Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve

Have you ever dreamt of hiking through an ancient forest and being transported thousands of years back? I did but I never thought that it would be an ancient palm forest, containing the largest number of sea coconut trees in the world! Coco de mer is a rare species of palm tree native to the Seychelles archipelago. Unlike the coconut palm, coco de mer has separate male and female trees. The fruit, which requires 6–7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate will grow only on the female tree. But the issue is that you won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl earlier than 25 years since you planted it. People have tried to grow it in other regions of the world but the stubborn coco de mer cannot and will not grow somewhere else.

The nut of the coco de mer is the largest seed in the plant kingdom and is funnily shaped. That’s why it is sometimes called love nut, double coconut or coco fesse. And that is also why you can read some interesting legends about it. General Charles George Gordon, who visited the Seychelles in 1881, believed that Praslin island contains the Garden of Eden and that the coco de mer was the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the Maldives, any coco de mer nuts that were found in the ocean or on the beaches were supposed to be given to the king, and keeping a nut for yourself or selling it could have resulted in the death penalty. You can read more here: Legends of the coco de mer.

The main population of coco de mer trees now grows in the national parks on the Seychelles, mainly on Praslin: Valee du Mai (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve. We decided to visit the second one at the suggestion of our guide. Although the two km long hike was pretty challenging due to the heat, humidity and never-ending steps, the story of the forest told by the local guide, the magnificent flora and fauna of the reserve and the view from the top were more than worth it. This is a must do if you go to Praslin. Let the trail begin!

We are warmly welcomed by the Aldabra giant tortoises that reside under a mango tree. Yum!

Now we get acquainted with the main residents of the reserve, the coco de mer nuts. The fruit can contain from one to four seeds.

We start our climb through the lush vegetation, discovering not only the famous sea coconut but also vanilla and cinnamon trees.

Climbing more steps…

Admiring the tall trees…

Meeting another resident: the gecko.

And finally, the reward from the top:

Finding some shade and catching our breaths before we return:

On the road back to the entrance, the black parrot joined us to say goodbye.

After walking through the Coco de Mer forest with me, which of the sea coconuts legends did you like best?

Write your opinion in the comment section below!



Pomegranate Juice