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Dotting the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, Seychelles is renowned for its tailor-made romantic getaways, adventure opportunities, and breath-taking natural beauty. This exceptionally picturesque archipelago is comprised of 115 coral and granite islands. Visitors can look forward to relaxing on sun-drenched beaches lapped by crystal-clear turquoise waters, visiting the lively capital city of Victoria, and exploring the colourful coral underwater wonderlands encircling the islands. Other major highlights include: abundant wildlife such as giant Aldabra tortoises and nesting sea turtles, indigenous plant life, and a host of tropical birds. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve and Aldabra Atoll.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
With relatively short travelling times between the islands and/or places of interest, different modes of transportation and with a regular network of air and sea transportation operating out of the principal island, Mahé, moving around in Seychelles is easy and hassle-free.
Bicycles are a good transportation on La Digue and on Praslin. They can be rented at Anse Volbert or through the hotels. Mahé is not recommended for bicycles as it is very hilly and bike rentals are not easy to find. Most people rent cars on Mahé. One advantage to hiring a bicycle is the up close and personal experience with virgin forests, hidden restaurants, artist’s galleries and miles of pristine white sand beaches.
Car rental is the best way for visitors to have the freedom they want while visiting the Seychelles. Mahé and Praslin have fairly good roads, but drivers should be cautious, because some drivers, and especially the bus drivers, tend to take the narrow bends in the roads at high speed. Driving is on the left.
Car-hire companies are plentiful on Mahé and there are also some on Praslin. The prices will more or less be the same everywhere. Cars can be booked through the hotels or through the tourist office in Victoria. There are also many car rental companies at the airport.
Drivers must be over 23 years and have been driving for at least one year. Companies will accept a national license, but it is good to bring an international license if possible.
The bus service on Mahé is extensive and reliable. For visitors who have the time, the bus is the best way to see Mahé. Praslin also has a reliable bus service that travels from Anse Boudin through Anse Volbert to Mont Plaisir, the Vallee de Mai, Baie Ste Anne, Grand Anse and to the airport. They go in both directions hourly except between Mont Plaisir and Baie St. Anne where they go every half hour. The tourist office has timetables.
Taxis offer full or half day tours of Mahé and Praslin. For taxis, visitors should ask the fare before starting the journey and make sure it is a licensed taxi with a TAXI light on the roof of the car. The driver should also have an identification badge. On La Digue, if time is not a consideration, there are ox-carts that will take visitors from the boat jetty to the hotel.
After deciding how best to navigate the land and sea of the Seychelles, visitors can take time to sail around the inner islands where there are easy sailing distances, safe moorings and spectacular natural beauty.
These islands were made for sail boats with scenic bays and romantic coves as well as Anse Lazio one of the most photographed beaches in the world. Sailing the outer islands is true adventure on the open ocean to tropical paradises where few have ever been. There are sailing operators on Mahé and Praslin for day charters with crews or bare boats for a genuine taste of freedom.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Lying 4°-11° south of the Equator, in the western Indian Ocean, Seychelles has a tropical climate: warm and humid with strong maritime influences. The temperature is consistently 24-32°C, there is no distinct dry season and there is some humidity at all times.
Many of the granitic Inner Islands have dramatic terrain; Mahé boasting hills rising to 900m. The rainfall increases with altitude, though it is the trade winds that really dictate the islands’ climate and name its seasons.
From May to October the south-east trade winds (Southeast Monsoon) bring a relatively dry period. Reaching its peak in July/August, there is little precipitation and temperatures average 27°C, though seas can be a little choppy.
By November (pre-Northwest Monsoon), the winds start to change, bringing light, warmer winds and the start of the main rainy season. During December to March (Northwest Monsoon), Seychelles gets extremely wet, especially in December and January, though the vegetation is lush, the winds generally light and the sun at its warmest. This is also the cyclone season, though only the most remote southern islands are within the cyclone belt.
This period is followed by the calmest, warmest month, April (Pre-Southeast Monsoon), as the winds die down and start to change direction.
Food and Drink
The influences of Seychellois Creole cuisine come far and wide, including Africa, China, France and India. The exotic blend of chilli, ginger, lemongrass, tamarind, coriander and coconut milk is a major feature. Rice is the staple food, though some may replace rice with breadfruit.
Fish is served many ways – salted, smoked, steamed, baked, grilled, mashed, curried and raw. Shark chutney – boiled and mashed shark mixed with fried onion, pepper, turmeric and topped with freshly squeezed bilimbi and lime juice – is popular too.
Tipping is not obligatory in Seychelles. For exceptional service, an additional tip is always welcome. Hotels and restaurants tend to include a tip of 5-10%, but luxury hotels and high-end restaurants may charge 10-15%.
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