Two weeks ago in October (18/10/14), we had the chance to go to a tortoise sanctuary, La Vallée des tortues, located in the small town of Sorède, not far from Perpignan. It was a fantastic afternoon, and I really recommend it if you are around in the region.
Entry is quite steep – 9€ for a student ticket, yet I do feel it was worth it, as I can safely say that the residents are well looked after and are happy in the sanctuary. We even received a tour (in French) which lasted about 45 minutes. The lady who gave the tour gave us interesting information about all the different types of tortoises that were in the sanctuary and even some of their own personal stories – some happy and others more tragic.
As we visited in the mid-afternoon, we were also able to see the tortoises being fed. It was late-October, and the tour group was only small – however most days during the high summer season, there can be over 1000 people a day visiting the site; we were very lucky the have a more intimate experience. There were a few children in the group, and the lady allowed them to help her feed a few of the friendly tortoises and stroke them.
As you can see by the photo above, we also managed to meet them as well! She told us that we were very lucky, because everyone who visited in the summer who were in very large groups were only able to dream of the opportunity that we were given – we definately picked the right month to go! The tortoise’s skin is very dry, like paper, but he was lovely, gentle and really enjoyed having some attention and being stroked, a bit like a dog or a cat would. He is about 70 years old (quite young for a tortoise – they can live up to 200 years) and weighs about 200kg! I wouldn’t like to have to pick him up…
We also met a 23 year old tortoise whose speicies is the fastest of tortoises in the world (he did run quite fast actually – for a tortoise anyway!) and apparently he has 10 kids. We also encountered the world’s most dangerous turtle, mouth open and ready to attack… :
It’s a fascinating little place to visit if you are interested in these gorgeous creatures 🙂 I love them, probably even more now I have been here, and it was a lovely relaxing day-trip out of Perpignan!
- Une carapace de tortue – a tortoise shell
- Tortue de terre – a tortoise
- Tortue de mer – a turtle
A few more photos: