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The Seychelles are a series of islands far off the African coast in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Predictably, the Seychelles' main attractions are its beaches and shimmering, turqoise waters. Snorkelling and diving are of the highest order - you can't really get much better than Seychellois waters in terms of natural beauty and abundance of fish and other sea creatures. The granite islands have the added bonus of featuring distinctive inland beauty.
The second major tourist function of the Seychelles is its bird population. Besides being impressively large, it is also strikingly unique, with some species of bird found here that are found nowhere else. Accordingly, four islands have been set apart as bird sanctuaries. Bird watchers should find enough to tantalize their senses for days.
Due to its remoteness, the Seychelles are an expensive destination. But if you've got the money, it's well worth the trip. Probably the best 'budget' island will be the main island of Mahé, where some guesthouses and B&B's are available.
While Austronesian seafarers or Arab traders may have been the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles, the first known European recorded sighting of them took place in 1502, by the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama, who passed through the Amirantes and named them after himself (islands of the Admiral). The first recorded landing and first written account was by the crew of the English East Indiaman Ascension in 1609.
As a transit point for trading between Africa and Asia, they were occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control of the islands starting in 1756 when a Stone of Possession was laid by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s Minister of Finance.
The British contested control over the islands with the French between 1794 and 1810. Jean Baptiste Quéau de Quincy, French administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom, declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain, which gave the settlers a privileged position of neutrality.
Britain eventually assumed full control upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, and this was formalised in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. The Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903 and independence was granted in 1976, as a republic within the Commonwealth. In 1977, a coup d'état ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham, replacing him with France Albert René. The 1979 constitution declared a socialist one-party state, which lasted until 1991. The first draft of a new constitution failed to receive the requisite 60 percent of voters in 1992, but an amended version was approved in 1993.
The Seychelles are located to the northeast of Madagascar and about 1,600 kilometres from mainland Africa. The number of islands in the archipelago is officiall over 150, but some of them are not more than some sand and a lonely tree. There are 42 granitic islands, including the main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, 44 coral islands, 67 raised coral islands and 2 coral sand cays.
The Seychelles consists of 155 islands. Below are some of the most popular ones.
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is on the Unesco World Heritage List on the island of Praslin. It is one of only two places in the world where you can see the coco de mer palm growing in their natural state. The other location is Curieuse Island. This valley's forest is just marvelous and the view of sunlight filtering through is just great! The famous coco de mer, from a palm-tree once believed to grow in the depths of the sea, is the largest seed in the plant kingdom. With some luck you might see the Seychelles black parrot here. As this is a fragile forest area, keep to the tracks and don't take anything away or leave behind.
The other UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Seychelles is the Aldabra Atoll, which contains four large coral islands which enclose a shallow lagoon. In their turn, this group of islands is surrounded by a beautiful coral reef. Because of the fact that it is rather difficult to access and due to the relative isolation of the Aldabra Atoll, it has been protected from human influence. As a result, this natural wonder is home to well over 150,000 giant tortoises, the world's largest single population. Other species of animals to be found are tiger sharks, manta rays and thousands of seabirds. If you want to visit, you have to get special permission in the capital Victoria. Only scientists are allowed to stay for longer times.
The Seychelles contain many uninhabited islands which cost a fortune to visit, if at all possible. Of the main islands Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, the latter one is probably the best one to visit, as it is the quietest. La Digue also is home to the famous Anse Source d'Argent, the picture perfect image of emerald waters, white palm fringed beaches and the very special round granite rocks. As it is the least developed of the main islands, it is probably the best to get away from it all without paying very high prices and maybe a place you want to stay much longer than you planned.
This fun, annual event is spread over three days at various locations on Mahé Island to highlight the various cultures that have helped shape the Seychelles. It features float parades during the day, while all main hotels host special events that take place the first few weeks of February.
Celebrating French culture in mid-March, Semaine de la Francophonie is a similar entity to that which is enjoyed in Franco-influenced destinations around the world. The week-long party takes place on Mahé Island and features an array of art exhibitions and literary readings, along with French music, song, fashion and food.
