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    The beautiful Seychelles are often credited as one of the mostromantic destinations in the world. The Seychelles casts asiren-like spell over travellers, with crystalline turquoisewaters, pristine coral reefs, and powdery beaches that encirclevast granite pinnacles and verdant rainforest.

    The islands are stretched across nearly one million squarekilometres of the Indian Ocean east of Kenya, and even have theirown suggestively shaped fruit, the famous 'coco de mer' doublecoconut, to emphasise the country's seductive charms. Only a few ofthe 115 islands are inhabited, with most of the local population(known as Seychellois) gathered on the main island, Mahé, aroundthe capital city of Victoria.

    The Seychellois population comprises an eclectic mix of thedescendants of freed African slaves, Arab, Indian and Chinesetraders, and British and French settlers and seafarers who go abouttheir business speaking a Creole patois. The multi-party democraticrepublic was once a thriving pirate's haven, but today it serves asa refuge for sun-seekers, honeymooners and nature lovers whocongregate in the top quality hotels and resorts on the shores ofthe main islands.

    Whether travellers come to soak up the equatorial sun on silversands, dive among more than 800 species of fish in the islandwaters, marvel at flocks of colourful birds flitting between rarejungle trees, or to cement your marriage vows, you will find theSeychelles archipelago to be paradise on Earth. Although primarilyenjoyed as a luxury destination, there is an increasing drive todevelop the budget tourism options on the islands, opening thedoors of paradise to travellers who may previously only havedreamed of a holiday on these exotic shores.

    Almost half of the total land area of the Seychelles isprotected and most of its islands are designated marinesanctuaries, which goes some way to explaining why the archipelagois so pristinely well preserved. Naturally, Seychelles is a dreamdestination for aquatic pursuits like diving, snorkelling, sailingand fishing, but visitors will also find that the virgin junglesand granite peaks provide a playground for hikers, bird-watchersand rock climbers.

    The islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the most developedfor tourists, with many luxury hotels, some cultural attractions,and myriad activities on offer. Here travellers will find stunningbeaches, the Morne Seychellois National Park, and the UNESCO-listedVallee de Mai.

    Keen fishermen should head to Desroche Island, Alphonse Islandand Farquhar Atoll, while surfers will love Anse Intendance. Someof the best islands for birders include the aptly named BirdIsland, the Aride Island Nature Reserve and Cousin Island. Naturelovers will also relish the wildlife on Curieuse Island, SilhouetteIsland, and the UNESCO-listed Aldabra Atoll, to name just afew.

    Victoria

    Having the dubious honour of being the smallest capital city inthe world, Victoria may also be considered one of the mostcharming, and this quaint capital is easily explored on foot. Thebest place to soak up the friendly atmosphere is at the busy dailymarket (closed on Sundays), where local crafts are sold alongsidefish, fruit and vegetables. A hint of the French and Britishcolonial history is still palpable, reflected in historicalbuildings like the courthouse and main post office. Among thecolourful houses, visitors can also spot a cathedral and theVictoria clock tower, a replica of the clock first erected atVauxhall Bridge in London in 1897. The city is also home to manyartists, and works by talented locals are popular buys at localgalleries.

    Victoria's centrally located clocktower Victoria's centrally located clocktower Thomas Gee
    Morne Seychellois National Park

    The largest national park in the Seychelles, Morne SeychelloisNational Park takes up more than 20 percent of the area of Mahé.The park is made up of a number of habitats and ecosystems rangingfrom coastal mangrove forests to misty mountain peaks. MorneSeychellois contains no settlements, although you may stumbleacross the ruins of old cinnamon distilleries. Dominating thelandscape is Morne Seychellois, the highest peak on the island, at2,970 feet (905m). The national park has a network of 12well-marked hiking trails covering just over nine miles (15km),traversing some truly beautiful landscapes. Visitors can find mapsand other information in Victoria.

    Morne Seychellois National Park Morne Seychellois National Park David Stanley
    Seychelles National Museum of History

    Step back into the days of the buccaneers at the SeychellesNational Museum of History, which features excellent displays ofhistoric artefacts relating to the cultural and natural history ofthe islands. Exhibits include a range of interesting objectssalvaged from shipwrecks, coral, and voodoo dolls to items thatbelonged to well-known pirates in days of yore. The museum alsoholds the oldest known map of the Seychelles, which dates back to1517. Though the museum is small, its single gallery offers afascinating glimpse into the culture and history of the Seychelles,and visitors interested in local history will be rewarded byspending a quick hour or two perusing the exhibition.

    Address: National Library Building, Francis Rachel Street,Victoria
    National Museum National Museum David Stanley
    National Botanical Gardens

    The century-old Botanical Gardens at the south end of Victoriaextend for six hectares (15 acres), and are planted with a widevariety of indigenous and exotic trees, including the Seychellesislands' unique 'coco de mer' palms. For those staying on theisland of Mahe and not travelling much further afield, thebotanical garden may present the only opportunity to see thishighly unusual plant, which is found nowhere else in the world. Theorchid garden is also particularly lovely. There is a restaurantand souvenir shop in the gardens. The National Botanical Gardensprovide a cool, green oasis in the city, the perfect spot for astroll or a picnic.

