Republic of Seychelles
270 sq km
(of African, Indian and European background)
English, French, Creole
There are more shades of blue and green in the Seychelles than it is possible to imagine. Forming a backdrop to the relaxed tropical image of the Seychelles are the rhythms, colours and flavours of Africa and gris gris, the local brand of black magic.
The Seychelles is a group of about 115 islands which lie 1600 km off the
coast of east Africa. The three central islands - Mahé, Praslin and
La Digue - are granite, while the outlying islands are coral atolls.
Unlike most similar islands, the Seychelles are not volcanic - they seem to be the peaks of a huge underwater plateau which fell off the edge of India about 65 million years ago.
The islands are rich in vegetation, but most of it is either coconut palms or casuarinas. There is virgin forest on the highlands of Malé and Silhouette, and in the Vallée de Mai on Praslin, where you'll find the extremely rare giant Coco de Mer Palm. In these high, remote areas you might also find the insect-eating pitcher plant, as well as a veritable bouquet of orchids, bougainvilleas, hibiscuses, gardenias and frangipani.
The Seychelles are a haven for wildlife, particularly birds and tropical
fish. There are four marine national parks, and more than 150 species of tropical
reef fish have been identified.
Snorkel off any reef-protected shore and you'll get an eyeful of fish and coral. Dolphin and porpoise are common between the islands, shark and barracuda less so, although the Seychelles are renowned for their game fishing.
The Seychelles are all about water. Snorkeling is a must-do for every visitor
- the best sports around Mahé and St. Anne, Anse Soleil, Petite Anse
and Île Souris.
Off Praslin, try around Chauve Souris Island. Diving, particularly around the outlying islands, is considered world class. There are several schools offering courses and equipment is available for hire. Windsurfing is particularly popular on Mahé and Praslin. Plenty of charter operation will take you deep-sea fishing.
For hydrophobias, the Seychelles still has plenty on offer. There are some fine challenges for rock climbers, particularly on Praslin and La Digue, where there's great block and cliff-face climbs. There are also some great hikes.