Don’t be surprised to see lots of parading and partying over the Easter period. Seychellois are a deeply religious folk and these events are a jolly affair, when street fests are accompanied by numerous food stalls and colorful music of the region.
Independence from the UK in 1976 in celebrated and relived on June 29 throughout the Seychelles, with lots of flag-waving and the obligatory singing and dancing to local tunes. Beaches, parks and streets are filled with festivities, fireworks and special events put on by the resorts.
Held during the pleasant high season months of August and September, the hotly anticipated Beau Vallon Regatta is comprised of yacht races and a myriad of other water events. There is a swimming competition, tug-of-war (on land) and all sorts of events that tourists can get in on at the beach. Beau Vallon is especially busy at this time, so be sure to pre-book hotels as far ahead as you can.
On the quiet retreat of La Digue Island near Praslin in Seychelles is a collection of fun events incorporating Assumption Day (August 15). Spread over three days in mid-August, the celebration includes a bicycle tour, the Miss Fun Park pageant, and various sports, dances and competitions, including coconut peeling.
This three-day event at Mahé’s main beach (Beau Vallon) takes place in early October and is all about promoting underwater conservation. People come from all over to see films and photographs of the world beneath the waves. Accompanying the event are boat rides, screenings, a natty craft bazaar and lots of competitions.
A must for tourists visiting Mahé, Praslin or La Digue in the last week of October is this fabulous six-day foodie event. It celebrates everything Creole, including their arts, crafts, music, dance and food. Hit any main area on these islands, including (and especially) Victoria, Beau Vallon and Anse Royale on Mahé Island, and you are sure to be in for a treat.
The Seychelles have a warm and humid climate but as the distance to the sea is never more than a few kilometers in most places, there usually is nice and cool breeze during most of the year. Temperatures are around 30 °C during the day and still above 20 °C at night most of the year. The best time to visit the Seychelles is during the southeast monsoon season which lasts from late May to September when both temperatures and rainfall are lowest. The warmer and wetter season is during the northwest monsoon which lasts from March to half May.
Air Seychelles is the national airline of the country and is based at Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) near the capital Victoria on the main island of Mahé. It has flights to and from Bangkok, Johannesburg, London, Milan, Munich, Paris, Port Louis (Mauritius), Rome and Singapore.
Doha (Qatar Airways), Dubai (Emirates), Nairobi (Kenya Airways), Frankfurt and Munich (Condor) and Reunion (Air Austral) have flights to the Seychelles as well.
There are no international passenger services, so it all comes down to being lucky enough to catch a ride on a cargo ship or yacht.
Air Seychelles flies between Mahé and Praslin at least 20 or 25 times a day. Smaller planes fly to La Digue and the islands of Bird, Denis, Fregate, Desroches and Alphonseand and Assumption Island and Coetivy can be reached by air charter. To end, there also are many VIP charters to private islands.
Helicopter Seychelles also flies between the main islands Mahé, Praslin and La Digue and has some charter flights to and from other smaller islands.
There are no passenger trains on any of the islands of the Seychelles.
Renting a car is possible on the islands of Mahé and Praslin and can be surprisingly cheap. Most international as well as local companies have rental cars at the international airport on Mahé and a few companies have cars on Praslin. You can get anywhere with a car and with so many beaches and viewpoints to explore, this is probably the best way to get around if you are with at least 2 people. Most roads are paved, but roads on Mahé can sometimes be narrow and winding. Traffic drives on the left and your national driver's license is sufficient.
Especially the smaller islands of Praslin and certainly La Digue are perfect to explore by bike. Although bicycles are for hire on Mahé as well, the steep hills and bigger distances combined with heavier traffic makes this a less popular island to explore by bike. Most other islands can easily be explored by foot.
The SPTC (Seychelles Public Transport Corporation) runs daily bus services on the islands of Praslin and Mahe during most of the day except late evening and night times. Most buses usually pass by every 15 minutes or so along the main roads. These buses are an excellent and cheap way of getting around but don't give you the opportunity to go everywhere.
There are several daily round trips between Mahé and Praslin with a high speed catamaran, taking around one hour. Cat Cocos now offers fast and reliable transport between the two islands.
There are also around 5 round trips daily between Praslin and La Digue by ferry, taking around 30 minutes and the schedule is timed to interconnect with the Mahé to Praslin service.
