Seychelles

Ethical and sustainvel travel to the SeychellesMore than 150 islands form the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles, 1500km from the coast of Africa. Most of them are granitic: mountaintops poking out from a long-flooded plain. Granite boulders add sculptural elegance to beaches of white sand and turquoise sea. No wonder tourism accounts for 70 per cent of this tiny nation’s income. Several small islands, such as North, Cousine and Frégate, are only accessible to those staying at exclusive luxury resorts with private plunge pools.

The beach at Anse Source D’Argent on the island of La Digue is graced with especially picturesque rocks and palm trees. This beach, with its pink sand, is one of the most photographed beaches in the world and is accessible to everyone who visits the island. La Digue, the third largest population centre after Mahé and Praslin, also has some charming locally owned guest houses, bars and restaurants, and is the best destination for travellers wanting to make sure that they contribute to the local economy. It is a laid-back island with few motor vehicles. Most people travel around by foot, bicycle or – if you have heavy luggage – bullock cart.

The Seychelles has an amazing variety of plants and animals, some of them only found on the islands, such as the jellyfish tree, a strange and ancient tree that has resisted all efforts to propagate it. Due to very strict environmental legislation, the Seychelles is a success story in protecting flora and fauna on the islands, with half of its land area under conservation. The island of Cousine, for example, is working hard to conserve and restore ecosystems by reintroducing endangered species. The Seychelles is also a world leader in sustainable tourism because the government realized that more expensive holidays reduce the overall number of visitors.

The islands were a French colony from 1710 until 1811, when the British took over; but they remain emphatically French in many people’s opinion. They became independent in 1970 and, after turbulent years featuring invasion by mercenaries and various coups, it is now a stable and prosperous country with unconditional social care for orphans, disabled people and the old.