Suffering from visions of tropical paradise? Here is your medicine...
> 3 weeks of exploration across Mahe, Praslin, Curieuse, and La Digue in the Seychelles <
The human mind loves beautiful landscapes. Mental affection for certain views could be encoded both culturally and genetically into our brains; most people think that palm-fringed white beaches are beautiful and alluring. And generally speaking, across cultures, people are shocked by the utter beauty of an atoll in the Maldives, the otherworldly rock-clad beaches of the Seychelles, and the green-volcano-in-a-blue-lagoon sight of Bora Bora island in Polynesia.
So what do these places have in common, which make us conclude that they are some of the most eye-catching places we’ve ever seen? Is it because many of us reside in big cities, but actually wished for a simple life in the wild nature? Or is it because media has bombarded us with pictures of azure waters and white beaches and described such places as guarantees for the ultimate holiday? We think (or at least Jakob thinks - he used to work as a geneticist) that humans from nature - genetically encoded, perhaps orchestrated in the evolutionary older reptile-part of our brain - create a certain positive feeling when we look at beaches with swaying palm trees, clear waters with a claim horizon, and golden sand. Perhaps we want to go to such places because they make us feel safe, secure and relaxed.
The Seychelles is one of the places, which makes our inner and outer smiles and happiness grow. The explanation is quite simple: The islands really are magnificent. We went to this particular Indian Ocean archipelago on a longer backpack holiday to hop around the so-called Inner Islands of the Seychelles. It's a fairytale island nation with soft, green mountains, deserted beaches with smooth boulders, a simple life style, and friendly locals. The travel experience enriched us with much more besides the picture-perfect beaches: huge coconuts, the giant tortoises living in open nature, historical mansions, great diving, spicy Creole seafood, jungle treks through ancient UNESCO jungle, bicycle rides on islands with no cars, and the list goes on. We also found that traveling in the Seychelles is a bit expensive, but the return on investment is huge. DIY-vacation arrangements will reduce cost a lot so our recommendation would be to arrange everything by yourself.
North of Madagscar and just south of the Equator, the 115-island archipelago consist of 6 different island groups, including granite islands and atolls. Our island-hopping vacation took us around the country, focusing on all of the "Inner Islands" clustered around the main island of Mahé.
If the Seychelles is known for one thing it's the beaches. They are for sure otherworldly beautiful, something out of a vivid cartoon or a surreal painting. One morning, while on La Digue Island, we went up early and biked to the beach named Anse Source d'Argent. Perhaps one of the most photographed - but least visited! - beaches in the world. We stayed at the beach several days in a row, reading books, and comtemplating on which island to visit next
Creole boy saying hello to the camera. The mixed population of only 100,000 people - the smallest nation in Africa - is a mix of African, Indian, French, and Arab origin. The result is a handsome and open-minded people
The giant tortoise only lives naturally in two places on Earth: The Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles and the Galapagos Islands. In Seychelles there are more than 100,000 whereas Galapagos has around 20,000 tortoises. We met the facinating animal several places, at this phote on Curieuse Island
Another shot of Anse Source d'Argent, La Digue Island. White sand and palm trees backed by naturally sculpted granite boulders. There's similar granite boulder beaches elsewhere, but Anse Source d'Argent should be the best. Others are the Anambas Archipelago between Malay Peninsula and Borneo, Virgin Gorda in British Virgin Islands, Cape Town, Similan Islands in Thailand, Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, and Belitung Island in Indonesia
Religion in Seychelles is mixed as is human race and language. This nice old church was catholic, and on Sunday mornings a good-sounding hymn was spread towards the nearby beach area where we recided
Mahe Island's most developed beach area (! - still few people). A long, brilliant arc of white, soft sand laces by tamaka trees and palms. We stayed there a couple of days to head into the Morne Seychellois National Park for hiking in the jungle. We also went diving at more far-away sites from Beau Vallon. Midway between Mahe and Silhouette Island, Shark Bank is the shallowest area for hundreds of kilometres and has a rich concentration of pelagic fish, incl. various shark species.
