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 subsequently forgotten about 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, including the bustling market and a walk through the magical Botanical Garden. Drive to San Soucis Mountain and see the Mission Lodge, once the site of a school for liberated slave children that was 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, but the views out over mountain slopes, the ocean and the west coast of Mahé are fantastic.
Note: This excursion will have AM and PM departures due to capacity limitations.
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 feeding some fish by hand and snorkelling within the marine park. Disembark on Moyenne Island for a short exploration and encounter with the grand old inhabitants of the island, the 105 land tortoises, whom you will meet roaming freely.
Please note: this optional excursion can be booked using the signup sheet and paid for on-board the ship (all prices for purchases on-board Aegean Odyssey are listed in US dollars).
This excursion will have AM and PM departures due to capacity limitations.