Tuesday 23 January 2018

MAURITIUS: Immerse Yourself In Tropical Sweetness, Avoid Unlicensed Taxis To Escape Robberies

Mauritius is a small, multi-cultural island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, NorthEast of Reunion and southeast of the Seychelles. Mauritius also controls Rodrigues Island and the remote, sparsely populated Agalega and Cargados Garayos or Saint Brandon islands.

Mauritius is a model of true democracy for every African country.

It's also one of Africa's great destinations, located in the middle of the turquoise Indian Ocean, inhabited by a multi-racial, peaceful people, covered in great golf courses, offering myriad water sports, mountain trekking, hunting, birdwatching, luxurious resorts, an old colonial capital, great food, three- and four-star hotels.

One of the world's best botanical gardens, good nightlife, beautiful beach bars, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of the oldest horseracing tracks in the world, great sightseeing.
Mauritius, this tropical island 2,000 miles off the southeast coast of Africa does indeed provide a template for a model African travel destination.

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, 560 kilometres (350 mi) east of Mauritius, and the outer islands of Agalega, St. Brandon and two disputed territories.

The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Reunion, a French overseas department. The area of the country is 2,040 km2 (790 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Port Louis.

The island of Mauritius was first discovered by Arab sailors, at some time in the 9th century, the exact date is unknown. At that time the island was uninhabited and covered in a dense forest.

The Arab sailors were not interested in settling on the island which they named Dina Arobi or Dinarobin. Diogo Fernandes Pereira, a Portuguese sailor found the island in 1505 and decided to give it the name of Cerne.

However, the Portuguese did not settle permanently on the island either.

The first to colonise the island were the Dutch. They took possession of the island in 1598. The Dutch settlers landed on a bay in the south-eastern part of the island which was named Warwyck Haven after the commander VanWarwyck, the bay is now known as Grand Port.

Mauritius also got its name during this period, the island was named after the Prince of Holland Mauritz de Nassau.

His father William of Orange, also known as William the Silent, was the head of the Duch East India Company and forefather of the legendary Scottish Clan comprising the Dukes of Atholl, and the Murray and Smythe families, through Mauritz' sister Charlotte of Brabantina.

In 1710, the Dutch abandoned the island, leaving behind macaques, the java deer, sugar cane, fugitive slaves and, also, an irreversible damage to the endemic and indigenous flora and fauna of the island.

The Dodo was by then extinct due to extensive hunting, the bird being very easy to capture, while the once abundant black ebony tree population was almost completely depleted due to over-exploitation for its timber.

The country is home to some of the world's rarest plants and animals, but human habitation and the introduction of non-native species have threatened its indigenous flora and fauna.

Due to its volcanic origin, age, isolation, and its unique terrain, Mauritius is home to a diversity of flora and fauna not usually found in such a small area.

Before the Portuguese arrival in 1507, there were no terrestrial mammals on the island. This allowed the evolution of a number of flightless birds and large reptile species.

The arrival of man saw the introduction of invasive alien species and the rapid destruction of habitat and the loss of much of the endemic flora and fauna.

Less than 2% of the native forest now remains, concentrated in the Black River Gorges National Park in the southwest, the Bambous Mountain Range in the southeast, and the Moka-Port Louis Ranges in the northwest.

There are some isolated mountains, Corps de Garde, Le Morne Brabant, and several offshore islands with remnants of coastal and mainland diversity. Over 100 species of plants and animals have become extinct and many more are threatened.

Conservation activities began in the 1980s with the implementation of programmes for the reproduction of threatened bird and plant species as well as habitat restoration in the national parks and nature reserves.

According to the 2011 census conducted by Statistics Mauritius, Hinduism is the majority religion at 51.9%, followed by Christianity (31.4%), Islam (15.3%) and Buddhism (0.4%).

Those of other religions accounted for 0.2% of the population, and 0.7% reported themselves as non-religious and 0.1% did not answer. Mauritius is the only country in Africa to have a Hindu majority.

An officially secular state, Mauritius is a religiously diverse nation, with freedom of religion being enshrined as a constitutional right.The culture of the Mauritian people is reflected in the various religious festivities that are celebrated throughout the year, some of which are recognized as public holidays.

According to one estimate Mauritians spend an average of more than 700 hours per year engaging in religious activities.

As both an English and French speaking nation, Mauritius is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and the Francophonie. The Mauritian constitution makes no mention of an official language.

In Parliament, the official language is English; however, any member of the National Assembly can also address the chair in French. Despite this, English and French are generally considered to be de facto national and common languages of Mauritius.

They are the languages of government administration, courts, and business.The constitution of Mauritius is written in English, while some laws, such as the Civil code, are in French.

The Mauritian population is multilingual; while Mauritian Creole is the mother tongue of most Mauritians, most people are also fluent in English and French; they tend to switch languages according to the situation.

French and English are favoured in educational and professional settings, while Asian languages are used mainly in music, religious and cultural activities. The media and literature are primarily in French.

