Travel on one of the few remaining voyages of the Royal Mail Ship
The long-awaited to airport on the remote island of St Helena in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean has at last become a reality with the first flight landing on 15th September 2015 – a hugely emotional event for the islanders and their relatives in the UK. It's very exciting although, as anything which is destined to change a community for ever, it is tinged with sadness, not least the withdrawal of the last working Royal Mail Ship in the world.
St Helena is a very special place in many ways. Famed as the island where Napoleon was tucked out of harm's way for the last five years of his life, it has a fascinating history. For generations it was a bustling port of vital importance to the East India Company's trade routes and its population reflects the international influences from European, to African, to Indian and to Chinese.
Scenically it is spectacular with high cliffs rising from the sea, interspersed with steep valleys and with a lush interior. Above all this is the safest of destinations where a genuinely warm welcome is extended to that rarest of breeds – the tourist (or visitor as the islanders think of us). Here the pace of life is delightfully slow and there isn't a mobile phone in sight – yet! A slow internet connection is possible but expensive, and the atmosphere is therefore utterly conducive to complete rest and relaxation.
Safe and slow it may be, but the island holds many attractions other than its scenery and history. For walkers the Letterbox Walks offer varying degrees of challenge; the island archives are a source of fascination for people with family links in the island's colonial past; the botanist can wonder at the extraordinary work being done to re-establish the island's endemic plants and every birder wants to see the Endangered Wirebird (recently upgraded from being Critically Endangered thanks to the tireless work of conservationists). The seas around the island are home to Bottle-nose Dolphins and a school of up to 400 Pan-Tropical Spotted Dolphins are regularly sighted on boat trips along the north coast. In 2013 this activity also allowed us to see seven Whale Sharks which came right close up to the boat. Fabulous. We visit the island's distillery and its secondary school and learn of the history of the slaves who were abandoned on the island when the trade became illegal.
At the time of writing (September 2015) we still don't have schedules or fares for the first commercial services but we can tell you that weekly flights will operate out of Johannesburg. We'll be offering some escorted and guided tours (as we have done for so many years using the Royal Mail Ship St Helena) but we will also be able to arrange independent travel and offer clients who wish to take advantage of this the benefit of our personal knowledge and love of the island and her people. Get in touch with us if you would like to know more as soon as the information becomes available.
The Royal Mail Ship will be operating her regular schedule until April 2016 but she is fully booked – EXCEPT for the cabins we are holding for the guided tour we are offering in March/April 2016. So if you want to be one of the last to experience this unique voyage get in touch quickly!