    Address: Mont Fleuri Road, Victoria
    Website: www.bgci.org
    Giant tortoise in the Mont Fleuri BotanicalGardens Giant tortoise in the Mont Fleuri BotanicalGardens David Stanley
    St Anne Marine National Park

    A treat for nature lovers, guided tours are offered fromVictoria harbour to the St Anne National Marine Park, which coverssix islands off the coast of Mahé, near the city. The islandsincluded in the park are Ste Anne, Ile Moyenne, Ile Ronde, IleLongue, Ile Cachee and Ile aux Cerfs. The park encompasses one ofthe most important nesting sites for Hawksbill turtles, and beneathits clear waters, ideal for snorkelling, the glory of the coralreefs can be enjoyed. Glass bottomed boat trips and sunset cruisesare also available, and the national park is a beautiful andpopular spot for wedding photos. All Marine National Parks inSeychelles are open daily, including public holidays.

    Sea Turtle, Seychelles Sea Turtle, Seychelles Stephane Enten
    Dive Sites

    With crystal clear waters and wonderful underwater reefs,wrecks, boulders and sea life, it is no surprise that one of themain activities in the Seychelles is exploring this underwaterworld. The islands have a selection of dive sites ranging fromthose suitable for snorkellers and novice divers through to thosepreferred by experienced scuba enthusiasts. Highlights include thewreck of the Royal Navy tanker Ennerdale, the grey reef sharks offMarianne Island, and the spectacular coral life around The Sisters,Trompeuse and the Outer Islands.

    There are dive operators on most of the islands, although manyscuba enthusiasts believe that the best way to explore the islandsis aboard a charter boat. Diving is possible throughout the year,but the best times are March to May and September to November, whenthe prevailing winds are at their mildest and visibility is at itsbest. Visibility is generally more than 100 feet (30m), and watertemperatures are often as high as 80°F (29°C). Divers can expect tosee whale sharks, granite formations, soft and hard corals, turtlesand giant stingrays, to name just a few highlights. Diving orlearning to dive is the perfect holiday activity in the gorgeousSeychelles.

    Diving in Seychelles Diving in Seychelles Paul Britton
    Beau Vallon Bay

    The mile-long beach encircling beautiful Beau Vallon Bay on thenorthern coast of Mahé Island is the most popular beach resort areain the Seychelles, boasting several hotels, a casino, and aselection of scuba diving and water sport centres. Beau Vallon alsohas a number of dive sites within the bay, including two wrecks andseveral coral reefs; the bay is known for its clear waters andenviable visibility. The Marine Park of Bay Ternay is also easilyaccessible from Beau Vallon. The bay is home to three major hotels,some of the island's oldest and most famous: Le Meridien,Fisherman's Cove; the Berjaya Beau Vallon; and the Coral Strand.There are, however, many other hotels in the area, and numerousrestaurants.

    Beau Vallon Beach Beau Vallon Beach Welcomematt22

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Seychelles is constantly hot and humid, with an average annualtemperature of 84°F (29°C), and a similar average sea temperature,which seldom drops below 81°F (27°C). The heat is usuallypleasantly tempered by sea breezes. The islands lie outside of thehurricane belt, so storms are rare, but tropical rains fall duringJanuary and February. It is easy to escape the showers, though,because it can be sunny on one side of an island while it rains onthe other.

    The Seychelles are a glorious holiday destination at any time ofyear, but the best time to visit depends on the desired activities.For instance, it is slightly windier between May and September,making this the ideal time to visit for those wanting to sail orenjoy other wind-based sports; whereas the best time of year forscuba diving and snorkelling is April and May or October andNovember, when the visibility is at its best.

    Seychelles International Airport
    Location: The airport is located seven miles (11km) from Victoriaon the island of Mahe.
    Time: Local time is GMT +4.
    Transfer Between Terminals: The airport has one international and one domestic terminal. Theterminals are a short walking distance from each other.
    Getting to the city: Taxis are available to carry passengers to any point on theisland. A bus service to Victoria is also available and departsevery 20 to 30 minutes.
    Car Rental: Car rental agencies represented at the airport include Sixt.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis leave from just outside the terminal. Taxi fares vary, soit's best to enquire before the journey starts.
    Fascilities: Airport facilities include a tourism kiosk, duty-free shopping,banking and currency exchange facilities, ATMs, restaurants andbars, and an executive lounge.
    Parking Parking is available in front of the terminal buildings.
    Money:

    The Seychelles currency is the Rupee (SCR), divided into 100cents. Visitors can now pay in SCR and are no longer obligated topay for all services in major foreign currency notes, but areentitled to use their preferred major foreign currency as well(Euros are the most widely used), or to pay by credit card. It isimportant to note that it is illegal to exchange foreign currencyfor Rupees at unofficial outlets, or with individuals, so make sureto get change in the currency used to purchase goods or services.Credit cards are widely welcomed throughout the Seychelles. Moneycan be exchanged at banks and the airport on Mahé, or at hotels. Tochange Rupees back into foreign currency on departure requires theofficial receipt from the initial transaction. ATMs are availableat major banks in Victoria and Praslin.

