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DESTINATIONS NATURE | INDIAN OCEAN 3 VALLEE DE MAI, THE SEYCHELLES


Home to the infamous coco de mer palm tree, which bears the biggest seeds in the world, this sprawling, primeval rainforest on Praslin Island is as quintessentially tropical as you can get. Rare species such as the black parrot, Seychelles warbler and blue pigeon nestle among exotic flora, while giant bronze geckos and other unusual reptiles seek shade beneath the emerald canopy. It’s so humid it feels like standing in a greenhouse, but for those who don’t mind breaking a sweat, there are several hikes to take along flat, sandy trails that meander through the trees. Book it: Caribtours offers a week at Raffles Seychelles, Praslin Island, from £3,039 per person, based on two sharing a Garden View Pool Villa (half- board) with flights and private transfers. caribtours.co.uk


HAPUTALE, SRI LANKA


Sri Lanka has head-turning beauty spots in abundance, but not all its features get as much attention as the likes of Yala National Park or Kandy. Among those lesser-known spots is Haputale, a small town on the southern tip of the Hill Country that’s set on a jade-coloured mountain ridge amid swathes of tea plantations. Alongside the country’s second- highest waterfall cascading onto the rocks below, you’ll find idyllic walking trails, viewpoints with a perfect vantage point at sunrise, and a monastery peeping out from the jungle, with mystical, cloud-capped forest all around. It’s worth noting Sri Lanka has just introduced strict entry requirements to limit the spread of coronavirus, which prohibit British citizens from entering the country, so be sure to check Foreign Office guidance before booking travel. Book it: Travel 2 offers an 11-day Beautiful Sri Lanka tour combining the mainstream sites with Haputale and other quieter spots, which leads in at £3,439 per person, including accommodation in boutique lodges and campsites, and flights from Heathrow. travel2.com


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BAA ATOLL, THE MALDIVES


If there’s one place that knows how to wow with world- famous waters, it’s the Maldives, and among its superlative scenic spots is the Baa Atoll. Manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, turtles and 1,200 species of fish inhabit the waters of this Unesco Biosphere Reserve, where nine inhabited islands sit in circles of cobalt. At the centre is Hanifaru Bay, a feeding ground for whale sharks and mantas that offers exceptional snorkelling. Amilla Fushi makes an excellent base, and offers its the Blue Hole, a huge cavity in the reef that’s gained traction among divers the world over. Book it: Carrier offers a seven-night holiday in a Treetop Pool Villa with free upgrade to half board, British Airways Club World flights from Heathrow to Malé, and shared seaplane transfers, for a December 4 departure. carrier.co.uk


² travelweekly.co.uk 19 MARCH 2020 39


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