Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Seychelles - Part 2
Cousin Island Day Trip
Established in 1968, Cousin Island is a nature reserve primarily for the Seychelles warbler and the hawksbill turtle. The island lies about 2 km from Praslin Island, and birders can hike the trails to spot some of the Seychelles rare species. Residents include the Seychelles magpie robin, the Seychelles brush warbler, the Seychelles turtledove, and the wedge-tailed shearwater. The reserve also encompasses breeding grounds for lesser noddies, fairy terns, and tropicbirds.
Aride Island Nature Reserve
The northernmost of Granitic Seychelles, Aride Island Nature Reserve is the breeding ground of 18 species of seabirds, including frigate birds, red-tailed tropicbirds, and the world's largest colonies of lesser noddy and roseate terns. Nature lovers will find the highest density of lizards anywhere on earth, as well as several endemic species of flowers. Wright's gardenia, or bois citron, is unique to this island. Most hotels on Praslin Island can organize day trips to Aride, but note that the island is often closed to visitors from May through September due to rough surf. Visits by helicopter can also be arranged.
In a marine park, 30 kilometers off Mahé's west coast, mountainous Silhouette Island is renowned for its rich biodiversity. It's the only other island in Seychelles besides Mahé with a mist forest, which cloaks the 731-meter peak of Mount Dauban. The third largest of the granitic islands, Silhouette Island has a rugged terrain that has helped preserve its natural beauty. The park protects more than 2,000 species, including birds, geckos, chameleons, turtles, and skinks. Visitors will find caves to explore; beaches with wonderful swimming and snorkeling opportunities; and diverse flora and fauna such as carnivorous pitcher plants, coco de mer palms, millipedes, slugs, and snails.
Named Port Victoria in honor of the British queen after her coronation, the small capital of Seychelles on the island of Mahé is the only seaport in the country. It's easy to see the main sites here in a day. One of the main tourist attractions in the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens. Established almost a century ago, the gardens encompass 15 acres of native and exotic plants as well as flying foxes, giant tortoises, and an orchid garden. In the city, modern buildings of concrete and glass have sprouted up in recent years and the few remaining colonial buildings lie around Freedom Square. The most prominent historical structure is the clock tower. Erected in 1903, it was modeled on Little Ben, a small version of Big Ben in London. Overlooking the square, St. Paul's Cathedral is built on the site of the first church of the Seychelles, which was destroyed by a freak cyclone in 1862. Shoppers head to Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, where locals sell fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and the many craft shops offer souvenirs ranging from ship models to pearl jewelry. For an overview of the flora and fauna of Seychelles, visit the Natural History Museum, which also displays a few historical artifacts.
Once known as Îles aux Vaches for the dugongs (sea cows) in the area, Bird Island harbors a population of migratory sooty terns, which swells to 1,500,000 birds during the May to October breeding season. Birders and photographers can climb raised observation platforms for clear views of the nests. Other species on the island include fairy and noddy terns, cardinals, ground doves, mynas, crested terns, and plovers. Giant land tortoises are also in residence, and the nearby Seychelles Bank is renowned for its big-game fishing. The only accommodation on the island is the Bird Island Lodge, a no-frills eco-lodge, and you can access the island via a 30-minute flight from Mahé.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aldabra is the world's largest raised coral atoll. The central lagoon fills and empties twice a day through four channels, revealing mushroom-shaped pinnacles known as champignons. Tiger sharks and manta rays often prowl the shallows, and the atoll is home to thousands of birds, including the white-throated rail (the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean). Also on view are lesser and great frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, dimorphic egrets (found only here and in Madagascar), Aldabra sacred ibis, greater flamingos, and the Malagasy kestrel. In addition to its rich avian life, Aldabra is the habitat of 200,000 giant land tortoises - five times as many as the Galapagos.
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)