On my first visit to the Vallée de Mai, I walked around under pouring rain. Back then, it was just possible to see the tall trees and their enormous fruits. On my second visit, we directly head from the harbour up the road to the entrance of the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. The weather is fine, and after paying a hefty entrance fee (I don't remember paying that much on my first visit), we stop at a table near the entrance. It has a collection of coco de mer, the nut which has made the palm trees here famous. After their beaches, Seychelles is mostly known for these fruits. Not just because they are the largest nuts on the planet, but also because of their shape. They have a striking resemblance of a female bottom, and are also called love nuts. For this reason, it has also been called the forbidden fruit. And yes, the resemblance is undeniable. Some have even believed that Vallée de Mai was the veeritable Garden of Eden. When we lift one of the nut for a picture, we note how heavy it is. In fact, they can weigh up to 30kg.
The reserve has been successful in preserving the coco de mer palm trees, officially called Lodoicea. We walk one of the trails, our eyes glued to the top of the tall trees to spot the palm trees. Unlike regular palm trees, these are either female or male. The female ones carry the coco de mer, and mostly they have a whole bunch of them in the top of their trees. Just imagine the combined weight, and how strong that tall tree must be to carry it all. In fact, the tallest coco de mer palm trees can reach well over 50 metres, although most are around 30 metres tall. The leaves are enormous too, are fan-shaped, and can be up to 10 metres long and more than 4 metres wide. In short: these trees are giants. And the Vallée de Mai reserve has hundreds of them. It is little wonder, then, that we feel dwarfed walking around the forest.
Apart from the remarkable female coco de mer palm trees, it is easy to spot their male counterparts. It doesn't come as a surprise that they are huge, too. Their dark brown, elongated inflorescences can reach up to one metre, and have dark yellow flowers. Reading the signboards, we learn that the fruits require a whopping 6-7 years to mature, and they can live for up to 200 years. A quick calculation learns that we might be looking at palm trees that originate from the time around the French Revolution! We walk up to a viewpoint, from where we have some nice views. Continuing our walk, we manage to spot the Seychelles black parrot. They move so fast that taking a picture of them turns out to be impossible. We walk up stairs, past brooks, under the sound of the clattering leaves of the gigantic coco de mer palm trees until we reach the exit.
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Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Vallée de Mai (Seychelles). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Vallée de Mai. Read more about this site.