The Vallee de Mai or May Valley is a magical place in Praslin's interior. It's a place you must visit. It is of course the world's only natural habitat of the coco de mer where it grows in profusion. People talk about the May Valley as if it were the original Garden of Eden. Well...
I agree there is magic there, but it's best to visit in small groups. If you go solo it's even better. There you walk amidst swaying palms a thousand years old that do not exist anywhere else on earth with birds like the black parrot just as unique and rare calling to you and playing hide-and-seek.
The famous coco de mer palm is indigenous and unique to Praslin Island and it is now a symbol of Seychelles that you'll find on its coat of arms, the Seychelles passport, and even in your own passport when you get a visa to enter Seychelles.
The swaying of the palm trees and the rustling of the huge 4-metre wide palmate leaves in the wind create the magic in the Vallee de Mai. The unique and characteristic whistling of the black parrot adds to the whole ambience. To me it was hypnotic the first time there. So the reason I keep going back.
You've got to experience it to understand. This is the reason to visit in very small groups (two's good, one is even better) so you don't miss a sound. Now can you imagine a tree that grows so slowly that it takes 50 years to grow a trunk one foot tall? Further imagine: its fruit takes 9 years to mature from the flower stage...
Now picture yourself walking among those trees a hundred feet tall. Could they be thousands of years old? Now on that same tree you'll see fruits in clusters of perhaps three dozens or more. And each single fruit can weigh more than 40kg (88 pounds).
Its seed, the biggest in the world, can weigh in excess of 17kg (38 pounds). And it is of the size and shape of a woman's pelvis. Talk of strange! Many who see the seed for the first time think it is a gross sculpture by some immoral sick junkie! And with comments to that effect... Really!
This is the coco de mer in the Vallee de Mai on Praslin Island, in the Seychelles. You may find all this unbelievable. When you visit Seychelles, go to the Botanical Garden on Mahe Island just outside Victoria and see for yourself one such "young" tree that was planted by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 1956 (yes, over 50 years ago).
Then visit the famous Vallee de Mai on Praslin Island, and see that ancient majestic forest with trees thousands of years old. Experience the sensation. This is a magical experience for many. I believe it would be a great place to get married if it can be arranged. But you need to keep the whole thing simple and well thought out. Do I hear wedding bells?
Perhaps not but when you visit the Vallee de Mai, you can't miss the characteristic whistling of the black parrot, which fills the air and adds to the whole atmosphere although you may find it a little harder to locate the caller. But it can be great fun playing hide-and-seek with this very rare grey-brown bird native to Seychelles and found only on the island of Praslin.
Vallee de Mai - the lost Garden of Eden
A UNESCO designated world heritage site
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It was a magical experience on my first visit and that magic is still there whenever I have the good fortune to enter the delightful Vallee de Mai. If there ever were a Garden of Eden, then this must be it - the May Valley with its unique coco de mer forest. But this island has much more to offer.
Although the unique coco de mer of Seychelles grows nowhere else on earth in its wild indigenous state and it never has and it is unique to Praslin Island, it does not bear the scientific name "Seychellensis," which it ought to, due to some freak...
Hundreds of years ago before the Seychelles had been discovered, rotting seeds from that plant were found washed ashore in the Indian subcontinent over two thousand miles to the north and so it was presumed it originated from the Maldives to the east of Seychelles.
So it bears the scientific name "Lodoicea Maldivica" instead. And it was only centuries later that it was discovered how the scientific world had made a serious error in the name, which cannot be altered anyway.
It was only after the discovery of Seychelles in the 1700s and the island of Praslin in particular that the real home and origin of this unique botanical specimen was finally ascertained. This tree never grew in the Maldives at all.
And the May Valley finally solved the riddle and answered the question: where on earth was the tree or whatever plant that bears those seeds? In fact it had been widely believed at one time that it came from under the sea - some submarine species! And that gave rise to one of its many names.
Hey that was several hundred years ago. And remember that not too long before that it was also commonly presumed that the earth was flat! And that the earth was the centre of the universe too!
The Vallee de Mai (May Valley), home of the double coconut and just one of a couple of attractions on Praslin, is a nature reserve. It is one of the two UNESCO's World Heritage Sites found in Seychelles. The other is the huge Aldabra atoll 700 miles away.
Closer to this enchanting prehistoric forest, the second big attraction on Praslin is something quite different - the world-famous Anse Lazio Beach. Are you ready for world-class beaches?
How about yours? Have you been to Seychelles? Do you have a little corner that you love? Do you have a story about the May Valley? Was it magical for you? Why not rave about it here? Tell us your own story and also read others' stories of the places they love here. Did you capture the elusive black parrot on film? Why not share it?
Coco de mer
Anse Lazio Beach
Anse Georgette Beach
La Digue Island
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