We decided to rent a car for the last couple of days just so we could cram more stuff in really. Nothing too strenuous, just a little bit of sightseeing, perhaps one walking trail, mostly beaches. I’m sure the public bus would take us to everywhere we wanted to go but we didn’t want to be beholden to timetables. The extra bit of freedom would be nice.
The Morne Seychellois National Park sprawls across the northwest of Mahé with a particularly epic road cutting through it. The speed limit is painfully slow around here, only 40 kph, but to be fair 40 kph is a fond and distant dream on these ridiculous corners. We made our way slowly and very fucking carefully to the Tea Factory, our first stop of the day.
This was quite cool but it’s hard to visualise what’s meant to be happening when the machines aren’t in use. From what I could gather the tea is grown very locally, we probably drove past it but we didn’t see it but to be fair I was probably concentrating on trying not to die. I think it’s withered, chopped, sorted into sizes and packed but the only thing that was actually happening was the packing. A machine poured the tea into the bags and spat them out to where a worker packed them into boxes. We loitered around the entrance to the packing room and one of the women waved us in with a smile and let us take photos.
We’d fully intended to have a cup of vanilla tea at the café for that full SeyTea experience, vanilla tea seems to be very much a thing here, but I nearly fucking choked to death when I saw the price. Rs90 for tea. That’s £5.50. Fuck me! I know The Seychelles is expensive but I have to draw the line somewhere and I’m drawing it at a £5.50 cup of tea. I’m not sure how much tea you get for that but if I’m paying £5.50 for tea I want a cup big enough to fucking swim in.
The next stop was Mission Lodge just up the road. This is the ruins of what used to be a school for liberated slave children. After slavery was abolished the British took to intercepting Arab slave trade ships, freeing the people aboard and bringing them to The Seychelles. Some of the kids ended up here. Not much remains bar a ruin but you can walk up to a pretty decent view point with a pavilion where Queen Elizabeth II had tea once. Bet it didn’t cost her five pound fucking fifty either.
There are several trails criss-crossing the national park and we wanted to do one of them. Only one of them, mind. We were meant to be resting and Tarrant’s ankles were still quite, well, I think buggered is the technical term. The Copolia Trail is the most popular and it’s the only one with an entrance fee for tourists. We abandoned the car on the side of the road and hoped we didn’t come back to a bus embedded in the side of it, paid our fee at the kiosk, and off we fucked.
It starts off nice enough, breaking you in gently with a little bit down and a little bit up. Then just as you’re thinking that it isn’t so bad and maybe you won’t sweat out every single molecule of moisture today it starts heading up, and it doesn’t stop going up. At all. Ever. Honestly, it’s ridiculous how unfit we are now. Alright, so we just walked over 1000 miles up and down worse hills than this in hotter temperatures whilst carrying a backpack but we’ve also spent the best part of two weeks sitting on our arses drinking rum.
The trail heads in the National Park are clearly marked with a sign and the one marking this one told us the trail was 1.4 kms one way so when the lady in the ticket booth told us it would take an hour I was like, pfft. As if. Yeah nah, this was going to take us an hour. It’s a lovely walk though. Information boards tell you what manner of tree you’re looking at and what birds you might see. We did see these two beautiful white-tailed tropicbirds flitting about the forest but they were too quick to get a photo. Google them, they’re stunning.
Eventually the incline does have to end or you’ll end up on the fucking moon and you’re treated to a cracking view, first of the tree covered mountains prompting Tarrant to sing the Jurassic Park theme tune at me and then, as you make your way over the granite to the viewpoint, of the east coast of Mahé from Victoria to the airport. It’s well worth the slog. Your eyeholes will be super happy. My legs were just about coping but I don’t think they’d quite forgiven me for the cycling the other day and my left quad was demanding answers.
Of course once you’re up you have to get back down again and Tarrant’s knees had opinions about this. My muscles more or less took gelatinous form by the time we got back to the car and I was so glad it had automatic gears because I’m not sure my left leg could have coped with the seven gear changes a minute these roads would demand of a manual vehicle.
On account of the fact we had a car we figured we might as well squeeze one last tourist attraction in before heading back. The Jardin Du Roi isn’t a huge distance from where we were staying. They’ve got a restaurant there too so we had a banana crepe each on account of the fact we’d failed to bring snacks with us and if we had to go any longer without food I’d fight the giant tortoises for the best leaves.
Why just a banana crepe? Because we’re not fucking millionaires. Just that banana crepe and a soft drink cost over £16. To be fair it was a very good banana crepe. One would say exquisite. It was certainly the best banana crepe I’ve ever had the pleasure of applying to my facehole, I would happily put the sauce it came drizzled in in a cup and drink it, but dear sweet lord, it was certainly a lesson in remembering to bring your snacks out in The Seychelles. I didn’t even get a photo of it because I inhaled it in seconds. I couldn’t look you in the eye and swear that I chewed it.
Anyway. This spice garden. It’s very interesting, you’re given a leaflet with a vague approximation of a map on it and a numbered list of trees and plants. As you walk around you’ll see numbers by the actual trees and plants so you can then refer to the booklet and know what you’re gawping at. In the case of the medicinal plants you’ll even know what they were used for. They’ve got everything! Pepper, oranges, avocado, a tonne of shit I’ve never even heard of. It’s a great way to kill a bit of time but Tarrant’s ankles were reminding her that she just walked up a fuck off great big hill.
We headed back to our villa and hung out on the porch. I’m really loving these evenings chilling in our little jungle, watching the geckos chase flies. Cote D’Or was brilliant and full of character and personality, but shitting hell it was noisy. People seemed to like parking up, hanging out and blasting music from the insane speakers in their cars. Like, you can feel the bass in your chest. It doesn’t go on too late but we did find ourselves heading inside early to get away from it because we’re old and boring now. Up here tucked away from the main road it’s so lovely and quiet. No one having too much of The Fun in my vicinity. We can kick back, drink rum, and Tarrant can absolutely annihilate me at cards in peace and quiet.
Morne Seychellois National Park, Mahé, The Seychelles
Stayed at: Alha Villa, Anse á la Mouche, Mahé
Useful shit to know…
- The car cost us €50 a day (per 24 hours) and Hannah at Alha Villa arranged it all for us. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to get one for us just for two days and it took her a while to find it but she came through.
- We paid cash Euros. It was an automatic gear box, we weren’t given a choice. In hindsight this was probably for the best, all the gear changes going up and down those insane hills would have knackered my poor clutch foot.
- The speed limit on all the roads we used was 40 kph but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that obeyed it. Well, me and every fucker stuck behind me.
- The tea factory cost Rs50 each and we were given a leaflet telling us what was what. There wasn’t anything happening apart from the packing so it was hard to visualise how things are done but it’s interesting. It’s closed on weekends.
- I personally don’t think Mission Lodge is worth the Rs100 each entrance fee. If you’re taking a picnic and spending a bit of time there then fair enough but apart from that it’s a lot of money for just a short walk to a viewpoint and back via some small ruins.
- There are loads of free trails you can do but we figured the most popular was popular for a reason and did that one. Copolia Trail is Rs100 each. Parking was a bit of a nightmare though. You just have to sort of abandon your car on the side of the road.
- The Jardin Du Roi cost Rs150 to visit the gardens. You could easily spend longer than we did there but we were ready to head back.