Seychelles
Port Victoria

View down into Port Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles

Mahe, Seychelles, September 21, 1998

Greetings from the Seychelles!
As you all know, we landed here about two weeks ago! If you take a quick gander at the Seychelles web site or grab a few colorful brochures from the travel agency you’ll see pictures of some of the most beautiful beaches you have ever seen.  They are, in fact, stunning to look at. Long white stretches with enormous granite boulders littering the shoreline.

 Praslin island just north of Mahe is touted to have been “The Garden of Eden.”  It is the only place in the world to see the “Coco de Mer” Palm tree.  They grow to be over 100 feet tall and have male and female genders.  They also possess the largest fruit in the world.  The Coco de Mer coconut weighs in at over 20 kilos!   The scary thing about it is that the nut actually looks like the “derriere” of a woman and the male tree, well...... um.... you can figure it out.

Interestingly enough, the Seychelles are also home to several other species of plants and animals which are only found here.  Aside from the Galapagos Islands, this is the only other place you can find land tortoises.  The atoll “Aldabra” is the largest in the world and has over 200,000 of them. Aldabra is located about 500nm Southwest of Mahe and is said to be unforgettable. For all of you bird lovers out there, the Seychelles has about a dozen of which, you guessed it, are only found here. For all of you botanists, the Seychelles is home to the “Pitcher plant.”  The Pitcher plant is one of two carnivorous plants in the world, the second being the “Venus Fly Trap.” The leaves grow to form a small pitcher about ¾ of an inch in diameter with a little lid on top. Inside the pitcher is a type of digestive acid and the walls are made of wax. Basically, an annoying little insect becomes attracted to the liquid, half gainers itself into the pitcher and whammo, dinner time for the plant! Yes, it’s a pretty amazing place.

The Seychelles are also amazingly expensive! Before you start reaching for the sun cream and bathing suit, check out the airfares first!  I was going to fly home for my friend Jamie’s wedding and couldn’t believe the prices! Are you ready for this?  From the Seychelles to NYC on British Airways, KLM, Aeroflot, etc., economy class with advance booking was....... $8,000.00 USD!!!! However, I later found out that if I took “Seychelles Air,” I could get to London and NYC for just over $1,800 USD. The problem with Seychelles Air is that they only have two planes, one is a prop plane and the jet happened to have broken down two weeks before we arrived! It’s still out of commission! 

After having been at sea for over 5 days, all of us were ready for a bit of exercise as soon as we arrived. We decided that a hike up the mountain was in order. We went to the Department of Tourism and asked them what they suggested for a good hiking trail. The nice lady pointed out the five brochures describing the hikes. We decided to hike up about 700 meters to the second highest point in Mahe where there is an appropriately placed ten foot tall white cement “cross.”.   The actual “top” of the island is only about 20 meters further, but requires a machete and a guide.

We left the boat at 6:30am to meet the taxi to bring us to the trail.  As we exited the taxi loaded with water, camera, banana bread and film, the driver looked at us a bit funny and inquired if we had a knife.  Alex had his nifty “Leatherman” strapped to his belt and was therefore possessing the said device. We waved goodbye and headed up the trail.

The entire first portion of the journey was quite steep and required a bit of effort to maneuver through streams and up rock faces. About an hour into it, we came to a clearing and an incredible view of Victoria.  Placed on the viewing spot was a small covered sitting area.  We rested for a few minutes and scoffed down our remaining banana bread and headed still further up.  The second portion of the trail was difficult to find and somewhat narrower. Nevertheless, up we went.  As we neared the last ½ kilometer or so, the trail became very STEEP! Up and up we went using hands and feet to climb the face of the mountain hanging onto roots, rocks and anything else we could get our hands on! Finally we came to some enormous boulders at the top.  These things were huge with large gaps dropping thirty or more feet. Very dangerous.  At long last, we made the top of the mountain and Alex yelled “ I found the cross!” We all looked around but couldn’t see anything due to the clouds we were in!  Then Suz and I saw it as well.  It was perched on top of the tallest boulder. I climbed up, stood next to it and Alex snapped my picture. It was quite amazing standing on top of a mountain with sheer cliffs below.  Alex then scurried up, touched the cross and came back down.  Alex is a tad leery of heights! Then, with much coercing, Suz went up and touched it long enough for a photo.  Then we prepared for the hike back down.

Upon reaching the bottom portion of the trail, we met some of the local parks and recreation people marking the first portion of the trail.  They asked us where we went and we proudly stated we had been up to the cross!  They gazed at us and then the head guy said we weren’t supposed to have gone up there because it was too dangerous and they were trying to discourage anyone from trying it!  When we told them the tourist bureau gave us the suggestion, they just shook their heads.

After walking all the way back to the boat, Suz went to get her hair done at the local salon. She found out from the hairdresser that we should never have gone up without a guide!  Apparently a few months ago some prisoners escaped and have been hiding out in the mountains! She said that two tourists had been murdered up in the hills right in the same area! These prisoners also attacked an army truck last week and killed one of the men!  We confirmed all of this with several other locals and they again warned us to be careful in Mahe.

Mick and Sally have joined us from Australia and we’re all heading off to Praslin and La Digue for some sun. We’ll have a group update for you in a few days.

All the best from all of us on Out of Bounds!

Bill
Lat S. 4.37.52 Lon E 55.27.58

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Out of Bounds in Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles.

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