Seychelles

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Introduction to Seychelles

Among the 115 islands of the Seychelles you will find the luxuriant, tropical paradise that appears in countless advertisements and glossy travel brochures. But however seductive the images, they simply can’t compete with the real-life dazzling beaches and crystal-clear waters.

There are more shades of blue and green in the Seychelles than it is possible to imagine. Forming a backdrop to the relaxed tropical image of the Seychelles are the rhythms, colours and flavours of Africa and gris gris, the local brand of black magic.

Full country name: Republic of Seychelles

Area: 455 sq km

Population: 79,330

Capital City: Victoria (pop 27,000)

People: Seychellois (of African, Indian and European background)

Language: English, French

Religion: Catholic (90%), Anglican (8%)

Government: democratic republic

Head of State: President James Michel

GDP: US$590 million

GDP per capita: US$7,000

Annual Growth: 4.3%

Inflation: 0.6%

Major Industries: Fishing, tourism, coconut & vanilla processing, copra, boat building

Major Trading Partners: China, Singapore, France, South Africa, UK, Germany

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Traveler Facts

Visas: Visas are not required for visitors to Seychelles, but you'll need an onward ticket, booked accommodation and sufficient funds for your stay - a one month Visitor's Permit (extendable on application) will be issued. A 50.00 'Passenger Service Fee' is levied on all adult visitors; this fee is included in the price of the airline ticket.

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +4 (Standard Time)

Dialling Code: 248

Electricity: 240V ,50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric



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Events

With its short history, the Seychelles isn't exactly overloaded with traditional festivals. Most public holidays are Roman Catholic events, including Easter, Corpus Christi on 10 June, the Assumption on 15 August, and the Immaculate Conception on 8 December. The one major non-religious festival is Festival Kreol, which was set up to preserve and promote Créole culture. Held every year around the end of October, this week-long festival is an explosion of Créole cuisine, fashion, art, music and dance. Créole artists from all over the world descend on the Seychelles for this celebration.

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Best time to Visit

You should plan your trip to the Seychelles around what you want to do. Windsurfing and sailing are best at the start and end of the trade winds, usually around May and October. Some beaches are better during the monosoon season, others during the trade winds. Diving is best in March, April, May, September, October and November. Room rates are highest and everything is busiest in December, January, July and August.



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Currency / Costs / Approx. Spending

Currency: Seychelles Rupee

Meals

Budget: SR35-50

Mid-range: SR50-80

High: SR80-130

Deluxe: SR130+

Lodging

Budget: SR310-440

Mid-range: SR440-600

High: SR600-880

Deluxe: SR880+

The Seychelles is not a budget destination. Accommodation is regulated by the tourist board; camping is forbidden and prices, availability and the standard of accommodation are fixed. If you keep to the less expensive guesthouses, avoid watersports and eat lean, you might be able to get by on US$55 a day. If you've come all this way, though, you probably want to induldge at least a little - a budget of US$100 a day is more realistic if you want to do some diving, eat the country's fabulous seafood and maybe stay in the occasional mid-range hotel. If you've got money to burn, the Seychelles is a great place to do it. If you are thinking of staying in the fancier hotels, consider a package tour, which will work out a fair bit cheaper.

You'll get a better rate for travellers cheques than for cash. No restrictions apply on taking rupees in or out of the country, but you'll get a much better rate in the Seychelles than you will anywhere else. Victoria is well endowed with banks, and in villages where they're further apart you can usually change money at the bigger hotels (though the rate probably won't be the best).

Tipping is welcomed but not obligatory. A 10% service charge is added to your bill in hotels and restaurants. In general, there's a relaxed approach to bargaining. You might be able to get a discount on your car rental, but prices in shops are seldom negotiable. Markets are more open to a bit of friendly haggling.

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Attractions

Victoria

Victoria, on the island of Mahé, is one of the smallest capital cities in the world, and the only major port in the Seychelles. It's also the only town - every other settlement is a village. The courthouse and main post office in the centre of town have been untouched since colonial time.

The streets emanating from the centre have been rebuilt over the past 20 years, giving the town a clean and modern look. There are a few old houses and shops in the city centre, but it's unfortunately barely enough to give the town any character.

Anse Lazio

The best beach on Praslin - in fact, one of the best in the country - is Anse Lazio, in the far north of the island. The beach has glorious white, soft sand, a few rounded granite boulders and a lively line-up of waves. The water is a magical turquoise colour.

There's also a sheltered area with great snorkelling at the end of the beach. There's even a terrific restaurant at the end of the beach road. The beaches east of Lazio are protected by a reef, which makes the water like a giant bath - it's shallow, warm and safe, and there's some nice snorkelling.

Cousin Island

This island, about 2km (1mi) off the south-west coast of Praslin - has been a nature reserve since 1968, and is home to several endangered species, as well as being a breeding ground for seabirds and turtles. It's an amazing experience to walk through thick forest with a bird on every branch.

The birds are apparently oblivious to humans, and the rarest among them are the brush warbler and magpie robin, and you might also get to see a white-tailed tropic bird, the emblem of Réunion and Mauritius. The island is also home to two very old tortoises, George and Georgina.

Mahé Beaches

Beau Vallon is one of the largest and certainly most popular beaches in the Seychelles. The sand is good, clean and relatively free of rocks. The waves can sometimes be large, as there is a big break in the reef. There are platforms in the ocean that you can swim out to.

The local resort allows non-residents use its beach loungers and bar. Beau Vallon village has useful facilities including a petrol station, a bank and some souvenir shops. The beach is about 3km (nearly 2mi) west of Victoria, and you can either catch a bus or walk.

Ste Anne Marine National Park

There are six islands lying within the park a short distance off Victoria. The snorkelling here is superb. Moyenne is probably the best island to visit, although you can only get here on a tour. The island is known for its buried treasures and ghosts.

You can also have a look at the House of Dogs, built around 1900 by an eccentric English woman as a home for stray dogs. There's a lovely marked trail around the island, with plenty of pretty plants and animals to look at (including two giant tortoises), as well as some excellent snorkelling sites.

Vallée de Mai

On the island of Praslin, Vallée de Mai has the Seychelles' greatest concentration of coco de mer palms - almost 4000 of them. This valley's prehistoric forest is World Heritage listed and is very fragile. Palms in the valley include the palmiste, latanier, splayed traveller's palm and Chinese fans.

Sunlight filters through their fronds and hits the greens and oranges of the leaves. Other interesting plants in the valley are the wild pineapple, wild coffee and the allspice bush - you should also keep an eye out for the Seychelles black parrot, which is only found on Praslin.

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Disclaimer: We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify critical information like (visas, health and safety, customs, and transportation) with the relevant authorities before you travel.

Sources: CIA FactBook, World FactBooks and numerous Travel and Destinations Guides.

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