Seychelles Car Rental (Nightmares) & Trip Planning

All the beautiful photos on Instagram inspired me to book a trip to Seychelles. Also, I wanted to visit Kruger, South Africa since 2012. There aren’t any direct flights to South Africa. I found out that we could take Air Seychelles to South Africa and add a stopover in Seychelles. It sounded like a perfect plan. We were not beach bums until we discovered our love for snorkelling in Greece back in 2015. So I was looking for the Seychelles trip to snorkel, for its beautiful beaches, chill in a luxury hotel and beach-hop.

Seychelles beach

Isn’t Seychelles gorgeous?

Index

Seychelles Car Rental & Trip Planning
Seychelles Trip Report

Our Seychelles Itinerary in Brief

Day 1 – Fly from Johannesburg. South Africa to Mahe, reach at 9 pm.
Day 2 – Mahe – Explore our hotel
Day 3 – Mahe – Beach-hop
Day 4 – Mahe to Praslin by ferry and explore our hotel
Day 5 – Praslin – Beach-hop
Day 6 – Praslin – Day trip to La Digue
Day 7 – Praslin – Explore half a day and catch the evening flight back to Mumbai

Flights

There is a direct flight to Mahe from Mumbai, which makes Seychelles reachable in just 4.5 hours. We flew to Johannesburg, South Africa with Air Seychelles and added 6 nights as a stopover in Seychelles.
It is easy to book a multi-city trip and cost nothing extra to add a stopover in Seychelles.

Best Time to Visit

I thought Seychelles to be an all-year-round destination and chose to visit in June as that was a better season for Kruger and Namibia which we visited along with this trip. June was good month weather-wise, being the month of the least rainfall and comparatively less hot than other months. One thing I missed during planning and booking is that June is possibly the worst month for snorkelling. The sea was very rough and had bad sea visibility. Definitely, my bad in planning this trip in June as snorkelling was our top priority.

Seychelles visibility in June

Probably worst sea visibility in June

Currency

The official currency of Seychelles is Seychellois Rupee (SCR). But the euro is widely accepted. We tried to convert some euros to SCR, but the bank was closed when we stepped out of our hotel. We got a decent rate when we paid in euros to fill petrol. At the ferry port, we got euros changed to SCR at a good rate. Mostly we used credit cards everywhere.

Seychelles Car Rental

I read a hundred times that renting a car in Seychelles is the way to explore. I also read that the cost of one taxi transfer equals the cost of one day of renting a car in Seychelles. Hence, I booked one car for our 3 days in Mahe and one car for our 3 days in Praslin. Things that no one writes about is that Seychelles is all hilly in spite of being a beach destination. Roads are narrow with endless twists and turns. It is a small island, still, it takes an hour to get from side to the other. Also, I had plans to beach-hop for which the car was essential. But since we were staying at a luxurious beach hotel, it didn’t seem worth going to another hotel’s beach and be an outsider. So for us, eventually car wasn’t much of use.

Seychelles Roads

Narrow Hilly Roads of Seychelles

Car Rental in Mahe

Company – Creolepay
Car – Honda Fit Car Hybrid
Cost – 45 Euros per car

We had a pre-booked a car from Creole Pay. Even though our flight was delayed by an hour, he was waiting for us at the airport. It was a hybrid car in a pretty good condition. We were a bit sceptical of getting a hybrid car but it didn’t matter in driving. It came with GPS fitted as promised. The only downside was that he gave us the car with a half tank of fuel and we were supposed to return it with a half tank of fuel. We signed a few papers and off we went. He told us that we should take care of his car as their insurance company don’t pay for scratches and they will charge us.

While returning the car, we couldn’t predict correctly how much fuel to fill and eventually land up returning the car with a full fuel tank. So lost a bit of money for the extra fuel. We were returning the car at the ferry port. He was waiting for us there, didn’t bother checking the car for every single scratch. Just checked the petrol and left.

