Discover the Seychelles at your own pace
So this weeks blog is all about the Seychelles. A destination that has a special meaning to me (Niels) as I was lucky enough to spend a year in this little island paradise many years ago. And lucky enough to rediscover it again on a two-week holiday.
I have always had a strong fascination for remote tropical islands and the Seychelles have been on my bucket list since I watched the series of the famous Dutch author and explorer Boudewijn Buch as a teenager. According to the history books, it was a secret place where pirates and adventurers would find shelter during their voyages and where giant land tortoises are roaming free on lush green tropical islands. I needed to go and not just for holiday but I needed to find a way to really discover the islands and work with nature and the local people. It took time and a lot of research but I found a way. How? Well, first things first !
Officially République des Seychelles, is an independent archipelagic island nation in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea. It consists of 115 islands divided in several groups. The Seychelles were uninhabited throughout most of recorded history. Some scholars assume that Austronesian seafarers and later Maldivian and Arab traders were the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles.
The earliest recorded landing was in January 1609, by the crew of the Ascension under Captain Alexander Sharpeigh during the fourth voyage of the British East India Company. A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the islands were said to be occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control starting in 1756. A very interesting history of the islands followed but long story short. Times have changed and currently this African island nation is focussed on fishing and tourism.
If you are planning to visit the Seychelles for let’s say a two week holiday, we suggest the following: fly to the capital Victoria on the island Mahe and include the islands Praslin and La Digue to your itinerary.
Yes there are 115 islands but these three will offer you a great taste of the island life for a reasonable budget. If you are a movie star, super model, lottery winner or scientist you might have the budget to visit some of the more remote islands. Whichever way you choose to visit, BE AWARE, as soon as you step on any of the islands you might never want to leave !
To get around the islands Mahe and Praslin, most accommodation offers or can recommend you a car rental which is under 50 euro a day including insurance. This gives you the chance to explore the islands at your own pace. La Digue however is so small that a bike is the way to go. Travelling between the islands is done with the inter-island ferry and you get your tickets online.
What is so special about the Seychelles? Well, like the Galapagos islands the Seychelles have developed a unique ecosystem. Without the interference of a mistake of evolution called humans, endemic plants, bird species and giant land tortoises evolved on their own. Reading the books of the first explorers, the interesting biodiversity was the reason why I want to come to the Seychelles and not just as a tourist but really take the time to live it.
I was finishing my studies and in between jobs when I had contacted several organisations in the Seychelles. I was interested in marine research. I had studied and worked in horticulture for many years and wanted to find a way to expand my diving hobby and learn more about marine life. It turns out that the Seychelles is a great place for people with an interest like me but do not have a university degree in marine biology. It is enough to love diving and have a keen interest in marine biology to be able to spend a few months in the Seychelles. Really?
Yes, I made a list of NGO’s and organisations and wrote them all. To my surprise I got response and I got a work placement as research assistant with Nature Seychelles on Cousin island. This small 29 hectare island nature reserve, offers daily guided visits to tourists and has year round scientists and volunteers working on marine, bird and sea turtle surveys. As a volunteer assistant researcher you are working as a guide and are trained to participate in research and surveys. The island owned by Birdlife International, is famous for its large population of nesting seabirds and rare endemic blue pigeons and magpie robins of which there are less than 250 left in the Seychelles and the world. And a population of about thirty live on Cousin Island.
Besides birds also sea turtles are visiting the island to make their nest during the day. Yes anywhere in the world sea turtles nest at night, but the Seychelles are one of the few places in the world where they nest during day. And if you are in the right season you might be lucky enough to see them in action on the beach. Monitoring the Hawksbill and Green turtle population is needed to provide the necessary data to protect them better but as well develop responsible guidelines for eco-tourism for the islands. Many such interesting projects can be found with organisations like Global Vision International or private island resorts (like bird island) and special reserves (e.g. Cousin Island or the island conservation society). If you are looking to spend a few months in paradise learning more about conservation, this is a great way to do it.
It was 12 years after I spend a few months living the Robinson Crusoe life on Cousin Island, that we returned to the Seychelles for holiday. The islands had changed and tourism has developed but it is still far from mass tourism and it’s easy to escape the crowds and find your own piece of white sand palm tree beach and blue lagoon for the Instagram shots many of us are after. A short list of our five favourite things to do:
Rent a bike on La Digue and explore the world’s most amazing beaches
Get a local guide and hike around the island of Praslin
Visit Cousin Island and learn more about the unique wildlife of the Seychelles and conservation. See turtles nesting on the beach.
Visit Vallee de Mai and the largest coconut in the world "Coco de Mer"
Take a day trip to Curieuse island for great snorkeling and a stroll around the island accompanied by giant land tortoises
Eat local and get a taste for the creole cuisine
These are our favourites but there is so much more. And currently world travel is still very much restricted but let’s hope things will open up soon as the lives of many people and their families working in tourism dependent on it. The islands of the Seychelles are open for several exempted countries but if your country is not on the list but like to dream about your future holiday. You find all the information on advisory.seychelles.travel
Or visit our photo gallery with the best shots of the Seychelles HERE. Thank for reading our blog !
By Travel2Sea.com (June 21th, 2021)
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