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FITCATION: AN ACTIVE ISLAND RECHARGE- SEYCHELLES
It can be frustrating if you, like me, spend significant time and effort on your health and fitness regime back home, only to go on holiday and soon feel cranky and out of shape due to all the “lazing” about. Enter the “fitcation”! liezel_seychelles This big leisure trend taps into the idea that keeping fit – be it at a dedicated yoga retreat, running or mountain-biking camp, or even something less rigid – should form an integral part of your travel plans. Read on for details of all the fitness-related fun to be had within the Seychelles archipelago. In May 2019, I jetted off on an island vacation with my fiancé Mike Fannin. The original idea was for us to collectively sail as much as possible, as we were preparing for a sailing event at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, Cape Town. However, we soon found that each of the smaller islands leant themselves to a range of different and unique sporting activities – making this group of islands perfectly fitting for the active holidaymaker. How would we choose going forward… Or would we simply give everything a whirl? Firstly, off PRASLIN, we went on two great scuba diving excursions with Octopus Divers and were astounded by the gorgeous variety and colour to be seen in the offshore coral – something that has been much depleted in other island zones, such as off the coast of Mauritius. Find out more about how, as a scuba diver, you can help to preserve this precious resource here. liezel_scuba_diver We also took a hike through the Vallee de Mai to see the Coco de Mer. See “Hiking” below, for more details. Next up, on the mainland of MAHÉ, I tackled the route of the Seychelles Eco-Friendly Marathon, which takes place each year in February (I recommend that you register now, to avoid disappointment). Starting off from Beau Vallon, this marathon is considered challenging due to its highly up and down nature, and rewarding because it allows athletes to cover the majority of the island’s central and northern terrain. Initiated in 2008 by Dong Chang Jeong, the Seychelles honorary consul general for South Korea and head of the Seychelles Tourist Office in Korea, the marathon is aimed at promoting the Seychelles brand internationally – including its perpetual summer weather and stunning (plus cleverly preserved) natural beauty. Approximately 500 overseas participants are expected to line up, next year on race day, alongside the 4 000 local athletes. Mahe_shopping Another exploration I recommend on Mahé is a shopping stint on foot to the local market. Don’t miss this sort of thing to get a truly local feel for the Seychelles. seychelles_travelers_holiday While a lengthy flight can leave travellers weary for the first days of a holiday, the flight time from Joburg to Victoria, on Mahé Island, is just 4hr55; or fly for 8hr50 from Cape Town, with one stop in Joburg. We flew Air Seychelles, the Republic of Seychelles’ national airline, which recently increased its number of flights – up to six per week between Seychelles and Joburg – to meet with current demand. travelers_luggage_air_seychelles According to Remco Althuis, chief executive officer of the airline: “We are delighted to provide more choice to our travellers, especially during the upcoming peak summer months. The new service, which will be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft, will provide an additional 252 seats per week between SA and our beautiful islands… SA and Seychelles have very strong ties and we are confident that the additional frequency between the two regional centres will further strengthen the cooperation in terms of both tourism and trade.” Bonus: No visa is required for South Africans (as well as US citizens) wanting to holiday in the Seychelles archipelago. My tour group of Mike Fannin, Alison Foat of Cape Town Diva fame and myself, had the privilege of hiking a heart-warming route on the island of Curieuse – beginning at Baie Laraie and making its way through to Anse St Joseph – to survey their tortoise-conservation initiatives at first hand. We found the hike to areas where the tortoises are plentiful relatively easy, aside from the accompanying humidity (don’t forget your water bottle). hiking_trails_seychelles The terrain, however, is rather varied and includes giant granite rocks, dense mangroves, a rocky trail to the island’s summit, and a spectacular beach at the very end. Whatever conservation measures are being employed, these are certainly working – we saw at least 500 tortoises en route! Seychelles is a great choice for a year-round family holidaying destination, and the big hotels certainly lay on the options when it comes to activities to keep you busy and active. Our home for the last two nights on MAHÉ, the Savoy Seychelles (https://savoy.sc/), offered a spa and fitness centre with yoga classes and a gym available 9am to 8pm, 24/7, seven days a week; tennis courts and The biggest hotel swimming pool in Seychelles — 700 square meters (which the Chinese national swim squad was puttingto good use, while we were there, in the run up to an international swim event). One morning, I got the chance to go stand up paddle boarding (SUP) which, if you’re not familiar with the watersport, is a cross between surfing and canoeing. The paddleboard is designed for standing or kneeling, and an oar is used for navigation. SUP is popular in the Western Cape, where the ocean is rather chilly. So I have to add that beginners have it cut out for themselves in the Seychelles’ warm and shallow waters. Depending on where you stay and which SUP supplier you use, you may even be able to benefit from a few private lessons. A little more about the Savoy Seychelles – they are located right on the beach, which is great for sunbathing and swimming. Their service is TRULY excellent, which is expected of a 5-star resort but is not always forthcoming, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to friends travelling to the Seychelles in the future. While staying at the Savoy, we went on a zipline daytrip to Constance Ephelia with SMAC Adventures. I recommend watching this YouTube clip to prepare yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rsq5-HYAtI. Think lush vegetation; monkey-like swinging from tree to tree; lots of excited screaming… what a jol! From that birds-eye view, you’ll have a brilliant idea of the Seychelles vegetation. And we enjoyed an exquisite sushi lunch after all the screaming and swinging. This outing goes “highly recommended”! liezel_yacht In the middle section of our Seychelles trip, we enjoyed a sailing stint with Sunsail, during which it was also possible to kayak, SUP and snorkel off the boat (https://www.giraffeinthecity.com/snapshots-from-a-seychelles-sailing-spree/). yacht After mooring at LA DIGUE, two favourite memories involve days day spent hiking to the splendid Anse Source D’Argent (one of the most photographed beaches in the world), where we explored the granite rocks, swam and snorkelled; and cycling around this gorgeous car-free island, with its beach bars and vanilla plantations. plantations_bicycle Just remember that you don’t have to be a beach bum for the Seychelles to work for you as a holidaying destination. There are plenty of other types of sporting activities for you to take part in during your stay. See below for suggestions. OTHER LAND & SEA ACTIVITIES Tortoise-spying at Curieuse – around 300 giant Alhambra tortoises are nurtured and roam free on this biosphere reserve. Read more here: http://www.snpa.gov.sc/index.php/marine-parks/curieuse Surfing – popular off the Four Seasons Resort. See: https://tropicsurf.com/pages/four-seasons-seychelles Hiking – especially through the Valee de Mai on Praslin, to see the Coco de Mer and hear its legend from your knowledgable guide. For more: http://www.tickingthebucketlist.com/2015/12/vallee-de-mai-mini-guide.html Rock climbing and ziplining – for the adrenaline junkies, near the Constance Ephelia Resort on Mahé. See: https://www.seychellesbookings.com/seychelles-adventure-activities Mountain-biking – a range of wonderful trails are yours to explore. Go to https://awe365.com/guide-to-seychelles-mountain-biking-holidays/ Golf – the 18-hold course at Lemuria goes highly recommended, as it overlooks the world’s most beautiful beach (Anse Georgette). Read more here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/indian-ocean/articles/golfing-in-seychelles-mauritius/ Badminton – the Seychelles team won GOLD at last year’s African Badminton Championships (women’s doubles). Details: http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/8709/ liezel_sunsail_yacht Fast Facts Catamaran charter: www.sunsail.co.za Stay: https://savoy.sc/ Currency: 1 Seychelles Rupee (CSCR) = 1,08 South African Rand (ZAR) Best time to visit: All year round Seychelles Tourism: www.seychelles.travel