Seychelles Car Rental

Our rental car in Mahe

Car Rental in Praslin (Nightmares)

Company – Kreol Cars/Bliss Car Hire
Car – Daihatsu Terios
Cost – 60 Euros per day

Car Pick Up

We rented Terios which came with a free additional driver and GPS. Since we came from a rough ferry transfer, we were all exhausted and just wanted to get to our hotel. The lady who came to give us the keys was very nice and friendly. She volunteered to drag one of our bags through the port. I had vomited and was not feeling well, so Kapil checked the car with her. First thing Kapil said looking at the car at that moment was “so many scratches”. She took out her iPad and said we will click pictures. Kapil pointed out to her to click here and there. Some she clicked, and some she ignored saying it’s dust.

GPS

We found out there is no GPS in the car which was a bummer. We didn’t even have mobile data to use Google Maps. Hence, we were tensed about finding the way to our hotel. She helped us with directions and promised to get a GPS at your hotel. We didn’t hear from them. After emailing them, I found out that he came to our hotel, opened the car with a spare key, and fitted a GPS. When we tried to drive with this GPS, unfortunately, it didn’t work and took us the wrong way. At times, GPS could not find roads and would think we are driving in water. Hence, we had started our own GPS and got maps loaded onto it which worked pretty well.

Drive

Soon we realized, in spite of being a bigger car than Mahe, it had the worst pick up. It would climb those hilly roads only at a speed of 20 Km/hr. We barely drove the car. We used it for driving from the ferry port to the hotel, drove to restaurants for dinner, and finally drove to the airport. In hindsight, we should have just taken taxi transfers and avoided all the hassle of renting a car on each island and driving these narrow roads of Seychelles.

Return Nightmares

We had to return the car at the airport and we reached 15 minutes early. The lady who had rented the car to us arrived within minutes. Her colleague accompanied her. She sat inside the car in which they came and her colleague came to us and stood by. I told her we would take 15 minutes to get things out of the car, so she made faces and left us somewhat angrily.

1 – Cleaning the Car

Once we were done, she came to check the car. First, she claimed that the car was dirty. In my opinion, the car was as good as we got because we had barely used. If he had used it for a longer period, it would have been 100 times dirtier. She said – there are tissue papers, food pieces and a bottle of water. I told her so what, you can throw it away. But she was very stubborn, looked angry and made me clean the car. I had to clean food pieces from the car which was just a few bits of khakhra which we ate on the way to the airport. I was really irritated because I’ve rented cars endless time in the past and returned it all covered in dirt but no one cared. It is their job to clean the car before renting out and not mine.

2 – Scratch

Then I said fine, now can I go? She did a detailed check of the exteriors of the car. On 1 particular area, she spent 5 minutes and said there is a scratch which she claimed wasn’t there earlier. It was a size of half a finger. I said no, ask the other friendly lady who rented to us. She came out of her car and said yeah; it was there earlier and went back in the car to find a photo on her iPad. I waited for 10 more minutes. Eventually, she could not find the photo of that particular area, so they blamed that I have made the scratch and should pay them 50 euros for it.

3 – Threatening Us

I said that we haven’t made this scratch. She immediately responded, “Pay 50 euro else I’ll call the police and will make you miss your flight.” Hearing this, my alarm bells were ringing. I know this is a common tactic when people want to instil fear in you and want to cheat or scam you. I responded, “Call the police”. Seeing my confidence she backed off and didn’t even utter the “police” word in all our arguments which followed afterwards.

In our opinion, the scratch was just above the tire which is impossible for anyone to make. I didn’t bang the car anywhere, if I would have, there have to be more scratches at other places too. The area was such that the door doesn’t touch there. Top it all, surrounding the scratch, there were many scratches which were temporarily fixed with white powder.

I also believed there is a possibility, this was fixed with white powder which came off when she was evaluating the area. It happened so quickly that I can’t be 100 percent sure but believe so. Or maybe there was dust which she rubbed off and then the scratch was visible. Because I remember seeing her, rubbing that area while checking. Also, the car was covered in dust and had quite a lot of scratches. So it is impossible for us to distinguish between every single scratch and dust. When we had told her to click pictures of here and there, many she had ignored claiming it to be dust.

