This tropical archipelago is a paradise for those interested in the natural world. The Seychelles is famed for its pristine beaches and is home to a fascinating variety of flora and fauna to be found in the lush forests and beautiful coral reefs. The islands which form this archipelago remained uninhabited for much of recorded history and the first Europeans to discover the Seychelles were the Portuguese, commanded by the famous 16th century explorer, Vasco da Gama. The islands were later fought over by the colonial powers of Britain and France, eventually coming under the control of the British Empire in 1810, until the islands were granted independence in 1976.
Mahé, measuring 28km long by 8km wide, is the largest island and cultural and economic hub of the Seychelles. It is home to the international airport and the nation’s capital, Victoria. The island is home to almost 90 per cent of the total population (or approximately 72,200 people) and reflects Seychelles' diverse ethnicity from African, Indian, Chinese and European populations.
With a backdrop of towering 1000m granite peaks, Mahé is an extraordinary treasure trove of flora that has evolved over centuries of splendid isolation. Rare endemic plants found nowhere else in the world adorn Mahé’s mist forests in mountain strongholds, such as the Jellyfish Tree, the carnivorous Seychelles Pitcher Plant and the Seychelles Vanilla Orchid.
First visited by the British in 1609, Mahé was then forgotten until Lazare Picault's expedition of 1742 when the gradual process of settling the island began, first by the French whose direct influence continued until 1814 and then as a British colony until Seychelles gained independence in 1976.
After transferring from the ship to Victoria you will start your guided tour of the capital: you will see its bustling market and then enjoy a walk through the magical Botanical Garden. Then drive to San Soucis Mountain and the Mission Lodge. This was once the site of a school for liberated slave children built by the London Missionary Society in 1876. Today there are just ruins to be seen at the beginning of the path to the viewing lodge. From the lodge the views out over mountain slopes, the ocean and the west coast of Mahé are fantastic.
Arrive at the reef barrier and view the underwater world from a glass-bottomed boat drifting over the corals. As well as learning about the history of the Ste Anne Marine Park, you can enjoy some hand fish feeding and snorkelling within the marine park. Disembark on Moyenne Island for a short visit where nature and encounter the grand old inhabitants of the island, the 105 land tortoises you will meet roaming freely.