Mare Au Cochons, Au Seychelles

Strap on your sensible walking shoes. Grab your cap. A bottle of water. Sun spray. Mosquito repellent and as much food as you would like because we are going on a trail! Oh and guess what? You’re coming along with me! Nature lovers will always be nature lovers right? You’re in Seychelles and you want to go on a hike because the only place you feel at peace is on a trail surrounded by a variety of green pastures. You want to leave the sound of the wave behind, or your parents made you tag along because they are nature lovers. Or maybe you simply want to see the island.

Mare Au Cochons trail is one of the most well-known trails in the Seychelles. The trail starts at Le Niole or Bel Ombre, depending on your location and it leads through the forest of the North. Along the way there are points where you can stop and admire the timeless beauty that is the coast of Bel Ombre opposite the Silhouette Island. The view is vast and beyond words to describe its beauty. The white foam of waves caresses the white sandy coast and the green pastures highlight its splendour. It is truly a picture perfect frame with a 360 degrees panorama of the mountains up above and the ocean and islands completing the masterpiece.

While walking to Mare Au Cochons there are streams of fresh water flowing either along the walls of the path you’re walking next to or on the granite rocks, flowing to complete the water cycle. The smell of nature is more than just refreshing when you’re surrounded by the sound of dripping natural mineral water. There are multitudes of river coming from the mountains and you will see them along the way but if you don’t, you’ll certainly hear it.

There are tiny wooden kiosks that you can sit at and have some refreshments and a chat; however this is not the end of the trail. You will meet a large patch of extremely green grass coating the mountains, and these grasses are picture perfect and soft to lie down on and take the most scenic pictures you can imagine as it’s dotted with palm trees.

The trail doesn’t end there with more than a few back stories of how they used to produce cinnamon in bulk. There are evidence of the ruins along the way and a large variety of introduced crops such as Banana and sugar cane planted in neat rows, will show such a settlement.

You’ve seen all that can possibly be seen; now you’re on your way to the Mare au Cochons itself. The name is in French and translated to the ‘marsh of pigs’, however this must either be a legend or it has been said that the marsh was full of pigs at one point. Whichever story is true, nowadays there are no pigs in the marshy area of the Mare Au Cochon Trail. Once you’ve reach the marsh there will be a bridge to walk across and a small shack like kiosk to sit at and have your lunch or maybe your snack, depending on how fast you walk.

One known secret is that you can continue into the deep unraveling trail that is Mare Au Cochons, however you need to be with someone who knows the way because I am a hundred percent sure you do not want to be stuck in the dark mist of Mare au Cochons. Moreover if you don’t have a guide that can lead you down the steep mountain to the Grand Anse side of the trail then you can turn back and start walking home.

The Mare au Cochons connects to other trails such as Copolia. Spending a day in Nature will never be the same after the trail!

Flora and Fauna

When you’re on the plane and coming in for a landing on the hot tarmac of Seychelles Airport, the first thing you might notice, besides the ocean is the lush green vegetation, covering a majority of the island like a thick carpet.

The Seychelles Islands are home to over 100 endemic plant species; 75 of them being on the granitic islands and the rest on the outer atolls. The most well known plant species of Seychelles, but not endemic to our islands, is the Coco De Mer; a rather suggestive looking nut, but valuable and beautiful none the less. We have also become a World Heritage Site for the species and have controlled trades and protections in place to ensure their longevity and safety. The main area of these nuts is the Vallee De Mai on Praslin.

The Jellyfish tree however is endemic to Seychelles. What makes this tree so special is that none of its seeds have been able to germinate in the wild, leaving it up to botanists to ensure their survival. Three known populations of this plant are protected by Morne Seychellois National Park in three different locations.

For the fauna part of Seychelles our main endemic species is that of birds. We have around 12 different species that inhabit our islands.

The Seychelles Kestrel is one of my favorite native birds. This bird happens to be one of the only day-flying birds of prey on our islands. Its diet consists of a variety of small animals and insects including lizards and mice. A pair of kestrels will defend a territory they reside in and keep other kestrels away, making it easier for them to hunt and not run out of space and food. Most people, like my grandmother, believe that kestrels are bad omens that bring about bad luck to those it visits. This has yet to be confirmed by me, seeing as kestrels live around my house and seek shelter from the rainy days! If you haven’t caught sight of this gorgeous bird in real life, have no fear! You can see a picture of it on our 500 Rupee bills.

Another fan favorite and endemic bird is the Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher.  The Flycatcher, or Vev in Creole, was once widespread on the island of Praslin and then moved to La Digue where they are quite common. Nearly 30 birds were transported to Denis Island in hopes of bringing their population up to 50, in 2008. The Vev is known to thrive in native trees such as Bodanmyen and Takamaka. Just like its name, this bird consumes insects by catching them in mid air. Its population is said to have gone up to nearly 300.

Animals such as dolphins, and turtles are also on a watch list of sorts, due to the fact that Seychelles culture had made it a possibility to consume these creatures. Dwindling numbers caused the government to place certain restrictions on the poaching of dolphins and turtles and now made them known as ‘Manze Rar’. Other creatures that are not quite endemic but famous in Seychelles, are the Land Tortoise and Fruit Bats.

Paint Me A Picture

Art is one of the best ways to express yourself in the world, a way to make your mark and say “Hey world, look at me.”

In Seychelles we are home to a vast majority of artists who continue to grace our nation with gorgeous pieces of work. From sculptors to painters and poets to writers, we have it all.

There are an array of studios found all over Mahé which are open to the public to view. There you can catch a glimpse of the artists mind and see what they brought to fruition through pure determination.

Sculptors in Seychelles can almost be evenly divided in half by topic; sculptures of women and figures can claim some where others decide to reclaim waste and turn it into art instead.

Painting on canvas however usually always has the same theme. The beautiful landscape of Seychelles can always be depicted with broad brushstrokes and bright colors. When the lush nature isn’t being captured, the people of Seychelles are seen in various day to day poses that enrapture the realness of Seychellois culture.

Art has proven to be a great way for people to express themselves and be seen or heard. Chatterbox has begun hosting an open mic night known as “Word Up” where people of all ages can speak their minds through slam poetry or smaller poems. Based on certain topics, these stories can shed light on what people are feeling at the time about the subject and open people up to new opinions and views.

This is the power of art; it connects people through various mediums and topics and either starts a conversation or continues it. It’s supposed to make you wonder and ask questions and evoke emotions that you might not have been aware were there.

The artists of Seychelles also wish to do this with their work and so far seem to be succeeding in such.

Find a list of galleries and information, here.