…our hospitality is lauded by all our visitors. Our hotels are seen as models in many respects. But the world may not be aware of the trove of natural wonders hidden in our mountains. The 115 Seychelles islands, and the interior islands in particular, boast an extraordinary biological heritage. And what better way to explore this incredible biodiversity than by hiking?
By the Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Mr Loustau Lalanne
The Seychelles archipelago was created by significant geological movements that occurred around 65 million years ago. The combination of the fragmentation of the supercontinent known as Gondwana and underwater volcanic eruptions led to the formation of the Seychelles Bank, with the country’s main islands located in its center. It is currently believed that Mahé, Silhouette, Praslin and La Digue are among the oldest islands on the planet. And their topography reflects this. Mountainous yet highly eroded, the landscape is made up of narrow coastal plains and medium-elevation plateaus bordered on both sides by central ridges. These are generally 400 to 900 m high (1,300 to 2,900 ft.). Morne Seychellois, the country’s highest peak, stands at exactly 905 m (2,969 ft.). The Seychelles archipelago also comprises another type of geological formation. The coral islands are located on the outer edge of the bank and have a completely different geological profile. Less rugged, their highest points are never more than several dozen meters above sea level.
It is no wonder that many landscapes in the archipelago match up perfectly with the image of the Garden of Eden that many people have in their minds. In his 1986 reference book, botanist Francis Friedmann listed five distinct categories of plants in Seychelles: exotic plants, mangrove species, coastal forest species, plants that grow at low elevations and those that grow in rainforests and/or at high elevations. The first of these, known as exogenous species, were introduced by humans over the centuries as crops, as ornamental plants, or even by accident. The most famous of these include Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis), bougainvillea (various species), and royal poinciana (Delonix regia), which are commonly found in natural areas and gardens. We should also mention the tea plants imported by British colonists. Production has almost completely ceased, with the exception of one active plantation located inside Morne Seychellois National Park. Large trees were also introduced for their wood, their fruit or simply their aesthetic appeal. The large amboine trees (Pterocarpus indicus) are among these, as are several species of ficus.