Seychelles – Tropical Paradise
Lying about 1,500 km east of mainland Africa, Seychelles, officially the Republic of Seychelles, is an idyllic archipelago nation and the perfect beach holiday destination. Its 155 picturesque islands are set in the heart of the sparkling blue Indian Ocean, with Zanzibar to the west, Mauritius and Réunion to the south, and the Maldives to the northeast.
It is not just a quiet beach destination. From the ‘smallest’ to the ‘biggest’, ‘oldest’ to the ‘rarest’, Seychelles adds a lot of superlatives to your travel journal.
The islands of the Seychelles are stunning, and well known as a blissfully isolated honeymoon haven with luxurious hideaways and excellent diving. Think of turquoise water…with a million corals as underwater baubles…sprinkle silver dust as sand on the shore…and you will get Seychelles
Imagine the swaying palms and a heavy seed, the Coco de Mer, as an appetizer. This seed is a coconut giant, an endemic coconut that takes 6-7 yrs to mature and its seed weighs about 18 kg (the world’s largest). You cannot hold it in your hand —— the largest recorded Coco de Mer weighed 42 kg. Its only natural habitat is the Vallee De Mai palm forest in Praslin Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It costs roughly $750, so you would rather chew gold than drink from this nut.
Seychelles is a county comprising 115 coralline islands that are considered one of the oldest on earth.
There is also a big, fat, brown Aldabra tortoise, the world’s largest land tortoise. Their home : Aldabra Island, the world’s largest “raised coral atoll” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The biggest and fattest among them all is Esmeralda (it weighs 304 kg).
It might seem like an “oxymoron”, but all these large, big things live and grow in a small country. A really small country. At the last count, Seychelles has 90,000 inhabitants of which 90% live in Mahe —the largest island. However, nothing beats the “tininess of Victoria”, the capital.
Walk into the world’s smallest capital and before you know where to start sightseeing it ends. You could walk it in 10 mins and been-there-seen-it-all in another 15. An old Church stands like a relic of the colonial age. A Hindu Temple shimmers in vibrant colours by the arcade. A cinema resembles a refurbished pigeon-hole. The monotony broken by Victoria market, where the air is redolent with the whiff of fresh sour-sop, cassava, mangoes, vegetables, cinnamon, vanilla and a green leaf that carries the aroma of four spices in one.
The crown jewel is the Big Ben. The Little Big Ben, actually. A tiny silver replica of London’s Vauxhall Clock Tower that was erected in the central roundabout to mark Seychelles’ new status as the Crown Colony.
Paradise is the permanent suffix of this island. The superlatives — smallest, largest, biggest, rarest and oldest certainly live here.