Written by Will Bendix
Before you’ve even arrived in Victoria, your breath will be taken away. Mostly by the view, but partly by the road that rises up in a series of terrifying hairpin bends, cutting through the lush Morne Seychellois National Park.
Mission Lodge is an easily accessible lookout point, and aside from the gazebo where Queen Elizabeth II once sipped tea, it also offers spectacular views of the coast. If you’re feeling more energetic, there’s a three-hour hike that ends on the peak of Morne Blanc. The steamy trek takes you through tea plantations that give way to primary rainforest filled with the sound of exotic birds and glimpses of the ever-present ocean.
From Morne Blanc the jungle tumbles back down to the Seychelles’ charming capital. Victoria is famous for its local market, located in the town square and surrounded by landmarks from its colonial past, such as the Victoria Clocktower, or ‘Little Ben’ as locals affectionately call it, a pint-sized replica of its famous London counterpart.
A short stroll away is the Seychelles National History Museum. The small but fascinating museum details the country’s unique origins – it’s one of the only granite island chains in the world, perched on the tip of an underwater mountain range – as well as its rich cultural and ecological diversity.
The museum is close to the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens, where you can get pleasantly lost amongst legions of endemic tropical plants. Or just hang out with the Aldabra giant tortoises, who remind you of the best way to savour this enchanting island. Slowly.
Rest and Relaxation
For an authentic taste of the Seychelles, head to Marie-Antoinette Restaurant, a 10-minute walk from Victoria Market. The exquisite 200-year-old wooden building is a national monument, but the real attraction is the food. The Creole menu has remained unchanged since the restaurant opened in 1972 and offers simple but sublime dishes, including aubergine fritters, battered parrotfish, coconut nougat, and delectable sides like pumpkin chutney.
Just offshore of Victoria lies Sainte Anne Marine National Park, which offers some of the best snorkelling in the Seychelles. A number of operators run day tours to the reefs, including glass-bottom boats which are always a hit with the kids. If you’re in the mood to be pampered, stay at the luxurious Sainte Anne Resort & Spa, the only resort on the private island with the same name.
Distance: 3,335 km
Flight Time: 4 hours, 55 minutes
Frequency: Beginning December 12, Qatar Airways will operate a daily service from Doha