Quick Guide: Seychelles

2013-05-31 11:06
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Weaving through decorative Madeira

This Portuguese island's prettiness strikes you front and centre as you wind your way through its narrow streets and bustling markets. To do Madeira itself justice you'll need more than a day, but here are a few things to try in the port of Funchal.

Over one hundred islands form an archipelago that we know as the Seychelles, with some of the world’s most stunning beaches, fishing, scenery and everything you could think up in an island holiday.
 
Where: You’ll find the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, around 1 500km off the East African coastline (near to where Kenya and Tanzania meet), and around 1 000km north west of Madagascar.

Mahé, one of the most popular islands, is the largest island of the Seychelles, lying in the north east of the nation.

Praslin is the second largest island of the Seychelles, lying 44 km northeast of Mahé.
 
Capital: Victoria
 
 
Head of state: President James Michel
 
Area
: 451km2
 
Languages
: Seychellois Creole, English and French are official languages,
 
 
Currency: The Seychellois rupee, one of which will set you back around R0.80.
 
Climate: The temperature in the Seychelles stays pretty constant throughout the year, with lows of around 24 to highs of 30. Expect consistently high humidity. The risk of cyclones in the Seychelles is very small.



(Shutterstock)
 
Time zone: UTC +4 (two hours ahead of South Africa).
 
When to go: December, January and February are fairly wet, and the mid-seasons (March and April, October and November) are the best time to visit as they are usually wind free. Peak tourist months are December and January, and July and August.
 
Food to try: Fish is the Seychelles’ speciality: look for grilled seafood with local edges, like red snapper sauced with garlic, chillies and ginger. Coconut milk is a common ingredient as is local produce like papaya. Indian Ocean fish like tuna are frequently found at the range of eateries across the islands, most of which are influenced by the blend of cultures inhabiting the country: Indian, Chinese, French and English. You won’t go hungry, and your taste buds won’t be disappointed.
 
Useful phrases: “Mon pa konpran” is pretty useful as it means “I don’t know”, but anything you can enunciate in French will be pretty useful in the Seychelles.
 
Official carrier: Air Seychelles
 
Getting there: Air Seychelles will fly you direct from Johannesburg. One-stop options include Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. All flights go to Seychelles International Airport in Mahe, near Victoria.
 
Visa: No visa is required to enter the Seychelles, but make sure you have a valid passport and your proof of departure from the country. Expect to be asked about where you are staying.
 


(Shutterstock)

Highlights for your visit
- The variance of underwater life in the Seychelles makes it one of the top scuba diving spots in the world. Enjoy the reefs – some of which are white due to natural phenomena – but also crags, drop offs, canyons and ship wrecks. Waters are at their calmest from March to April and September to October, but diving is possible all year round.

-  Curieuse lies just off the north-western coast of its close neighbour Praslin and is now a reserve managed by the Seychelles Centre for Marine Technology - Marine Parks Authority. Aside from Praslin, Curieuse is the only other island where the Coco-der-mer grows naturally, and also boasts an endemic vine and eight different species of mangrove.

- Sainte Anne Marine National Park, is a Marine National Park with one of the largest areas of sea grass of the granitic islands where green and hawksbill turtles are often found. Bottlenose Dolphins also frequent the park.

- The Dauban Mausoleum is built in a serene and secluded spot of Silhouette amid luxuriant vegetation of mainly coconut trees. It's imposing architecture, a special landmark of the island ranks high among the work of its kind in Seychelles.

Granite Boulder, La Digue - This National Monument found at the L’Union Estate was formed round 750 million years ago. The slow cooling of molten rocks has resulted in its especially large crystals. You will also be able to spot giant tortoise in the area, some are over hundred years old.



(Shutterstock)

- Anse Major is a secluded beach that requires a two-hour walk to get to from Mahe. Not only is the beach paradise on earth, the hike along a nature trail to get there is phenomenally beautiful. You can also get there by boat.
 
- Warnings: The only out-of-the-ordinary danger travellers can face in the Seychelles is when travelling by boat. Piracy is a notable threat in the Indian Ocean.
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