Day 3 of our week in Mahe.
At dawn, we set out with our guide, Steve. He took us along the Mare aux Cochons trail, in the deep interior of the Morne Seychellois National Park. Nestled amidst the thick forest vegetation is Morne Seychellois (905m/2,969 ft), the highest point in the archipelago.
As we climbed up to a height of about 500m, we passed fragrant cinnamon and nutmeg groves, vanilla vines, pandanus with its long, aerial roots and many other tropical plants.
Wild pineapples, luscious berries and different types of mushrooms added pops of color to the green blanket around us.
We also observed several forest creatures like the fruit bat, the endemic Seychelles skink, giant spiders and snails.
Steve shared an interesting insight with us – Seychelles has no large predators or poisonous snakes. Wish he had mentioned that at the start of the trek!
DAY 4 – Le Jardin Du Roi (The King’s Garden)
Le Jardin Du Roi is a 35-hectare spice garden, located on a hilltop near Anse Royale with splendid views of the bay below. A wide variety of spices, herbs, fruits and flowering plants are grown here.
The walk around the plantation made us very hungry and we headed to the cozy, garden restaurant. Here, Creole style meals are lovingly prepared from ingredients grown in-house.
After our delightful lunch, we ordered the restaurant speciality – homemade ice-cream. Hands down, the freshest, creamiest ice-cream I’d ever had!
Must do: Take home some of the yummy fruit jams from the store at the Spice Garden.
On a side note – whoever coined the phrase ‘plain vanilla’ obviously never tasted the real thing! Did you know, vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron? When added as a dried pod, it lends a sublime, floral aroma along with a pale yellow color and a multitude of tiny brown specks from the bean. The phrase ‘plain vanilla’ is such an oxymoron.
A short drive from the Spice Garden is the Domaine de Val des Pres (Craft Village) – a colonial plantation lined with frangipani trees.
Several artisans are based there including a potter and a ship modeller, among others. The charming 1870 plantation house takes you back to a simpler time.
DAY 5 – Around Victoria
A visit to the colourful Victoria market was long overdue.
The busy market (originally built in 1840 and renovated in 1999) is named after Sir Percy Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke, Governor of the Seychelles from 1947–1951.
Later in the day, we drove to Bel Air and did a quick tour of the historic Bel Air cemetery.
DAY 6 – Bazar Labrin, Beau Vallon beach
Last Saturday of the month. A throng of people had gathered at the evening market on Beau Vallon beachfront.
The atmosphere was festive with serenading musicians, the aroma of barbequed fish and stalls selling local arts and crafts.
We feasted on breadfruit chips and stopped to get a taste of kalou, a mildly intoxicating drink made from the sap of the coconut palm tree (also known as ‘toddy’ or ‘palm wine’ in other parts of the world).
As the sun began to set, we looked back on the week gone by. We had completely forgotten about our ‘real’ lives. Work pressures and city stresses had been replaced with calming visions of golden beaches, azure waters and the smiling faces of the Seychellois people!
We had one more week in this paradise. We were headed to Praslin the next day – home of the exotic coco-de-mer.
For my post on the islands of Praslin, Curieuse & Cousin, head to Of love nuts & giant tortoises.