The Creole language, derived mainly from French, a French based Creole with influences from the other dialects, is spoken by the majority of the population and is the country's native language.

The Creole languages which are spoken in different islands of the country are more or less similar: Mauritian Creole, Rodriguan Creole, Agalega Creole and Chagossian Creole are spoken by people from the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega and Chagos.

Bhojpuri which was widely spoken as mother tongue, has been decreasing over the years. According to the 2011 census, there was a decrease in the use of Bhojpuri at home; it was spoken by 5% of the population compared to 12% in 2000.

Some ancestral languages that are also spoken in Mauritius include Bhojpuri, Chinese, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

School students must learn English and French; they also have the option to study Asian languages and Creole. The medium of instruction varies from school to school but is usually Creole, French and English.

Since independence from Britain in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a middle-income diversified economy, based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial services.

The economic history of Mauritius since independence has been called the Mauritian Miracle and the success of Africa.

In recent years, information and communication technology, seafood, hospitality and property development, healthcare, renewable energy, and education and training have emerged as important sectors, attracting substantial investment from both local and foreign investors.

Mauritius has no exploitable natural resources and therefore depends on imported petroleum products to meet most of its energy requirements.

Local and renewable energy sources are biomass, hydro, solar and wind energy. Mauritius has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world, and in 2012 the government announced its intention to develop the marine economy.

Mauritius is ranked high in terms of economic competitiveness, a friendly investment climate, good governance and a free economy. The Gross Domestic Product (PPP) was estimated at US$22.025 billion in 2014, and GDP (PPP) per capita was over US$16,820, one of the highest in Africa.

Mauritius has an upper middle income economy, according to the World Bank in 2011. The World Bank's 2016 Ease of Doing Business Index ranks Mauritius 49th worldwide out of 189 economies in terms of ease of doing business.

According to the Mauritian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country's challenges are heavy reliance on a few industry sectors, high brain drain, scarcity of skilled labour, ageing population and inefficient public companies and parastatal bodies.

Mauritius has built its success on a free market economy. According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, Mauritius is ranked as having the 8th most free economy in the world, and the highest score in investment freedom.

The report's ranking of 183 countries is based on measures of economic openness, regulatory efficiency, rule of law, and competitiveness.

Mauritius is a major tourist destination, ranking 3rd in the region and 56th globally. It enjoys a tropical climate with clear warm sea waters, beaches, tropical fauna and flora complemented by a multi-ethnic and cultural population.

Mauritius received the World's Leading Island Destination award for the third time and World's Best Beach at the World Travel Awards in January 2012.

Tourists can now climb Le Morne Brabant mountain which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Issues often encountered by foreign tourists include scams, overcharging and dual pricing.

The cuisine of Mauritius is a combination of Creole, French, Chinese and Indian, with many dishes unique to the island. Spices are also a big part of Mauritian cuisine.

The public holidays of Mauritius involve the blending of several cultures from Mauritius' history. There are Hindu festivals, Chinese festivals, Muslim festivals, as well as Christian festivals.

There are 15 annual public holidays in Mauritius. Seven of these are fixed holidays: 1 and 2 January; 1 February; 12 March; 1 May; 2 November; and 25 December.

The remaining public holidays are religious festivals with dates that vary from year to year. However these are public holidays, many other festivals such as Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Père Laval Pilgrimage also exist in Mauritius.

The French settled on the island in 1713, also landing at the bay in the south-east. They renamed the bay Port Bourbon and renamed the island Ile de France.

They settled on the north-western side of the island and established their main harbour there, Port Louis, the present-day capital of Mauritius.

During the French settlement there was a lot of development in the country. Mahe de Labourdonnais , whose statue can be seen across from the harbour in Port Louis, is known as the founder of the capital city and the island prospered under his governance.

In August 1810, the British tried to take over the island but lost after a fierce battle against the French in the famous Battle of Grand Port.

However, the British came back in December 1810 and successfully defeated the French. From then on, the island was renamed Mauritius and remained under British rule until it attained independence.

In 1835, slavery was officially abolished and, as most of the African slaves chose to abandon the agricultural fields and move to small coastal villages, indentured labourers or coolies were brought in from India Tamilnadu & Bihar to work in the growing sugar-cane industry.

On 12 Mar 1968 Mauritius became an independent nation within the Commonwealth led by Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, also known as the Father of the Nation, led the island to independence and did a lot to develop the country.

A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, Mauritius has attracted considerable foreign investment and has one of Africa's highest per capita incomes.

Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

Tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter from May to November; hot, wet, humid summer from November to May; Natural hazards : tropical cyclones from November to April, most cyclones usually occur from the end of December until March.

Mauritius has only two seasons, winter and summer. There is not much temperature difference between the two seasons of the year. The climate on the central plateau is cooler than on the coastal areas.

