Flying over the Maldives by seaplane
Natural beauty, formed by patterns Maldivian reefs on a blue surface of the ocean, to reach unthinkable, is at sea level - it's almost like looking at the masterpieces in the Louvre, burying her nose in them. Here it is necessary to move away from the picture, rise above it and only divine brush strokes form a harmonious masterpiece and one atoll does not seem something formless, and presents a picture of hundreds of reefs with round turquoise lagoons and golden beaches.
For those who wish to relax in the hotel, located at a distance from the international airport, an unforgettable experience included in the program. Of the hundreds of hotels, only about 1/3 is located in the radius of 50 km from the capital atoll North and South Male ', the rest of the hotel is built on the islands of neighboring atolls, and if you plan to live in a hotel in Baa Atoll, Lhaviyani, Ari and some others, then hop on a small seaplane provided to you.
seaplane Airport shares an island with an international airport and is situated exactly across the tarmac in the central lagoon. Travelers arriving at the check-inyat local flight and ground transportation to deliver one of the two points seaplane bases. Two competing companies Maldivian Air Taxi (red and white) and Trans Maldivian Airways (yellow and blue) divide the market of transportation and have contracts with certain hotels.
In our hotel flew Maldivian Air Taxi - a Danish company, which operates in the market of the Maldives. In appearance it is more a competitor, and obviously has a big part of the business of transportation, on the market since 1993. It is considered the world's largest seaplane operator in the world.
On arrival at the departure terminal, visitors are welcomed by a waiting room, a small cafe, toilets and all that is needed to pass an hour or two in anticipation of landing.
A number of expensive hotels (such about 10) present their exclusive waiting area for guests.
In the network Four Seasons hotel very nice lounge - spacious, which is pleasing to the eye interior and relaxing light music and a cooling air conditioner gently. Predubeditelny concierge uniformed soothing voice, the voice of possibilities brightened the expectation of departure, and after his speech, the impression remains that this maldivets clearly has the talent manager of ceremony to turn usually anxious waiting time in pleasing part of the holiday.
One of the features of the hotel Four Seasons, and the region in general, Maldives, - the establishment of his time at the resort other than the national time. Sometimes it's a half-hour, in our case, was an hour, and it happens that the resort / ship lives on a half hour ahead. This is to ensure that guests have seized more than light time on vacation. At the equator, day / night are approximately 12 hours, respectively dawn around 6 am, sunset around 6 pm, on vacation little who gets up at 6 am, so the time guests and shift - rose at 9:00 am, and the sun seemed I would be at 8:00 am and formed an extra hour of sunbathing.
The cozy family area in the Four Seasons Lounge to wait for air transfer. It must be said that the air transfer - this is no ordinary transfer when meeting immediately puts the two of you in a car and driven to the hotel, for two aircraft at a reasonable price is not present. Airline consolidates flight passengers group, moreover, that gathers those who are in a hotel with you, so also in the neighboring hotels too. Therefore, the average waiting time for an hour or two and having at hand the toilet, drinks / snacks, library and Wi-Fi is necessary by the way.
In the immediate vicinity is based entire air fleet of the company, moving away from the coast strip plavprichalov and similar to each other seaplanes slightly swaying, heaving wind.
stands the air traffic control tower, from time to time, sit down and fly big planes of the airport complex.
It was possible to watch the captain, apparently, conducts routine pre-flight inspection. He briskly walked on along the machine, tried the flap vigorously jumped on the float, check the tension of some ropes, something clicked and then open all the door and stepped inside, a moment later opened a second somehow square the door and stepped out, leafing through a magazine and continue in this spirit. All of the system, feels that Europeans work.
All aircraft of the same type - Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter to 19 passengers, Maldives - all of the world champion on the application of this model airplanes. In sum, both Maldivian companies employ about 50 cars carrying about 2,000 people a day. In the cabin - two rows of seats with a passage between them, left and right by one of the two seats. Baggage tuck in the tail of the aircraft hand luggage taken there, allowing leave small lady's handbag or camera. Cockpit communicates with the interior and their manipulation can be seen through the open doorway.
The view from the cabin.
Flight crib at the helm, I brought a focus, expecting to see something like "the-up-and-down from itself", but no, seriously. Operational flight plan with the route data on distance, fuel weight, passengers. As you can see, the route includes several hotels immediately, less lucky for those who before arriving at your island made several landings / takeoffs.
We fly very smoothly and quietly. The noise of the turbo engine vitnovyh uniform and sufficiently loud wishing give earplugs.
All gained altitude, the feelings of 700-900 meters, moving at an average speed of 250 km per hour.
To our hotel Four Seasons Landaa Giravaru from Male - 130 km, a total of somewhere around 40 minutes fly over the waters of North Male Atoll / Baa, and wide strait between them. About halfway will run over a beautiful reef systems of varying degrees of roundness, they are called faro (faro) and similar to those micro-atolls. If you own a huge atoll has a diameter of 35 km, and its shape is difficult to grasp without adequate removal, the patterns of the many faro on the perimeter and inside the lagoon, in the amount of components of the outline of the atoll, look very expressive.
A map of North Male Atoll, indicating the direction of flight. The dimensions of approximately 40 by 60 kilometers, along the border of the atoll can see how big the island was a few million years ago, until the external forces of nature do not equate it with the surface of the water, leaving only the perimeter of the reef and a shallow lagoon. Map shows that the depth of the outside of the atoll - 500-2000 meters, and inside - 20-60 meters high.
Bright hallmark atoll Maldives - abundant presence reefs not only on the perimeter of the atoll (as usual), but also within the lagoon as if the bottom of a shallow cup atoll increased tens atoll in miniature and also have reached to the surface, gaining its small lagunku depth 1 -3 meters and outer reef.
