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St Helena Island: This Remote Island, Home To A 192-Year-Old Tortoise, Is Opening Up To Tourists | Travel News News

Jonathan the 192-year-old tortoise in St Helena. Credit: iStock

Jonathan the 192-year-old tortoise in St Helena. Credit: iStock

For history buffs and adventurers alike, St. Helena is an incredible experience. This volcanic island, a speck of land in the vast South Atlantic Ocean, holds a unique claim to fame: it was the exile destination of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1815 until his death in 1821. But St. Helena is far more than just a footnote in Napoleonic history. With its recent improvements in accessibility, this remote island paradise is finally opening its arms to tourists.

Main Street of Jamestown in St Helena. Credit: iStock

St. Helena’s isolation is no longer a barrier. The arrival of weekly commercial flights in 2017 has dramatically reduced travel time, making the island a more accessible destination. Additionally, high-speed internet now connects St. Helena to the wider world, allowing visitors to stay connected while embracing the island’s tranquillity. Endemic flora and fauna thrive in this ecological haven, offering a glimpse into a world untouched by time. The island’s rich history is also evident in its charming capital, Jamestown. Here, brightly coloured Georgian-era buildings line the streets, a testament to the island’s colonial past. Napoleon’s legacy lives on in Longwood House, his former residence, which is now a museum dedicated to his life and exile.

View down Jacobs Ladder in St Helena. Credit: iStock

What To Expect Here

For the active traveller, St. Helena offers a plethora of outdoor pursuits. Hike Diana’s Peak, the island’s highest point, and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views. Explore the verdant valleys along meticulously maintained trails, encountering unique birdlife and native flora. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island are a haven for water enthusiasts. Go snorkelling or diving and discover a vibrant underwater world teeming with colourful fish and coral reefs.

Jonathan the 192-year-old tortoise. Credit: iStock

Jonathan The Tortoise

Arguably the most famous resident of this island, which is home to some 4000 people, is Jonathan. With an approximate age of 192, Jonathan the tortoise holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest living land animal. He stays in the lawns of Plantation House, a Georgian mansion built in 1792 by the British East India Company, which is now the official governor’s residence. In spite of losing his sense of smell and sight, Jonathan draws a huge crowd every year, and he has also met several royals, including Queen Elizabeth II, who visited St Helena in 1947.

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