- Hottest part is the west coast

- Windiest part is the East coast

- December to February are the hottest months of the year

- The driest month of the year is October

- Coolest months are from June to August

- Mauritius weather report

Holidays in Mauritius

- Lunar New Year dates

- The year of the Horse started on 31 Jan 2014

- The year of the Goat begins on 19 Feb

- The year of the Monkey will begins on 8 Feb

- The year of the Rooster begins on 28 Jan

Although Mauritius doesn't have a huge Chinese population, the Chinese Lunar New Year is still celebrated as an official public holiday with red colours and firecrackers predominating.

- 1 & 2 January is New Year

- 1 February is Emancipation from Slavery

- Variable day in January/February for the Hindu festival of Cavadee celebrated mostly by Mauritius' Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. Fire-walking, sword-swallowing, body-piercing and tongue-skewering

- Variable day in February/March for the Hindu festival of Maha Shivratree in honour of the god Siva when devotees, mostly white-robed, carry flower decorated hoops to Grand Bassin

- 12 March is Independence Day

- Variable day usually in March, but occasionally in April for the Ugadi New Year celebrated by Telegu from India.

- 1 May is Workers day of Solidarity

- 15 August is a public holiday for the Christian "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary" in even years (2014, 2016, etc)

- Variable days towards the end of October/beginning of November for the joyful celebrations of Diwali when the whole island lights up

- 1 November is only a public holiday, in commemoration of the Christian All Saints Day in odd years (2015, 2017, etc)

- 2 November is the day to commemorate the arrival of indentured labourers from the Indian Raj

- 25 December is Christmas Day

Cities and tourist hotspots

- Curepipe

- Rose Hill

- Quatre Bornes

- Flic en Flac

- Chamarel

- Vacoas

- Phoenix

- Blue-Bay

- Port Louis — capital of Mauritius

- Grand Bay

- Mahebourg

- Beau Bassin

- Domaine de Bel Ombre, Two-thousand-five-hundred hectares in the south-west of Mauritius, stretching from the mountains to a turquoise lagoon, Domaine de Bel Ombre is Nature's theatre of dreams.

- Domaine du Chasseur Nature Preserve

- Macabee Bel Ombre Nature Preserve

- Rodrigues, a separate island 500 kilometers east of Mauritius, but in its political control

- Trou d'Eau Douce, located to the east, visitors may easily visit L'Ile aux Cerf from there. Lovely public beach and lots of places to eat.

- Tamarin,a small town on the west coast, famous for its salt pans. Now popular with expats and hence a range of restaurants and shops. The public beach is at the river estuary. Nearby and a little to the south is a Martello tower and more public beaches but bring a picnic, there are no shops or restaurants there.

- Pereybere and Cap Malhereux, the hub of the Northern Scuba Diving and Kite surfing industries, with close access to the Northern Islands, where Coin de Mire or Gunner's Island) and the Shark Pit are both world renowned diving sites.

Nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Laos, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Vietnam and Yemen must apply for a visa prior to travel.

All other nations do not need to apply for a visa beforehand and, depending on nationality, are either entitled to a 90-day visa-free stay or a visa on arrival valid for either 60 or 14 days.

If you require a visa to enter Mauritius, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no diplomatic post of Mauritius.

For example, the British embassies in Al Khobar, Amman, Belgrade, Guatemala City, Jakarta, Jeddah, Pristina, Rabat, Riyadh, Rome and Sofia accept Mauritius visa applications,the list is not exhaustive.

British diplomatic posts charge £50 to process a Mauritius visa application and an extra £70 if the authorities in Mauritius require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in Mauritius can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.

Air Mauritius is the national carrier.

The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport at Plaisance in the southeast of the island is the major gateway for travellers coming from abroad.

Air Mauritius is the home carrier and operates a network of routes to the local islands and to international destinations in Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.

Regional airlines, Air Austral, Air Madgascar and Air Seychelles connect Mauritius with the surrounding islands.

International airlines such as Air France, Emirates, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Condor, South African Airways, Meridiana and Corsairfly all serve Mauritius from their home airports.

The arrivals hall can get rather congested in the morning when most of the flights from Europe arrive. Immigration officers tend to be rather slow and the whole immigration process can be a frustrating experience.

Visitors are required to provide accommodation details to the immigration service on arrival. If you arrive in Mauritius from a country where malaria is endemic, you may receive a visit from the government health service and be required to give a blood sample for malaria screening.

Vessels that arrive at the port are mainly cargo ships. The Mauritius Pride and the Trochetia are the Mauritian vessels that usually sail to and from Reunion Island, Rodrigues Island and Madagascar. Costa Cruises ships have recently started an Indian Ocean cruise including a visit to Mauritius.

As of April 2008, one way passage prices to travel from Tamatave in Madagascar to Mauritius by boat were €275 first class or €255 second class, compared to €212 to fly from Antananarivo on Air Madagascar.

The journey takes at least four days, possibly more if transiting through Reunion. A boat leaves every other Wednesday.

The prices quoted are for a passage in a first or second class cabin. In attempting to go directly to the port in Tamatave to negotiate with a boat captain for a non-cabin berth, tourists are turned away at the gate.

