Visitors enjoy a walk on the wild side at the Seychelles‘ stunning nature reserve and trail.
The natural beauty of the Seychelles Islands is the focus at the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve, located on Praslin Island, near Baie St Anne. Managed by the Fond Ferdinand Foundation, the 122-hectare site is home to hundreds of indigenous species, including more than 6,000 Coco de Mer palm trees, unique to Praslin and boasting the world’s largest seeds. The reserve, complete with an enthralling nature trail for visitors, is boosting tourism in the popular Vallee de Mai, a World Heritage site, by creating a unique attraction for people of all ages.
One of the most picturesque locations in the Seychelles Islands has been given a sympathetic revamp to transform it into a major visitor attraction. The Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve, on Praslin Island, is home to a profusion of wildlife, including more than 6,000 Coco de Mer palm trees that grow exclusively in the region.
The nature reserve, managed by the Fond Ferdinand Foundation, has been in existence for many years, but additional landscaping has seen it geared up to boosting tourism on the island as part of the Seychelles’ national drive to increase visitor numbers.
Praslin’s global tourism ambitions
The reserve has been transformed into a high-end visitor attraction that’s now being marketed to attract tourists eager to experience its fascinating network of restored footpaths and boardwalks, culminating in a climb to the highest vantage point.
Here, the rather ancient visitors’ rest bay has been replaced by a more modern, wooden infrastructure, offering amazing views across not only Praslin but also across the clear, blue sea to other islands in the Seychelles.
The creation of Fond Ferdinand’s nature trail marks a major step forward in Praslin’s mission to become a global tourism destination.
The reserve’s emergence as a viable tourist attraction has been given the seal of approval from Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St Ange, who led a visit of government representatives to the reserve before it officially opened to the public.
Mr St Ange has been closely monitoring the progress of Fond Ferdinand, a project close to his heart. He believes it brings additional value to Praslin, encouraging visitors to extend their stay, as there are more activities for them to enjoy.
Following his visit to the reserve, Mr St Ange described Fond Ferdinand as an “asset” for the community of Praslin. He added that putting more emphasis on the “diversification of products on offer” was the key to Praslin’s tourism strategy.
“The more things we have to offer, the more beneficial our tourism industry will be for the local community,” Mr St Ange explained.
The tourism minister believes it’s crucial for Praslin to tap into as many innovative projects as possible, as any tourism boost will open up new opportunities for all of the island’s local residents.
Unique palm trees
In addition to the 860 mature Coco de Mer trees that are unique to Praslin, visitors can see the breath-taking sight of an additional 6,000 juvenile trees, stretching out across the 122 hectares that make up Fond Ferdinand.
The trees’ world record-breaking seeds quite often reach half a metre in diameter, weighing in at a massive 25 kilograms.
Since its revamp, the nature reserve has attracted not only visitors but also renewed interest from local residents and those living on neighbouring islands. It’s also hoped that tourists visiting other Seychelles islands will hop over to Praslin especially to visit Fond Ferdinand.
For visitors travelling to the reserve by car, there’s a scenic drive around the coast road, with its beautiful views of the sparkling Indian Ocean. Guided tours of the nature reserve are available if required, led by guides from Creole Travel Services, or visitors can walk at their own pace and enjoy the ambience on a route of their choice.
The guides are very passionate and dedicated, with a great local knowledge of the area’s wildlife, flora and fauna. In particular, visitors choosing a guided tour can learn the amazing story of the Coco de Mer palm trees, with an “aroma sensations” experience on offer too, enabling participants to smell the rich diversity of local spices.
The nature walks are suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Starting out by walking through a veil of vivid green bamboo, trekkers will come to the river, where a variety of fish and other creatures, such as eels and bright green lizards, can be found.
Walks for all abilities
Venturing further into the nature reserve, visitors will have the option of choosing a flat and easy walk that’s suitable for beginners, young children, more mature people or those whose fitness needs to improve before they tackle any more demanding routes.
With wide open spaces for children to run around and let off steam at ground level, Fond Ferdinand is an idyllic family destination.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, some of the paths begin to rise upwards into areas that are above sea level, where more spectacular views can be enjoyed. How far you go is up to you, but to make it easier, there are plenty of steps, rather than having to follow the rough terrain, so it’s not too taxing for an average walker to begin the ascent.
Trekkers will be richly rewarded for their climb by experiencing some of the most breath-taking views in the Seychelles from the highest points of the nature reserve. In fact, a casual walk can easily turn into a big hike if you are carried away by the splendour of your surroundings and lose track of time and distance!
Once the wonderful views from the uppermost points of the walk have been savoured, it’s pleasant to walk back down at a leisurely pace, with lots of resting places nestling in the shade to catch your breath and maybe enjoy a cool drink after the climb.
Once one walking route has been explored, visitors can return time and time again as Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve is huge, with plenty of other wildlife walks spanning across its 122 hectares, offering even the most discerning visitor something new to admire every time. The lush, green surroundings, coupled with the striking views across Praslin and the Indian Ocean, make Fond Ferdinand a dream destination. Going back to nature has never been so much fun!