One thousand miles from anywhere and on the tiny island of Praslin, Vallée de Mai is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites within the Seychelles. Vallée de Mai is a lush, Jurassic Park-like nature reserve and is home to the world’s largest seed: the nut of the coco de mer palm tree. In addition to this clear honor, the coco de mer nut also has the distinction of looking vaguely like female anatomy.
Why Should You Visit Vallee de Mai?
Vallée de Mai is often referred to as the original Garden of Eden. Yes, it really is that lush and pre-historic! Palm trees tower over your head. You’ll see leaves as tall as you are. There are species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else on earth.
The most interesting species is, of course, the coco de mer. Its history is rife with mystery and magic. The seeds would wash up on the shores of the Maldives (which isn’t exactly close by), so logically people believed that this nut came from the ocean. Any nut that washed up was to be turned over to the king. The seeds were routinely given as gifts to other nobility and were believed to have medicinal powers. Once the source of the seed was discovered in the eighteenth century, I’d have to imagine much of this pomp and circumstance faded away.
How to Get There
Once you manage to find your way to the Seychelles, a ferry will take you to Praslin from the main island of Mahe. The trip is 50-60 minutes and costs 50 euros each way. Once on Praslin, you can join an organized tour, rent your own car, or hire a private tour guide to see Vallée de Mai.
With one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet also located on Praslin (Anse Lazio), your best bet is to rent a car so that you make your own schedule. We paid 35 euros for the day. Roads are well maintained and traffic is nonexistent. Do not be worried about driving yourself, even if you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road. Once you’d had your fill of the coco de mer and the humidity of the Vallée de Mai, you can quickly drive to Anse Lazio to swim and relax.
Admission to the Reserve
Admission to Vallée de Mai is 20 euro and the park is open from 8AM to 5:30PM. Tour guides are available to walk through the park with you to point out the various plant and animal species, or you can go it alone. Honestly, the choice is yours and it depends on your personality. If you like to wander and go at your own pace, you won’t need the tour guide. You’ll probably miss a lot, but you will still absorb the magnitude of your surroundings and you will see plenty of coco de mer trees and seeds.
After trekking through the Reserve, you’ve no doubt earned some beach time at Anse Lazio. Enjoy the remainder of your time on Praslin!
This article was submitted by Chandra of Style Hi Club
For more information on your trip to the Seychelles, visit Style Hi Club’s day trip to Praslin