Visiting the Nautical Club in Tamatave to enquire about yachts that might be heading to Mauritius also yields no results.

Bus and taxi services are best used in urban areas. Bicycles and motorbikes are also available for hire.

Air Mauritius operates daily flights connecting Plaisance Airport and Rodrigues the flight time is 1 hour 15 minutes.

Helicopters are available for transfers and sightseeing tours

Air Mauritius Helicopter. Budget around USD850 per hour for a sightseeing trip.

One major highway runs north to south, otherwise a good network of paved, if sometimes narrow, roads cover the island. Traffic drives on the left.

Numerous car hire firms include major international and independent firms. Prices vary widely starting from MUR800 per day. To be on the safe side, with full insurance, visitors should rent cars from companies holding a tourism enterprise license.

Now also if you hire a car at the airport keep in mind that you will need to pay a MUR20 charge when you are leaving the car park, and this has to be paid in cash.

Drivers are required to be over 18 years old. Speed limits are 110km/h (68mph) on the motorway and 50km/h (31mph) in built-up areas. Seatbelts are compulsory. Foreign licences are accepted.

Approximate travel times in hours and minutes from Port Louis to other major cities/towns/resorts in Mauritius.

- Curepipe 0:20

- Grand Baie, North 0:30

- Mahebourg, Southeast 0:45

- Flic-en-Flac, West 0:30

Several fairly good bus services serve the island. Taking the bus is the most economical way of travelling. Air-conditioned buses have been recently introduced on some routes.

The major bus companies are:

- National Transport Corporation (NTC).

- United Bus Service (UBS).

- Mauritius Bus Transport (MTB), Long mountain.

- Triolet Bus Service (TBS)

Smaller companies have names such as Apollo and Turbo.

Buses are still manned by a driver and a conductor who walks around collecting fares and issuing tickets after passengers have boarded. Tell the conductor where you want to go and he'll tell you the fare amount. Upon payment, he'll give you a ticket with the charged amount printed on it.

Most conductors are very helpful in providing directions to tourists. In the local Creole dialect, the conductors are called con-tro-lair or controller.

Bus routes and schedules are available from the Ministry of Transport and Mauritius Buses who list all the main operators and their schedules.

Try to pay with small denominations or the conductor may not have enough change. Intentional over-charging of tourists is not common.

Metered taxis are the best way to visit the island. Various tours are available from MUR2500: The holy lake, Chamarel 7 coloured earth, Le Morne, dolphin tours in Tamarin and Ile aux Cerfs are among the most appreciated by visitors.

Do not patronise unlicensed taxis. They promise a cheaper ride but, lately, there has been a surge in cases of robbers using this trick to lure and attack their victims.

Coraline. Sails once a week to Rodrigues Island and to Reunion island from Port Louis Harbour. Mauritius Pride, launched in 1991, and Mauritius Trochetia, in service since 2001, are the two ships operating on the Reunion route, and also have Madagascar as a destination. Both vessels are used as passenger and container ships.

International Charter Group. Yacht charter and sailing, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to crewed. Operating from nine offices worldwide in USA, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Honk Kong and Dubai.

Mauritius does not have an official language, but the main language of government is English. As such, all government administrative documents are in the Commonwealth variety of English, which is also used as the prime medium of instruction in public schools.

However, French is the language most commonly used in formal settings, and is by far the dominant language in the mass media, as well as in corporate and business dealings. In fact, even English language television programs are usually dubbed into French.

The most commonly spoken language is Mauritian Creole, a French based creole which has incorporated some words from diverse sources including but not limited to English, Dutch and Portuguese, and has slight pronunciation differences from standard French.

While there is no official written standard for Mauritian Creole, when written down for informal communication, words are often spelled differently from standard French.

The next most commonly spoken language is French, which is spoken fluently by most locals, with English being a not too distant third. Virtually everyone working in the tourism industry will be able to speak fairly decent, albeit heavily accented English.

All government departments will have English-speaking staff on duty.

Tamils constitute around 10% of the population and speak Tamil. Other languages spoken by much smaller numbers include: Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri and Mandarin.

Attractions in Mauritius

Northern Tourist Area

Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom. A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay is also where Mauritians go when they want a fun-filled night out in restaurants, bars and discos. Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.

Pereybere, the wonderful Pereybere public beach, voted World's Most Beautiful Beach in 2010 is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs. This is one of the best beaches for swimming. Glass bottomed boat trips, Mangrove forest visits,water skiing and tubing.

Eating varies from street food sellers to fabulous restaurants. It is also the launch point for some of the best diving diver training and dive instructor training on the Island and offers accommodation varying from economical self catering apartments to 5 star hotels and beach resorts.
It is the focus of Mauritian Life holidays.

Balaclava Ruins, near Baie aux Tortues, which 17th century sailors named after the many tortoises in the area, can be found the ruins of the old Balaclava estate. Visitors can see the sea walls, whose initial foundations were laid down by Mahe de Labourdonnais.

