Untouched, Unspoilt and Waiting to be Explored

The island of St Helena, remote between the coastlines of South Africa and South America, just became accessible by direct weekly flights from OR International Johannesburg airport. This getaway sub-tropical paradise island is untouched, unspoilt and waiting to be explored.

Once this volcanic outcrop could only be reached by sea, but with Saturday weekly flights, following the footsteps of famous explorers such as Charles Darwin, Edmund Halley, and Captain James Cook has never been easier. St Helena island is well known for being the setting and backdrop for the final chapter of Napoleon’s life when he arrived on island in 1815 and died on 1821.

With clear warm waters, fascinating marine life and eight wreck dives, snor- kellers and divers are in for a treat in St Helena. From December to March, whale sharks migrate through the island’s waters, offering swimmers the opportunity to see these majestic giant creatures up close — while from June to December, you’re likely to see humpback whales passing through and breaching above the water’s surface. All year round, pantropical spotted, bottlenose and rough-toothed dolphins roam freely and play near the island’s coast.

Jamestown, St Helena’s capital, holds the island’s most popular and chal- lenging walking activity, Jacob’s ladder. One of the best ways to tackle walking on St Helena is to start with the Post Box Walks, devised by the St Helena Nature Conservation Group (SNCG). With quirky names such as Lot’s Wife Ponds, Sharks Valley and Flagstaff, these walks cover some of the most scenic and untouched parts of the island. Many of the less strenuous walks are scattered throughout St Helena’s lush interior whilst the more challenging are in the coastal zones.

The Diana’s Peak walk is within the Peaks National Park, itself part of the Central Ridge National Conservation Area. The park contains some of the best of the remaining native habitat on St Helena. The path follows old military and flax plantation routes. Diana’s Peak is the highest peak on St Helena at 2700 feet (823 metres) and gives 360 degrees landscape views across much of the island. The path traverses St Helena’s high altitude ‘cloud forest’ with its unique community of endemic flora and fauna.

St Helena has an incredible range of wildlife, the isolation of the island means that it is home to many unique species that are found nowhere else in the world. A staggering 455 species of invertebrates are found on the island and include the Blushing Snail, the Spiky Woodlouse, the Vulturine and Golden Leafhopper and Janich’s Fungus Weevil. Not to be forgotten are the island’s seabirds. There are eight breeding species of seabird. Nesting occurs on the coast of the mainland, the offshore islands and on steep cliff faces. Fairy Terns are the most commonly seen seabird, and they are found all over the island.

One of St Helena’s greatest attractions is its unique culture and the friend- liness of the people, the feeling that one has stepped back in time and a great sense of community and pride in traditions and customs — these are but a few of the reasons why visitors become enchanted with St Helena.