Tristan da Cunha: A Voyage with No Frills

If in dream time you fly across the ocean from Cape Town all the way to the tip of South America on a Tristan da Cunha Island voyage, you will encounter something looking like an artichoke heart rising from the ocean. This is in fact the Island of Tristan da Cunha, a last vestige of the British Empire, and part of the the most isolated archipelago in the world.

Rockhopper Penguins on Tristan da Cunha Island voyage
Rockhopper Penguins on Tristan da Cunha: Photo on Flickr by Farrukh / CC BY-NC 2.0

Tristan da Cunha ekes out a precarious existence from rich resources of rock lobsters, postage stamps, and coins. The 266 inhabitants live mainly in the only settlement aptly named Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. They all either fish or farm. Life is tough in Tristan da Cunha. Everybody rows and there are no passengers.

Tristan da Cunha afternoon light
Tristan da Cunha afternoon light: Photo on Flickr by Brian Gratwicke / CC BY 2.0

Tristan da Cunha Island Voyage: Edinburgh of the Seven Seas

Getting to the nearby island of St Helena is becoming trickier with the phasing out of the RMS Saint Helena service and difficulties commissioning the new airstrip. The only ‘reliable’ service to Tristan comprises fishing boats belonging to a South African company, and an annual visit by the South African arctic research and supply vessel SA Aghulhas 2.

SA Aghulhas 2. Tristan da Cunha island voyage:
SA Aghulhas 2: Wit Stinkhout: CC BY-SA 3.0

SA Aghulas II Leaving Cape Town for Tristan da Cunha

If you find a passage on the research ship, the return journey will cost you around $600 for a very basic trip in which you fend for yourself because almost everybody else is busy with their job. The fishing boat tickets vary from $180 to $500 return. The Tristan da Cunha Island voyage trip normally takes six days either way with tourists the lowest priority. This is adventure travel for the brave! You can be bounced by a higher priority at the last minute!

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha Island Voyage
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha: Photo on Flickr by Brian Gratwicke / CC BY 2.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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  1. Tristan da Cunha Islands, Atlantic Ocean - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] remotest part of her empire, the Tristan da Cunha Islands. There is no airport. The only ships that stop by with any regularity are the icebreaker SA Agulhas II each spring (capacity 100 passengers in 46 […]


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