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Story Seychelles > Blog > Exploring the Stunning National Parks in Seychelles

Exploring the Stunning National Parks in Seychelles

When one thinks of Seychelles, images of pristine beaches, azure waters, and lush green landscapes come to mind. Beyond these mesmerizing visuals, the National Parks in Seychelles beckon with their unique biodiversity and natural wonders. Among the vast list of national parks of Seychelles, there are three terrestrial and six marine parks, all managed by the Seychelles National Environment Commission under the Department of the Environment. Today, we’ll dive into some of these prominent parks. 

Praslin National Park: A Bird Lover's Paradise

Situated on the island of Praslin in the Seychelles archipelago, the Praslin National Park and surrounding areas form an Important Bird Area (IBA) in the heart of the western Indian Ocean. 

 

Description:

Covering an impressive 700 ha, this IBA ranges from sea-level up to the island’s peak at 367 m. While it includes the 330 ha Praslin National Park, it also encompasses additional land towards the south-east. The site is renowned for its mixed secondary forest, which houses a significant proportion of native plants. In particular, the presence of all six endemic palm species of Seychelles stands out.  

Tourists walking through Vallée de Mai national parks in Seychelles.

Among its treasures is the World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai, with its enchanting palm forest. The park’s natural beauty is further complemented by small streams and waterfalls, while its south-eastern part, characterized by boulders, caves, and scrub vegetation, offers a stark contrast. 

 

Fauna:
Bird enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that this IBA has been identified by BirdLife International due to the populations of various birds it supports. These include Seychelles kestrels, Seychelles blue pigeons, Seychelles swiftlets, Seychelles bulbuls, and Seychelles sunbirds. Besides these, the park is home to various endemic reptiles and amphibians such as the Seychelle Islands tree frog, six caecilians, four geckos, two skinks, and two snakes. The beaches serve as nesting grounds for hawksbill turtles while green turtles can be spotted feeding along the coast. The Seychelles fruit bat, a significant part of Praslin’s wildlife, also roosts within this IBA. 

Ramos National Park: Seychelles' Marine Beauty

A trip to Félicité island will introduce you to the Ramos National Park another one of National Parks in Seychelles. 

 

Description:
Spanning over two-thirds of Félicité island, the Ramos National Park lies within Seychelles’ Marine Protected Area (MPA). Established in 1983, it has been under the stewardship of the Seychelles National Parks Authority. 

Curieuse Marine National Park: A Reservoir of Biodiversity

The Enigmatic Curieuse Island
Tucked away in the pristine waters of Seychelles, Curieuse Island was declared the Curieuse Marine National Park in 1979, emphasizing the country’s commitment to conserving its unique biodiversity. Initially, between 1978 and 1982, conservationists embarked on a project to relocate the Aldabra giant tortoise from Aldabra to Curieuse. Today, the island boasts of over 300 Aldabra giant tortoises, making it a primary habitat for these gentle giants. 

 

Natural Splendors:
A journey to the southern part of the island reveals a sprawling mangrove swamp, made accessible for visitors through a dedicated walkway. Moreover, the island’s rich flora comprises coco de mer palms, towering takamaka trees, and several plant species native to Curieuse like Porcher, Bois Chandelle, Lalyann dile, Bwa bannann, and Bois Cassant de Bord Mer. 

 

Wildlife Haven: 

Seychelles black parrot in one of National parks in Seychelles.

Curieuse is home to numerous bird species, including the rare Seychelles black parrot, which, apart from Praslin, is found only on this island. However, it’s essential to note that although black parrots are spotted here, no breeding is known to occur. Hawksbill turtles also find a safe haven in this marine national park, establishing a significant rookery. 

Moreover, Seychelles branch of Global Vision International currently runs a satellite camp on the island. Their primary focus is on the conservation of the island and conducting surveys on local species, including fish, coral, turtles, and the coco de mer. 

Mahé Highlands: A Soaring Natural Retreat

Morne Seychelles National Park on Mahe Island.

Majestic Heights of Mahé
Positioned in the central and north-western region of Mahé island, the Mahé highlands and surrounding areas form a vital Important Bird Area (IBA) in the vast expanse of the western Indian Ocean. 

