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Seychelles: Vallée de Mai

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Vallée de Mai | Seychelles | Africa

[Visited: July 2003]

In a remote past, Praslin island was completely covered by coco de mer palm trees, but as in so many other places on the earth, humans largely changed the face of the island. The World Heritage site of Vallée de Mai has been restored as an area where plants and trees grow and flourish freely. As you approach the entrance from the road, the abundance of life is obvious. Trees are everywhere, the earth is permanently covered by fallen leaves, you see birds everywhere, while you hear a delicate waterfall cutting through the green wall.

Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Coco de mer leaf, Vallée de Mai

Walking around inside the park is a joy for the senses and makes you feel a dwarf. The coco de mer tree is the main attraction of the park, there are around 4000 of them, and they are huge! The tallest tree can reach up to 30 metres, the leaves can grow up to being 6 metres wide and 14 metres long. Truly giant palm trees! As we entered, a wind was blowing through the top of the trees, causing them to accompany us with a continuous clattering sound. The base of the palm tree is so stable that it keeps the palm straight, even under tropical rains and storms. Realizing the natural power emanating from these giants, and their age (over 200 years), makes you feel humble and respectful.

Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Coco de mer palm trees, Praslin

The large leaves prove especially useful when it is raining, when they naturally transform into giant umbrellas. The trees are most famous, though, for their nuts. As might be expected, they are large, too. One of these enormous fruits can weigh up to 20 kilograms, which makes it the heaviest nut in the world. Its fame, however, comes mainly from its erotic connotations, form, and supposedly aphodisiacal effects. It has even been thought that the Seychelles were the original Garden of Eden, because of the nuts.

Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Giant leaf in coco de mer forest
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Vallée de Mai: lush vegetation on Praslin
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Waterfall on Praslin
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Enormous coco de mer trees at Vallée de Mer
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Vallée de Mai: coco de mer leaves as umbrellas
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Coco de mer nuts in Vallée de Mai, Praslin
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Erotic forms of coco de mer nuts, Praslin
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Giant leaf in Vallée de Mai, Praslin
Picture of Vallée de Mai (Seychelles): Long leaf in Vallée de Mai, Praslin

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