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National Parks In Seychelles - Explore Nature Like Never Before

The white sandy beaches may be the gems of this archipelago, but the emerald green forests and crystal waters of Indian Ocean are the abode of vibrant life flourishing inside them. The four terrestrial and six marine national parks of Seychelles are known for their original unspoiled beauty. Coming face to face with the tropical wildlife and being in the abode of nature has attracted explorers from all over the year. If you want to get a memorable experience of the island lifestyle, then these reserves are a must. Over the years, with the collective efforts of the locals and various small organisations, the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) has helped to promote tourism while safeguarding the real essence of natural habitats of the endemic species.

A guidebook of what to expect and what to do while visiting the enchanting National Parks of Seychelles:

Terrestrial Parks

1. Morne Seychellois National Park

Spreading over three different terrains of mangrove swamps, tropical forests and towering mountains, lies the largest nature reserve of Seychelles - the Morne Seychellois National Park. Established in 1979, this national park is located on the northern coast of Mahé and covers about 20% area of the biggest island in the archipelago. Providing an unspoilt environment to some of the rarest species of flora and fauna is its prime objective and is what invites the nature enthusiasts from all over to the world to this reserve. A circuit of walking trails throughout the expanse connects all the major attractions and totals to 15 km.
Sogglossidae frog, National Parks of Seychelles
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Location: Situated on the northern coast of Mahe in Grand Anse Village, it lies to the west of the capital Victoria and embraces the highest peak of Seychelles, Morne Seychellois.

Wildlife found: From the rare Seychelles scops-owl to the common breeds of Blue Pigeon, Sunbird, Bulbul and Seychelles Krestel, the Morne Seychellois National Park is an abode to seven endemic bird species marking this place as a holy land for bird watchers. If you are lucky, you can get to see the very elusive Sooglossidae frog family nestling in the woods. You got to have a sharp eye to sight one of these since these frogs are incredibly tiny, declared as the smallest frogs on Earth. The island of Mahe is also home to the Seychelles wolf snake, an indigenous snake that has now been declared endangered and hence is being carefully preserved in the virgin habitat of this reserve. The forests contain abundant species of flora with brightly coloured pitcher plant appearing on the sides of almost every trail.


Entry fees: The trails are free of cost

Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Activities: The landscape of this resplendent national park proves really favourable for hiking or trekking. A walk through this park will reveal the agricultural heritage of Seychelles and provide captivating views of the island. Various guided treks are organised to the following attractions.

1. Morne Seychellois: An excursion to the peak of Morne Seychellois turns arduous and exhausting till you reach the top but the panoramic view deserves all the sweats. The hike to the 3000 ft high mountain takes off from a plantation on Sans Souci road. Copolia, Morn Blanc and Casse Dent are the major trails taken by the travellers.

2. Mission Lodge: At Sans Souci Port Glaud is the site of stone ruins which was once a school for the African slave children and was built by the London Missionary Society in 1876. In 1972, it hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh. Now a prominent historical site, Mission Lodge offers breathtaking views of the island and Creole delicacies prepared by the locals in the food stalls.

3. Tea Factory: About 3 km above Port Glaud lies the famous SeyTé Tea Factory where you can witness the entire tea making process right from drying of tea leaves to packing.

From Tea Factory, National Parks in Seychelles
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4. Anse Major Trail:
Starting from Danzil, a trail has been created leading straight to the pristine white beaches of Anse Major lined with glacis rocks. With less tree cover and high exposure to the sun, this hike is rated difficult by most, but the gorgeous view at the end is promising. Only advice is to apply plenty of sunblocks, drink ample amount of water, and keep up the spirit cause once you reach, the cool tides of the ocean will take away all your stress.

5. Mare aux Cochons trail: Passing through ruins of many cinnamon distilleries and ultimately opening into a hilltop valley is the Mare aux Cochons trail. Moderately difficult, this hike takes about 5-6 hours and begins from Danzil.

6. Morne Blanc: Passing through an old tea plantation while encountering exotic tropical birds on your way is what makes this trek a delight for hikers. Although it takes just 40 minutes to complete it, this odyssey is an uphill climb to the heart of the Morne Blanc hill. The view of the top is rewarding and offers exceptional scenery.

7. Copolia Trail: Huge granite boulders and jungle-clad hill with 360 degrees view from the top is the trademark of the Copolia trail. Surrounded by endemic flora and fauna, this jungle hike is one of the easiest and starts from the base of Chemin Forêt Noire.

8. Glacis Trois Frères Trail: Named after the three peaks standing close to each other, the Trois Frères trail (or the Three Brothers) overlooks Victoria and begins at the Sans Souci forest station. The trail ends at Trois Frères Cross, a popular pilgrimage site for Christians.

