Hiking on Mahé
Hiking in the North of Mahé
Mahé and the other islands of the Seychelles are home to magnificent animal and plant diversity, which deserves to be explored in the wild or in specially-designated reserves. While hiking through breathtaking landscapes, holidaymakers can experience the treasures of this 'living museum' up-close. Some well-marked hiking trails lead through spectacular areas where you will often find yourself alone amidst unspoilt nature.
From Danzil to Anse Major
This relatively simple walk runs along the rocky north-west coast of Mahé to the picturesque, secluded bay of Anse Major. For the starting point, simply take your rental car from Beau Vallon up to Bel Ombre and Danzil. The road is only passable by car for a certain distance. If you'd rather take the bus, climb aboard the number 21 (Victoria - Bel Ombre) and take it to the terminus, before following the road on foot. A small path leads upwards, and once you reach approximately 100 metres (328 ft) above sea level, the coast moves over to the west. Here, on the bare granite rocks, it is sparsely vegetated, but you have a sensational view of the sea on one side, and an impressive outlook over the imposing Morne Seychellois National Park on the other. Please be aware that there is little shade on this hike, so try to avoid the midday sun. After about an hour, the narrow but well-marked path winds down to Anse Major. This not only gives you the chance to refresh yourself, but also to enjoy some really good snorkelling spots. At the weekend, you may meet locals here who come by boat to enjoy a beach barbeque. If you want to, you could enquire at your hotel as to whether they will arrange a boat to come and pick you up; the view of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks makes the trip worth it! For those who'd like to walk a bit further, a path leads to the south-west, which reaches the Baie Ternay National Park after an hour or so, including its unspoilt coves such as Anse du Riz and Baie aux Chagrin. Please note: this route has steep climbs, and there is little protection from the sun.
From La Bastille to Beau Vallon Bay
This two to three-hour hike is also quite easy, and leads from La Bastille to Beau Vallon Bay. The tour is best undertaken in the early afternoon, allowing you to enjoy the climb in the shade. From Victoria, go to the Central Bus Station, then take the bus in the direction of Anse Étoile. After two stops, get off the bus and follow the road on foot in the direction you were travelling in. Approximately 100 metres (328 ft) behind the Bastille, a large, clearly-marked building, turn to the left and climb up for around an hour. Follow the road straight ahead the whole time, even at the point where you see two huts on the left-hand-side and the road turns to the right (leading to the Ma Pavillion mountaintop). After 50 metres (164 ft), the path intersects with another coming from the right, which you should now follow going upwards.
After five minutes, you will reach the highest point of the hike; time for a short breather and a few sips of water. The down slope is equally steep, but much wider. After 200 metres you will reach a junction, where you can head left (leading to Mount Buxton then Victoria), or to the right. Take the right path and walk past a bubbly freshwater source where you can try the water if you'd like to! 100 metres (328 ft) further along, there is a path down to the left which leads to a house. If you choose the narrow path on the right, you come to another house, where you must pass underneath a retaining wall. 10 metres (33 ft) behind the building, turn right again, and after 100 metres (328 ft) you come to a road which you simply follow all the way to Beau Vallon.
Those looking for something slightly more demanding could try hiking to the Dans Gallas viewpoint. This beautiful, short, and steep tour offers lookout rocks with spectacular panoramic views of Beau Vallon, the north of Mahé, and the east coast of the island. Impressive granite formations make for some really nice holiday photos, too! The start of the trail can be reached by taking your rental car roughly halfway between Victoria and Beau Vallon onto the street named "Chemin le Niol", before reaching Le Niol and then taking the road to its end point. Alternatively, take the number 32 bus (Victoria - Le Niol) until its terminus. On the other side of the road, there is an information point for the national park, where you can receive more information (during business hours) about the tours that start here.
La Gogue Reservoir
Another worthwhile destination is the La Gogue Reservoir, which dams the water that feeds the north of Mahé and Victoria itself. A few hundred metres north of Anse Étoile, turn at the Manresa Small Hotel, taking the road that leads west up into the mountains, taking you to the reservoir in about in hour. Here, to the right-hand-side, a steep street ascends, taking about twenty minutes to reach the pass. From here you descend to the west coast, enjoying some beautiful views along the way. Once you get to Glacis, at the church, you can return along the coastal road, with Mare Anglaise and Beau Vallon being just a few kilometres away.
