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USEFUL INFORMATION ON SEYCHELLES
Passports: Everyone traveling to Seychelles must have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of travel.
Visas: Visas are not required. A Visitor's Permit, good for 4 weeks, is issued upon arrival at the airport. Travelers must have a return (or onward) air ticket, pre-booked accommodations and sufficient money for their stay. If not, visitors may be required to post a security bond. The Permit may be renewed for 3 months at no cost and for 3 additional 3-month periods at a fee of SR 200 (USD 40).
Departure Tax: Everyone over 12 years old must pay a USD 40 departure tax when leaving the country.
Customs: Arriving passengers may import 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g tobaccos; 1 liter of spirits or wine; 125 ml perfume or 250 ml toilet water; and other normally dutiable goods worth up to SR 1000 (USD 200). Firearms (including air powered devices), spear fishing equipment and non-prescription drugs is prohibited. The entry animals or food is subject to licensing. Pets may only be imported with written permission of the Chief Veterinary Officer of the country.
Currency: The unit of currency is the Seychelles Rupee (SR), which is divided into 100 cents. Paper notes are in denominations of 10, 25, 50 and 100 SR. Coins are 1 and 5 SR as well as 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents. There also are some silver and gold coins, hey are not in general circulation.
Credit Cards: Visa and American Express are widely accepted. MasterCard, Diners Club and several other minor cards are accepted in fewer places.
Travelers Checks: Traveler’s checks are also widely accepted, particularly at hotels, shops and restaurants.
Banks & Currency Exchange: Banks and most hotels will exchange currency. Several banks are located outside the arrivals area at the International Airport and are open to meet all incoming and departing flights. There are no restrictions on the import or export of foreign currency. A maximum of SR 110 may be exported. Foreign currency and rupees can be freely exchanged at hotels and banks.
Tipping: Most charges (restaurant, hotel, taxis, porters, etc) already include a 5% to 10% service charge, "tip." Additional tipping is not expected but some round up to the next convenient amount, especially when paying by cash.
Language: Creole, English and French are spoken widely. Any of these will suffice at the major hotels, attractions, shops, banks, etc. Some members of the travel industry speak German and Italian. Translation services when in the country are available through.
Climate: The Seychelles offer some wonderful opportunities for windsurfing and sailing and the best time for these activities are at the start and end of the trade winds, usually around May and October. Diving is best in March, April, May, September, October and November. The islands are at their busiest in December, January, July and August and consequently accommodation is most expensive during those months. Tropical marine; humid; two seasons: Dry Season: (May to October -average of 76ºF cooler season during southeast monsoon. Wet Season: (November to April) warmer season during northwest monsoon. The heaviest rainfall is usually during mid-December to mid-January. Seychelles archipelago lies outside the cyclone belt and enjoys stable weather year round. Seychelles has a mean maximum temperature of 29ºC / 84º F and 12 hours of daylight. May - September. Southeast trade winds bring cooler, lower humidity (average 70%) and less rain along with gentle breezes. November - March. Northwest monsoons bring more rain, sometimes in heavy squalls, higher humidity (average 80%) and warmer weather. The transition periods of April and October are fairly hot, with little breeze and calm seas.
December, January and part of February (between 10 to 13 inches of rain) have more rainfall than the other months but it comes in short bursts, rarely more than an hour or two long.
Vegetation: The granite islands support luxuriant tropical forest on the mountain slopes. The coral islands are also densely covered with vegetation more characteristic of sandy coral soils. Generally, the most common trees are the coconut palm and casuarina. Others include banyans, screw pines and tortoise trees and the giant coco de mer palm, which is unique to the Seychelles and lives for up to 1,000 years. Of about 200 plant species, 80 are indigenous, including the bois rouge, the giant bois de fer and the capucin.
Wildlife: Fruit bats, flying foxes, geckos and skinks are common and there are more than 3,000 species of insect. The giant tortoise (which appears on the Seychelles coat of arms) survived near-extinction; there are now several thousand on Aldabra. There are many species of rare bird, such as the bare-legged scops owl, Seychelles kestrel, black parrot, magpie robin and paradise flycatcher. Four islands are bird sanctuaries, including Bird Island, which is inhabited by millions of fairy terns.
Vacation Timings: Even though conditions for visiting Seychelles are generally good all year, there are certain times, which are slightly more advantageous for certain, activities. Scuba divers will find April, May, October and November have the highest visibility and calmest seas although conditions are excellent year round. Coral reef diving is the main sporting attraction in the islands. Fish are unafraid of divers and spear fishing is absolutely forbidden. The waters are home to more than 900 fish species and over 100 species of coral, and visibility enables perfect underwater photography conditions.
For birdwatchers, April heralds the new breeding season and Bird Island will be found to be overrun with seabirds from May through September; migration periods are from September to December. Hiking and walking is best from May to September because of the dry conditions, lower temperatures and lower humidity.
Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz. British style 3-pin plugs are used:
Telephone: Direct dialing to most countries is available at most hotels. If there are no phones in rooms, hotels have public phones. The country code for Seychelles is 248. Modular jacks are of the US RJ-11 4 wire type.
Trip Preparation: Seychelles is in a healthy climate and there is no malaria, yellow fever, cholera nor many other tropical diseases. Those who have traveled to or through any affected area (including the Africa mainland) within a week of coming to Seychelles are required to certification of yellow fever vaccination.
Clothes: Light clothes are advisable because of the tropical climate. For women, light cotton dresses, slacks and shorts and pareos for the day and a long skirt or cool dress for evenings. Men are most comfortable in lightweight slacks and shorts and open neck shirts. For business, safari suits are acceptable and ties are not worn except to church. Sandals or light canvas shoes are adequate. Swimwear is not worn except on the beaches.
Water: The public water supply is chlorinated and normally safe. However, as it is different it may cause mild gastrointestinal upset. Visitors are advised to drink bottled water.
Food: All foods normally obtained at hotels, including milk and dairy products, are generally considered safe to eat. Care should be taken, as in all countries, when consuming items from street vendors.
a). Air - The local carrier runs frequent flights to Praslin, Frégate, Desroches, Bird and Denis Island, and on occasions charter flights to other islands. Helicopters also fly to a few of the other islands.
b). Ferries - Run regularly between Mahe, Praslin and la Digue. Other islands can reached by chartering a boat.
c). Bus - A service operates throughout Mahe, and there's a limited service available on Praslin.
d). Car and Taxis - Car hire is available and taxis run on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the fares are set by the government.
e). Walking and Cycling - Bicycles for hire can be found on Praslin and La Digue, but not so much on Mahe. Walking is probably the best way to get around on most of the islands, distances are relatively short and the scenery is beautiful.
Nightlife: Other than at a few theatres and discos, most nightlife centers on the larger hotels. The specialty is local entertainment. "Camtolet" music, originating in a mix of waltzes, polkas and quadrilles often accompanied by dancers, is performed. Moutia, an African dance form based on prayers, which slaves turned into work chants, is typical drums and rhythm. Many hotels offer evening barbecues, dances and folk singing. Typically, the larger hotels will have more entertainment on more days while the smaller ones will have one or two person bands. There are cinemas in Victoria, casinos at Beau Vallon Bay Hotel and the Plantation Club, and theater productions in Creole, English and French.
Art: For a small country, there are several very well known painters residing there. Perhaps the best of these is Michael Adams who has a studio and gallery on the southwest coast of Mahé. The Daily Telegraph said, "Adams catches the spirit of the islands, his brilliantly colored silk-screens prints throb with life, pattern, activity and fun. Every surface is worked over again and again with animals, people, rampant vegetation and crisp white buildings..." The silk-screen shown here is "Anse Royale," presented courtesy of Mango's Fine Art Gallery in Barbados, which exhibits a retrospective of Michael's works. Other artists are Leon Radegonde, Gerard Devoud and Marc Duc.
Museums: In Victoria you'll find the National Museum on Independence Avenue, the History Museum on State House Avenue and both the National Library and National Archives are on Francis Rachel Street. The National Museum exhibits local cultural and natural history along with artifacts including ship wreckage, coral, voodoo implements, stuffed tortoises, old musical instruments and household objects and various possessions of the pirates who once roamed the waters.
Snorkeling: In addition to the excellent scuba diving, there is excellent snorkeling almost everywhere one would look. Many of the snorkeling spots are close to the beach, although the best spots are just off rocky shorelines. Most of the larger hotels on beaches have snorkeling equipment (masks, snorkels and fins) available for rent or complimentary for guests and will be please to direct you to the best spots. Day cruises such as those from Water World provide opportunities to charter a powerboat and visit remote beaches for snorkeling and beach barbecues.
Fishing: Seychelles waters are a paradise for game fishing although it's a relatively new sport in the islands. Many liveaboards are equipped for the sport or a purpose-built vessel from Marine Charter in Victoria can be hired to sample the abundant banks around Mahé, Fregate, Bird and Denis (Denis has the distinction of providing record fighting catches like sailfish or blue marlin). It is recommended that you pre-book your fishing because it's popularity often lead to disappointment if you don't.
Deep Sea Fishing: One of our favorite boats in the Seychelles is the Tam Tam, which is specially designed and superb for all types of fishing. It is currently based at Alphonse Island and is specializing in fly-fishing. Water World has a selection of boats for day trips and longer. Trolling brings in red meat fish (tuna, jackfish and dorado); bottom fishing can net giant red snapper, grouper and "Job" -- fish guidebooks are recommended. Note that spear fishing is prohibited in the Seychelles.
