These pages show you images of a one week stay in the Seychelles in May 2008. Images include the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. We arrive at Seychelles after a week of strenuous hiking on the island of Réunion. We spend our first day in Beau Vallon, Mahé resting and enjoying the views from our veranda. In the lush garden at Le Pti Payot there's enough to see. This turquoise-and-red Ornate Day gecko for example, climbing down a coconut palm. A pink sunset heralds the end of our first day at Seychelles. Tomorrow we'll travel from Mahé to Praslin, Seychelles' second largest island. One of the highlights of Praslin is the Vallée de Mai with its unique coco de mer palms. The palms can reach a height of 25-34 meters and only exists on Praslin and nearby Curieuse. The coco de mer palm has fan-shaped leaves with a length of 7-10 meters and a width of 4.5 meters with nerves radiating outwards from a central core. The trunk of the palm grows spikes as a natural defense against certain animals. At a certain moment in life coco de mers start flowering. It takes 6 to 7 years for the seeds to ripen after pollination. The nuts of the coco de mer are the largest seeds of all known plants. A fully grown seed can have a diameter of 40-50 centimetres and a weight of 15-30 kilograms. Legend has it that sailors who first saw the nut floating in the sea imagined that it resembled a woman's disembodied buttocks. In the shade of the coco de mer palms there's much more to see. The rays of the sun breaking through the dense canopy offer a warm bath for this lizard. Another lizard offers an almost graphical image. Its colours are only revealed by the flash of a camera. Higher up a third lizard almost falls through the gap between two leaves. Or is it just curious to see what's going on below? And there's another gecko climbing down to have a closer look at us. The Vallée de Mai is also a heaven for snails. Both on plants and under plants many different kind of snails creep along from tiny ones to this fist-size giant. A tiny snail tries to scale the trunk of a huge coco de mer palm. Vanilla is a kind of orchid that grows as a vine, climbing up an existing tree. Among the different species in the Vallée de Mai is also the jackfruit. The fruit grows directly on the trunk. Jackfruits turn brown and deteriorate quickly after ripening. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odour, resembling that of decayed onions. In the afternoon we make a short visit to Anse Lazio. Flying foxes abound. The next morning we leave Praslin for a visit to La Digue. With (almost) no motorized traffic we rent a bike and start travelling north along the coast. All over La Digue there are small beaches consisting of a few coconut palms, a couple of granite boulders, white sand and turquoise water. The road follows the coast line and continuously presents us with beautiful views. Every now and then we stop at a spot for a short swim at a secluded beach. This is paradise. At Anse Fourmis the road ends. Unfortunately no white sandy beach here. In the distance a woman walks over the reef to search for fruits de mer. We head back to the tiny settlement of La Passe, La Digue's only village. The afternoon is reserved for La Digue's most famous spot: Anse Source d'Argent. Anse Souce d'Argent is a picture postcard, even at high tide when most of the white sandy beach is under water. This is paradise! A peek between two huge boulders reveals a turqoise sea and, in the distance, La Passe (on the right) and Praslin (on the left). The boulders are higher than the coconut palms creating several secluded small beaches. Although this is the place to see on La Digue it is relatively quiet. Only a handful of people are around. Although it is possible to continue from Anse Source d'Argent towards the southernmost point of La Digue, this can only be done at low tide. At high tide this is were the walk ends. Unfortunately we cannot wait till low tide to continue further along the beach. A couple enjoys the silence with only a coconut palm, granite boulders and Praslin in the distance as onlookers. At the height of the day most people stick to the shadow. A small crab doesn't. The granite boulders are the result of millions of years of erosion where the softer surrounding material has eroded away and only the strongest material still survives. The enormous boulders contrasts with the fragile vegetation. Unfortunately we have to go back again as we cannot miss the last ferry back to Praslin. On our way back to La Passe we cross the grounds of the L'Union Estate coconut plantation, La Digue's main industry in the past. Ghost crabs are remarkably fast in running sideways. After a pleasant stroll we reach our bikes again and have a last look at lovely Source d'Argent. Crossing the L'Union Estate we pass a pen with a couple of giant tortoises. Anihilated in the past, giant tortoises now only still live in large numbers on Aldabra, a remote group of islands in The Seychelles, where they number in the 100,000. A lilac flower grows along the road. On the grounds of the L'Union Estate there's an old colonial-era graveyard. The graveyard contains a number of graves, some still standing erect but many tilted or tumbled over. We return to the harbour of La Passe for our transit back to Praslin again. Several small boats, some fishing ships, are waiting for their next trip. We catch the last ferry, a ship similar to these ships, back to Praslin. The 5 kilometre crossing from La Digue to Praslin takes half an hour. Although Source d'Argent on La Digue is great, Anse Lazio on the northern tip of Praslin isn't bad either. A long white sandy beach, turquoise waters and only a handful of others enjoying the scenery. Just behind the beach the lush green interior of Praslin begins. What more to do: lingering in the surf, swimming, snorkelling and relaxing. Although it is tempting to remain out on the beach the sun makes it better to remain in the shadow of the present palm trees. Also our stay on Praslin comes to an end and we head out to the harbour for our ferry back to Mahé. We leave Praslin for Mahé with the Cat Cocos, a catamaran that crosses the 45 kilometres between Mahé and Praslin in about 50 minutes. The silhouette of Silhouette is visible behind the setting sun. Back on Mahé we set out for a walk towards Anse Major. On our way we cross the tiny village of Bel Ombre, also situated along Baie Beau Vallon. On tour way towards Anse Major we hear some noise in the shrubs along the footpath. To our surprise a tenrec appears. A tenrec is a hedgehog like mammal imported from nearby Madagascar. We didn't see one there but were lucky here. The footpath to Anse Major crosses several eroded sections where most of the vegetation no longer holds. And then, after a 2.4 kilometer walk, we get our first view of Anse Major. The heat of the day makes the walk strenuous. Fortunately every now and then a refreshing breeze catches up. Again we enter an idyllic spot, a beautiful beach deserted apart from three other people. A familiar sight by now: tall and erect coconut trees. Alas, also this day comes to an end. As we walk back towards Beau Vallon we cast a last glance at Anse Major. Our last day at Mahé has come. In the morning we bring a last visit to the white beach at Beau Vallon. It's busy at Beau Vallon. Fishermen have come ashore to sort out the catch of the day. The fish is sorted on the beach, washed and transported to other parts of the island where the catch will be sold. Today we've rented a car to visit the rest of Mahé. Although it is possible to use the local bus, this would take too much time. Our first stop along the way is the beautiful beach of Anse Royale. The crystal clear waters are very inviting so we spend some time snorkelling around the islet in front of the beach. Although less impressive than on La Digue, granite rocks litter the beach. A local fishermen wading through the shallow waters to try some spear fishing. The crystal clear waters of the various lagoons are separated from the deep ocean by coral reefs. Police Bay is a splendid spot at Mahé's southernmost tip. Unfortunately the currents are too strong to swim here. Another picture postcard beach is Anse Takamaka. The white sandy beach, the blue sky, the green water and the shade of a couple of coconut palms. After Anse Takamaka it's time to go back again to Beau Vallon. Our stay at Seychelles is unfortunately coming to an end. Our last evening at Le Pti Payot in Beau Vallon gives us another great sunset. With the sun gone, the sky turns from yellow and orange to blue and darker blue.
Anse Takamaka, Seychelles
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