World-famous for the legendary beauty of its 115 islands, Seychelles is a country of contrasts and striking natural splendour, rolling from mist-clad granite peaks through virgin forests down to a sapphire ocean. Such was the sight that met the first intrepid travellers to its shores as early as the 8th century A.D. - and perhaps even before that – and by and large it is one that greets them still. Reassuringly, in a world that is changing rapidly, the Seychelles Islands have remained wonderfully untouched.
The secret of Seychelles appeal as a holiday destination and as an archipelago ranked among the most beautiful on the planet lies in these contrasts between the towering, lushly-vegetated granite islands and the shimmering, silver-sanded coral isles, sand cays and atolls of its remoter Outer Isles. However, perhaps Seychelles’ greatest attribute of all is the amazing degree of diversity it displays across the broadest spectrum.
Since the earliest days of settlement in the mid-eighteenth century by a prophetic assortment of ‘15 whites, five Malabar Indians, seven Africans and a Negress’, Seychelles has remained a melting pot of humanity with intertwining ethnic strains from the four corners of the planet. At different times in its history these shores have been visited and often settled by Arab seafarers, African slaves, Europeans, Indians, Chinese and other representatives from almost every country on earth.
The genuine, naturally evolving, multi-ethnic roots of Seychellois society is what, today, provides it with its homogeny and with the striking degree of harmony it enjoys in an increasingly troubled world. It has also, over many years given rise to a great diversity of cuisine where the refined culinary arts of the old French kitchen have fused with the piquant flavours of the East in the form of many varieties of curry as well as popular Chinese rice dishes featuring stir-fried vegetables and noodles with steamed fish. Everywhere Seychelles is deeply impregnated by this same miscellany – so clearly evident in the culture, architecture, Seychellois Creole language (Kreol) and music & dance, all of which give proof of the many and considerable influences which have been brought to bear from different parts of the world.
Since some 150 million years, when Seychelles first broke free from the giant landmass of Gondwana, the islands have been sanctuaries for some of the most remarkable species of flora & fauna on Earth. Once again, its diversity is such that, even with its limited landmass, Seychelles boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the legendary Vallée de Mai, home of the mysterious Coco-de-Mer, and Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll.
Safe inside the boundaries of their secure, island worlds, the spectacular assortment of endemic and indigenous species is difficult to grasp. Nowhere else on earth will you find the Jellyfish Tree, the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, the world’s smallest frog, heaviest land tortoise, the Indian Ocean’s only flightless bird as well as some of the most spectacular seabird colonies in the world boasting 13 species and 17 subspecies that occur here and only here, making the islands an Alladin’s cave for naturalists, ornithologists and eco-tourists.
Beneath the waves, it is much the same story where the exciting contrasts between the granite and coral reefs with their dizzying displays of reef fish, turtle, ray, shark and pelagics beckon to novice and experienced divers alike in places where as many as 800 different species have been spotted on a single dive!
Meditation techniques invite us to close our eyes and imagine Shangrila, a mythical place of ultimate harmony where tired spirits can be refreshed and worries washed away. Somewhere with the space to breathe the purest air and ample room to stroll the trackless, powder-soft sands of breathtaking beaches. A place for the senses to feast on the endless delight of fresh experiences.
Creation has blessed Seychelles with all of this and more. Against the backdrop of its unique island beauty, it is a place where harmony, tranquillity and Nature at its very best will conspire to leave you with the memories of a lifetime.
For more information on Seychelles. Please visit: www.seychelles.com