Nature Seychelles kicked off the Seychelles Mind Body Spirit festival on Monday morning with a guided hike to scenic Mount Copolia. Leading the hike was Robin. More than 30 participants, including children, were there. The walk to Copolia is described as moderate and can easily be done within an hour and a half. But for it to be really enjoyable, it is best done at a slow pace while being immersed in nature. Robin encouraged all to take in the sights and sounds on the walk.
Participants first gathered at The Station, and then car-pooled to the start (Val Riche on the Sans Souci Road), before beginning the descent into the forest.
In the midst of the forest stood tall cinnamon trees. Cinnamon, an introduced tree, once dominated the Seychelles trade in spices and is abundant in many places. Robin handed out some leaves and asked everyone to crush them and inhale the beautiful fragrance. Discussions then began on cinnamon’s use. Popular in Creole dishes, cinnamon is also used in aromatherapy and herbal medicine. The bark steeped in hot water, with other spices like ginger added, makes for a lovely tea. It has recently been discovered that cinnamon lowers blood sugar and is good for people with diabetes.
Other plants of health interest included lemon grass which has a lovely aroma too. Leaves can be rubbed on skin to keep away mosquitoes. Lemon grass oil is a favourite in aromatherapy and the grass is also well liked as a tea. Its steam inhaled under a blanket was traditionally used to attenuate a fever. It is still an important local culinary ingredient.
Sturdy legs were needed for the steep parts of the trail which snaked up the hill. And the stilt palms with their many stilt-like roots firmly planted into the ground reminded people to keep their balance. On each side of the trail were huge granitic boulders, and further up these were covered in moss and lichen, an indicator of fresh clean air!
Finally after a steep ascent, the trail opened up to what is one of the most stunning views on Mahe. Copolia overlooks the east coast of Mahe: the view of Eden Island is one of its attractions and beyond it, rising out of the blue water are Sainte Anne, Cerf, Long, Moyenne and Round Islands. Behind are the other peaks of Morne Seychellois, which at this altitude are wreathed in clouds.
Martin, also from Nature Seychelles, directed people to one of Seychelles unique lianas, the pitcher plants, which grows in clusters on the rocks. Copolia is one of the very few places this endemic plant grows on Mahe
The walk ended with a guided listening meditation led by Robin.