Note: For the month of October, Elephant Island is in places dressed for the Halloween season. As such, parts of the setting may appear slightly differently to some of the images in this article, having a mix of fog, mist, pirates, ghosts, fire and other mysterious elements and items.
It was off on a tropical safari for me recently, when I decided to take a trip to Elephant Island, the latest region build by Syx Toshi and his SL partner Bryn Toshi (Bryn Bulloch).
This is an extensive setting, covering three regions – a Full region and two Homesteads – all set to present the sense of a coastal setting on a mysterious island marked by a tall mountain range. The latter are formed by off-region surrounds which sit to the north of the three regions, giving them a north-south orientation along their combined length, the southern sides of the regions forming a sweeping arc of sand backed by tropical grassland, tress and high rocky bluffs.
At first glance this appears to suggest that with the broad expanse of water on their south sides, the three regions may be a short, easy exploration – but this is far from the case, as visitors quickly find out once they leave the welcome of the main landing point.
The latter sits on the eastern headland of Elephant Island’s curving bay, a small wharf extending over the waters of the beach from a makeshift fishing shack / welcome area where visitors can find maps of the local area showing trails that can offer a good starting point for explorations – although which route you take is entirely up to you.
What is clear from the outset is that the terrain here is clearly divided into two major parts. To the east the land rises sharply into rocky highlands cut through with a deep gorge. A giant elephant, carved from the living rock stands at the feet of these high bluffs, all four legs plants firmly on a table of rock as it looks out over the river mouth that opens from the gorge to flow past the landing point and its shack, emptying into the bay.
The majority of the paths shown on the maps wind up through these highlands, and one of these routes put me somewhat in mind of the giddying climb up Sigiriya, the magnificent ancient rock fortress located within the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, and a place I have had the good fortune to visit half-a-dozen times when visiting that country.
In this there is little in the way of direct similarity; but the manner in which the path climbs upwards, albeit it wooden in nature rather than hewn into the rock, clinging to the sides of the rock face and winding around it and passing by natural waterfalls just put me in mind of King Kashyapa’s winter and summer palaces at the bottom and top of the rock respectively.
Unlike Sigiriya, these heights are not topped by the grounds of a former great palace, but instead are given over to more tropical woodland and grasses, home to a number of local destinations, from statues to look-out point s to zip line and bridges spanning the gorge and – for those who find it – the way into secret caverns.
Across the gorge are more climbs and walkways to be found, the hilltops crowned her by a temple devoted to the Hindu god Gnash – one of a number of shrines in his honour, and fully fitting the setting’s elephant theme.
Westward from the landing point, the bay curves through and around the two homestead regions. These are in places backed by high cliffs as the bay curls westwards, before highlands once again take over. These uplands are in part home to a private residence, the path onwards either passing to the north behind the house and its garden, or along the beach before it.
Those wishing to explore further should use the north side path in other to reach the western heights – unless a wade through water isn’t minded – to reach the western heights. These have further attractions: places to sit, another temple and so on – and its own secrets -look for the magic door. However, I’ll leave you to explore these and instead point to the Dreamd gallery. Occupying a sky platform, this offers a selection of engaging hybrid art by Byrn – a place I’ll be covering in more depth in an upcoming Art in Second Life piece.
All I’ll say for now is that with its expansive reach, wildlife, locations and general daytime ambience (you may need to set your own EEP whilst the Halloween dressing remains in place); Elephant Island is a richly engaging setting.
All three of the Elephant Island regions are rated Moderate.
- Elephant Island (Monkey Cove)