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  • Writer's pictureiwan jooste

saint helena

published 2012

Surrender to St Helena: Cast adrift in the Atlantic, 2,000km from Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, the relatively unknown island of St Helena is by no means the ill-favored stepchild of exotic getaway destinations. The proud cliff shoreline rises dramatically to cloud-kissed peaks, while a bronze and copper landscape interspersed by flashes of electric green guards this sleepy island’s treasured secrets. Steeped in history, St Helena has a legacy that rivals even the most fashionable world capitals.


Discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, the island was a strategic port of call during the British Empire’s expansion. Its remote location provided perfect refuge for prisoners, princes, and, of course, Napoleon, who died on St Helena in 1821. Jamestown, the eclectic capital, perches above the old harbor, offering a smorgasbord of travel delights for the sophisticated explorer.


Getting there is a true adventure. The island’s dedicated mode of international access is the RMS St Helena, a dual-purpose cargo and passenger vessel. Currently under construction, St Helena International Airport is only due for completion in 2016. For an unforgettable experience, be sure to board the last commercially operating Royal Mail ship and take to the high seas for an authentic nautical escapade.


Temperatures remain between 20-27°C throughout, as the four seasons are not recognized on St Helena. Whether you’re a history buff, adventurer, hiking enthusiast, or merely searching for a unique experience somewhere unspoiled, this island should be on your travel itinerary. Must-see attractions include High Knoll Fort, the original citadel commanding superb views across much of the island, Heart-Shaped waterfall at the top of James Valley, Maskelyne’s Star Observatory dating back to 1760, The Archives, and Jacobs Ladder (the ladder is 600ft high with 699 steps).


The island offers a delightful range of accommodation including B&Bs, guest houses, self-catering, and hotels. We recommend our featured hotel, Farm Lodge Country House. To sample St Helena’s exotic cuisine, traditional dishes like St Helena fishcakes, battered tuna, grilled wahoo steak, and pilau feature on most menus.


Persian poet Rumi mused, “Travel brings power and love back into your life.” Prepare to leave a fragment of your heart in the shadowy recesses of an island echoing resilience and a spirit of unblemished majesty.


For comprehensive information on tour bookings and travel options, and to learn more about the RMS St Helena, including virtual tours of cabins and deck plans, visit the RMS St Helena website, or contact Cape Town shipping agent Andrew Weir, at +27 21 425 1165 or email sthelenaline@mweb.co.za.


FARM LODGE COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL

With only five suites available, reservations at Farm Lodge Country House Hotel must be secured well in advance. Set amidst rolling, lush gardens this family-owned rarity is located a few miles from Jamestown. A chauffeured Rolls Royce will whisk you from the harbour to this heavenly retreat. Originally owned by the Dutch East India Company in the late 18th century, this 5-star hotel features furniture once owed by Napoleon himself. Meals are deliciously unparalleled. Sourced from fresh local produce, one simply cannot forego any of the fine culinary offerings.


Enquiries to Stephen Briggs or Maureen Jonas. Email Farm.Lodge@helanta.co.sh or telephone +(290) 24040.


RMS ST HELENA – Sail Away Tour (19 days)

Heaving anchor at Cape Town harbour, the RMS St Helena visits the remote Ascension Island en route to St Helena. The onboard experience is unrivalled. Enjoy cocktails at the bar, work out in the gym, swim, or simply laze on the sun deck as your senses are transported toward sublimely unchartered horizons. Dining is as surprising as it is sumptuous; a fusion of flavors underpins every dish, impressing even the most gastronomically acute. Well appointed cabins provide luxury accommodation throughout your 5-day journey.


To book a tour, visit the RMS St Helena website www.rms-st-helena.com or contact Cape Town shipping agent Andrew Weir, at +27 21 425 1165 or email sthelenaline@mweb.co.za.


DIANA’S PEAK NATIONAL PARK

Diana’s peak rises 823 meters above sea level and is St Helena’s highest point. Many of the island’s indigenous plant species find refuge in this sprawling national treasure. Discover the rare blushing snail in its natural habitat, relic of a 10-million-year-old African tropical forest. Whether you enjoy avid birdwatching or simply want to soak up the mystical atmosphere, join any of the guided walks offered by the local tourism office.


For more details call the St Helena National Trust Office +(290) 2190.

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