In their opinion, I made the scratch, period. Pay 50 euros, else you’ll see. If there was a scratch earlier, we would have clicked the picture. Since there is no picture of that area, you have made it and you got to pay for it.

4 – Fight

Then are arguments back and forth went on. Dad, being the scared one, tried to offer her 20 euros, then 30 euros, to solve the issue. But she wouldn’t budge and demanded that we pay 50 euros.

The airport authority told us to keep quiet repeatedly. I told him; she is cheating me. He told me to go and check in the bags and told her to move the car. So off we went. She came back and said, her boss, Stephan wants to talk to us. In spite of all the fight and me being so angry, I tried to calm down and explain the situation to him. God only knows what she riled him against us. On explaining and giving my arguments, he was very offended and said: “You are a lier.” Hearing this, I was very shocked. He is trying to cheat me and calling me a liar instead. I’m the one who faces problems because I can’t lie even when needed. I got super upset by now and was in tears. I couldn’t take it that someone called me a liar.

Eventually, I told Dad; she wants 50 euros, just give it to her. But Dad had only 40 euros in cash which they refused to accept. So we just went off and said do what you want to do. She came back and said, “I’ll charge your credit card.” I said go ahead and do what you like.

We were flying back home after a good month-long trip in Africa but this experience spoiled everything. I was so upset and couldn’t believe what just had happened.

5 – Email Conversation

After coming back home, there were endless back-and-forth emails between Stephan and I. He stuck to his guns that I created the scratch and I stuck to mine, that I didn’t. And even if I did, no car company charges for such a minute scratch. I always hire a car from big companies with whom at least I haven’t seen them checking every single scratch and making a fuss about it. This was the first time I hired from a small company, reading that Seychelles is laid back. They hand you the car keys and off you go. To this, he even had the audacity to tell me that he doesn’t believe that I have rented cars in the past.

Also, I asked him, are you going to repair the scratch? Then why are you charging me 50 euros? He said, even if we do not fix the scratch right away, it still needs repair in the future.

Finally, I told him I don’t want to argue with you any further. You don’t believe me, nor do I. I’ll just end it by saying, I rented cars, 5 times on this trip alone with different companies and no company bothered checking every single scratch and tally them with pictures. That’s why I always recommend renting from big companies as they are not so fixated by rules like yours – take pictures of all scratches, miss one and pay 50 euros, clean the car and if there is sand in the car, we will charge you.  50 euros will not cost me an arm and leg but will prevent me from renting cars from small companies like yours.

6 – Refund

After at least 10 email exchange between us and arguing on every single point, he comes up and says:

“As Owners of the Seychelles Car Rental we try to beat every incident and it just happened at this time we were away as we normally deal with something like your incident personally.

With the pictures we have received, the scratch looks much worse than what it really is in real life. So I understand your point.
We have just returned and went to the location where the car is rented currently and found the scratch. Indeed, the scratch was not there when we rented you the car but it is significantly smaller than what we originally anticipated.

I have seen the scratch and it is way too small then my colleague portrayed. Hence I’m refunding 50 euros.”

7 – Conclusion

At the end of the day, it is his words against mine. Since he returned 50 euros, it can be a one-off incident. But the way, Stephan, the company owner handled it wasn’t something I expected. Instead of arguing endlessly with me, he should have checked it. Still, the bottom line remains; He comes with an iPad and wants you to take photos of each and every scratch. If you miss, you will be in the same situation as mine. Also, they will charge if there is sand in the car, which will happen if you beach-hop. So what is the point of renting a car in the first place?
Irrespective of my experience, I would recommend using transfers if staying at a beach hotel. 

This was our first bad experience with a car rental company. I guess I have been lucky with car rental companies in the past.

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Planning a trip to Seychelles?

Check out the other post in this series:
Seychelles Trip Report

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