The location of the ruins now form part of Maritim Hotel, and public access may not be possible.

The Triolet Shivala, the longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.

The Labourdonnais Orchards, discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, and colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.

The Caudan Waterfront, the Caudan Waterfront and its surroundings has a great collection of local souvenir shops and other foreign brand materials such as clothes, and spirits. In addition to the harbor of Mauritius, you will also find the movie theater, game arcades, and local restaurants.

The Bazaar of Port-Louis, translated as The Market of Port Louis, here you will find a variety of local snacks and tropical fruits, the cheapest food you will find in the capital city. Numerous shops sell well made traditional crafted objects such as the goni basket.

Unfortunately you will also find a lot of stalls selling pirate versions of programs, movies and games, they are extremely cheap but still are illegal and do not guarantee quality. You may get a version that is not the original, but created by other than what is stated.

Like all crowded areas, be wary of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you. Food sold on the street may have health issues, but that is, for the most part, rare. If you have any allergies, refrain from eating at these stalls.

The SSR Botanical Garden If you want to see some plants originating from Mauritius, then this is the place for you. The SSR botanical garden is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was founded by Pierre Poivre in 1770, contains some flora unique to Mauritius and covers an area of around 37 hectares. It also has several animals, being especially famous for its fish, deer and tortoises, as well as an old replica of a sugar mill.

Aquarium Situated near Pointe Aux Piments, this aquarium contains a wide variety of fishes and crabs. You can also see some sharks and turtles in a big tank placed in the aquarium. Stone fish and muray fish can also be seen in the aquarium.

Restaurants, don't hesitate to go to the various local restaurants around the city. Although many of them advertise a specific ethnic cuisine, like everywhere around the world they have their own mix of traditional and local. Fried rice, for example, may be different than your usual experience.

Eastern Tourist Area

Flacq Market is one of the most important villages in Mauritius. This meeting point for inhabitants of the East boasts the country’s largest open air market. This extremely colourful market attracts a large number of people.

The Waterpark Leisure Village. Enjoy sliding on the giant chutes with family or friends. Relaxation and pleasure guaranteed.

Ile aux Cerfs. A paradise for water sports and has one of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape.

Price conscious visitors would be well advised to take ample food and drink, as the only bar and restaurant on the island primarily targets well-heeled tourists. Boats depart regularly from Trou-d'Eau Douce village in the East which has some of the best seafood restaurants on the island.

A variety of vessels serve the route including catamarans, yachts and pirate-ships. Some serve food usually barbecue, especially seafood on board included in the price and tend to take a detour to the Grand River South East waterfalls for a visit. The island also has a 5-star hotel the Le Touessrok and a golf course.

Beaches.The eastern part of the island is known for its long sand bank beaches and famous hotels such as The Coco Beach Hotel and the 5-star Le Touessrok.

South Eastern Tourist Area

Dutch Ruins. At Vieux Grand Port, the oldest settlement in Mauritius, you can see the ruins of the first Dutch fortifications. Excavation work is under way in a bid to uncover an important part of Mauritian history.

Ile aux Aigrettes. As a result of the remarkable work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund, the island has become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species.

A few of the world’s rarest birds, including the kestrel, can be seen there. You can also see the extremely rare Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise.

Mahebourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay, it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Decaen. The Monday markets are among the biggest and best on the island and are held right next to the main bus station.

Domaine du Chasseur. Nestling in the Anse Jonchee hills, the Domaine des Grand Bois has splendid hunting grounds covering an area of 900 hectares. Stags, monkeys and boars live amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the hillside. One can watch a few species of endangered birds, including the kestrel.

The Domaine contains four thatched-roof bungalows and a restaurant with a panoramic sea view. Take an opportunity to enjoy a meal of venison.

The view is great and well worth the visit, but the food can best be described as average. The venison is very chewy. There is a steep hike up the hill from the car park to the restaurant.

The restaurant offers a 4wd taxi service which is free if you eat one of their overpriced meals, but if you only want a cup of tea or desert they will slug you an outrageous 230 Rupee per person, for the 5 minute ride.

Souillac. A small seaside resort along the rugged coast of the Savanne district. A famous feature is the garden overlooking the sea and named after Dr. Charles Telfair. A popular viewpoint is found at the southern end of the village, right on the cliff top, Gris Gris.

Blue Bay. Bluest water and most amazing white sand beaches you will ever seen. Take the trip across the island from Port Louis and see what this quiet place has to offer. Very busy with the locals on weekends. Try to go during the week. Glass bottom boats are an excellent outing.

Part of Blue Bay has been designated a Marine Park, and the snorkeling trips by boat to this area, offered for sale on the main public beach, are well worth trying.

Rochester Falls. Rochester Falls is a waterfall on the Savanne River located approximately 2.5 km from Souillac. It is famous among youngsters who often perform dives into the water below.