We circumnavigated Mahe Island, the central island in the Seychelles. The west coast is exquisite on the eyes where we could truly find our own slice of paradise: Baie Lazara is a horse-shoe shaped bay with palm trees and perfect turquise waters. We stayed at a eco-resort on the cliff side, not bad!
At quit Baie Lazare, an ultimate tropical paradise
A lively place, especially in the morning. Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, is a nice little town. It has only one traffic light and a few roads.
Victoria harbors the only Hindu temple in the country. It was like visiting a temple in Tamil Nadu, India - very authentic
Fresh fruits and coconuts are for sales at many places, here at the great beach area named Anse Tamaka. Ohh, those juicy tastes, one can never get anything like it in Europe. So. when we travel in the countries around the Equator, a large proportion of breakfast and lunch is usually, papaya, mango, banana, avocado, coconut, pineapple, passion fruit, and more local specialties.
... from our hotel bungalow! (Lazare Picault Hotel). It was naturally build on the cliff side, blending into the jungle.
Another west-coast beach on Mahe Island. The fisherman was carrying in the days catch and the lady next to him started to BBQ-prepare some of the fish for the tourists that had pre-ordered dinner in the morning
Thousands of the large flying foxes, or fruit bats, fly into the night at dusk. They were all over the different Inner islands of the Seychelles.
It was easy to hop between the islands and make great travel itineraries. Several times a day one can travel with fast ferries between Mahe, Praslin and La Digue islands. The remaining island groups can only be reached by expensive flights or infrequent ferries
In some aspects the Seychelles operates like a "true" African nation: The local transport system is alive and functional, and old buses pave the coastal roads of Praslin island. This enabled us to explore a new corner of the magnificant island every day over the week we stayed at Praslin
After a week on Mahe Isl. we went to Praslin Isl., the second largest island in the Seychelles archipelago. It has few inhabitants and a uniquely relaxing ambience, plus some of the world's best beaches. In the center of the island lies UNESCO World Heritage Vallée de Mai, a protected nature reserve made up of a giant palm forest. It has the largest palm trees in the world which only grow here - the Coco de Mere - and it has been completely untouched and only discovered in 1930ies
One morning we decided to explore the north coast of Praslin Island. We took a bus and went along coast and jungle-paths to three different beaches - all remote and completely pristine. Anse Georgette in the very north is outstandingly beautiful and has some big nice waves.
Curieuse Island was a great day tour from Praslin and full of Seychelles history and nature. An old leprosarium remains, build in French era-architectural style. Throughout the 19th and 20th century the island was home to leper colonies. We went around the island along bridgewalks in mangrove-forests. A not-to-miss experience is the many free-living giant Aldabra tortoises which lives around the island in a relaxed natural setting. The whole island is a national park.
In vivid colors and heavy rains. The weather was generally superb but some afternoons thunderstorms could roll in. Allways, rain in the tropics is a photographers dream
There are also more than 500 tortoises walking around the island.
Giant tortoise, Curieuse Island
This gorgeous beach lies in a large bay with two green mountain peaks on each side. We took the local bus to a neraby stop and had to walk the last 30 min along a track through the jungle. Amazing,
The main road on Praslin island is pictured. It was silent and very little crowded.
Creole girl from Seychelles; The majority of people living in the Seychelles are creole and a mix of malagasy (Madagascar/Polynesian origin), East African, Indian, Chinese, British and French origin.
After Praslin we went a week to La Digue Island. One afternoon Jakob took a stroll through the jungle and stumpled upon this small beautiful bird, by coincidence. It was a male Seychelles paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina), a critically endangered species only native to the island of La Digue. Apparently the global population is less than 300 birds today
La Digue was magnificent. Very few cars, a bike-only sort of island, with narrow jungle roads. We rented bikes and took a new road each new day, to a new beach. Grand Anse on the south side was spectacular. A wild beach with big waves, soft sand and palm trees. It was enclosed by huge granite boulders on each side.The Inner Islands of the Seychelles are sort of a "microcontinent"; their evolution is not of volcanic or coraline origin as is the other islands in the Indian Ocean, but granite.
Labyrinthine paths among granite boulders at Anse Source d'Argent, charming island of La Digue.
At Anse Bonnet Carré, La Digue western seaboard