The Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean are amongst those rare locations where nature is so beautiful and diverse and the sensation that you have reached paradise so strong, that I might take the first time traveler a couple of days to adjust to the high beauty standards of the place. Each of the 115 islands that are part of the Seychelles archipelago represent a universe of its own. Among these, Mahé (also the administrative, economical and cultural region of the country), Praslin and La Digue are the most popular destinations, and concentrate a big part of the island’s attractions.
Due to various influences from both western European and African traditions, the culture of Seychelles is quite diverse. Although British and French colonial influences can easily be traced in the educational system, architecture, language and some social practices, the Seychellois society has still preserved numerous elements from the African culture (the most notable example being the fact that the island’s society is rather matriarchal). This mix or races, cultures and religions has also lead to the apparition of some new musical genres – Seychellois music is widely acclaimed for the elegant manner in which it manages to harmonize the French pop with African drums or European society dances with Polynesian instruments.
Despite the islands’ isolation, Seychelles tourism is on an ascending path: the island’s superb nature and warm climate all year round have determined many hotel chains to open their luxury hotels here, which are now enjoying a constant flow of tourists. The abundance of beaches can also transform a trip to Seychelles into a close encounter with the clear waters of the Indian beaches and some of the most finest sands in the world. Activities on the island vary in accordance to the two seasons: the dry season (which coincides with the European summer), is better for sailing, hiking and surfing, while the hot and humid season (European winter) invites for swimming, sun bathing and scuba diving.
Just as I stated above, the beautiful nature represents Seychelles’ greatest asset. Shady palm woods and maroon granite formation are the most representative geographic features on the majority of Seychelles’ islands. The exotic beauty of the island’s most renowned national park, Vallee de Mai, is quite exceptional. Hosting unique species like the mythical Coco del Mer or the rare Black Parrot, Vallee de Mai is in fact an ancient palm forest, home to numerous species of birds, insects and tropical plants.
But the secret treasure of Seychelles is represented by the Aldabra natural reserve, a hardly accessible atoll of inestimable scientific value. Its long isolation has helped Aldabra to preserve some amazing ecosystems, which are now being studied by teams of scientists from all the corners of the world. Even though the visitors access to Aldabra is partially restricted and closely monitored (actually, the whole archipelago has very strict policies in what concerns nature preservation), Aldabra represents a unique chance to observe not only life forms that have been existed in other parts of th world, and also see how a coral reef slowly emerges from the ocean.