Western Tourist Area

Tamarin Beach offers white sands and crystal clear waters and both novice to expert surfers visit for some of the best waves on the island. The bay also has its own dolphin pod and dramatic views across to the Montage du Rempart, an extinct volcano.

It was voted Beach of the Week by luxury online travel magazine Beach Tomato on 29th November

Flic en Flac. A local fishing village that has expanded to become a popular destination for tourists and expats. Flic en Flac has a very long white sandy beach stretching down the west coast to Tamarin which is enjoyed by both locals and tourists.

Scuba Diving is a major attraction here with excellent diving just a few minutes from the beach. There is a reasonable supermarket and a variety of accommodations and restaurants to suit all budgets.

Martello Towers. Located at La Preneuse, Black River, represent the ancient rivalry between old colonial powers and the ingenuity of mankind. They are a milestone in the island’s history; they symbolise the end of slavery and the beginning of Indian immigration.

Chamarel. A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash.

The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty. An adventure park has also recently been opened at Chamarel. Much of the sand has been souvenired by locals. It is now sectioned off, but is not that impressive.

Salt Pans. Owing to the exceptional high level of sunshine the district receives, Tamarin is the heart of salt production in Mauritius.

Casela. Situated in the Riviere Noire district, the Casela Nature & Leisure Park stretches over 25 hectares. It contains more than 140 bird species from five continents and is home to many other animals like giant tortoises, zebras, a tiger and ostriches.

Activities like walking with lions, Rando Fun ziplines & hanging bridges, quad, buggy & Segway, a petting farm and many more promise a fun day for the whole family.

Yemen. Yemen Reserve may not be the largest game reserve on the island, but there is still lots to see. You will be able to get close to the herds of deer, and admire some splendid species of Mauritian fauna.

A few rustic kiosks available in the reserve provide an unobstructed view of the sea. There you can sip a local punch while watching the sun going down.

The Interior Tourist Area

Black River Gorges. This national park of 6,574 hectares (16,244 acres) was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius’ remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species.

A trail leads from the Petrin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area.

Eureka. Is an old Creole residence built in 1830, Eureka is an essential place to visit during your stay in Mauritius if you wish to immerse yourself in tropical sweetness.

Includes a tour of the colonial house with the opportunity to purchase overpriced textile products, and a tour of the gardens and a visit to the waterfalls below.

Ganga Talao, Grand Bassin beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano.

Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva. Gigantic eels live in the lake and are fed by the pilgrims.

A walk to the top of the mount beside the lake is recommended for beautiful views over the area known as Plaine Champagne.

L’Aventure du Sucre. Visit an interactive and ultra modern exhibition situated at the heart of an ancient sugar mill and discover the fascinating history of Mauritius and its sugarcane adventure exposed over 5,000m².

Then, let yourself be tempted by their boutique with its unique gifts, souvenirs and tasting of special unrefined sugars as well as local rum. Do not miss the opportunity to relish authentic Mauritian cuisine with refined flavours at their restaurant Le Fangourin.

Free access to the restaurant and the Village Boutique Beau Plan-Pamplemousses.

The Chateau de Labourdonnais, Mapou. The Chateau de Laboudonnais is a museum, a garden, a distillery, and a restaurant all rolled into one.

Activities You Can Perform

For a spectacular 360⁰ view of Port Louis and the north, climb Le Pouce or the thumb, at 812 m (2,664 ft). It is an easy 2h climb from the village of Petit Verger near St. Pierre, and takes another 2 hr to walk into Port Louis.

Tour the Moka mountains, by quad bike, horse or 4-wheel drive at the accessible 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) nature park of Domaine Les Pailles. Travel to the sugar mill and rum distillery by train or horse-drawn carriage before dining in one of four restaurants.

Deep sea fishing, Mauritius is ideally positioned for game-fishing. Depending on the time of year it is possible to catch blue or black marlin , sailfish , wahoo , yellow fin tuna , giant trevally , dogtooth tuna , bonito , dolphinfish, sharks and many more.

The majority of the big game fishing boats are well equipped with VHF radio, mobile telephone, GPS navigation system, radar, radio telephone, safety equipment, Penn International reels, life jackets, medical kits, fire extinguishers, flares, and all related fishing equipment such as fighting chairs and rods,usually 9.

You can choose between half day and full day fishing trips . Big game fishing is best on the west coast of Mauritius because the currents swirl around the foot of Le Morne, creating a marine environment attractive to bait fish, which in turn attracts the larger fish.

Boats usually accommodate up to 5 anglers and full day trips typically include both breakfast and lunch in the price.

Head to Grand Baie, for watersports such as parasailing, an underwater walk, submarine and semi-submersible scooters, or to La Cuvette, a long beach with clear water between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux, for sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing.

Safari jeep trips, the Safari Jeep trip takes place in Yemen natural reserve park on the West Coast of Mauritius. It hosts two of the longest rivers on the island, Riviere Rempart and Tamarin River and is a haven for all sorts of native and exotic wildlife.

