Fun with Plants & Animals on Praslin, Seychelles

Praslin has a lot more to offer than just its beaches – see for yourself….

The Praslin Museum

This “museum” is less a traditional museum and more a very informative tour of a private estate featuring medicinal and endemic plants and wildlife of the Seychelles.  It takes a bit of bashing on sites like TripAdvisor, but we found it quite interesting and enjoyable.  Elliott’s favorite time was spent inside the fruit bat cage, and I enjoyed seeing our first Seychellois tortoises up close.

41 In the bat cave...er...cage

In the bat cave…er…cage

We saw vanilla and mango trees, I got to participate in coconut de-husking, and we even sampled some citronelle tea.

(Watch the live coconut de-husking here!)  We also saw a collection of traditional tools and musical instruments, stood inside a palm-leaf hut, and learned about traditional food preparation.

50 Traditional Seychellois kitchen

Traditional Seychellois kitchen

Curieuse Island

The 5th largest island in the Seychelles, Curieuse is just over 1km from Praslin and makes for a wonderful day trip by boat.  The island has a diverse history, including being “leased” to private companies for the production of vanilla, copra (dried coconut used for oil production), and livestock, and serving as a leper colony from 1829-1965.  It also contains many endemic and native plant species.

We went for the turtles; Curieuse is home to about 300 Aldabra Giant land tortoises, the largest in the inner granitic islands.

91 Lunchtime for the tortoise

Lunchtime for the tortoise

101 We're both cute!

Do we make a cute couple?

I f you’re like us and you can’t get enough of giant tortoises, check out the videos:
Elliott feeds a giant tortoise.
Stephanie feeds a giant tortoise.

After playing with the tortoises and feeding them lots of leaves from the plants right on the island (their natural food), we took a leisurely hike.  We saw many mangroves, land snails, and great views, along with another animal or two.

122 A bazillion land snails

A bazillion land snails

133 See the tiny Lemon sharks

If you look very closely, you’ll see the Lemon sharks!

At the end of the hike, we were treated to a beautiful beach (go figure) and a delicious local lunch.

139 On the beach at Curieuse

Another big draw of this island is Curieuse Marine National Park.  On our boat trip back to Praslin after lunch, we made two stops and did some great snorkeling.

153 Our snorkel spot

Our snorkel spot

Valle de Mai

194 Valle de MaiThe highlight on Praslin is most definitely its Unesco World Heritage SiteValle de Mai is literally a prehistoric palm forest that is believed to have remained virtually unchanged over millions of years.  It is home to six endemic palms, most notably the coco de mer.

219 Coco de mer

Coco de mer

Coco de mer palms grow naturally only on Praslin and Curieuse, and were once believed to grow in the depths of the sea (the English translation is “coconut of the sea”).  The female tree’s seed, heart-shaped and weighing up to 25kg, is the largest and heaviest of the plant kingdom.  Because its shape is reminiscent of a woman’s pelvic region, the seed once enjoyed a reputation as a coveted treasure in former royal courts.  Both trees and seeds are endangered due to parasites, fire, logging, poaching and theft, and are therefore highly protected.  The seeds may also qualify as the most expensive in the world, ranging in price from $200-$600!  Due to their low numbers, the number that can be sold is highly regulated, and a new tree must be planted for every seed that is sold.

195 Stephanie and a not-at-all-suggestive Coco de Mer

Stephanie and a not-at-all-suggestive Coco de Mer

The male tree is equally unique, with its phallic-shaped seed.

240 Catkin (male Coco de Mer plant)

Our guided tour felt like a walk through the “Garden of Eden,” and I’m not sure we’ve ever been aware of our smallness compared to this giant Earth.

244 At the bottom of Vallee de Mai

We felt so small!

Valle de Mai is also home to many animals…

222 These guys move too fast to photograph, but we did see them

The rare Black Parrot likes to be heard but not seen.  These guys move too fast to photograph, but we did spot them.

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