Friday, July 29, 2016

Seychelles

Shortly after returning to Doha I was off on another trip, this time to the Seychelles, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. A friend had organized a trip for a bunch of the guys so we headed out for almost a week.



It's a beautiful place, a lot more mountainous than Bermuda and it has a lot of nice beaches. We had rented a villa in an upscale area called Eden island which overlooked a small beach.



The Seychelles were very isolated islands so had a lot of unique endemic flora and fauna. One of the most famous is "coco de mer" a tree found only in the Seychelles with a massive nut/seed. There are issues with conservation as the nuts are very expensive, and it's illegal to buy one except through an authorized shop (the stickers on the coco de mer in the picture indicate that they can be exported).




The islands are also one of only two places in the world to have giant tortoises, in this case the Aldabra Giant Tortoise (the other being the more famous, and slightly larger, Galapagos Tortoise from the Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador). The tortoises are actually native to a small atoll north of the main island but at the Botanical Gardens they have many and for a fee tourists can feed them and take pictures. Despite a small native habitat the species is doing okay now thanks to intensive conservation efforts, I believe almost no one is allowed to live on their island and efforts are underway to eradicate any non-native animals from the island.

The Seychelles has at various times been under French and British influence but the general culture is more French than English though both languages are widely spoken. Restaurants of all types are available but French and African-based cuisine seemed common. The friends I were with were Muslim and at one restaurant they were pleased to see cheese fondue available so ordered it (I was away at the time and didn't realize they had ordered it). When it arrived I assumed they had ordered a non-alcohol version so I never warned them (oops). Naturally after a few people tasted it they realized something didn't taste right -- they didn't know that cheese fondue typically has white wine in it. By then most of it had been eaten so they just put the fondue forks down in disappointment. Lesson learned, be careful of European cuisine if you don't drink alcohol.




Anyway it was a great vacation. We went snorkeling and saw lots of fish, many that were similar to fish that were common in Bermuda (various species of parrot fish, sergeant majors, butterfly fish) as well as others I had never seen before. There was lots of relaxing on the beach or by the pool and, maybe for once, I managed to not get sunburned at all. One of the guys had a run-in with a sea urchin but thankfully he had flip-flops on and only got a couple of pokes. Driving around the island we saw a ton of beaches and nice views from up the (steep!) mountain roads. Definitely worth a visit if you get a chance but be warned that it is an expensive place so it's would not be easy for budget travellers.

1 comment:

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