What is the one continent that makes everyone’s bucket list, but very few actually get to go? Shakira sang about it, Toto advocated it and Mandela fought for it. Africa, it is! Not only is it expensive to fly to any African nation, but it also requires a series of precautionary steps that need to be completed before you’re even issued a visa. The biggest bane of all being the yellow fever vaccination! The vaccination is difficult to procure and painful to take. Because of this, many people give up the idea of ever visiting Africa.
But, what if you were told, that you could see a part of Africa, not only on a budget, but without applying for a visa beforehand and free of any vaccinations, yellow fever or otherwise. Not many know this, but the Republic of Seychelles is a part of Africa and a very popular tourist destination for all those looking to taste a little bit of the tropical weather, food and culture. All you need is a valid passport for at least 6 months and a hotel booking done prior to your arrival.
Best Time to Visit:
Being a tropical nation, the weather oscillates between hot and hotter. This hot climate is, however, redeemed by constant sea breeze which not only serves as a coolant but also gives you the complete equatorial experience.
- May-September: Keeping your tolerance to the harsh tropical heat in mind, this is the best time to pay this island a visit. The weather is cooler and a little drier, making the heat bearable for everyone who isn’t used to harsh heat.
- November-March: Any off-season vacation comes with its perks. Reduced prices, less tourists are just some of the advantages. In case of Seychelles, this is the time when the nation receives its share of bounty from the rain Gods. So if you happen to schedule a holiday in the latter half of the year, be weary of the rain and the heat.
- April & October: These two months are considered as limbo periods to aid the change in weather. The winds and weather both are unpredictable and serve as an off-set for either cooler waters or unrelenting rain.
How to Get Around:
Once you’ve arrived, there are several ways to get around the islands. The most frequented islands are Mahe and Praslin; you could take a bus, hire a cab or rent a car. To rent a car, though, you would need to be above 21, have a valid driver’s license and be accustomed to driving on the left side of the road. Island hopping, the favourite mode of sight-seeing, can be achieved by water ferry’s (boats) and biking or walking your way around the island. If you’re an avid sailor and own a yacht, sailing around the islands would be deemed nothing short of spectacular. For all those sea-sick folks out there, planes do charter passengers from one island to another- a flight that lasts no more than 15 minutes at the max. Whichever mode of transportation you wish to opt for, one trip that should definitely make your itinerary is the scenic flight in a helicopter, which can be pre-booked.
- It goes without saying that when you visit an island nation, visiting the beaches is a must. The beauty of the beaches in Seychelles lays in the fact that the beaches have managed to retain the essence of the calming effect of the blue skies and the motion of the ocean. The people of Seychelles take pride in their environment and natural habitat and no other place reflects this pride as much as the beaches. Hike from Beau Vallon to Anse Major and witness the magic of Nature’s beauty.
- Seychelles too has its share of natural heritage sites, the Vallee de Mai! Home to an amazing variety of flora and fauna, this national park located on the island of Praslin is the smallest national park to ever be declared as a world heritage site. Entry for residents is free whereas foreign nationals have to pay a minimal admission fee of 20 Euros.
- Another world heritage site of the island nation, the Aldabra Atoll is known to house the largest population of Giant Tortoises. Fondly referred to as the ‘’Crown Jewels of the Indian Ocean”, the Aldabra Atoll is the second largest raised coral reef in the world. Declared as an endemic bird area in the early 2000s, there’s no telling what you’ll see once you’re there!
- For all the wildlife enthusiasts out there, the Cousin Island holds a special treat for you. With over 300,000 species of birds, bird watching is taken to a whole new level. There are very many rare species that you would come across on different islands, but if you’re looking to just bird watch, Cousin Island is the place for you!
- No place surrounded by so much water would ever brag of a complete holiday if it didn’t include water sports. Be it the glass bottom tour, scuba diving, snorkeling or wind-surfing, Seychelles is the place to be, if you’re a water-baby!
- To paraphrase a popular saying, “When it Seychelles, eat like the Seychellois”. The rich culture of Seychelles is very aptly reflected in their cuisine- seafood being the most popular choice, the red snapper in particular.
People & Culture:
- Seychelles is often referred to as the melting pot of all cultures. The locals, or Seychellois as they’re called, are all of Indian, British, French, Chinese and Creole descents to name a few.
- As a tourist, you will definitely come in contact with many locals and it will benefit you greatly if you mind your manners. For example, it’s customary to shake hands when you meet someone for the first time. If you’re visiting someone’s house for the first time, it’s courtesy to carry a small gift.
- Every month, spanning over a week, the Seychellois hold a culture bazaar which tells a tale of what Seychelles is.
- The biggest culture festival held in all of the 115 islands that make up Seychelles is the Creole Festival, where the music, art, cuisine and dance of the Creole culture is celebrated and shared.
- The three main languages of Seychelles is English, French and Creole.
- Pack light clothes and carry a lot of sun block. Carry a sturdy pair of walking shoes.
- If you’re planning to dine at a hotel or visit a few casinos, carry appropriate footwear and evening wear.
- Although Seychelles is known for its low crime rate, don’t take safety for granted! Stick to the usual parameters of precaution and never part with your belongings or wander off alone on the beach or for a swim.
- Tipping is etiquette in Seychelles, you shouldn’t hesitate to maintain. It’s not obligatory, but a good gesture goes a long way.