The Costebelle hills and Mont des Oiseaux in Hyères are the easternmost sanctuaries in the Var for Hermann's tortoise, an endangered species that has been gravely affected by urbanisation, fires and people taking the few remaining specimens. They are victims of the animal's kind and meek image.
The tour takes place on a historical private property home to a relictual population of the species: Le Plantier de Costebelle. The tour is run by the owner himself, Albéric Lugagne, a huge fan of the species who introduces you to the last wild population of Hermann's tortoise in Costebelle in their natural habitat.
He'll present the species to you, explain what they eat, where and how they live in their habitat depending on the time of year. You'll learn to tell the difference between males and females and recognise the Var's sub-species. You'll also learn about the threats faced by the species and how to behave to protect it. Last but not least, following his extensive documentation and work with scientists to become an expert in the field, Albéric Lugagne will discuss the conservation systems he has put in place at Le Plantier de Costebelle. A very educational tour during which you'll be able to chat to him and enjoy fabulous panoramic views of the Hyères harbour, Giens peninsula and islands as you stroll around the 4ha property.
Tour duration: 1.5 hr.
Open: Saturday or Sunday, mid-April to mid-October booking required by text to (00 33) (0)188.8.131.52.19
Participants: 5-30 people
Prices: 5€ adult and child (free for under 3s)
Bags are left at the entrance to the property in the gatekeeper's house (handbags and camera bags included)