Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles Islands
On March 24 we docked at Victoria, on the beautiful island of Mahe, the largest of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles. About 90% of the Seychelles’ population of around 90,000 live on Mahe and Victoria is the nation’s capital. It has a French & British background, gaining independence from the UK in 1976. As we left the ship we were greeted by dancers and musicians on a small stage on the dock.
We had signed up for a private excursion to tour the island. Our first stop was in the town of Victoria. In the center of town is a small clock tower that is a copy of the “Little Ben” Vauxhall clock in London.
We walked over to the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market, an open air market surrounded by walls that dates back to 1840. An egret was perched near the entrance, perusing all who entered.
The first floor was mostly a food market, with a lot of fish (this is an island, after all).
From the ground floor we could see the sculptured roof of a Hindu temple. From the top floor, where there were mostly clothes & handicrafts for sale, we looked down on the umbrellas covering the market’s courtyard.
We climbed back into the van & headed for a beach. Mahe is rich in beautiful beaches, not to mention green mountains & breathtaking views. Really a beautiful place. Sadly, we don’t know the names of these beaches but they are worth looking at anyway. We think this one might be called Grand Anse, but are not sure.
The Seychelles are famous as the home of many giant tortoises, and Mahe has its share. We went to a hotel where about half a dozen of them live. They are huge and looked worn out by the heat. But some friends saw some of these guys mating in another spot & told us they were surprisingly quick when they wanted to be.
These giant tortoises seem to be pretty popular around here as we saw a number of artistic renderings in shop windows.
We drove up into the mountains and stopped at an overlook with some gorgeous views.
We drove higher up to the Mission Lodge. Now just some ruined walls, this was a school for freed slaves near the end of the 19th century. On the path to the overlook are several interesting varieties of trees, some of them labeled.
Quite a lot of colorful flora are to be found on this tropical island and a good percentage are in this area. So this is a good place to post some of them.
From the mountain we went, where else, to another beach. This was a very large beach with an island off shore and some large boulders on the beach. It was very nice, with a good surf, & we spent some time there walking on the sand.
The Seychelles are known for the Coco de Mer, an unusual type of coconut native to this island. It is a double nut in a large and very heavy shell. It also floats & we were told that sailors found these floating in the ocean before discovering this archipelago. The trees are male & female and you can’t tell which yours is until it reaches fruit bearing age. After planting it takes something like 7 years to sprout, then 25 years to mature. If it turns out you have only female or only make trees, you are out of luck! The female trees (obviously) grow the large nuts & the male trees don’t. You should never stand under a female tree bearing nuts because one of these falling on your head will be the end of you. Other food plants we saw here included vanilla, papaya and breadfruit.
We visited one more beach with incredibly clear water & an offshore island where some people were swimming & kayaking.
Our last stop was at a craft village. It is a former plantation with 12 separate studios. But most of them were closed & the ones that were open were selling souvenirs that didn’t look much like real crafts. So, really, it looked to us more like a tourist souvenir village than a craft village. Then, on the way back to the harbor, we passed a very upscale condo development on reclaimed land just off shore. There was a yacht harbor filled with impressive boats. We stopped to walk through a mall to the yacht harbor, a pointless effort when we were ready to be back at the ship after a fairly tiring day.
So, after a successful day exploring most of the island of Mahe, we found ourselves back at the ship shortly before sunset. As the sun began to set there was one more look at the harbor. The harbor had a number of windmills producing electricity set up on both sides of the entrance. High on a nearby mountain was a villa owned by the Sheik of Abu Dabi who vacations here often. He apparently travels from his yacht to his villa via helicopter. From the size of the villa he must bring quite an entourage with him.
Since we were setting sail late at night we had a local dance show after dinner. It wasn’t one of the most interesting we have seen but it was entertaining. The people here have basically two kinds of dances: sega & moutia. The most interesting involved dancing with feet on either side of a pole.
And so to bed, with one more island before we reach to African continent.