For an explanation of this feature is most suitable theory of multiple channels in the outer reef atoll great, it literally cut through them every 2-4 km. Through them Lagoon gets a good water exchange and the conditions for the consolidation and growth of polyps inside the coral reef lagoon. Comparable in size lagoon atoll Rangiroa (French Polynesia) has only 2 passages in the outer reef and no reef / island within the lagoon, although the depth of 35 meters.
In 40 minutes the way the plane flies through the dozens of islands, many of them live and they remain a local resort or village, it's an island near the capital Male '- the residence of the president of the republic. Obviously artificially spiked Lagoon, to increase the area of the island land.
And here is one of the lighthouse reef almost reaching the surface land area it does not have, but clearly shows the outer reef and the central part with small reefs. What is not a micro-atoll?
The reefs inside the lagoon with a large beach area transformed into resorts. In the foreground - Banyan Tree Resort, in the background - Angsana Ihuru Resort.
Variations elongated reef, but again, without land, and therefore uninhabited. Fly over the atolls, as never agree with a statistical fact that the country's territory is only 0, 025% of the land is, in fact - is the realm of the sea and reef.
Reef with a tiny beach area, most likely, by the outgoing water in a rush. MTS has not reached here with his egg-shaped brand advertising.
Nice to Faro, the island part of which is occupied by the resort Baros Resort. In the lagoon, both in a quiet place where the wind can not disperse the wave, stand Holiday Court.
A lovely extended faro and the resort Huvafen Fushi Resort. In the background you can see the western boundary of the large North Male 'Atoll, the outer reef which takes the blows of the open ocean waves.
Unnamed uninhabited lighthouse reef with beach area and a well-illuminated lagoon. I want to draw attention to an important point about understanding the position of the sun at a potential flight. If you fly, for example, from south to north in the morning, the sun will shine on the east and on the plane will be critically important to take the left lane, then you will have a beautiful view of the island, with no glare, whitish sky and blinding rays of the sun through the window. By analogy should estimate the position of the sun and the direction of flight paths for others.
But one of the reefs in the lagoon, which essentially does not reach the surface of the water and in Maldivian called Tila (thila). Many dive sites have in its name the word, t. To. Diving on banks, overgrown with corals and inhabited by schools of fish, is one of the most interesting, along with diving in the channels or on the mantle PostScript points gentle reef slopes.
A small island occupied by a luxury resort Coco Palm Kuda Hithi, only a few villas on the island.
The elder brother - Resort Coco Palm Budu Hidhi and unusual configuration in the form of branches 2 bungalows on the water extending from both ends of the island. According to the plan view, and given the proximity to the edge of the atoll and, accordingly, the better the transparency of the water, this hotel is very, very good for those who like snorkeling and scuba diving on the house reef.
As can be seen, within the North Male 'Atoll, there are very good options for accommodation and flight by seaplane is widely perceived as increases the cost of recreation component. Its cost of 400 to 550 dollars per person per raundtrip that the budget hotel, for example, 3000 for a week for two, will give 30% to the cost just for the transfer by air. So what to do than remotely, the more expensive.
The complex of bungalows on the water. When the sea level will rise a meter and a half and all current land Maldives will disappear under water, all the resorts will look like this - the water surface, and the numbers on the shallow reef.
We fly to the edge of the atoll. Surely a great dive site - a plateau of the reef in a corner, where you can stay and watch the accumulation of sharks and fish with good flow, and further along the wall drift dive in the channel.
For Baa atoll and one of the regional airports has recently put into operation - Dharavandhoo Airport. Inter-island aviation is not confined to a seaplane for tourists, between the atolls fly regular flights rather capacious aircraft (up to 50 people) and more profitable for the price - 50-150 dollars each way.
And here is an interesting picture - a beautiful lagoon Hanifaru the famous dead-end channel formed by the exhaust section of the reef, where the pop-up manta rays and whale sharks for eating plankton, whose concentration in the channel increases substantially in the season the south-east monsoon.
Since 2012 has no single operator is not allowed to dive in this place, just snorkeling on the conservative rules. In addition to the term "faro", the Maldives and the term "spotlight" is present, which means land of the reef, here are the most HaniFaru and is seen in the photo as a small part of the reef system, extending to the surface.
closest to Hanifaru Resort - Kihaad Island Resort. Beautiful wide reef fringing the island - an indicator that it is located in a favorable for the growth of coral atoll area. Where the ocean water is best nourishing Atoll (typically from the outside), where the thickness and extent of the reefs.
One of the islands, which is densely populated by locals. It seems only populated, too much green. In the background is similar in size faro-reef, but no sushi. Such contrast.
Two opposites - yin and yang - the sea and the reef, the more the reef site is subject to destruction by waves, the faster growing and recovering it corals.
One of uninhabited islands on the outer edge of the atoll. What was beautiful.
approach, in the cockpit recovery. Our island was the first so with particular interest to look around his bird's-eye view.
The soft splashdown occurs near the island, depending on the direction of the waves and the wind, the captain chooses the areas for planting and then drove up to the passenger terminal - a floating platform where tourists with luggage takes resort boat.
Our smiling European capital - Bo Brownell (Training capitan). The co-pilot was a native of the Maldives, adopting experience. By law, businesses must attract a certain percentage of the local population, from 50-70% kind of like, well, in airplanes quota made too.
Welcome to the Baa Atoll, the whole territory which became part of the reserve, and since June 2011 has the status of the Biosphere by UNESCO. Very serious internationally recognized status, involving high waters protection standards in order to preserve the environment for future generations.
Also welcome to the Four Seasons Landaa Giravaru Resort - one of the premium category hotels in the Maldives, I must say one of the best hotels.