The Mission Lodge lookout is one of Mahé's most popular visitor destinations, offering exhilarating views over the island. Located amid the natural beauty of Morne Seychellois National Park, the 450-metre high vantage point overlooks the spectacular green mountains and clear blue ocean that are trademarks of the island.
Close to the highest point of Mahé accessible by road, Mission Lodge overlooks central Mahé and the island's west coast. Covering 3,045 hectares, the park is the largest in Seychelles, spanning 10km long and up to 4km wide. Established in 1979, it offers a 15km network of trails that can be explored on foot, in full-day or half-day excursions.
With a fascinating history that dates back to the 19th century and the abolition of slavery, Mission Lodge is the highlight of the treks and should be on everyone's bucket list. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the Treaty of Paris in 1814, Seychelles was ceded to Britain, where the slave trade was still in existence. Even before British rule, Seychelles had been a transit point for slaves from Africa. However, slavery was outlawed in Britain as a result of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The British also introduced a policy of raiding Arab slave ships and bringing captives to Seychelles, where they were freed to work on the plantations.
Seychelles National Archive records show that in the 1830s, when the population of the archipelago was more than 7,500 people, 6,521 of them were slaves. Records also show that between 1861 and 1874, 3,000, Africans were rescued along the East African coast and taken to Seychelles.
A group of Anglican missionaries, The Missionary Society, arrived in Seychelles in 1861 to meet the need for education among the children of the freed slaves. In 1875, they began to establish a mountain settlement. Initially called Venn’s Town, The Mission Lodge was a boarding school that was opened in 1876. The project continued until the 1890s.
Today, the ruins serve as a permanent reminder of Seychelles’ efforts to stamp out the slave trade and provide a new life for freed slaves. The site became easily accessible following the construction of the Sans Souci road in the 1970s.
In recent years, the Seychelles government restored the site to establish one of Mahe’s greatest places of interest and UNESCO is currently considering giving it World Heritage Site status. UNESCO has called it a place of "outstanding universal value", as the freed Africans played a major role in forming the Creole Seychellois heritage and tradition. The Mission Lodge gave oppressed people an opportunity to lead a normal life again, serving as the start of a humanitarian movement. It became a National Monument in 1984.
People can visit the site free of charge and there are plenty of organised tours to Mission Lodge, where visitors can stroll around the site and enjoy amazing views across the mountains and ocean. Once the UNESCO status is granted, visitors are set to be given access to the archaeological finds, artefacts, the partly-restored buildings and the cemetery.
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