The actual size of this natural reserve is of around 4,500 hectares.

The Yemen Park is the setting for Safari trips where you will have a thrilling ride and will be able to see many beautiful animals such as Zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, Java deer, monkeys, ducks and geese, and will see extraordinary panoramic views of this breathtaking part of the island.

Safari quad biking trips, experience an adventurous Quad biking activity in the most amazing natural setting! quad-biking activity in the 4,500 hectares of Yemen natural reserve park. More than a quad bike outing, it is a trip through a real safari.

During the trip it is possible to see deers, zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, wild boars and many more; this a very big added bonus to this activity

Swim, at the northern beaches such as Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas, Mont Choisy, a 2 km (1.2 mi) narrow white stretch of sand curving north from there, and Pereybere, a little cove between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux.

Scuba diving, diving in Mauritius is spectacular, with the extremely white sand, ultra blue water, emerging delecated coloured soft coral re-growth massive shoals and dramatic topography with varied and abundant marine life.

Most of the dive sites are located in the North, with dive boats launching from Pereybere, Cap Malhereux, Grand Gaube and Trou aux Biches. There are also dive sites at Flic en Flac in the West, in Bel Mare in the East and Blue Bay in the South.

The Northern Islands are accessible from Pereybere, with close 10 minute boat access to Coin de Mire, a protected Island where the Djabeda, a spectacular wreck lies. The wall of the Island, the caverns and caves and swim -though passages are exciting dive sites for advanced divers.

Confetti Bay is shallow, exquisite and perfect for family groups. Also worth diving is the Cathedral which is located off Flic en Flac on the western coast of Mauritius. Mauritius offers Wreck diving, massive shoals, exquisite corals, large schools of pelagic fish and shark diving.

Recently with the re-growth of the coral reefs through a govenrment conservation initiative the numbers of the endangered Green Turtle, Chelonia Mydas has increased dramaically.

Marine life is colourful and varied. Around the Island are ship wrecks dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, or some ships sunk more recently which create beautiful artificial reefs.

Other dive sites in Mauritius include Whale Rock and Roche Zozo where a pinnacle emerges from 60 metres from the ocean floor, and the submerged crater near Ile Ronde, where a variety of sharks come to sleep during the day.

Mauritius is almost completely encircled by a barrier coral reef which is home to many sponges, sea anemones and a variety of shoaling fish and some rare species endemic to Mauritius alone.

The Blue lipped Angel, the Mauritian Gregory and the rare orange Mauritian weedy scorpionfish are among these.

Macro life is also varied. Diving is good all year round, with very good visibility and a water temperature between 24 and 29 degrees. The Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) can provide further information.

Watch dolphins, up-close in their natural habitat off the western coast (Tamarin) of the island.

Speedboat, rides are available from Trou d'eau Douce to the popular island playground of Ile aux Cerfs for beaches, golf and watersports. Or, for a quieter day, a catamaran to the Northern Islands, Gabriel Island, Flat Island and Gunner's Quoin.

Hiking and trekking, In Mauritius with breathtaking views of mountains, rivers, and forests. Enjoy a hiking trip through the fields, trekking on a zip line or on a bike, and discover this magnificent nature paradise Mauritius being a volcanic island has several breathtaking summits and valleys to explore on foot.

You can visit the Black River Gorges National Park, a 6,794-hectare (16,788-acre) forest, to see indigenous plants, birds and wildlife. Black River Peak trail goes to Mauritius' highest mountain, while the Maccabee Trail starts nearby and plunges into the gorge to Black River.

Tandem skydiving, experience a 10,000 ft skydive in Mauritius. Enjoy a spectacular scenic flight and a visually awesome tandem skydive. Tandem skydiving refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor.

The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal instruction before making a tandem jump.

Horse racing, the Mauritius horse racing club commonly called the Champ de Mars was founded in 1812, making it the oldest horse-racing club in the Southern Hemisphere. Horse racing is the most popular sport in Mauritius, and you can expect to have about 30,000 visitors on each race day.

The horse racing season usually starts in April and ends in late November. There are an average of 9 and a maximum of 12 horses per race. On average some 60 horses participate on each racing day. It is highly recommended to go and experience the electric atmosphere of horse racing in Mauritius.

For those interested it is also possible have a VIP treatment in one of the VIP suites while enjoying snacks and drinks and a clear view of the race from your private balcony

Parasailing, for those looking for a fun sea-air activity, you can try parasailing. You will be rewarded with a breathtaking bird's eye view of the beautiful lagoon and beaches.

The parasailing begins with a short safety briefing. Then you will be taken by boat to the launch pod where you will take off and start the parasailing. No steering is actually necessary as the sail follows the course of the boat.

Water ski, Water-skiing is one of the most popular water sports in Mauritius. You can enjoy water skiing along several of Mauritius’ coasts or in a few of the lakes.

The best area for water skiing is considered to be the north area of the island, along the coasts, where the lagoon provides full protection from the big waves of the open sea and offers ideal water skiing conditions of very calm sea.