2. Praslin National Park


Nestling on a high altitude of 367 m and spread across an expanse of 324 ha is the second largest terrestrial park of Seychelles- the Praslin National Park. The location of such high elevation and unexploited palm forests forming canopies offer scenic beauty that appears to come right out of an artist's canvas. Waterfalls and caves also feature here. The reserve encloses habitats of deep upland gorges, lush secondary forests and protected wetlands which host a plethora of native species.

Green Turtle, National Parks in Seychelles
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Praslin National Park, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location: As the name suggests, this national park is situated in Praslin, the second largest island in the archipelago. The natural reserve of Vallée de Mai is also settled inside the park and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983.

Wildlife found:
With all of the six endemic palm species in Seychelles, including the grand Coco de Mer, the reserve is a host for a variety of birds, insects and reptiles. Praslin's hallmark bird, the Black Parrot, is occasionally heard in these forests. It also nests other native birds viz. Seychelles Kestrels, Sunbird, Blue Pigeon, Bulbul. Hawksbill and green turtles are a common sight on the beaches. Seychelles Islands tree frog, snake and geckos are some of the reptiles found in this habitat.

Entry Fees:
Entry is free of cost for adults but chargeable for children under the age of 12 years.

Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM, with the last ticket sold at 4:30 PM.

Activities: The habitat of Praslin National Park was untouched by human presence until the mid-20th century and hence gives the true essence of nature. Even now most of the trails in this reserve are seldom travelled by visitors providing an environment in almost its primitive form. Several expeditions are carried out in this leafy paradise.

Glacis Noire Trail: Out of all the trails rooted inside the premises of this national park, the Glacis Noire is the most picked one. The rare Coco de Mer palm is a familiar sight here. Secondary vegetation, which was once devastated by a forest fire, is predominant as some portion of this trail lies in the fire-prone zone. The hike to the top is very easy going and simple, consuming about 2 hours. Spectacular views of La Digue, Denis and other islands awarded at the end of this odyssey.

3. La Digue Veuve Reserve

Established in 1980 due to the alarming status of the endemic Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher, or locally called 'Veuve', the Veuve Reserve is a forest reserve that aims at conserving the 15 pairs of this critically endangered species left. Thanks to the efforts and strict measures taken by the Rural Society for Nature Conservation (RSNC) along with the inhabitants of La Digue that its population is finally thriving again. Covering an area of 21 hectares, the sole purpose of this reserve is to provide a pure natural environment to flora and fauna. Forest rangers are employed for the task and experts are present on-site to regularly monitor the condition of this adorable little Prussian blue coloured bird.

Veuve Reserve, National Parks in Seychelles
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Veuve Bird, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location:
It lies along the west coast of the island of La Digue. At the south end of this reserve is a Catholic Church.

Wildlife found: Apart from the Black Paradise Flycatchers, the lakes and hardwood trees of this reserve are home to various insects, fruit bats and native birds. Terrapins, a species of turtle, and moorhens are some of the other animals found nestling in its waters.

Entry fees: Free of cost

Timings: The reserve opens from 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM on weekdays while opens as required on Saturdays and Sundays. The Information Center of this reserve opens from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM on weekdays and from 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM on weekends.

Activities: Tourists can ask for guided tours to get a deep insight into the species protected by the reserve and locate hotspots of the Veuve. Official hiking trails have been constructed to ensure that tourism and conservation happen hand in hand. Nature enthusiasts seeking research opportunities will find ample support from the officials. Several educational programs are also conducted by the experts for the natives to spread awareness about conservation and preservation of the natural environment.

4. Silhouette National Park

With an area of about 20 km and elevation of 751 m, the granitic island of Silhouette was designated as a National Park in 2010 and has been protected by the National Protection Trust of Seychelles ever since. Encompassing 93% of the landmass, this bewitching island has the last of the paper parks left in the archipelago and the largest freshwater marsh, Grande Barbe. Until the mid-20th century, it was owned by the Dauban family and was later purchased by the Seychelles government.

Silhouette National Park, National Parks in Seychelles
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Seychelles sheath-tailed bat, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location:
Silhouette Island lies 20 km off from the north-west coast of Mahé.

Wildlife found: Silhouette acts as a biodiversity hotspot for many threatened and critically endangered species. With the main objective of reviving the native population of Seychelles sheath-tailed bat currently facing extinct, the park contains several caves where the bats roost.
Vegetation ranges from vivid pitcher plants, white-flowered Impatiens gordonii and tropical orchid collection. The reserve has also managed to protect the native Schefflera procumbens otherwise extinct on Mahé. The granitic island is also the nest of some indigenous species of birds, primarily for the Seychelles Krestel and Blue Pigeon.

Entry fees: Free of cost

Timings:
This park opens daily, including public holidays.

Activities:
Hikes are organized to the highest points of the five peaks that offer breathtaking seascapes. The island also contains a monument called The Mausoleum where many members from the honoured Dauban family were buried. Erected in 1861, the Creole-styled Plantation House is also open for tourists to get a look inside the residence of the Dauban family.

Marine National Parks

5. Sainte Anne Marine National Park

Dating back to 1973, the Sainte Anne Marine National Park is the oldest marine reserve of Seychelles. Crystal clear waters thriving with vivid biodiversity is what makes it a magnet for nature lovers all over the world and witnesses around 40,000 visitors every year. To protect the extensive flora and fauna, The Marine Park Authority administers the activities permitted and ensures that tourism does not impact the natural environment for the animals dwelling beneath the surface of the ocean.

St. Anne, National Parks in Seychelles
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Hawskbill Turtle, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location:
The marine park is situated 5 km from Victoria and lies at the northeast coast of Mahé. It is spread across 6 islands namely Ste. Anne, Cerf, Île Cachée, Round Island, Long Island, and Moyenne.

Wildlife found:
The azure waters of this marine reserve holds countless treasures, starting with vibrant coral reefs occupying almost its entire area.
Lucky ones can sight the bottlenose dolphins leaping in the oceans. Sea turtles and Hawksbill turtles feasting on the enormous seagrass meadows is an amusing scene to watch. One can also spot eagle rays and spot fishes during their underwater expeditions.


Entry fees:
SCR 200

Timings:
The Park opens from 6:30 AM - 5:30 PM every day but remains closed on Sunday.

Activities:
The park is favourable for numerous water activities. Boat trips are daily organized with glass bottoms to provide closer views of the surrounding islands and an insight into the marine world of Seychelles. Analyze the tide and go swimming or windsurfing. Tourists wishing to adventure into the waters and get a first-hand experience of the underwater world can indulge in scuba diving and snorkelling. Even though you get captivating views of the coral reef from almost every spot, the Sainte Anne Channel, stretching from the island of Sainte Anne to Ile Moyenne, is rated as the perfect stretch for snorkelling due to its breathtaking views. To ensure sustainable tourism, activities like fishing and water-skiing are prohibited by the authorities.

6. Silhouette Marine National Park

The largest one out of all the seven marine reserves, the Silhouette Marine National Park was granted status on 26 October 1987. With turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lapping against shiny granite boulders, this Marine Park has one of the most picturesque seascapes and an amazing collection of aquatic animals.

Silhouette Marine National Park, National Parks in Seychelles
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White tip shark, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location:
Located in the waters surrounding the third largest granitic island in Seychelles, Silhouette Island. It lies 20 km off from the north-west coast of Mahé.

Wildlife found:
With many aquatic flora and amphibians, the Marine Park of Silhouette is the shelter of Seychelles giant tortoises that walk about its white sand beaches. Underwater divers can also encounter blue-spotted rays and white-tip sharks. Gray Snapper fishes can also be spotted floating with their giant mouths eating zooplankton and seagrass.

Entry fees:
SCR 200

Timings:
This park opens daily, including public holidays.

Activities:
The calm waters of this reserve are excellent for deep-sea diving. You can also swim next to Hawksbill turtles on the beaches of Anse Lascar and Anse La Passe.

7. Port Launay

Shaped like a horseshoe, the white powdered beaches and translucent waters of the bay of Port Launay together form the Port Launay Marine National Park. Adorned with magnificent granite hills and verdant forests, this cove also supports a colony of corals beneath its surface.

Port Launay, National Parks in Seychelles
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Whale Sharks, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location:
Situated in the Indian Ocean off the northwest coast of Mahé, this reserve can be accessed by both sea and land. It takes half an hour from the capital Victoria to reach here while regular boat transfers from Baie Ternay Marine Park take place for those travelling by sea.

Wildlife found:
When visiting this reserve, you will be greeted by whale sharks swimming in the ocean, for which the bay is renowned. Shoals of native fishes floating can also be encountered during boat trips.

Entry fees:
Entry is free for children below 12 years of age while chargeable for adults (SCR 200 per person).

Timings:
This park opens daily, including public holidays.

Activities:
Boat trips are daily organized with glass bottoms to provide closer views of the surrounding islands and the multicoloured coral reef covering both sides of the bay. You can bask in the sun on the beaches or picnic under the shades beneath the Takama trees. Some of the most romantic sunsets can also be viewed from here. Snorkelling and diving gears are easily available along the shores while boat can be rented for fishing.

8. Baie Ternay

Mangrove marshes, rocky sands and crystal waters are what makes Baie Ternay the most sought after location to experience nature in its primitive and pure form. The secluded islet was marked as a marine park on 11 June 1979. It covers an area of approximately 0.8 sq km and has an intimate environment ideal for romantics at heart. With its abundant aquatic life and adventurous retreats, Baie Ternay has been welcoming tourists while protecting the wildlife from the past 39 years.

Baie Ternay, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location: The reserve, situated in Port Glaud near the west coast of Mahe, can be arrived at via a boat transfer operating from the beaches of Beau Vallon.

Wildlife found: Since it's present in the vicinity of Port Launay reserve, you can expect to see some whale sharks feeding on the zooplankton or lazily swimming around. The seagrass beds and coral colony offer shelter to moray eels, catfishes and sea turtles. Dolphins leaping in the ocean are an occasional sight in this reserve.

Dolphin, National Parks in Seychelles
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Entry fees:
Entry is free for children below 12 years of age while chargeable for adults (SCR 200 per person).

Timings: This park opens daily, including public holidays.

Activities: The idyllic location of this islet offers some of the best snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming experiences made accessible by cooperative tour operators. To provide dramatic views of the nearby islands and the gigantic Morne Seychellois peak, boat excursions are also operated from the coasts. Thinking of reworking your tan, then the beaches of Baie Ternay have some of the best sunbathing spots.

9. Ile Cocos

Also the face of Seychelles tourism, the Ile Cocos reserve one of the most breathtaking islands in the archipelago commended for its tranquillity and rich underwater life. The region enclosed by Ile Coco, Ile La Fouche and Ilot Plate was designated as a marine park in 1996 and now is bustling with tourists throughout the year.

Ile Cocos, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location: Present in the vicinity of both La Digue and Praslin, the Park can be accessed via tour operators or boat charters operating on a daily basis from either of the islands. The scenic beauty of this islet has captured the eyes of many nature lovers and remains to be one of the most prominent landmarks.

Wildlife found: A plethora of extraordinary sea animals roam in the waters of this reserve. From manta rays to sea urchins, from crabs to eels, from puffer fish to reef sharks, this reserve has such a long list that one cannot afford to miss. Seldomly the famous whale sharks have also been located swimming around near the coral reefs.

Puffer fish, National Parks in Seychelles
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Entry fees: Entry is free for children below 12 years of age while chargeable for adults (SCR 200 per person). SCR 157.20 is charged per yacht for overnight mooring.

Timings:
This park opens daily, including public holidays.

Activities: The shallow waters near the coast are known to provide thrilling snorkelling adventures. If you wish to explore the life beneath the ocean then trained diving instructors are also available on each coast. Granite boulders adorned on the white expanse of the secluded beaches prove ideal picnic and relaxing spots. Guided tours are organized through the forests for hard-core trekkers.

10. Curieuse Marine National Park

Originally called the Red Island due to its red-tinted terrain, Curieuse Island received the status of a marine reserve on 11 June 1979 and has been managed by the Marine Parks Authority of Seychelles ever since. Despite being exploited by foreigners four decades ago, the island managed to preserve various native species and now has a rich biodiversity. Though tourism is an essential element of this island, there are no restaurants or hotels and hence only day tours happen here. The hued effect of red sand, emerald green palms and turquoise coloured ocean has made this island appear like an artist's canvas.

Curieuse, National Parks in Seychelles
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Location:
Curieuse is located off the north coast of Praslin. Daylight boat transfers are conducted by tour operators and boat charters from Cote d'Or. The island is reached in about 20 minutes.

Wildlife found: Apart from the forests of Praslin, this is the only other place where the pristine Coco de Mer palms grow. The island has an abundance of vegetation with Tamaka trees canopying every trail. Mangrove marshes can also be spotted easily. The indigenous wildlife harbouring the water of this island is protected by forest rangers to ensure sustainable tourism. Lucky ones can spot the Seychelles Black Parrot perching on the branches. Green sea turtles come ashore for breeding while several Aldabra giant tortoise nurseries have been constructed for the safety of delicate babies.

Aldabra giant tortoise, National Parks in Seychelles
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Entry fees:
Entry is free for children below 12 years of age while chargeable for adults (SCR 200 per person). SCR 157.20 is charged per yacht for overnight mooring.

Timings: This Park opens daily, including public holidays. Tickets are available at Curieuse Island Ranger Base from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

Activities: Walking trail from Baie Laraie till Anse St. Joseph is highly recommended as you get to walk along granitic cliffs and mangrove forests, providing a unique island experience. Curious minds can visit the National Museum of Old Doctor's House at Anse Jose and learn all about the history of the island. Snorkelling and diving in the crystal waters at Coral Garden, Pointe Rouge or St.Pierre will relax and excite you at the same time, giving you a closer look at the marine life as well.

The moment you step into these reserves, you'll realise what it feels like to be in the lap of Nature. You will be awed by how the Seychelles people have managed to integrate tourism and wildlife in such a way that the activities of one do not harm the other. The harmony of its nature and wildlife will captivate your soul, making you leave the island with nothing but evergreen memories.

This post was published by Sonali Garg