National Geographic Traveller (UK)


This is no ordinary Seychelles resort island. From beach clean-ups to turtle patrols, every guest has a role to play in protecting Silhouette’s embattled, Edenic ecosystem. Words: Amelia Duggan


Rising like a rough-hewn emerald amid a binary world of open sea and unbroken sky, Silhouette’s golden fringes — sugary beaches spilling out into pearlescen­t, shallow reefs — reveal themselves only as our ferry draws closer. There’s a necklace of elegant villas decorating one bay, too. From afar, all is forest: luscious blankets of foliage cascade down its granitic crags, clinging to sheer slopes beneath a jagged pinnacle: Mount Dauban. Curious seabirds attend our crossing from the mainland, now swooping high on thermals as we dock. From the water, Silhouette seems ancient and untouchabl­e but, on land, strident measures are being taken to protect an ecosystem in the balance.

Some 93% of this central Seychelles isle is designated as a national park and it’s encircled, too, by a protected marine reserve — beneath the glassy surface of the Indian Ocean swim sharks and stingrays. I quickly discover there’s also a fitting humility to the island’s sole resort, Hilton Seychelles Labriz: while pirates, plantation workers and, now, pampered guests have, at different times over the centuries, called Silhouette home, nature has always been the headline act.

Now over a decade old, the hotel embraces this hierarchy, weaving its luxuries around the island’s own. On my first morning, I’m stirred awake by the chirps of bulbuls and must endeavour to dodge scuttling serrated mangrove crabs when cycling through the village of villas to breakfast. At dusk, as signature cocktails are served and gourmet dinners dished up, fruit bats with 3ft wingspans swoop overhead; and come nightfall, the resort wraps itself in a tropical, inky blackness, allowing the firmament to unveil countless constellat­ions — and the faint twinkle of settlement­s on distant Mahé, the country’s main island. For many travellers, the resort and its sliver of eastern shoreline will offer enough diversion for a week or even two, but

I’ve come to get my hands dirty, to muck in with Silhouette’s resident team of conservati­onists — and to see what else the island holds.


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