Morne Seychellois National Park
Explore the Morne Seychellois and discover a selection of the best hiking trails in the park
Morne Seychellois National Park
Created in 1979, the Morne Seychellois is the largest national park in Seychelles and covers more than 20% of the island of Mahé. Rising from the interior, the highest peak of the archipelago is composed of different ecosystems conducive to the development of life: thick forests, mangroves, and mountains.
If you want to spend some time in Seychelles’ beautiful forest, the Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé is the place to go. The National Park is located on the island’s northern tip, directly west of Victoria City.
The park, which is made up of various natural habitats and ecosystems, contains a large portion of Seychelles’ only remaining indigenous forest. There are numerous species to be found in the dense mountainous forest. Many Seychelles endemic birds live there, including the Seychelles bulbul, Seychelles swiftlet, Seychelles kestrel, Seychelles blue pigeon, Seychelles scope owls, Seychelles white-eyes, and Seychelles sunbird.
The National Park provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the world’s tiniest frogs, the Sooglossus gardineri frog. This tiny frog is only found in the Seychelles and measures 1 centimetre in length. Finding one can be an adventure in and of itself.
The Morne Seychellois National Park is located on Mahe, the largest of the Seychelles archipelago. Morne Seychellois encompasses approximately 3,045 hectares, or more than 20% of Mahe, and is comprised of mangroves, lush tropical jungles, and tall mountains. It is 10km long and between 2km and 4km wide, with a trail network that extends for more than 15km.
The role of the National Park, as defined by the 1979 act, is to protect the already vulnerable ecosystem by minimizing the impact of human disturbances. Morne Seychelles is home to a diverse range of indigenous flora and fauna, including twelve endemic granitic land birds, seven of which can be found on Mahe.
One of these is the Seychelles Scops-owl, which is one of the most elusive species of all. Its stronghold is the Morne Seychellois National Park, and it can frequently be heard around dusk along the Sans Souci road. The Seychelles Kestrel, Blue Pigeon, and Sunbird are common sightings in the park, making it ideal for bird watchers. You can always spot the endemic Bulbul, the Pitcher plant, and have interesting encounters with the Seychelles wolf snake.
Some of the most rewarding hikes on the island can be found in the park. A tour to the top of the highest mountain, the 905-metre Morne Seychellois, is unrivaled for experienced hikers and promises spectacular views. The path below the plantation on Sans Souci road serves as the starting point. The main trails are Copolia, Morn Blanc, and Casse Dent.
Morne Seychellois is one of the last places where you can see 20th-century relics. Originally, these cultural sites were used for the extraction of cinnamon and coffee. These ruins of old distilleries and houses are the last link the population has to its agricultural past before it becomes a tourist destination.
A number of official trails exist to allow visitors to explore the vast and spectacular Morne Seychellois National Park. Copolia, Casse Dents, Mare Aux Cochons, Trois feres, Anse Major, and Dans Galas trails are among them. The majority of the trails vary in length and physical difficulty and offer panoramic views and fascinating ecology.
The Mission Lodge in Sans Souci-Port Glaud is a popular historical site. Originally known as Venn’s Town, a school for African children was built there in 1876. Important personalities such as renowned painter and naturalist-Marianne North, HM Queen Elizabeth II, and HRH Duke of Edinburgh visited the mission on a regular basis and opened a viewing lodge in 1972. The avenue of Sandragon trees planted around 1880 is the most notable vegetation.
Hiking at the Morne Seychellois National Park
1. The Copolia Trail
The Copolia Trail immediately caught our attention for its incredible biodiversity and panoramic views. The trail winds along the side of a granite mountain and allows you to see beautiful carnivorous plants up close. From the top, at an altitude of almost 600 meters, it is possible to see and recognize the various Seychelles islands of the archipelago in the distance.
2. The 3 Brothers Trail
The advantage of the 3 Brothers trail is that it is both accessible and quick. Situated at an altitude of 300 meters, the trail offers beautiful views of Praslin, La Digue, Victoria, and the Sainte-Anne Marine Park. It is one of the most popular hikes in Seychelles as the round trip usually only takes about an hour and a half. The trail allows you to admire the famous carnivorous plant of Seychelles but also beautiful views on the other islands of the archipelago and on the various monuments of Victoria. A few years ago, we were able to continue the walk up to the Trois Frères cross, higher in the mountain, but this path is now closed as it is considered too dangerous.
3. The Morne Seychellois Trail
Our great favorite is, without much surprise, the Morne Seychellois trail. This beautiful walk reserved for good walkers allows reaching the highest point of Mahé through a magnificent path. From there, the view on Victoria and the Marine Park of Sainte-Anne is simply breathtaking. We advise you to do this walk with a guide who will not only guarantee your safety but will also give you a lot of information about the granite formations and the flora of the area. A walk to remember!
Often forgotten in favor of lounging and scuba diving, hiking in Seychelles nevertheless allows you to discover the different aspects of the archipelago. From Morne Blanc to Copolia via Trois Frères, don’t forget to add the discovery of the Morne Seychellois National Park to your next trip to Seychelles!.
You reach the Morne National Park by following the Sans Soucis Road, which starts at Victoria and ends at Port Glaud near the Constance Ephelia Resort.
3. Dans Gallas Trail
The name Dans Gallas refers to the Gallas family (a group of Ethiopian people who were released on Mahe during the 19th century during the slave trade). They were quite tall, and as a result, were dubbed “giants.” The main features of this trail, rather than any ecological richness, are the panoramic views and scenery that you discover as you follow the route.
In fact, timber exploitation has historically had a negative impact on the Le Niole highlands, owing to the high value of the timber. Later, Eucalyptus plantations were established to control the effects of soil erosion. Forestry plantations of Santol, Mahogany, and Pine can be found in the valley to the south of the ridge.
5. Mare aux Cochons’
The cinnamon introduced by the Mare Aux Cochons, which is now abundant in Seychelles forests, was commercially exploited during the twentieth century. The ruins of several distilleries are a unique feature of this trail, reflecting the area’s importance to this economic venture. The steam that was passed through the cinnamon leaves required massive amounts of wood fuel.
Water was channeled in from nearby rivers using bamboo and later metal guttering to cool the distillate and collect the oil. The majority of the trail is through secondary forest, with cinnamon and other introduced trees predominating, but there are also palms and other endemic trees like Bois Roug.
The route to Glacis d’Antin is more interesting, with a wide range of habitats from moist forest to open glacis. Many endemic plants can be found on the climb, including several palm species, Vacoa Marron, Bois de Natte, Bois Calou, Bois de Montagne, and Capucin. The freshwater marsh of Mare aux Cochons is the best of Seychelles’ few upland swamps. Despite the human intervention, it retains the typical moisture-loving Vacoa Parasol and serves as an important habitat for native insects such as dragonflies and damselflies. It also serves as a vital source of water for West Mahe.