    Language:

    Creole, English and French are all spoken in theSeychelles.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220-240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs areof the British type, with three flat pins.

    Entry Requirements:

    United States citizens require a passport valid for at least thelength of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit onarrival, valid for one month. A visa is required.

    British citizens need a passport valid for the duration of theirstay, and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, validfor one month. A visa is required.

    Canadians require a passport valid for at least the length oftheir stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival,valid for one month. A visa is required.

    Australians need a passport valid for the length of their stayand will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, valid forone month. A visa is required.

    South Africans must have a passport valid for the duration oftheir stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival,valid for one month. A visa is required.

    Irish citizens require a passport valid for the length of theirstay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival, validfor one month. A visa is required.

    United States citizens require a passport valid for at least thelength of their stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit onarrival, valid for one month. A visa is required.

    New Zealand citizens require a passport valid for the length oftheir stay and will be issued with a visitor's permit on arrival,valid for one month.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    No foreigners require a visa to enter Seychelles. A visitor'spermit, valid for a maximum of one month, is issued on arrival andmay be extended on application for up to three months. All visitorsdo, however, require a passport valid for the duration of theirvisit, a return or onward ticket, sufficient funds to cover theirstay (a minimum of USD 150 per day), and proof of accommodation.Extensions are possible if applied for at least a week beforeexpiry of visitor's permit. It is highly recommended that passportshave at least six months validity remaining after your intendeddate of departure from your travel destination. Immigrationofficials often apply different rules to those stated by travelagents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    Health regulations in the Seychelles require that travellersfrom areas infected by yellow fever have a vaccination certificate.Immunisation against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid arerecommended. Visitors are advised to bring their own medication toavert the risk of travellers' diarrhoea, as well as sun block andinsect repellent, as local supplies can be erratic and costly.During the rainy season in particular, visitors should takeprecautions against mosquito bites due to the risk of dengue feverand the chikungunya virus (although these diseases are rare inSeychelles). Tap water meets WHO standards, but most visitorsprefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Medicalfacilities on the more remote islands are limited or non-existent,but visitors will find a government hospital and several privateclinics in Victoria. Medical insurance with full evacuation coveris necessary.

    Tipping:

    Charges for most services include a service charge of betweenfive and 10 percent, therefore tipping is not obligatory. Ifservice has been exceptional, a small tip on top of this is warmlywelcomed.

    Safety Information:

    Safety is not generally an issue in the Seychelles; violentcrime is unlikely and most visits are trouble-free. There have beensome incidents of theft and assault, but these are targeted mainlyat residents. Visitors should be vigilant, particularly after darkin Victoria and in isolated areas. Avoid taking valuables to thebeach, where they could be pilfered by petty thieves. Women shouldavoid walking alone on isolated beaches.

    Local Customs:

    Nudism is unacceptable, and topless bathing is not tolerated onmany, but not all, beaches. Punishments for drug offences can besevere.

    Business:

    In the Seychelles, business is conducted relatively informally.Men and women are not required to wear formal suits, although asmart appearance is advised. Business is usually conducted inEnglish or French. Business hours are generally 8am to 4pm Mondayto Friday.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Seychelles is +248. Theoutgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.0044 for the United Kingdom). Direct lines to most countries areavailable at major hotels. Most hotels offer a postal service,email and internet connection, and free international calls can bemade over wifi.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to the Seychelles over 18 years do not have to payduty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; two litres ofspirits and two litres of wine; 200ml of perfume or eau detoilette. Prohibited items include drugs, narcotics, firearms,spear-fishing equipment, and camouflage clothing. It is forbiddento export unprocessed coco de mer, shells, fish and live tortoises.A permit is required for processed coco de mer.

    Useful Contacts:

    Seychelles Tourist Office, Mahé:https://www.seychelles.travel/en/

    Seychelles Embassies:

    Seychelles Embassy, New York, United States: +1 212 9721785.

    Seychelles High Commission in London, United Kingdom: +44 207245 0680.

    Seychelles Consulate, Montreal, Canada: +1 514 284 9329

    Seychelles Consulate, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 3480270.

    Consulate General of the Republic of Seychelles, Melbourne,Australia: +61 (3) 9796 9412.

    Consulate of the Republic of Seychelles, Dublin, Ireland: +35387 66 22 675

    Foreign Embassies in Seychelles :

    United States Consulate, Port Louis, Mauritius (also responsiblefor Seychelles): +230 202 4400.

    British High Commission, Victoria: +248 428 3666.

    Canadian High Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (alsoresponsible for Seychelles): +230 202 0160.

    South African Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (alsoresponsible for Seychelles): +230 212 6925.

    Australian High Commission, Port Louis, Mauritius (alsoresponsible for Seychelles): +230 202 0160.

    Seychelles Emergency Numbers : 999 (Police and Rescue Services); 151 (MedicalEmergency).
    Seychelles