Asia Family Traveller

Day tripper

What not to miss on a holiday in the Seychelles

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LA DIGUE

La Digue is world renowned for its stunning beaches, particular­ly Anse Source d’Argent and Grand Anse.

Hire a local guide to take a tour of the harbour, La Passe village and Anse Source d’Argent, which is the world’s most photograph­ed beach.

La Digue is the third most populated island of the Seychelles and the fourth largest by land area. It lies east of Praslin and west of Felicite Islands and is home to around 2,800 residents in the west coast villages of La Passe and La Reunion. There is no airport on the La Digue but it is linked by ferry with the islands of Praslin and Mahe.

VALLÉE DE MAI NATURE RESERVE

This UNESCO World Heritage status forest is so impressive that in the nineteenth century, British general Charles George Gordon propagated a myth that it was the biblical Garden of Eden.

The reserve consists of nineteen-and-a-half hectares of palm forest on the island of Praslin. Visitors can see the famous ‘coco de mer’, the largest seed in the plant kingdom and from a palm tree that is believed to have once grown in the depths of the ocean. You might also be able to spot the rare Seychelles black parrot as well as mammals, snakes and reptiles.

CURIEUSE MARINE NATIONAL PARK

This small island boasts a wealth of biodiversi­ty and has been designated a marine national park since 1979.

Curieuse is home to hundreds of giant tortoises that were introduced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There’s even a tortoise nursery on the island where hatchlings are nurtured until they turn five years old and are released into the wild.

Curieuse has an interestin­g history - for a hundred years it was a leper colony and the old doctor’s house built in 1873 is now a national museum housing displays on the Seychelles’ history and its flora and fauna.

Soak up the culture and then enjoy a dive at the coral gardens and Pointe Rouge, or take a fifteen minute boat ride to St Pierre islet with its fantastic snorkel and dive opportunit­ies.

MOYENNE ISLAND

Today stunning Moyenne Island is the world’s smallest national park within the Ste Anne marine National Park off the north coast of Mahé.

But it was once an unkempt brush pile. In the 1960s, Brendon Grimshaw, a newspaper editor from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, paid the grand total of GBP8,000 for the uninhabite­d island. He then spent a backbreaki­ng several decades transformi­ng it into the eco paradise that it is today. He hand-planted more than 16,000 trees, including 7,000 mahogany trees, and hacked away the undergrowt­h to create five kilometres of nature paths. His work has attracted more than 2,000 species of birds to the island and he also took care of 120 giant tortoises.

Moyenne Island now boasts more than two thirds of all endemic plants to the Seychelles. It’s also rumoured to be the resting place of the diamond and ruby encrusted ‘Fiery Cross of Goa’ which was allegedly buried by pirates in the 1700s.

Grimshaw was offered millions by investors for the island but he refused and in 2008 it was declared a National Park.

LE JARDIN DU ROI, MAHÉ

Le Jardin du Roi is located two kilometres up in the hills above Anse Royale. The lush spice gardens were created by French spice entreprene­ur Pierre Poivre. And yes, you read and translated that correctly - it is likely he was the ‘Peter Piper’ (or Pepper) of the famous English tongue-twister.

Poivre was a one-armed eighteenth century horticultu­rist, missionary and colonial administra­tor. In the 1760s, he became the Intendant of the Indian Ocean island of Réunion in Mauritius where he planted the Jardin Botanique des Pamplemous­ses (named after a nearby grapefruit-growing village), filled with plants from all over the tropics.

But importantl­y, he managed to smuggle cloves and nutmeg out of the Dutch East

India Company-controlled Spice Islands (today part of Indonesia) to cultivate in the French-controlled Seychelles, thereby breaking the Dutch spice monopoly. From the Seychelles, the spices were also introduced into nearby Zanzibar.

Along with the gardens, Le Jardin du Roi also boasts a restaurant and café with great views over the coast and there’s a one-room museum in the planter’s house.

MORNE BLANC, MAHÉ

The Morne Blanc hiking trail on Mahé leads you through an old tea plantation and up through lush rainforest until you reach a lookout point with spectacula­r views over the coast of western Mahé.

The two-kilometre track is accessible year-round and the hike up to the viewpoint perched on a sheer cliff takes around 45 minutes.

The forests are home to many of Seychelles’ endemic bird species, including Seychelles bulbul, Seychelles swiftlet and Seychelles sunbird.

Head up the trail early, though, as mist begins to swirl over the forest from midday, obscuring the views from the top.

 ??  ?? Turquoise seas at Cocos Island
Turquoise seas at Cocos Island
 ??  ?? Giant tortoises at La Digue
Giant tortoises at La Digue
 ??  ?? Taking time to relax at Ste Anne Marine Park
Taking time to relax at Ste Anne Marine Park

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