Dozens of unique island destinationsSeychelles are the pure islands [Archives:2004/798/Culture]

December 13 2004
A view of the enchanting Seychelles area.
A view of the enchanting Seychelles area.
By Irena Knehtl
For the Yemen Times

Day breaks and a tropic bird streaks for the horizon, tearing across the blue sky like a silver arrow. Huge boulders of pink granite, first weathered by an oceans rage them polished by the tenderness of its waves.
A line of emerald palms stoops over the jade and sapphire hues of a lagoon, fronds humming beneath the caress of ocean breezes. Crystalline waters lay table mats of foam on a carpet of golden sands and murmur melodiously underfoot as they usher time sweetly by.
It's the start of an ordinary day in Seychelles. An echo from nothing less than the dawn of time itself of Life as it should be
It is the unspoiled beauty of Seychelles that sets it apart from other destinations. This Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands, each with its own individual texture and feel, stands for “purity” in its most natural sense are timelss miniature world.
The vast geographic spread, the Indian Ocean region combines an enormous spectrum of human activity within it.
Civilizations emerged at various times and places around the Indian Ocean and were enriched by neighboring cultural zones. Human activity along the shores of the Indian Ocean can be seen as curve from southern Africa to Yemen and from southern Arabia south east Asia.
This curve, by land and by sea, people have moved eastwards and westwards for at least 50.000 years leading to a constant intermingling of cultures, race, languages, religions, and trading goods.
The Indian Ocean itself has been an important avenue for this complex pattern. Sometimes the migrating people have taken to the sea and traveled to more distant parts of the littoral or to the islands of the Ocean. The movements of peoples across the Indian Ocean, within and between core cultural areas, was one of the major agents in the earliest forms of cultural interchange.
The process gained further momentum with the Arab discovery of the secrets of the ocean – particularly the monsoon winds – and refined shipbuilding techniques, foremost them were Yemenis. A settled civilization developed and prompted the growth of trade within what used to be then a “Yemeni” Indian Ocean region.
Islands have own history
Seychelles are made up of some real beauties, 115 of them, each one possessing its own history, legends and mysteries. Every island is different and that is the joy of Seychelles. Here are islands whose names give rise to vivid imagination.
If one could look back through time to its very dawn, when the shape of planet Earth was evolving, we would witness the crumbling of the giant super continent of Gonwanaland, and also see how its fragment came finally to rest in what was become to be known the Indian Ocean, between Africa and Madagascar.
Today, we know them as granitic islands of Seychelles, the only mid-oceanic granite islands. Together with others of coral formation they make up the Seychelles archipelago – 115 islands spreading like stars across night time sky, across more than a million miles of ocean.
Forgotten for centuries, they were discovered suddenly by Arab sailors and travelers, who were probably the first to wonder, wide-eyed at her natural beauty. Ancient travelers bear witness to the Arab knowledge of the islands from as early as the 9th century.
The Arabs accepted that the world was round, encompassed in an ocean, than air, than fire: rings of ocean, air, and fire. Certain graves on the islands point to visit to and perhaps an Arab settlement.
Were not the riches of the world in a green valley, the wide blue sea and in a pair of clear eyes. They named the place Jazair – az – Zarrin, the golden isles. They were listening to a tangerine, to voices far way, wafting through the night, sailing over dense heads of palm trees.
Their smiles in the dark, shimmering like wild silk. The winds were singing, the sun was sky. And night that like elbow rested on the seas and watched.
First recorded sighting
It was the Portuguese navigator Joao da Nova, who made the first recorded sighting of Seychelles in 1501. On early Portuguese maps, Seychelles appeared as the Sete Irmas or Seven Sisters.
It was not until 1609 that a ship of the British East India Company first landed on her shores. Following a succession of expedition, a French settlement was finally established in 1770. Important estates of coconut, tes, food-crops, vanilla and other spices were established.
During that period Seychelles saw the establishment of Victoria as its capital. Seychelles was granted independence from Britain in 1976 and became an independent Republic within the Commonwealth.
The Republic of Seychelles is now a multi-party democracy with a comprehensive infrastructure for education, health and community services.
The Seychellios people represent a colorful blend of different races which stem from African, European and Asian roots, all of whom have brought something of their own customs and way of life to the islands.
The result is a charming Creole culture. Three are three official languages, English, French and Creole. Creole today is a written as well as spoken language, which has resulted in an outburst of creativity in plays, poetry, and prose.
Creole architecture is another important cultural aspect of the islands. The design of some of the grand old houses, with their steep roofs and shutters to catch the island breezes, are representative of an architecture adopted for comfortable living in the tropics. Music and dance are an integral part of all Seychelles festivities.
The broad range of Creole cuisine is an reflection of the diverse ethnic mix of the islands. It features the subtleties and nuances of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian dishes and the piquant flavors of the Orient.
A dazzling array of fresh fish is readily available and is easily transformed into a wide selection of succulent dishes with the help of condiments fruits, spices, and herbs. Seychelles has some of the richest fishing ground in the world.
Seychelles offers a great variety of the accommodation: hotels – both large and small, hotels with more than 25 beds are classified as large hotels, guesthouses – offering Creole intimacy and hospitality, self-catering establishments and island resorts on remote islands with dive centers are located on the beach.
What to see
Walk the town of Victoria, National history Museum, National Culture Center, Botanical Gardens, Seychelles National Park, The Craft Village, Tea factory and tavern, art galleries, island excursions, Creole restaurants, walks and trails, snorkeling Praslin Ocean Farm, The jungle tour, colonial houses, Copra factory, Vanilla plantation, some finest beaches, granitic sculptures designed by Time, a stunning diversity of under sea life.
Two UNESCO Natural World heritage sites, one hosts the largest colony of giant tortoises and is breeding ground of the giant frigate bird. The second site is the Vallee de Mai on Praslin, an ancient forest, home to rare black parrot and the worlds largest coco nut growing wild.
The Seychelles archipelago boasts over 1000 species of endemic flora and over 75 species of endemic fauna. There are 20 national parks and reserves and around 370 sensitive areas are officially monitored and protected.
Seychelles is as pure as it gets, with 50 percent of the land is designed as natural park. Thus the Seychelles offers an unique holiday experience drawing on the diversity of 115 pristine islands.
The promoted concept of natural purity is the cornerstone of a philosophy that echoes the needs of today's travelers for a tranquil yet vibrant destination, simplicity, authenticity and innocence.
Seychelles in brief
– Located in Western Indian Ocean, 1600 km off the east coast of Africa
– The archipelago stretches between 4″ and 10″ south of the equator
– 115 tropical islands spread over an area of 1,400,000 km2
– The Inner Islands are largely granitic (41 granitic and 2 coralline) and are situated on the Seychelles plateau.
– Among them Mahe, principal island is home to the international Airport and capital Victoria.
– Praslin, second largest island, is home to UNESCO World heritage site.
– Silhouette, North Fregate, Bird and Denis islands, are more isolated, also fall within the Inner Islands group.
– The Outer islands, totaling 72 in all are situated beyond the Seychelels plateau and consist of low-laying sand cays and coral attols.
– Population: 79,326
– Area: 456 sq km
– GNP: 545 US Dollar
– GDP per Capita: 6,450 US Dollars
– National Currency: 1 Rupee = 100 Cents
How to get there
Air Seychelles, the national airline operates scheduled flights from UK, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Dubai, Comoros, Maldives, Mumbai/India , Mauritius into Mahe international airport.
For more information: – the official destination website for Seychelles
Air Seychelles: [email protected] Seychelles International Business Authority