If you’re travelling on a cruise to the Seychelles, then you’ll be disembarking in Port Victoria. Located on Mahé, one of the archipelago’s larger islands, Victoria may be small, as capital cities go, but it is hugely charming and brimming with things to see and do.
For an almost instant appreciation of the Seychelles’ rich biodiversity, why not visit the gorgeous Victoria Botanical Garden? It’s a huge park, but then it needs to be to contain so many exotic and often unique species of plants and trees and, of course, the island’s most famous residents, the amazing Aldabra giant tortoises too.
Elsewhere, British cruisers will feel right at home here in the Seychelles’ capital, especially as Victoria boasts a fine, albeit mini, version of Big Ben that was built to commemorate the passing of Queen Victoria by the clockmakers and bell foundry, Gillett and Johnson of Croydon. Meanwhile, for those with time on their hands and a love of nature, an excursion to the Sainte Anne Marine National Park is hard to beat, especially if you want to see beneath the waves and discover the coral and the fabulous fish that live amongst it.
Hundreds Of Thousands Of Seabirds - And Giant Tortoises Too!
It is estimated that the Seychelles plays host to some 300,000 nesting seabirds. And, if you think the numbers are impressive, then the sheer diversity of bird life on the Seychelles will make your head spin. Best of all, despite the huge numbers of birds on the islands, the Seychelles have made great strides in terms of conservation. The once almost extinct Seychelles Warbler has, after years of patient work, been brought back from the brink and, as well as this indigenous survivor, avid ‘twitchers’ should also be able to spot Seychelles Magpie-robins, Sunbirds and Blue Pigeons as well as countless nesting seabirds.
Aside from the incredibly rich profusion of birds, the Seychelles are, of course, famous for the giant Aldabran Tortoise. These slow-moving herbivores may lack outright speed, but they make up for it in terms of sheer staying-power: it’s not unusual for them to live way past 150. They can weigh over 500lb and you’ll also notice that they have incredibly long necks that allow them to pluck food from branches that you’d imagine were way beyond them.
How Did The Seychelles Become The Land Of the Giants?
It’s highly possible that giant tortoises were once very common in South America and East Africa. So, their continued survival in both the Galapagos and the Seychelles does suggest that they found life easier on both continents’ outlying islands. It’s also been suggested that with fewer predators their large size may have given them an evolutionary advantage and, additionally, that giant tortoises may have been better equipped than other species to escape the mainland on ocean currents –tortoises have been known to float for several hundred miles!
They may have been around for 55 million years, but just how, exactly, these giant tortoises came to be here remains their little or, rather, big secret.
The Seychelles – A Unique Spot For Geologists
When you think about the Seychelles it’s tempting to bracket them together with other beautiful islands like those you’ll find in the South Pacific or Bermuda or the Canary Islands. However, from a geological point of view, they couldn’t be more different. Strange as it may seem, the Seychelles have more in common with the Himalayas than they do with the similarly beautiful islands of Polynesia! The Seychelles are not volcanic and they sit on granite spikes on a granite platform that raise them above the waves.
An Island Paradise Circled By A Crucial Coral Kingdom
It’s probably safe to assume that more people will be using a snorkel, as opposed to a geologist’s rock hammer, to explore the Seychelles - the coral is, after all, something everyone can appreciate instantly for its colour and vibrancy. It’s interesting to note that, despite the rugged granite base that underpins the Seychelles, the coral has a huge part to play in protecting the islands from erosion from the sea.
As well as being extraordinarily beautiful and providing a bulwark against the sea, the Seychelles’ coral kingdom is a hugely important habitat for fish and molluscs as well as the living coral itself. And, aside from the gorgeous fish that spend their lives amongst the coral, the reefs also act as a nursery for bigger fish that will in time make their way into the ocean.
Keep an eye out for Bonefish, one of the swiftest ‘big’ fish in the ocean and the oddly beautiful Trigger and Parrotfish that are typical of the area. In the deeper waters tuna are abundant and can be seen feeding closer to shore as indeed can the acrobatic and dramatic Sailfish.
The Most Brilliant Beaches? Try Mahé
On the island of Mahé all roads lead to the beach. Of course, there are dozens to choose from right across Mahé and beyond, but Mahé Beach itself is close to Victoria and has everything you could possibly want, including sand like sifted flour, crystal clear waters teeming with the most extravagantly coloured fish you can imagine and amazing, dazzling coral – don’t forget that snorkel!
Aside from snorkelling there are plenty of beach and water sports to enjoy, as well as ample opportunities to dine or relax over a cool drink in the sunshine.
Make Sure The Seychelles Are On Your Next Cruise Itinerary
If you’re thinking of travelling on a world cruise – either on part, or all, of the voyage – then the Seychelles are one of those places that you simply won’t want to miss. If you’ve ever yearned to spend the day on a real desert island, then the Seychelles certainly tick that box. If your paradise island fantasy stretches to incredible wildlife then, again, the Seychelles are really very hard to top.
So, instead of day-dreaming about Robinson Crusoe islands, why not pick up the phone to MSC Cruises and see whether we can’t get you on board for the trip of a lifetime to the Seychelles?