An archipelago of 115 islands, Seychelles boasts of some of the most picturesque shorelines in the Indian Ocean. Although famous for its pristine beaches, the country off East Africa is a hotspot for nature lovers; the nature reserves are home to some of the rarest animals on the planet. On the other hand, the charming capital city of Victoria, one of the smallest cities in the world, is known for its vibrant markets and attractive colonial buildings.
Set against the backdrop of beautiful hills, Victoria is Seychelles’ most important economic, political and commercial hub. The capital city has an old world charm with colonial buildings, cute botanical gardens, and a famous market. The market is the city’s main attraction.
Officially known as the Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, locals and tourists call it Victoria Market. It was built in 1840. It saw a wave of change and was renovated in 1999 and soon became a blend of the old and new. This market is the heart of Victoria with stalls selling souvenirs such as sarongs, flavoured oils and local art work. One can also buy local fruits, vegetables and spices here.
Bustling with colour, the market is open between 4am-5pm, Monday to Saturday
Tortoise Curieuse Island. Photo by: Chris-Close
Moutia Dance. Photo by: Gerard Larose
The northernmost island, Bird Island is a leafy paradise filled with fairy terns and sooty terns, surrounded by clear waters. A private resort with eco-friendly chalets, Bird Island is the nature enthusiasts ideal getaway. In the beginning, the island was known as Ile aux Vaches because of the dugongs (sea cows) that inhabited its waters.
Other than a large population of white-tailed tropicbirds, fodies, plovers and wimbrels, the island is home to Esmeralda, the world’s heaviest giant land tortoise living in the wild. The oldest and the heaviest, weighing in at over 300kg and reputed to be more than 200 years old, Esmeralda is a male tortoise. Other than him, there are over 20 Giant Aldabran Tortoises that roam around freely and, often, interact with the guests.
Besides tortoise watching, Bird Island has an array of activities including kayaking, nature tours, and dolphin and whale watching.
Lying about 45km northeast of Mahé, Praslin is the second-largest island in Seychelles and has a little bit of everything. Its biggest and most beautiful attraction is the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a nature park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is a mix of a preserved palm forest, a waterfall and flagship species like the black parrot.
Away from the nature reserve, Praslin’s other star attraction is the Black Pearl Farm. The ocean farm and workshop teaches its patrons pearl culturing and includes a gift shop for black pearl jewellery. For those who’d like to eat traditional cuisine, bat curry is a traditional dish in Seychelles and easily available at Creole takeaways.
Vallee De Mai, Praslin. Photo by: Torsten Dickmann
For those who’d like to step away from the adventure activities, the east coast of Mahe has Domaine de Val des Prés. The local attraction, fondly known as Seychelles craft village, is a huddle of craft shops grouped around an old plantation house. The crafts include a variety of items like model boats, pottery, paintings, clothing, and products shaped from coconut trees. Handmade jewellery and batik clothing can also be purchased.
The craft village also has the Grann Kaz Plantation House, dating back to around 1870. The inside of the house has retained a lot of its original features, making it worthy of a walk. ‘La Kaz Rosa’ is a typical 20th-century working-class home and ‘Maison de Coco, is a house built of coconut products that also sells gifts made of coconut.
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