The Seychelles conjure up images of sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze and gently cruising around the islands. But Mahé is much more than that. It offers a wealth of nature and wildlife on its mountainous terrain, so on the ‘must do’ list for us was stretching our legs to explore the nature and wildlife in the marvellous interior.
In the Morne Seychellois National Park, where Morne Blanc is at 905m, the hiking trails are excellent, though a clear fine day is essential as clouds can roll in without warning making walking difficult and obliterating the views. We tackled two tracks – Les Trois Frères which we found was less demanding than the Copolia, though moderately steep in part. We shared the stunning views from the Three Brothers with our walking companions, Connie and Tony of Sage and discovered little nuggets of nature along the way. The photos endeavour to sum up the mood.
Copolia is about five km above Victoria, and our little hire car did well to manage the gradient and hairpin bends. The trek is very well worthwhile and at just under 500m it is only about a kilometre to the granite outcrop with its absolutely breath-taking panoramas – a fantastic reward for having conquered the steep final ‘ascent’. Whew! Photos again to capture the moment.
Apart from the Galapagos (see our blog Galapagos – San Cristobal) the Seychelles is the only place on earth with endemic giant tortoises. Elsewhere in the Indian Ocean, they are now extinct. Called the Aldabra giant tortoise, they are found in the wild on remote Aldabra Atoll, part of the Seychelles group, and now a World Heritage Site. Numerous giant tortoises live in captivity on Mahé, with breeding and conservation programmes being carried out on other nearby islands more suited to their reintroduction than the main island.
While a giant tortoise features on the Seychelles coat of arms, it is the curvy nut of the coco de mer palm that forms the outline of the immigration stamp in passports. The Seychelles is only place in the world where the tree grows naturally. Also called the coco fesse, the kernel is shaped like the ‘derrière’ of the fairer sex and is accordingly accompanied by many different legends. Examples of this rare palm line the avenue in the 100 year old Botanical Gardens set in the middle of Victoria – which are pleasant and tranquil for an afternoon stroll, visiting those giant tortoises and taking a few photos.
A little flower power: