Valleé de Mai

Having grown up in the beautiful, tropical idyll of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, I know first-hand that no holiday there is complete without a visit to the Valleé de Mai. On the island of Praslin, is a lush, green, palm forest. The nature reserve has been compared to the real ‘Garden of Eden’, by General Gordon, a British General in the 19th century. And it is easy to see why. Verdant and abundant, the Valleé de Mai is a relic from prehistoric times, when the supercontinent Gondwana broke up into smaller sections. The perfect unspoilt nature park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a must-see.

I have been many times and each time I go, I am astounded by the large palms and the serene atmosphere but most of all by the mysterious and sensual coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica) that can only be found in the Seychelles. It can grow to 34 metres and makes one feel very small and insignificant under its giant fan shaped leaves. However, it is the seed, a double coconut with a resemblance to a female pelvis, which is the star of the show. The male and female plants are very interesting and there are many myths about the plant . The male trees have long catkins while the fruits of the coco de mer are developed on female trees. According to local legend, the mating takes place on stormy nights and the trees are rather shy so whoever sees the trees mating will go blind or die. Even today, the real pollination of the coco de mer is not fully understood. Very exciting!

The awesome forest has inspired many local artists and personally I feel the Valleé de Mai, with its spectacular rainforest, epitomises the raw beauty of the islands.
The Valleé de Mai is also home to exotic fauna such as the Seychelles black parrot, endemic to the island, as well as native pigeons, bulbuls, sunbirds and kestrels. On the forest floor, there are plenty of small reptiles, chameleons, skinks, geckos and tree frogs. While it is very rare to see the enigmatic black parrot, the mating calls of the bird may be heard in the stunning primeval forest.

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