 

Description:
This IBA spreads across an area of 4600 ha, roughly 20% of the island. Its vast boundaries encompass the 3045 ha Morne Seychelles National Park, home to Morne Seychellois, Seychelles’ towering peak at 914 m. The park’s history is painted with extensive exploitation of the native forests, primarily for timber and cinnamon plantations during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, human activities, including forestry, tourism, and some tea cultivation, affect a mere 10% of this vast area. 

 

Flora and Fauna:
The steep terrains within the park are shrouded in dense secondary forest and shrub woodland. At elevations beyond 600 m, one can find remnants of primary forest, standing tall with few exotic intruders. This national treasure houses many endemic species. 

Outside the confines of the Morne Seychelles National Park, the IBA extends to the mountainous regions in the south-east, covering the districts of La Misère and Cascade. These areas blend natural beauty with human settlements, featuring orchards, tea plantations, roads, and infrastructure. 

BirdLife International recognizes this site for its rich birdlife, including Seychelles kestrels, Seychelles blue pigeons, Seychelles scops owls, and Seychelles sunbirds, among others. 

Silhouette Island Marine National Park

Situated about 20 km northwest of Mahé, Silhouette Island stands out as one of the richest biodiversity points in the western Indian Ocean. Boasting a myriad of endemic and threatened plant and animal species, this national park offers a chance to encounter nature at its finest. One of the notable species is the critically endangered Seychelles sheath-tailed bat, for which two roosting caves have been identified, revealing intricate passages and boulder fields. 

Interestingly, in 2005, another roost complex was unearthed, showcasing 32 of these bats. The island is also a paradise for flora enthusiasts. Out of the 75 or so endemic plants found in the granitic islands of Seychelles, the majority are located on Silhouette.  

A beach on Silhouette Island whose surrounding waters are a Marine National Park.

In a bid to preserve its biodiversity, the surrounding waters of Silhouette were declared a Marine National Park in 1987. A more expansive Silhouette National Park was established in 2010, safeguarding an impressive 93% of its landmass.  

The island’s significance doesn’t end there; it’s also an Important Bird Area and has been recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a pivotal site for the survival of Critically Endangered species. The dedicated Island Conservation Society manages the island’s preservation efforts. 

 

Geographical Wonders 

Silhouette Island, the third-largest granitic island in Seychelles, covers an area of 20.1 km2 and houses about 200 inhabitants. 

The island’s terrain is a sight to behold, marked by five towering peaks exceeding 500 m in elevation. Of these, Mont Dauban is the tallest, standing at 751 m. The picturesque landscape is accentuated by younger syenite formations, estimated to be 63 million years old. A unique feature is the surface volcanic ash located between Point Ramasse Tout and Point Zeng Zeng, the only one of its kind in Seychelles. 

Sainte Anne Marine National Park

View of beaches on one of the islands of Sainte Anne Marine National Park.

A mere 5 km away from Victoria, the bustling capital city of Seychelles, lies the enchanting Sainte Anne Marine National Park. This national park in Seychelles, envelops eight smaller islands, and has a rich history to its name. 

 

Historical Highlights 

Established in 1973, this marine park holds the honor of being the first of its kind in the Indian Ocean, aiming to conserve its diverse wildlife. Fishing and water-skiing activities are strictly prohibited to ensure minimal disruption to the delicate marine life.  

 

Tourist Attractions 

Today, these islands have metamorphosed into some of the Indian Ocean’s premier tourist destinations. Dive enthusiasts can explore the vibrant coral gardens, mingle with the colorful tropical fish, and even spot the majestic reef sharks. One can also witness one of Seychelles’ largest “seagrass meadows”. Local operators curate day-trip packages, offering a taste of everything the Marine Park has to offer. 

In totality, the land area of the Marine National Park’s islands amounts to 3.887 km², with the entire marine expanse covering 14.43 km². 

 

Conclusion: 

National Parks in Seychelles, both terrestrial and marine, embody the essence of the islands, a harmonious blend of mesmerizing landscapes and unrivaled biodiversity. Each park, from the bird-rich forests of Praslin to the marine sanctuaries like Ramos and Sainte Anne, holds a unique story, a testament to the country’s unwavering commitment to environmental preservation. While the beaches may draw many to Seychelles, it’s the heartbeats of these protected areas that truly encapsulate its soul.