On Thursday, October 3, 2019, we took a taxi to just below the “Snack Belle Vue” near the top of the mountain. Where the road ends and we were dropped off, we found an old tortoise caught in some wire, so our hike was slightly delayed while we freed the tortoise. They are protected in the Seychelles and there is a tradition among the locals of adopting a baby tortoise to grow up with each newborn human boy. Of course, the tortoises can live much longer than humans, if they don’t get tangled in wire or meet some other untimely end!
After hiking up the road to the Belle Vue restaurant (which serves drinks and snacks from 9 am to 1pm), and climbing up the stairs, you can find a sign with an arrow, labeled “MOUNTAIN” pointing to a trail off to the right.
The trail winds around up above the restaurant along the south side of a ravine to the the east up to the top of the ridge. The trail is a bit difficult to follow when it is all on rocks, but as long as you keep heading the same direction, you will catch it again. There is a “T” junction at the top of the ridge. If you go to the left approximately 75m, you will reach a communications tower and small building with good views. However, the high point on the trail there is about 36m below the actual summit.
To go to the summit, you want to turn right at the “T” and proceed steeply up through the trees. When you reach a large boulder and seem to lose the trail, go around the boulder to the right and pick up the trail again. The trail is very narrow and overgrown, but hopefully someone has been through there before you with a machete. Watch out for sharp branches where the path has been cleared!
Continue along the ridge until you reach a bare clearing about 300m from the “T”. This clearing is about 13m lower than the actual summit, which is 75m further to the southeast in the thick trees and jungle. The trail past the clearing appears to be rarely used, and is difficult to follow to the actual summit. Depending on the type of antenna you have, you may want to stop just north of the clearing, where you can get wire up off the ground into some tree branches, as there is nothing to support a wire antenna if you operate from the clearing.
I operated from the clearing with wires strung out on bushes close to the ground, and was unable to make any contacts on SSB at mid-day with my 10 watts. La Digue is 1800 km east of the East African coast, 2800km from southwestern India and 3200km south of Dubai. So you need some good propagation during a time of day when people are likely to be on the air. I did hear a number of stations on some bands on FT8 mode, but had not taken my computer with me. I recommend activating the peak on Friday or Saturday, and taking FT8 capability!
It is popular to hike to the clearing during late morning or mid-day, so you can catch a fruit smoothie or other beverage at Belle Vue on the way down. You also can call a taxi from Belle Vue. The hike to the summit is about 30-40 minutes if you go directly there. The descent is around 25 minutes. It is not recommended to try to navigate the mountain trail in the dark.
Belle Vue opens again for dinner at 5pm, and vans pick up diners at their hotels to bring them all up to the restaurant. Reservations are required a couple days in advance for dinner. It is popular to watch the sunset and soaring fruit bats below you during dinner from Belle Vue.
GL and VY 73, Lance S79GJ/W7GJ