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A Travel Guide to Seychelles

Whether you are looking for a spectacular honeymoon on a beautiful island or an R&R in a beach destination surrounded by forest-clad mountains, Seychelles wins the choice. A member of the African Union, Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. It is a group of 115 islands, with the coralline Outer Seychelles largely uninhabited and the granite Inner Seychelles home to government offices and tourist resorts. While the latter is where travelers opt to stay, the outer remote islands are great places for top views from chartered helicopter flights and popular diving destinations.

The Republic of Seychelles is unique among the African countries. Although income disparities are high, Seychelles claims the highest Human Development Index in Africa, with a high per capita income. Plantation, tourism and maritime are the main economic drivers.

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Seychelles landscape

Seychelles – The Galpagos of the Indian Ocean

Seychelles is a tropical paradise with coral and granite islands, sporting beautiful pink sand beaches and topped with forest covered mountains.  Most of the land area has protected status, and nurtures a unique biodiversity. Seychelles has one of the largest seabird colonies, with rare bird species like the magpie robin, Seychelles white eagle, Seychelles warbler, barelegged Scops Owl and the national bird, the rare black parrot. The northmost island, Bird Island, is also where you can expect to see the heaviest giant tortoise Aldabra roaming free on the island’s swamps and beaches.

Seychelles has many claims to fame beyond the touristy sun, sand and surf. The heaviest and largest seed in the world, the sea coconut seed or coco de mer, weighing 15-20 kg can only be found in the Seychelles.  Seychelles also boasts of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Valee de Mai on Praslin Island, where the unique coco de mer nuts grow on ancient palm trees, and the Aldabra coral atoll, home to the largest tortoises on earth. The capital of Seychelles, Victoria, also happens to be the smallest capital in the world and can be covered on foot easily, in half a day.

Once the land of pirates for its strategic location along sea routes and many hidden coves, the Seychelles can now claim to be the hottest travel destination for the rich and famous, and world events like the Miss World Beauty Pageants

When to go

Seychelles has a year round warm tropical climate, with temperatures rarely rising above 32°C or falling below 24°C. Most of the islands fall outside cyclone weather. The two peak travel seasons are during dry spells and calm seas – April-May and December-January. The wind-free conditions during October-November are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving.

Attractions

Seychelles is a tropical paradise with powder beaches, topaz blue waters, and lush green hills skirted by huge boulders.

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Pink sea beach

Beaches – Tourists to Seychelles are generally spoiled for choice regardless of whether a beach has a strong wind or high tide. Beaches are abundant, very often deserted and picturesque, with stunning over-the-water views. You can swim and laze or spot wildlife on-the-go. If you are lucky, you can spot ghost crabs, leaping blennys, flying fish and much more. Popular beaches include the world-famous pink beach at Anse Source d’Argent, the secluded Anse Marron and Anse Takamaka, and the beautiful Anse Lazio rated high on the world list.

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The Seychelles Giant Tortoise

Aldabra Atoll – The second largest coral atoll in the world, the Aldabra is a raised atoll enclosing a shallow lagoon home to endemic marine life found only in the Seychelles. It is a natural habitat for birds, and an important breeding site for endangered green turtles and hawksbill turtles. The site also has the largest population of giant tortoises, the numbers at 100,000 exceeding even the human population of Seychelles, of 93,000!

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The female coco de mer seed

Vallee de Mai – This national park on Praslin Island is a must-do for the amazing flora and fauna, including the native the coco de mer palm. The reserve is an ancient palm forest, frequented by naturalists and bird-watchers alike, for its unique plant species and birding hot spot.

Natural wonders – Seychelles is the place to watch nature’s miracles in their natural settings, from sea turtles nesting on sandy beaches to giant Aldabra tortoises roaming freely. Exotic orchid species, the native Coco de Mer, redwood trees, ironwood trees, and the jellyfish trees, are unique endemic species that will appeal to every hiker and naturalist.

Things to do

Seychelles offers you the choice of a relaxing holiday or a fun-filled adventure in the heart of a tropical island in the midst of the ocean. The pearly sand beaches, secluded coves, spectacular sunsets, and luxury resorts in a fairytale setting, make for a great tropical getaway. What’s more, there is plenty of adventure activities to indulge in, making Seychelles a complete holiday destination.

Hiking – Mahe and Praslin islands have well maintained hiking routes that are great for spotting unique flora and fauna unique to these islands.

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The female coco de mer seed Flocks of sooty terns, Bird Island

Birdwatching – With 12 endemic bird species, and hundreds of unique land birds and seabird colonies; Seychelles is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Coastal mudflats, freshwater wetlands, palm forests, and small uninhabited islands; are the best sites for birdwatchers and wildlife photographers.

Water based adventures – Seychelles appeals to both beach and water enthusiasts. The islands offer a wonderful opportunity for exploration by yacht, power boat, catamaran or sailboat. Windsurfing is a popular activity during the months of May and October, when surfers can take advantage of the moving trade winds. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular water sports, with some of the best snorkelling sites off Glacis, Mouse Island and along the reef at Port Launay.

A healthy and thriving coral ecosystem with canyon-like terrain, granite outcrops and rich coral gardens have made Seychelles a hot diving destination.

Nightlife – Mahe and Praslin are the only places to indulge in nightlife. Both islands have bars and pubs at swish hotels, open-air nightclubs, beach bars and discotheques.

Cuisine

Seychelles cuisine reflects the cultural fusion of the island. So you can expect Creole food, spicy Indian dishes and exotic Arab influences in the cuisine. Fish, seafood, fruits and rice dominate the food scene; flavored with a wide palette of spices, chutneys and coconut paste. Fruit juices, coconut milk and citronelle tea are popular drinks, while local brews and wines add to the liquor scene