The Seychelles is a magical archipelago of 115 small tropical islands just over 1,000 kilometres northeast of Madagascar. At the centre of the archipelago are granite outcrops, of which Mahe is the largest and home to the capital Victoria. Surrounding these are the outer islands – a breathtaking collection of coral atolls and reef islets, set amidst the topaz and aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean.
The position of the Seychelles, between Africa and Asia, has ensured maritime activity for centuries. From French to English control after the Napoleonic wars, the labyrinthine network of channels and coves also made it a favourite haunt for opportunistic buccaneers.
The climate is affected by the trade winds, which bring hotter and wetter weather from October to April, and cooler, drier and windier conditions from May to September. The Seychelles rich trade heritage has led to a hugely diverse and vibrant ethnic and multi-cultural society, in which Creole, colonial, Arab and Indian exists harmoniously side-by-side.
It is, however, not only in the local people that we find remarkable qualities. The unique geographical properties of this stunning island chain have formed truly remarkable ecosystems, which are home to many endemic species. These habitats are fiercely protected – with over 50 percent of the landmass set aside for national reserves. Two of these have been listed as U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and Praslin’s Vallée de Mai, which was thought to be a possible location of the Garden of Eden. Whether it comes to ensuring the future of the world’s smallest frog or heaviest tortoise, the Seychelles leads the way when it comes to eco-tourism and conservation.
The Seychelles offer some of the finest white-sand beaches in the world, which, despite its well-established tourist industry, remain un-crowded, thus it remains a favourite destination for the romantics. Mother nature has truly been generous to this tropical paradise.