Cascade River Waterfall
To hike to the Cascade River Waterfall, first of all get to the small settlement of the same name, and then take the path before the river that leads steeply uphill. After about 45 minutes, you will reach the small waterfall. You may then choose to follow the path further, which will take you to a beautiful valley between the Montagne Planeau and the New Savy, before heading up to Grand Anse on the west coast of the island. If you plan to do this entire walk, leave three to four hours.
Another refreshing getaway takes you to the Sauzier Waterfall, which is arguably the most spectacular on Mahé. Thankfully, it is easy to reach. Starting at Port Glaud, take the road near the church and follow the stream into the island's interior. After about 2 km (1.25 miles), take a dip surrounded by rocks in this granite water basin. The mountain stream pours over a steep ridge here, and, following heavy rainfall, becomes a rather wild waterfall. Make sure that you're careful on the wet rock, as it can be extremely slippery. English painter Michael Adams has spent many an hour at this waterfall, and many of his paintings were influenced by its beauty. Unfortunately, the spectacular waterfall has also inspired some to try and make money out of nature, with a small entrance fee now payable if you want to get to the waterfall.
Far too few visitors to the Seychelles explore its beauty above 300 metres (985 ft). Here, the Mountain Forests come into play, offering adventurous hikes that offer incredible views that should not be missed! One note, however, is that hiking in the mountainous interior is extremely hard work, with tropical temperatures and high humidity ensuring that plenty of water is a must! You should also begin your hikes as early as possible to avoid the midday heat and to ensure that you are back before it gets dark!
Perhaps the best part of these hikes is the solitude. You will rarely encounter another soul in these forests, whether tourist or local. Therefore, you can usually get close to different animal species during your tour. For descriptions of the different tours, you can visit the tourist office or the Botanical Gardens in Victoria. Here, you can find detailed explanations of the landscape, flora, and fauna of the Seychelles.
From Victoria, why not try out this beautiful mountain excursion to Mont Signal, rising to 417 metres above sea level. Take a bus or car to Mont Buxton, before walking up, past a colonial-era watchtower which was once used to observe ships arriving. The descent can follow the same route, or you can go right at the first intersection and head down towards Beau Vallon.
Morne Seychellois National Park
Approximately 900 metres (3,000 ft) above sea level at the heart of Mahé is the Morne Seychellois National Park. At 10 km (6.2 miles) long and around 4 km (2.5 miles) wide, the park takes up approximately 20% of the nation's land mass! There is only one road that cuts through the park, Sans Souci road, and only a small sign lets you know that the park is there at all! Those who do not take the time to stop and enjoy the views from this winding road are certainly missing out on something!
The park is home to some of the most rewarding hikes on the island. For experienced hikers, a tour to the top of the highest mountain, the 905-metre Morne Seychellois (3,000 ft), certainly cannot be topped, and promises sensational views. The starting point is a path below the plantation on Sans Souci road. This five-hour hike can be slightly stressful, taking you through thick undergrowth and over bumpy trails. That said, the view from high above the Seychelles is an incomparable highlight! We would recommend taking this tour with a guide and only when it has not been raining, as the paths can be very slippery otherwise.
The Morne Blanc (667 metres/2,200 ft) is best-reached from the Sans Souci Road. Follow the sign above the tea kiosk. The route climbs continuously uphill from its already-elevated starting point, through the foggy forest up to the summit of Morne Blanc, which offers breathtaking views of Mahé's western coast.
Les Trois Frères (699 metres/2,300 ft) can be reached most easily from Victoria. If you manage to find most of the paths first-time without searching too much then the hike should take about four hours. To find the exact starting point, go to the Sans Souci Forestry Station, and walk from there on the branch-road uphill until you come to a sign that marks the direction to Les Trois Frères. When you get to the small hut on this path, you are rewarded with a fantastic view of Victoria, the offshore islands, and the east coast of Mahé. The path then narrows and meanders further up into the mountain. After thirty minutes or so, the trail becomes increasingly steep. Take the trail for another thirty minutes until you get to the sign that points towards Le Niol. Here, you turn right, then up the narrow path which takes you to the foot of the three mountains. Now it is time to enjoy a beautiful view! Depending on conditions, you may even be able to see Praslin and La Digue! For those who do not suffer from vertigo and who are feeling fit, the path behinds the cabin takes you to the summit, but the path is really steep and takes several hours. This should only be attempted with the help of a local guide.
