March 1, 2012

201 Endemic Trees Planted!

A view of PACHAMAMA and the "lifeline" to the island, "RMS Saint Helena"

We've been here for a few weeks now and are officially "local" by Saint Helena standards. Both Salina and Andri are enjoying school, Sabine and Jacqui have joined the local womens volleyball team, and Dario has been actively getting to know every tree/plant/mushroom/donkey loving conservationist on the island!

There are some inspiring projects here, check out this beautiful and educational display about Plastic Pollution on the Consulate Hotel!!


The kindness and genuine friendship we're experiencing here is overwhelming - we've been invited to family gatherings, local festivities and even the Governors house for tea!


We've now done presentations at all the islands Primary schools, a community presentation, a wonderful experience with all the primary students planting native trees at the millennium forest and today we also did a cleanup with the National Trust team on the highest top; "Dianas Peak".



The millennium forest is a project by the National Trust, trying to conserve the endemic and endangered Saint Helena Ebony tree. The goal is to re-plant a forest in the current barren landscape (which was decimated centuries ago.) It was so heartwarming to see all the kids being involved in something which will last for so many generations to come!


We continue to learn more and more about this fascinating island, and every day we hear new tales - ghost stories, legends, myths and history... some of it even true! Some, not so sure...


What we DO know is that Saint Helena Island was discovered in 1502 by a Portugese sailor, Joao da Nova. The geography is incredible. Saint Helena is a Volcano that is about 14 million years old! Since the eruptions ceased (about 7 million years ago) the terrain has totally transformed - "sculptured by nature". The rain, wind and sea has washed away a quarter of the original size! Waves continue to carve the cliff face, while inland the rivers and streams have moulded the deepening valleys. Because all the different types of terrain erode at different speeds - it creates a unique and dramatic landscape!


Since the volcanic creation of the island - all flora and fauna arrived here by the wind and sea. Isolated by the huge moat which we call the Atlantic Ocean, the plants and animals continued to evolve to adapt to the unique environment. There are all kinds of insects and animals which are found only here. Saint Helena was also once a haven for sea birds - with many endemic species. Nowadays, many plants and animals have been lost to extinction. But the future is looking bright, thanks to all the conservationists we have met, the current environment and eco-system is probably at it's most healthy since Napoleon was exiled here!! (Especially after our wonderful tree planting!!!)


But aside from all this environmental beauty - the community spirit of the island is surely unrivalled. With only a few channels on the TV, only 2 options for local radio (plus no cinema, bowling ally, shopping mall etc. etc.) - the island of Saint Helena finds it's own way to have fun and celebrate together. Words cannot describe the warm community spirit at these local events! In our short time here, we have been to so many celebrations and parades! Our favourite so far has been the Jamestown Mardi Gras, which was celebrated by PANCAKE RACES!!!!!


A huge thank-you to the wonderful Blessingtons!!! Making our stay here even more memorable.


Then there was the "Harford Family Farmyard Funday" fundraiser for Harford Primary School - a chance for everyone to learn more about the agriculture of Saint Helena.


However, during our school visits, conservation events and community gatherings - we must also find the time to maintain PACHAMAMA. Sailina was a great help to repair sewing the sails! She also had fun diving to explore the underwater shipwreck!


Jacqui is keeping super busy filming and editing a short documentary about the island... coming soon!

We've really fallen in love with this place. You can see why...


Posted by dario at 4:53 PM

March 5, 2012

Sabine 36

2012-03-05_geburi-sabine (7)r.jpgSabine 36

Today is Sabine's birthday! You can call here on St. Helena Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: 00870 7625 68 933.

2012-03-05_geburi-sabine (2)r.jpgIn the morning we were invited by Lauren and Louis to hike to "Lot's wife pond". The landscape was so beautiful and special, - like on the moon. At the pond we went for a swim, before we hiked back for the party on Pachamama.
2012-03-05_geburi-sabine (4)r.jpgThere were approx. 36 people at the same time on Pachamama; - new record! We had a great variety of cakes and pizza! Thanks to all of you contributing to this great birthday for Sabine on this wonderful island!
The adults were mainly on deck or inside the ship. The kids had a great time with Jacqui in the water:2012-03-05_geburi-sabine (6)r.jpg

Posted by dario at 9:48 AM

March 8, 2012

Clean up by TOPtoTOP-Mauritius

2012-03-04_Clean-Up-at-Bras-D (3).jpgCongratulation to "TOPtoTOP-Mauritius"! Read their report:

"Clean Up at Bras D'eau - Sunday 4th March 2012
2012-03-04_Clean-Up-at-Bras-D (4).jpgIt was so good to reconnect with the forest. Bras d'Eau National Park situated in the northern region of the island is the second mainland National Park in Mauritius which has a unique combination of the three ecosystems, terrestrial, marine and fresh water.
Bras d'Eau and Mare Sarcelles Reserves were proclaimed as Bras d'Eau National Park under the Wildlife and National Parks Act in August last year, with a view to further protecting the reserves, which are habitats of a number of species of birds such as the cave swiflets (Petite Hirondelle), the Mauritius grey white eye birds (Picpic), and the Flycatcher which is a critically endangered endemic bird. Located at Poste Lafayette, Bras d'Eau National Park covers about 497 hectares consisting mainly of exotic plantation like mahogany, eucalyptus and araucaria.
Our mission this time was quite simple: discover the place, share our food and clean up the trail on our way back. We had the National Park to ourselves on this Sunday 4th March. We started our trip by dutifully visiting the 'Puits francais' at the beginning of the trail before leaving civilisation behind us. The trail is quite tricky, unfolding over kilometres and kilometres of rocky paths and zigzagging through the forest; so we were always either going down, up or treading testily on rocks!
We were all struck by the beauty of the park, and as we stepped further and deeper into the forest, we could but marvel at the beauty and purity surrounding us. Breathing was a joy. Most of us were discovering Bras d'Eau for the first time.
The sinuous paths took us along man made ponds and terraces, eucalyptus and tall mahogany trees, and chirping birds. We were eager to check the three ponds - Mare Mahogany, Mare Chevrettes and Mare Coq de Bois. We can but recommend this beautifully crafted leisure trail with its tables and benches available at each pond and along the path for visitors to rest and picnic, and enjoy this preserved natural habitat of many birds and indigenous plants.
On our way back (we did 6 kms in four hours) we collected 17 bags of plastic waste which we grouped in three spots. The security guard ensured us that their cleaning unit would pick up all the bags on Monday. Prevailing plastic items were plastic bottles, as well as snacks and sweet wrappings.
2012-03-04_Clean-Up-at-Bras-D (6).jpg
Since we started our cleanups, this is the first time that we had a young member with us: 9 yr old Veera who is a founding member of ToptoTop Mauritius and was very active and happy to be with us. She has already shared the story of her outing with her class and will bring pictures to show to her friends at school! And she is looking forward to bringing friends for next cleanups.
Our youngsters, Ruvin, David, Ameerah, Jessica, Jude and Karine were as usual examples of commitment. They were detectives chasing after plastic - diving under bushes and behind the rocks and were unstoppable in their efforts to remove the plastic from the forest. We left the forest energized, drenched - it rained on our way back and it was simply gorgeous!, and we were happy for spending time with our ToptoTop family members!"2012-03-04_Clean-Up-at-Bras-D (1).jpg

Posted by dario at 11:17 AM

March 12, 2012

A paradise in danger

Best of TOPtoTOP "St. Helena pictures" click here.
2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (17).JPGSt. Helena is a nucleus in the immense Atlantic Ocean where Napoleon died on the 5th of May 1821. An airport is going to be realized in the next 5 years mainly to bring tourist to the island. Big investors are ready to go. - A huge challenge for the small community of islanders and its fragile environment. Thanks to the NGO "St. Helena National Trust" operating on the island, there is hope for endemic plants and endemic animals like the Wirebird. The airport will be build just at the birding site of the endemic Wirebird ...and there are only 322 left! It's the national bird of St. Helena...

Clean up on the 9th of March
2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (15).JPG
Prince St. Andrew School and TOPtoTOP did a clean up at Sandy Bay St. Helena Island. Interesting was the fact that there was so much oil and tar at the beach. ..even the fact that the island is so remote!
So big oil tankers must wash their tanks still on the open ocean, - out of control....shame to the people they still harm our lovely planet.

2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (14).JPG

Pilling school visits Pachamama on the 8th of March
2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (7).JPGThe students were excited to learn more about the renewable technologies on the expedition boat. - It is not easy to get to the anchorage, - specially the landing because of the swell. Yesterday our whole family nearly flipped! -
2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (13).JPG

After our presentations many primary students participated in the TOPtoTOP drawing contest:2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (3).JPG

St. Helena a fishing community
2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (10).JPG
The local fishermen have a hard time. They have to compete with their small boats against the international fishing industry with huge boats and large nets. They get only 0.69 GBP per kilo of tuna...the market price overseas is more than 12.00 GBP per kilo! Our friend and fisherman did not catch something the last two days and has a family to feed! Finally he got a Marlin and also our kids were very excited!

St. Helena a paradise for hikers

In our free time we went exploring the island. We hiked and climbed and felt in love with this island. Here some pictures:
2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (11).JPG2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (16).JPG
A highlight was to climb Diana's Peak with Rebecca, the director of National Trust, and plant a tree on one of the 3 TOP's. Another was to climb "Lot" on Annemarie's 70th birthday ( our present: an entry for Annemarie in the old summit-book on TOP of Lot!2013-03-12_sthelena_exped-report (18).JPGLot climbers

Posted by dario at 2:37 PM

March 17, 2012

Atlantic crossing: St. Helena - Rio

Here the latest press release for Rio!

On Saturday the 17th of March we founded TOPtoTOP St. Helena! this we are always in contact with St. Helena and are looking forward to hear about their first club activities.

On Monday the 19th of March we leave St. Helena. Over the weekend we were many times in tears, because we had to say goodbye to all our friends.

2012-03-18_pilling-school.jpgTeachers from Pilling School, - one of the best teachers we met on the expedition!

2012-03-18_pachamama-rabit.jpgGoodbye to our rabid who stayed with us on Pachamama

We will need about 20 days to get to Rio. You can contact us on the Atlantic Ocean! Cal us on 00870 7625 68 933!

We are crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Please email us after our arrival in Rio on the 10th of April. You can also call us on the expedition sailboat, phone: 00870 7625 68 933.

Posted by dario at 1:37 PM

March 20, 2012


Password: Saint

This is a preview / extended trailer of the film being made for Saint Helena by the TOPtoTOP Expedition. It is a private video (password above) - for review by our sponsors and friends! The final video will be complete in May and will be screening at the World Earth Summit in Rio this June.

For more information on the National Trust visit their website;

Posted by dario at 9:44 AM