The Seychelles comprises a cluster of islands totalling 115 in number. Most of the islands consist mainly of coral and granite and are not conducive to human habitation.
Comfortably poised in the Indian Ocean, the group of islands lie approximately 1200 miles west of the Kenyan coast and 1100 miles north of its bigger neighbour, Madagascar.
The islands were annexed by France in 1756 and later came under british rule from whom independence was granted in 1976. The first language of the islands is Creole (a dialect of french), but English and French are also spoken by the majority of its people.
Despite relatively high levels of humidity which get respite from the trade winds that blow across the indian ocean, the islands enjoy moderate climatic conditions throughout the year. During the months of November through February, short-lived thunderstorms occur bringing with them heavy rainfall, but the storms are usually short-lived and sunshine is soon restored.
The three main islands inhabited by humans are Pralin, La Dique and Mahe which is the biggest of the three and the most populated. It’s also home to the capital, Victoria.
Along the coastline that surrounds Mahe, white sandy beaches and hidden alcoves can be found with palm trees reaching out from the dense tropical jungle that covers the centre of the island. A drive from one side of the island to the other will take the traveller through an undulating series of high mountains covered in lush green fauna.
The Seychelles boasts a proud history of wildlife conservation and are active in several international programmes to preserve the animals that have taken refuge in the archipelago.
Alphonse island, which is approximately 700 miles from Mahe, has been home to the Aldabra Giant Turtles for many years. It’s estimated that more than 150,000 of them have found a safe haven on the island and although the number of visitors to the island is restricted, close-up encounters with the ancient creatures is an experience never to be forgotten.
Bird island is another safe haven for wildlife found in the Seychelles. The island is a sanctuary to thousands of different bird species some which take refuge there during their long migratory journey.
The interior of the small island is covered by lush vegetation which offers nourishment to the few giant tortoises that cohabit the island with the birds. The small island is surrounded by stunning white sandy beaches, lapped by gentle waves and the crystal clear waters host a spectacular variety of marine life.
A short boat trip will take the visitor to the island of Praslin, one of just two islands where the famous Coco de Mer can be found. Huge in size, the Coco de Mer is considered by many to have medicinal value and some even believe the nut of the fruit has aphrodisiac powers. The Coco de Mer is a dioecious plant and in order to produce the mystical fruit, both male and female plants have to be within pollination distance of each other.
In addition to the protected fauna and flora of the islands, Seychelles is best known for its award winning beaches of fine, white, sand that stretch for miles in some areas reaching out to the crystal clear sea of turquoise. Underwater visibility in these waters is second to none and divers are treated to a colourful array of marine life where multitudes of different species gather around the corals and natural rock formations just off shore.
Snorkelling is one of the more popular ways to enjoy the experience and for those that do not have their own, equipment is readily available at most water sport centres found at most beaches.
For the more adventurous divers, scuba diving boat trips are on offer from most of the major tourist resorts and with independent operators competing for business, tasty lunches and drinks are usually part of the package. Rental equipment is also included and divers are accompanied by an experienced diving instructor while out at sea.
Most water sports are available on the islands including sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, jet skis and motor boats. For the less energetic, the sea retains a comfortable temperature and swimming is also safe.
Accommodation in the Seychelles varies from 5 star resorts to single star, less exuberant dwellings and wherever you choose to stay, you can be assured that the local cuisine, refined through the centuries from four different cultures, will not disappoint the palette.
It would not be far-fetched to say that the Seychelles is a paradise on earth. Its diverse geography and the warmth of its friendly people makes it ‘A must do trip’ for everyone.