Always in search of unknown places, no matter how remote and how challenging to reach they might be, we travel on the road of an exciting tailor-made route, far away from the enclosed Mediterranean Sea to the charming atolls and islands of the Indian Ocean. I had already heard stories about its crystal turquoise waters and the soft coral sandy shores, so I decided to join on the unique journeys of Susan in Africa.
Initially we travel towards one of the main islands in the Indian Ocean, commonly known for its spices and perfumes, and we land close by to what looked like an abandoned and desolate town, with shabby streets, crumbling buildings, mysterious alleyways and homes, which in fact serve also as temples during the Salah times; the Muslim praying hours. It takes quite some time to get used to it. Nonetheless, it remains a charming town echoing the turbulent years of colonisation.
Walking down its streets is a one-of-a-kind experience, as most of its inhabitants seem to be still living in the times of the Sultanate era. What once were prominent buildings supported by the imposing columns are now just falling apart, and the locals do not seem to bother at all. They love lying in the shade of the open courtyards during the late hours of their sweltering afternoons refreshing the town with their captivating smiles and smells.
Close by are the private, secluded coral atolls with their beautiful soft white sands formed from wave-washed coral fragments. The waters are insanely bright turquoise, which if you keep looking at, you can get easily carried away into oblivion.
And so, following the coral route, we journey on their traditional wooden boats, known as the Dhow, sailing vessels with lateen sails drifting between the all the different shades of blue of the sky and sea. As soon as we approach the deserted shore, we notice the Island Lodge Crew waving at us, all of them standing next to each other. They all come to greet us, but it is hard to concentrate, because the empty beaches, away from every noise pollution, immediately captivate our senses.
Interesting plants, birds and creatures make this island their habitat, but they are often overshadowed by the atoll’s spectacular beaches. Its coral reefs are very unique and there lies a vibrant ecosystem to the like of the African savannas and tropical forests.
Bewitched by the atoll’s minimalism, it is surely much more than an island paradise. There is something undeniably spiritual about these little islets. It may be the migratory birds that gather on the sand spits, or the beautiful dolphins that often come so close to the shore, or the small fish which on low tide enjoy approaching and moving around our underwater cameras while we try to get a close shot of them.
What seems at first glance a small bare atoll is immediately revealed as a naturalist paradise with a very interesting nature trail to discover.
© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Mandy Farrugia