stumbled across the tree that was marked on the GPX route. My GPS was about 20m out. Not good. The GPX route from here had many deviations where I could see route finding had been and would certainly become very problematic indeed especially as my GPS was not working well so even judging my direction of travel was going to be troublesome. I continued heading uphill but with no sign of a trail, I bushwhacked for quite a while but still with no joy. There were steep drops everywhere I turned. I pulled myself up on roots, some of them just crushing away in my hands so everyone needed to be tested first which was very time and energy-consuming indeed.
I pushed on further uphill and saw the sky as I came out above the treeline. There was higher ground to my left and right but my GPS was still jumping around so I headed left in my general direction of travel but after a while, I could see it was more likely I needed to actually head to the right. I headed back on myself a bit and then headed to the right in a straight line of sight through the taller bamboo trees and finally got to the higher ground. It felt like the high point was really close. The GPX map showed I was near but I was thinking based on its performance today I could actually be anywhere within a hundred meters. I explored the area for orange marking tape that I had seen online and marked the actual highest point. I found one but the numbers didn’t match a photo I had saved of a previous photo from the summit so I continued. I found several metal tags then saw another orange one near a triangular section of bamboo. I walked over and the numbers matched. I took photos and videos and had a wander around as it was difficult to see where the highest land was. The orange tag is certainly on and around the highest ground that I could see. Fantastic, mission complete for this one and this trip my 78th country high point climbed. I just need to get back down now.
As I had wandered around in circles looking for the actual highest point and as its bushwhacking, with no actual route I knew it was going to be difficult to retrace my steps. I started descending but my GPS showed me heading too far to the right, It had been erroneous all day but it certainly kept updating showing me heading away from where I needed to be. After 15 minutes of faffing and just walking in straight lines through dense vegetation to try and identify my actual position, I decided it best to head back uphill towards the highest point and try again now knowing a rough actual direction to descend. It was a very time-consuming process but little by little I headed down through the very dense vegetation with no signs of the way I had ascended. The terrain suddenly became very steep as I must have descended more than I needed too.
It was becoming quite frustrating as I was second-guessing my actual position, I had spent too long bushwhacking to head back in that direction, So I clambered uphill the way I was heading but the trees and branches were heavily rotten and disintegrated underfoot. My pace now slowed even more as I would reach to pull myself up on a large tree branch for it to just break off dropping several feet to the ground smashing through other rotten branches below. After quite a few tentative moments where my foot would slip between concealed boulders while hanging onto creaking branches, I could finally see the ground become less steep again. I noticed a disturbance in the vegetation that I thought looked to be a faint trail, I stopped and pondered for a while whether to follow it down or up. I chose to follow it up for a bit to see if it was in fact just an animal trail but thankfully after just a few minutes I emerged right alongside the “trash tree”.
I had indeed descended too far from the summit and the faint trail I had found was from my ascent a few hours earlier. This was good news as I knew I would be able to retrace my steps down that way and that was the steepest section of the route, rather than going off-piste. It was steep but a little easier than on the ascent as I could just hang on to the tree roots and lower myself down. I was soaked through and covered in dirt but kept on descending down these narrow but steep watercourses. I reached a small clearing that offered a view towards the sea but didn’t stop as time was now against me having spent several hours getting from the summit just to here. The trail came and went several times until just vanishing.
It could easily have been just a few meters away but in the dense vegetation, it’s very difficult to notice. My GPS showed the trail contouring to the left so I headed in that direction and crossed the trail several times but could not see it at all as It constantly bounced my location around by 50m. By now I’d had enough of faffing and knew if I carried on like this I would still be clambering around high up in these forests long after nightfall and that was now becoming a real possibility. I decided there and then to forge on and just head downhill in a straight line avoiding as many of the obstacles as possible, knowing sooner or later if I kept descending I would eventually hit somewhere on the San Souci road that cuts across the island.
There were quite a few sketchy moments where I found myself on the top of cliffs and very steep sections where I just went for and slid down grabbing trees, branches and vegetation as I controlled my slide. I was losing altitude quick and the only thing that slowed my pace from there were a few large boulder fields. I hadn’t looked at my GPS and just continued powering down, I stopped for a second as I heard something over the back a bit further down. I just made out a truck driving past in the distance. I knew it was the road and I wasn’t that far away, I carried on down but soon surprisingly noticed when about 100 metres away that it was exactly the spot I had started my climb from. I had been crabbing to my left as I was descending as that was the way I needed to head on the road but to rejoin right at the bottom was typical but I was just relieved I had got down before dark. I had little choice but to get changed into dry and clean clothes in a small dugout beside the raised main road. A bus went past as I was just getting cleaned up and upon looking at my timetable a few minutes later it was the last one of the day, Typical.
After bagging up all of my filthy clothes I had now little choice but to walk back to my hotel from the trailhead. I didn’t mind though, The start and finish point that most people have don’t always apply to me on my climbs haha! It was by now starting to get dark, I had 11 Kilometres to walk but it was mostly downhill and I hoped I would be able to get a few much-needed drinks from shops marked on my map. After about 45 minutes of walking, I found a shop and as I exited a bus was coming down the street. I flagged it down and said Victoria, He nodded and I gave him 10 and said just keep the change. I was the only one on there and the breeze from my window felt fantastic.
We soon reached the bus station and I decided to walk the 2.5 km from there back to my hotel via the local shop. I had thought of just getting in the shower with my boots on when I saw the state of them but instead, after cleaning myself up, I had some noodles and then spent 2 hours thoroughly deep cleaning my boots and bag with washing powder I got from the shop. I hung them up in the shower cubicle and hiped they would be dry for the following day. It was a contingency day but I wanted to head to a few beaches and relax. It was a relaxing evening with many more noodles and snacks then a great sleep.
I woke up the following day happily knowing it was mission complete and I could relax. I knew the bus I needed to take me to Grand Anse beach, I was up early so sat on the balcony as the sun continued drying off my still slightly damp boots before walking to the main bus station in Victoria. Sat down and was profusely sweating along with everyone else and just smiled. I had a good few hours walking up and down the beach, there were great views of the high point from the far side. A couple was getting married on the beach with several large marquees too. I watched the locals for a while along with some guys who were doing a reroof on a property with metal sheeting an angle grinder and tin snips. I then headed back to the hotel for my last evening before the long journey home. All in all, a very eventful, challenging but rewarding African adventure climbing another 4 country high points.