Now just as remote but more accessible
The fascinating and beautiful island of St Helena, lying in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, has been receiving a lot of publicity lately because of problems with the new airport which was supposed to opened in May 2016 but is still unable to receive most commercial flights (one has landed at the time of writing – May 2017). Meanwhile the Royal Mail Ship, which was to have been de-commissioned in July 2016, continues to serve the island but is heavily booked.
There are several bits of good news. The first is that Island Holidays secured an allocation of cabins before all the problems arose for a voyage which leaves Cape Town on 26 September 2017. We will therefore be running probably the last of our fully guided and escorted tours which have proved so popular over the past 12 years and there are spaces available. It is imperative that bookings are made very soon before the cabins have to be released and this is probably the last chance for any of you to get to St Helena using the Royal Mail Ship as cabins are more or less fully booked between now and when she is de-commissioned in February 2018.
We now await information on flights which it is hoped will commence towards the end of this year (2017). The idea (apparently) is to use smaller aeroplanes which don't need the longer runway affected by wind shear. The tender process is under way but government machines work at their own pace and so we have to have patience as we await further news.
St Helena is the most wonderful place. As one approaches by sea its steep cliffs make the island look inhospitable and goodness knows what Napoleon thought when he first set eyes on it. Actually, his opinion didn't improve during his five year stay but then he didn't have the opportunities to enjoy it as we have today. Of course, the Napoleonic heritage is part of the fascination but there is so much more. The interior of the island is lush and varied and there is much to see and do. The people are warm and welcoming and a wonderful mix of nations and cultures brought about by a rich past when the island was the main stop for taking on supplies for the some 1,000 ships a year which called when St Helena was an important place on the trade routes before the Suez Canal intervened.
This page will be updated as and when we get further news about flights and, at that time, we'll be putting together a further selection of guided tours as well as offering independent travel.