Our specialists say:
Once reachable only through month-long Royal Mail Ship voyages, now conveniently accessed by weekly flights from Johannesburg. Enjoy hikes through lush highlands, explore the charming Jamestown, encounter fascinating marine life, and visit historic gems like Great Longwood.
Until 2017, the remote British territory of St Helena was only accessible via the less than convenient route of taking a Royal Mail Ship from either Southampton or Cape Town, meaning a journey of up to a month each way to get there, rendering it possibly the least-convenient tourist destination on earth. The construction of an airport there changed all of that, with the island now accessible via the weekly flight from Johannesburg and, during the Southern Hemisphere summer, a weekly flight from Cape Town as well.
Flight timings mean overnighting in Johannesburg at the start and end of the trip, which allows for time to relax and prepare yourself for the unique adventure that awaits. From Johannesburg fly across to St Helena where you will be spending a week, enjoying the chance to explore this truly unique destination in the company of an expert local guide. Hiking through the highlands of the country, exploring the main town of Jamestown, interacting with marine wildlife and visiting Great Longwood, where Napoleon was held in exile are all on the agenda during your stay. As well as spending time with your guide, you will also be able to explore of your own accord, especially in Jamestown which has a unique feel to it. Socialise with the local people, who refer to themselves as “Saints” and learn about the joys, and challenges, of living on this remote outcrop 3000kms from the nearest land.
Undoubtedly an amazing adventure in a destination few people can boast that they have visited, St Helena is one for those looking to get off the beaten track and enjoy some truly incredible experiences.
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Day 1: Fly to South Africa
Take an overnight flight to Johannesburg.
Day 2: Johannesburg
Arrive in to Johannesburg this morning where a local representative will be waiting to help you through immigration and baggage collection before passing you on to a driver for the trip in to Johannesburg where you will be spending the night at The Residence. The day is yours to do as you please, but if you would like then we can help to arrange a guide to take you around Johannesburg and tell you more about the city or even a shopping trip to the renowned Sandton Mall.
Day 3: To St Helena
You will be collected early this morning and transferred back to the airport to catch the weekly service to St Helena, which includes a refuelling stop in Walvis Bay along the way. Land in the afternoon and complete immigration formalities before being met and transferred in to Jamestown where you will be spending the next 7 nights at Mantis St Helena.
Day 4: St Helena
After breakfast meet with your guide Aaron at 9.30 for an orientation of the island by 4x4. Stop at Deadwood Plain which was the camp site of Boer prisoners of war during the Anglo Boer War of 1900-1902 before a short walk to Flagg Staff which gives you wonderful panoramic views across the island. Visit Fisher’s Valley where Napoleon rode his horse during his exile on the island and Levelwood, home to the Bell Stone - a rock which when struck rings like a bell. Wind your way to the south west point of the island for incredible views over the Atlantic Ocean, which stretches unbroken for 2700 kilometres in every direction. Drink in hand as the sun sets, it’s the perfect end to the day.
Day 5: St Helena
This morning, after breakfast, a highlight of the island awaits as you join your skipper for a boat cruise off the island. Home to huge schools of Pan-Tropical dolphins, Bottle-Nose dolphins and Rough-Toothed dolphins, as well as turtles, Devil Rays and Whale Sharks (in season January - March), the deep blue waters are teeming with life. The tour gives you a scenic view of St Helena’s coastline and allows you to view a few of the old fortifications and outposts that still stand. Return to port for lunch (not included) before you are met at the hotel at 2 pm to explore Jamestown on a walk with Basil George, a descendant of one of the Boer prisoners of war who decided to remain on the island after the declaration of peace. Basil is a hugely experienced guide and a local poet with a wicked twinkle in his eye who will keep you entertained with his vast knowledge of the island and its inhabitants. Visit the Castle with its tropical gardens, St James Church (the oldest Anglican Church in the Southern Hemisphere), the famous Jacob’s ladder which ascends 699 steps above the town and the Court House.
Day 6: St Helena
Set off this morning with Aaron for the south of the island, stopping at the St Helena Coffee Plantation en route. A highlight of the day is Sandy Bay, which isn’t sandy, but is dramatic in its beauty and jagged cliffs, and where you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. As you head back to Jamestown, a private tour of the Governor’s residence, Plantation House awaits. Built in 1792, it has always been home to the island’s governors, and the current governor, Lisa Phillips, is the first female. Perhaps an even more famous inhabitant is Jonathan, the oldest giant tortoise in the world who has been trundling around for nearly two centuries. Visit St Paul’s Cathedral and Knoll Fort on your return to the hotel.
Day 7: St Helena
Today is at leisure to explore at your own pace. Highly recommended is the very well curated Museum of St Helena which not only traces the varied history of the island, but also has artefacts from the number of wrecks that have dotted the coastline over the last 500 years. You may also like to book another optional boat cruise, or swim in the Atlantic - or in the public Olympic-sized swimming pool that sits near the harbour and is a great place to meet local islanders. This evening, dinner has been arranged with a local family to experience some local cuisine and learn about local island life - which often involves not so confidential stories about neighbours and family members.
Day 8: St Helena
This morning set off for Diana’s Peak, the island’s only National Park. Experience the micro and macro life in a cloud forest, from the many endemic plants and invertebrate species, to the breath-taking views of the island. It is a four-hour tour to the high central ridge. You will be driven to Cabbage Tree Road to start your walk up the path to the highest point on the island, Diana’s peak at 823 m (hikers need to have a reasonable level of fitness as there is an ascent of 175m). Have your picnic lunch on the peaks. In the afternoon, stop at Farm Lodge for afternoon tea. Built in approximately 1670 as an East India Company planters house, Farm lodge is set in its own grounds of 10 acres with lawns and lush tropical gardens and entertaining hosts.
Day 9: St Helena
Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to St Helena in 1815 and died on the island 6 years later. This morning we visit Longwood House where spent his final years. Owned by the French Government, Longwood is one of the best Napoleonic museums in the world, with original furniture and over 900 artefacts. Have your picnic lunch on Longwood Green and after lunch take a 15 minute stroll to see Napoleon’s tomb and the beautiful heart shaped waterfall, before stopping at the St Helena Distillery on your return.
Day 10: Back to Johannesburg
This morning you will have some final time at leisure to explore Jamestown and do some last-minute shopping before being collected and transferred back to the airport for the flight across to Johannesburg. At the airport you will be met and transferred in to town for another overnight stay at The Residence. Evening at leisure for you to relax.
Day 11: Flying home
Enjoy a day at leisure relaxing and enjoying Johannesburg before being collected in the latter part of the afternoon to be transferred to the airport for your overnight flight back home.
Duration: 11 Days
Location: St Helena Holidays, Africa
This St Helena - Secret of the South Atlantic Itinerary costs from £4,695 per person and includes:
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