The Base Camp
Why Go: Plenty of places bill themselves as paradise, but the Seychelles (pronounced say-SHELLS) have laid claim to the title ever since famed British explorer Charles Gordon declared this West Indian Ocean archipelago "the original Garden of Eden" in 1881. He wasn't far off: With lush mountain peaks, brilliant white beaches, and rare creatures like the Aldabra giant tortoise, the islands remain a place where disease is virtually unknown, crime is almost nonexistent, and pollution—what pollution? You'll find the Seychelles at their most pristine at Wilderness Safaris's one-of-a-kind conservation sanctuary on North Island, where world-class diving and snorkeling are just a short walk from your private luxury villa. Paradise? Found.
Need to Know: Don't miss nearby Praslin, the second largest island in the archipelago and home to the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site where the coco de mer—the world's largest nut—grows to weigh 40 pounds (18 kilograms). Locals mix the white flesh of the nut with red wine to create a reputedly powerful aphrodisiac.
Days: As many as you can afford
Outfitter: Wilderness Safaris www.north-island.com
Cost: $1,639 per person a day
Perk: The good life, cultural immersion, wild encounters
Photograph courtesy of Wilderness Safaris
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