Visit a Paradise Archipelago of over a hundred islands

The glorious islands of the Seychelles are scattered in the Indian Ocean, some 1000 miles off Africa's east coast and the island of Mauritius. These 115 gleaming pearls of paradise provide spectacular lush tropical scenery combined with superb white sandy beaches and beautiful deserted coves and bays. The crystal clear waters and lovely coral reefs offer some of the best diving in the world and also some great big game fishing. There are also excellent water sports facilities.

Seychelles is a stunning archipelago of 115 coralline islands that lies just south of the Equator, covering a total land mass of 455 square kilometers. They are the world’s only granite islands in mid-ocean, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and a whole host of attractions make up what is surely the world’s ultimate tropical paradise. They are internationally renowned for their exceptional beauty and their carefully preserved flora and fauna. The Seychelles archipelago lies north-east of the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Seychelles boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aldabra, the world's largest raised coral atoll and home to 150,000 giant tortoises and a plethora of distinct flora and fauna and, Vallée-de-Mai on Praslin Island, the only place on earth to find the fabled Coco-de-Mer (world's heaviest seed), and the rare Black Parrot.

Each island of the Seychelles has a distinct character and attraction of its own. This lush island group lures nature lovers, sports fisherman, birders, celebrities, scuba divers, honeymooners and families alike. They come to savour the ultimate escape and the seclusion and pampering found at luxury beach resorts. The activity options on the islands are impressive: snorkelling the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, scuba diving, especially on the reefs around North and Silhouette Islands, nature walks, mountain biking, windsurfing, sea kayaking, fly-fishing, sailing and more.

Seychelles has a population of nearly 80000 people living mostly on three main islands: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Mahé is the largest island: 32 kilometres by 8 kilometres and is the most populated one with 90% of the Seychelles population. It is home to the capital, Victoria, the main port and the International Airport. This spectacular island is dominated by huge mountains (Morne Seychellois reaches a height of 905 metres) and is covered by lush tropical vegetation. Seventy five beaches with beautiful soft sand are scattered around the island.

Praslin, the second largest island is home to Vallée de Mai, an imposing 45- acre valley that was baptised as the Garden of Eden by General Gordon of Khartoum-fame. It is also the only place on earth where one can find the intriguing Coco-de-Mer palms, which may live for more than 200 years. Huge shaped rocks alternate with beaches all around the island. This island lies approximately two and a half hours by schooner, one hour by fast ferry or 15 minutes by air from Mahé.

La Digue, the third largest in terms of population, is ideal for a tranquil and relaxed get-away, with its heavenly fine white sand beaches simply out of this world. Transport here is mainly by ox-cart or bicycle.The island is accessible in thirty minutes by boat from Praslin.

Other islands are coralline and spread towards the south and south east. About 40 islands are however granitic and found within a radius of 50 kilometres from Mahé. Among the islands which are easily accessible are St.Anne, Ile Aux Cerfs, Bird, Moyenne, Round, Cousin, Silhouette, Denis, Aride, Aldabra, Alphonse, Desroches.

The climate is generally humid with an average temperature of 29°C. Unlike its Indian Ocean neighbours, Seychelles lies beyond the cyclone belt. The tropical climate is influenced by trade winds: from May to September, south-east trade winds bring lower humidity and pleasant temperatures between 24° and 32°C from October to April, temperatures may be slightly higher with humidity and rainfall also higher.

Over the millions of years that Seychelles lay isolated and undiscovered, a unique flora and fauna has evolved. Birds and plants found nowhere else on earth have survived to the modern age and continue to thrive thanks to enlightened attitudes which have resulted in more than 40% of the land mass being set aside as nature reserves, National Parks and protected areas. Seventy-five plants are found in the granite islands and nowhere else on earth with a further forty-two endemic plants confined to the Aldabra Group. The unique land birds also include many found only in Seychelles including the last flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, the Aldabra Rail and the enigmatic Seychelles Scops Owl, found only on Mahé. Reptiles include by far the world’s largest population of Giant Tortoises. Pristine reefs host a huge range of fish (over 1,000 species recorded), corals and other marine life forms. Seychelles is the ultimate wildlife paradise.

Though the islands may have been known to Arab traders, they lay undiscovered until chartered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The first recorded landing was by the British East India Company in 1608, but it was the French who first lay claim to the islands in 1756 and settles in 1770. At the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Mauritius was ceded to Britain together with its dependencies including Seychelles. In 1903, Seychelles became a separate crown colony, achieving independence in 1976 and has a democratic constitution.