Deep in the Morne Seychellois National Park is a network of intersecting trails through the Valley Mare aux Cochons. Those who want to explore this region should set aside a whole day, depending on personal fitness levels and hiking experience. Each tour serves up its own highlights of natural diversity. The Mare aux Cochons is a freshwater marsh that is fed by a small mountain river; here you will find excellent picnic spots! Other sights include the Glacis d'Antin lookout point, a few ruins, a small waterfall, and a cave with mysterious pirate treasure from the 18th century.
Casse Dent is a long hiking trail that mixes ascents and descents through a fascinating mix of palm trees, marshes, and other tree species. The highlight takes the form of a small waterfall and cave, located near the end. There are two different routes, which separate before meeting again on a plateau. Some sections of the path are secured with wooden platforms and steps for sure-footing.
Around two-thirds along the way, you pass a viewpoint that opens up onto a vista of the west of the island. Other places of interest along the path include the ruins of an old settlement and the ruins of a distillery. To start the tour, take a car from Victoria along the Sans Souci Road to Port Glaud or Port Launay. The start of the trail is signposted at a curve about 400 metres (1,300 ft) after the entrance to the Mission Lodge. Alternatively, you can take the no. 14 bus from Victoria (Port Launay via Sans Souci). The bus stop is located near the sign.
The final hike in the north of Mahé that we recommend is Copolia, which takes about two hours in total. The marked start and end point is on the Sans Souci Road, at Val Riche (approximately 6 km (3.7 miles) from the outskirts of Victoria). The path is marked with blue and yellow markings, and runs mostly in the shade of the vast granite hilltop, which offers a brilliant 360-degree view of Victoria, the east coast of Mahé, the airport, and nearby islands. On a clear day, this also has the best view of the Morne Seychellois, the highest mountain in the archipelago. There are a few steep sections along the way that are overcome using ladders and bridges.
This tour allows you to see much of the rich Seychelles flora up-close, some of which is only found at these altitudes. Spices such as cinnamon and vanilla can be found along the way, while at the summit, you can see numerous carnivorous pitcher plants (Perville's Pitcher Plants) that are native to the island and eat various insect species. Up here you will also likely be alone, so can explore the area in peace, enjoying the panorama before you descend by the same route you took up the mountain.
Hiking in the South of Mahé
Although less impressive than the north of the island, the 200 - 300 metre (650 - 1,000 ft) hills in the south offer lush environments and interesting valleys, just waiting to be explored.
Approximately 2 km (1.25 miles) before Baie Lazare Village (travelling from Takamaka), at Anse Gaulettes, you can turn right onto the road to Val d'Endor and set off on a three-hour hike to Bougainville. At first, the flat scenery serves up vegetables, fruits, and coconuts to see. At the summit, you're once again treated to a wonderful view, this time of both sides of Mahé. Walking downhill now, passing by some plantations, you will reach Anse Bougainville. Following this 8 km (5 mile) hike, you might want to take the bus from here, which you can take heading north or south.
Anse Capucins & Anse Petite Boileau
Those who want to explore the deeper south of the island can carry on from the south end of Anse Marie-Louise, following a narrow, hard-to-find trail, which leads to Anse Capucins. Walking 50 metres (165 ft) above the ocean, after 45 minutes you will reach a house; at this point take the small path down to Anse Capucins. Or, to get to Anse Petite Boileau, take the other path from this house and hike through 2 km (1.25 miles) of relatively thick vegetation. That said, it's worth it for the Robinson-Crusoe feeling of isolation that you can enjoy at the end.
While you're physically close to the southernmost tip of the island here, it's not within easy walking distance. Bearing the rather auspicious name 'Cap Malheureux', the tip will take about three hours to get to. Make sure you inquire beforehand as to the state of the road, as it is flanked on each side by dense jungle, and the path can be overgrown in spots. The beaches here are not suitable for swimming, especially during the winter months.
Montagne Brulée Nature Trail
From the village of Anse aux Pins, take the small road up to the foot of the Montagne Brulée. This trail leads to a 500-metre (1,640 ft) peak in about half an hour, after which you're rewarded with wonderful views of Mahé's eastern coast. The walk itself is well-signposted and maintained, with bridges over the rivers amongst other things. A sign behind the summit marks the start of the trail, which leads through a mahogany plantation, before palm and jungle areas. Finally, you will reach a vast granite plateau with a built-in wooden viewing platform where you can enjoy some spectacular sights. After you've seen enough, head back the way you came.