Fly Fishing: Fly fishing on the flats is exhilarating, especially with a guide who know the local waters inside and out: so much so that one would think he knew each individual fish by name. Tarpon cannot be taken in Seychelles. Guides in Seychelles are expert and inexpensive. Fishing is either by wading or by small skiff. As an example, a full day of guide services will cost only about $200 (plus any expenses).
Seasons for Fishing: Seasons are governed by trade winds: from May to September they blow from the southeast (better for Big Game) and the seas can sometimes be rough; from November to February from the northwest (calmer seas for bottom fishing). October to April is perhaps the most enjoyable with calm seas. Competitions are scheduled under the representative of the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA). Big Game Fishing tempts serious line class fishermen. Dogtooth tuna has set world records, including the all tackle record. Traditionally, strip bait is used but live bait is available. Tag and Release is encouraged. Bottom Fishing is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike off the numerous banks and submerged granite reefs. Night fishing for barracuda is a special adventure. Bone Fishing is the latest sport with catches plentiful off Desroches, Denis, Bird and North Island.
Sailing: This is an all year round sailing location. Charter a powerboat, cabin cruiser or yacht for fishing or leisurely exploration at your own pace. There is an excellent selection of yachts, sailboats, catamarans and powerboats which one can charter, bareboat or crewed, by the week or longer. Half day and full day Yacht Charters, with captain and sometimes crew, can also be booked in advance or simply stop by the Seychelles Marine Charter Association at the Harbor in Victoria. Day excursions usually include drinks and a light lunch.
For sailors, there are two tides a day with a range of 1.5 - 2 meters at high water springs. There are two seasons, wet and dry. The wet season is October to April with showers November through January. Wind speeds range force 2 - 5 from the northwest. Sailing winds are ideal; the best anchorages are on the south and east coasts of the islands or in sheltered bays.
Surfing: At Grand Anse on the western coast of Mahé surfing is ideal between November and April as huge waves roll.
Windsurfing: Excellent almost everywhere! Each year there is the Mahe/Praslin Windsurfing Competition. In 1999 it is on 11 September and starts from Victoria, Mahe and finishes at Maison des Palmes Beach on Praslin.
Other Watersports: Wakeboarding and water skiing are available at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Beach Resort on Mahe (the only place for those activities).
Beaches: Ranking among the best in the world the silver white sands encircle the islands. Crystal clear water invites swimming in the safe, reef-protected waters. Outstanding beaches include Beau Vallon, Anse Intendance, Anse Royale and Anse Takamaka on Mahe; Cote D'Or and Anse Lazio on Praslin; and Anse La Source d'Argent, Grand Anse and Petit Anse on La Digue. Windsurfers, canoes and sailing dinghies may be hired on the more popular beaches and water skiing and paragliding are offered at the main resort areas.
Golf: The new Lemuria Resort on Praslin, has the first 18 hole championship golf course in Seychelles. On Mahe the Reef Hotel has a 9-hole course at Anse aux Pins just south of the International Airport. Visitors can obtain temporary membership and rent equipment at the clubhouse. There also is a miniature golf course at Le Meridien barbarons Hotel.
Bird-watching: Visitors come from all over the world to see some of the rarest birds on Earth. Eleven species are only found in the granitic Seychelles, including the Magpie Robin (now only on Fregate), the Seychelles Warbler (its refuge, Cousin Island, is now a reserve) and the only remaining Indian Ocean flightless bird, the White-throated Rail on Aldabra. Huge seabird colonies exist on Bird Island and on Aride with 10 breeding seabird species. Migrants from both Arctic and Antarctica regularly turn up and, in fact, many new Seychelles species were first spotted by birding visitors.
Hiking & Walking: Seychelles' natural paradise is spectacularly appreciated at ground level and walking tours introduce the islands' exotic flora and fauna "up close and personally." Guided tours can be arranged through hotels or our ground operation or you can set out on your own, for the excellent trails on Mahe, Praslin, Silhouette and Aride in particular. Descriptions of some of them are provided here. Organized and well posted walks in Mahe, Praslin and La Digue are graded Easy, Medium or Difficult. Informative guidebooks and experienced guides are both available, usually through your hotel or will be provided by our Creole Connections. Some pre-walk planning is recommended: choose the difficulty level best suited to your ability; wear sturdy shoes, a hat and bring water, snacks and a plastic bag to pack out litter. As the saying goes, paradise is fragile; please leave only footprints and take only photographs.Sun Bathing: Ranking among the best in the world the silver white sands encircle the islands. Crystal clear water invites swimming in the safe, reef-protected waters. Outstanding beaches include Beau Vallon, Anse Intendance, Anse Royale and Anse Takamaka on Mahe; Cote D'Or and Anse Lazio on Praslin; and Anse La Source d'Argent, Grand Anse and Petit Anse on La Digue.
Windsurfers, canoes and sailing dinghies may be hired on the more popular beaches and water-skiing and paragliding are offered at many resort areas.
Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is available at a stable across the street from Le Meridien Barbarons Hotel.
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