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The Seychelles

May 28th to June 1st

After 16 hours of buses, trains, planes and overnight flying, we arrived in The Seychelles, four degrees below the equator and a thousand miles from everywhere.  They are in the Indian Ocean and like Hawaii, have pretty constantly nice weather, with lots of beaches.  The Seychelles consists of 115 islands although very few are inhabited.  When you fly here, you land on Mahe and can take a ferry to two other islands: Praslin and from there La Digue.  There are also tours that take you to some of the smaller ones.

Despite more rain than anywhere on our trip, which relegated us to just driving around checking out Mahe the first day, the Seychelles was one of the best experiences we’ve ever had, in many respects.  Rain here is warm and so is the temperature, so not unpleasant. We were told the next day we’d experienced a tropical depression.  That was the wettest day (although some nights were quite rainy).

Friday we took the ferry to Praslin for the day where we visited The Vallee de Mai National Park.  This is one of only two places where the coco de mer palm exists, along with five other endemic palm trees.  It was very reminiscent of the Galapagos to see how flora and fauna adapted due to their isolated location.  The coco de mer has largest seed in the world and is the only palm which is not self-pollinating. It is also very surprising and interesting how many similarities there are between human reproduction and coco de mer reproduction.  The free guided tour was one of the most informative and well organized park tours we’ve ever done.  This palm can live for 200 years and has age rings on the outside of its trunk rather than inside.   The trunk of the   base shaped like a toilet bowl through which the roots pass and that protects the tree by dampening the effects of strong winds.  After the 45 minute tour you are left to either walk back on your own or see more of the park. We hiked up to the overlook.  It had begun raining near the end of the tour but you just need to stand under a palm leaf and it acts like an umbrella.  The leaves feel like the corrugated plastic you use for porch roofs.  Unfortunately, the rain made the view less than perfect but we got to see a very friendly bulbul bird in the shelter.

We then caught a local bus that cost five Seychellois rupees (roughly forty cents) which turned out to be the wrong bus to Anse Lazio and we ended up on the north west side of the island rather than the north east.  So we had a little adventure hiking across the top of the island with some great views along a small path with a private beach along the way.  We also discovered Honesty Bar on a small beach before Lazio where we helped ourselves to a couple of beers and paid for them without ever seeing anybody.

Anse (which means small bay in Creole) Lazio was a spectacular beach with white sand, a gentle slope, shaded by palms and most importantly, very few people.  There were a couple of beachside restaurants but no hotel.  We had some great snorkeling with a great variety of fish and found another little private beach up the rocky coast as we snorkeled (some have commented n Facebook that it looks like a beach from Gilligan’s Island!).  And very exciting news: we swam with a turtle!!  The weather this day was the best with a lot of heavy rain before we left our rental unit for the ferry, and a bit in the park but the rest of the day was gorgeous.

The next day was a beach exploring day on Mahe.  It did rain a little off and on but nothing torrential.  At Pointe au Sel we had it to ourselves but the strong currents cut our snorkeling short.  Anse Intendance is a very dramatic beach for its length, roaring surf and powder sand where we strolled for a while with less than half a dozen people on the entire beach even though there is a large resort there.  There is no reef or any rocks here for snorkeling.

At Baie Terney Marine Park, which is quite remote, we had to pay a stipend to a ”security guard” and at the end of the road, found it was low tide and had to walk about a half hour along the side of the bay to reach a spot where the water was deep enough to get in and snorkel.  We saw many colorful fish very close up due to the gentle slope of the ground and it never got deep enough that the water was much above our hips.    We had to be extremely careful not to rub or touch any coral. Due to the low tide, water was also not that clear.  The eroded rock formations along the sides of this bay were postcard worthy, even the stuff of screen savers!

Sunset Beach is a pretty little cove where we snorkeled on both sides but the water was not as clear due to a little rain before we got there.  As it was near a resort, and by how the fish swarmed us, we felt the fish were being fed bread here (this appears quite common among some tourists but we don’t like to do this).

Beau Vallon beach is the longest on Mahe and was the area we stayed in.  It is said to be 3km long.  It is pretty and has powder sand and again a gentle slope with palm trees and the endemic takamaka trees.  We were fortunate just before dinner, to come upon a community beach netting of fish using one small canoe out in the water and several people pulling on opposite ends of the net from the shore.  We enjoyed a nice sunset dinner on the beach.

On our last morning, we wandered around the city of Victoria, the capital city, about four km from our condo and said to be the smallest capital city in the world.  We also took a stroll on Beau Vallon beach before being taken to the airport.

We loved this country and wish we had time here to explore more islands and more beaches.  There is a national park in the mountains on Mahe but as it was down pouring both times we wanted to do a hike, we missed this, although we did drive through some of be park on the days we explored Mahe.

Our accommodation here was a one bedroom self-catering apartment about a half click to Beau Vallon beach.  The owner both picked us up and dropped us at the airport and as well as renting us a car.  The trip back was in a mini-moke which was fun.