Most nationals do not require a visa. Travellers must have valid passports, valid for at least 6 months, proof of onward or return transport and a hotel reservation. These are asked for at the airport, though usually naming a hotel will be sufficient as well.
Extensions are possible for up to a year, but will cost you if you intend to stay more than 3 months ($40).
See also Money Matters
The rupee is the currency of the Seychelles. It is subdivided into 100 cents.
Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents, and 1 and 5 rupees. Banknotes come in denominations of 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 rupees.
Tourism is one of the most important sectors of the economy. In fact, about 15 percent of the work force is directly employed in tourism, and employment in banking, transportation, construction, and other activities is closely tied to the tourist industry.
The University of the Seychelles offers possibilities to study.
The official languages of Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English and French. Seychellois Creole, a French-based creole language, is by far the most commonly spoken language in the archipelago, being spoken natively by about 95% of the population. Nevertheless, the country was a British colony for over a century and a half, and thus, English is the main language used in government and business. The French language was introduced before the British rule and has remained in use largely thanks to the Franco-Seychellois minority and the language's proximity to Seychellois Creole.
Seychellois cuisine has been greatly influenced by the islands' rich cultures. Creole cooking, varied seafood dishes, coconuts and curries are the most popular. The main product of the country, fish, is cooked in a variety of ways. Especially the red snapper is very tasty and well known to visitors. There are restaurants that serve Chinese, Indian and Italian food as well as local cuisine.
Accommodation on the Seychelles ranges from top notch luxurious resorts down to budget guesthouses and everything in between.
Most resorts can be found on the main islands of Mahe and Praslin. A few (very) high end ones, like the North Island, have their own private islands. Additionally, you will find an array of 'small hotels' which can be ideal as a get-together venue with that special feeling of exclusiveness.
The Seychelles are not tolerant of backpackers turning up at the airport without accommodation booked. In such a situation, you will likely be taken to a counter where you will have to book & pay for accommodation for the duration of your trip before being allowed through immigration. Visitors need to provide details of their accommodation on their landing card, and additionally, being questioned by the immigration officer about their accommodation details.
If you enjoy a good beer you must try the local Seybrew beer, it tastes similar to a light Bavarian style beer and is a must to get you through those balmy days. You can save yourself a packet buying the beer from stores on the side of the road like the locals do rather than from hotels. A dark Takamaka Rum on the beach under the stars is the best way to end a day on the Seychelles.
Tap water is safe to drink in most areas of the Seychelles, but water quality is variable in undeveloped areas. It is recommended to drink bottled water only and to avoid bodies of fresh water like lakes, rivers, ponds, etc.
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to the Seychelles. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering the Seychelles) where that disease is widely prevalent.
Still, it's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to the Seychelles. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also both hepatitis A as well as typhoid would be recommended. If you are staying longer than 3 months or you might consider hepatitis B and typhoid vaccinations.
Chikungunya virus is a disease spread by mosquitoes, and causes flu-like symptoms. It is increasing in concern and although it is rare to die from it, the joint pain it causes can last for months. Insect repellent can help deter mosquitoes but not much else can be done as a precaution. The disease is native to East Africa and occasionally is introduced and quickly eradicated.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
The Seychelles are a safe group of islands and you won't face any major problems, other than possible hazards regarding weather or some diseases. But in general, the whole atmosphere is pretty relaxed and only small problems like pickpockets might pose some threat.
Wifi is increasingly available in many hotels and restaurants, sometimes at a cost.
See also International Telephone Calls
Seychelles' international telephone code is 248.
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Ask mariotravelio a question about Seychelles
I'm an avid traveller that is in love with nature! With a deep set passion for my home continent, I am perhaps slightly biased in my love for Africa. And, as I get to travel to the Seychelles for business and family, they are of course a particular favourite. I have managed to find some of the most exclusive spots, and my backpack and camera are always at the ready… Just say the word!
Ask gavinb a question about Seychelles
My name is gavin and am from england. i have been living in seychelles for three years.working as a marine engineer for a large yacht charter company. I can help by providing cheap accomadation on the main island of mahe in my appartment.
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