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Vallee De Mai Nature Reserve - Praslin Island - Seychelles

 

Vall¨Ĥe de Mai Nature Reserve is an exquisitely beautiful valley and one of the world's smallest natural UNESCO world heritage site located in the heart of the island of Praslin, Seychelles, 50km north-east of Mahe. It was officially declared a nature reserve on 18 April 1966 and inscribed in the UNESCO list in 1983. The 20 hectares wide Vallee de Mai is enclosed within Praslin National Park. The palm forest here is a living remnant of the prehistoric forests which existed when Seychelles was a part of the Gondwanaland. The site is classed under category IV of Habitat Management Area of the IUCN Management Category for fulfilling the criteria i, ii, iii and iv.

The Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve has the vestiges of a natural palm forest made up of the endemic Coco de Mer palms, as well as five other endemic palms. Island legend is that Vall¨Ĥe de Mai is the biblical Garden of Eden and Coco de Mer is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Two rivers flow through the lower part of the park, Nouvelle De-Couverte and Fond B'Offay, leading to a 34m waterfall.

The famous Coco de Mer produces gigantic nuts weighing upto 20kg and costing upto 1,000 US dollars. Also unique to the park is its wildlife, including near extinct species of endemic birds and mammels including Black Parrot - National bird of Seychelles and fresh water fishes. The Vall¨Ĥe de Mai Nature Reserve also includes innumerable varieties of reptiles, amphibia and invertebrates and some species are found nowhere else.

An information brochure with a map of the trails, open from 8.30am to 5.30pm everyday, is available with ticket. Buses crossing the island stop by the park entrance. The criss-cross paths are well made and kept clear. There are a few steep gradients or long flights of steps. Signposts at path intersections and markers post indicate direction and sites of interest. The treasures of Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve are visible from the paths and also have a viewpoint where one can have a bird's eye view of the area. The waterfall can be seen from the main road.

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