Watch dolphins, Go on a speed boat trip and watch dolphins in the open sea. You can choose between 2 hr trip, half day and full day trips where you will get to watch with the bottlenose dolphin and the spinner dolphin, which have made of the West Coast of Mauritius a place for them to rest before going to the deep sea for their fishing.

Blue safari submarine, See the wonderful underwater tropical fish without even getting your feet wet. Going underwater to 35 m depth on board of a real submarine. You will get to visit a shipwreck, explore the rich coral reefs, and observe and encounter various species of fish.

The submarine is air-conditioned with fully transparent-glassed cabin so you will enjoy exceptionally clear panoramic views of the extraordinary underwater world. At 35 m undersea, you may see some rare species and will explore the underwater world just like on any other traditional safari.

Underwater submarine scooter adventure, Pilot your own underwater scooter by yourself or as a couple to 3-4 m depth in full safety.

Comfortably seated one behind the other, you breath freely and naturally in a broad common, transparent and panoramic cupola which allow you to discover and to enjoy full the view of the reef and marine life, while communicating all along with your partner.

You will receive full briefing about the easy control of the underwater scooter, and will be equipped with a diving suit for warmth and full safety.

Sea kayaking, A great way to explore the fine greenery of the lagoons, or the open waters of the Indian Ocean. It is possible to find wide range of sea kayaking trips and packages from breezy, calmer routes, to a few days trip surrounding the island in the deep ocean waters.

This is also possible to have a kayak trip to any of the small islets surrounding the main island such as Ile D'Ambre Island.

Rock climbing. Rock climbing on the South West coast of Mauritius. You will get to experience rock climbing in a beautiful setting Of the Belle Vue Cliffs, where the caves of La Pointe aux Caves are nestled and in close proximity from the famous lighthouse of Albion.

This a great outdoor sport where you will learn the basic techniques of knots, safe climbing and rock progression from Mauritius’ top professional guides.

As part of rock climbing excursion you will be trained on some breathing exercises to maximize climbing performance over rock faces and cliffs.

Canyoning, For those seeking more adrenalin and thrill, canyoning is your ideal excursion, which challenges you to abseil down the steep walls of the canyons using nature watercourses and canyoning gear.

The canyoning is offered in few locations in Mauritius. The canyoning known also as canyoneering in Mauritius consists of travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming.

Rodrigues island, Tiny, rugged, volcanic it lies 550 km (340 mi) northeast of Mauritius and is known as the anti-stress island. The capital, Port Mathurin, is only seven streets wide, with a Creole population. Rodrigues offers walking, diving, kitesurfing and deep sea fishing.

Tamarind waterfalls, the Tamarind Falls also known as Tamarin Falls are a beautiful attraction of the southwest of Mauritius. These falls are awkward to reach, but no doubt, it's worth the effort.

Tamarind Falls on the Interior portion of the island is an incredible string of about 7 waterfalls surrounds by green mountains and is tucked away beyond a sugar cane filled. Bring something to swim in as there are numerous pools beneath certain falls to take a dip in.

There are some spots that require getting a little dirty and some traction on your shoes, but it is well worth it. First time visitors would be advised not to go unguided.

No doubt this is one of the most beautiful and calmest places in Mauritius, and one of the best places for nature and animals lovers, and for finding exotic plants and birds.

La Vanille Reserve des Mascareignes , the park which is home to various species of animals, reptiles and plants is set in a beautiful rain forested valley with natural freshwater springs, full of prawns and fish.

It is commonly referred to as The Crocodile Park, for its thousands of Nile crocodiles. It is the only place worldwide to breed aldabra tortoises.

There is also a mini zoo of Mauritian fauna where you can find most of the Mauritian mammals and reptiles including skinks, phelsumas (geckos), tortoises, turtles, bats, deer, mongooses, monkeys, pigs, as well as domestic livestock such as goats, fat-tailed sheep and donkeys.

At the park shop, you'll find crocodile belts and other crocodile goods.

Kitesurfing and Windsurfing — Windsurfing, Kite surfing, Surfing and SUP or Stand Up Paddling in the Southern part of the Island at Le Morne and in the North of Pereybere at Cap Malhereux and Grande Gaube.

You can learn or practice all of these sports in this unique part of the Island Le Morne holds the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage area. There is a beautiful lagoon with standing depth water at the foot of Le Morne Brabant where kite surfing lessons take place for beginners.

Around the corner from the kite area there is an ocean facing lagoon where there is also a standing depth water depending on the tide and waves where the windsurfing lessons are held.

This area has played host to kite surfing world championships and is very popular with kiters and windsurfers alike due to its diverse set of condition from flat lagoon to tube riding waves.

The beaches around have people selling refreshments and it is possible to buy anything from a sandwich to fresh fruits. If you have your own equipment and visit this area it is highly recommended to get some safety information about the spot.

The world class waves on the one side are an incredible thrill but the currents and local weather anomalies bring challenges so some insight into the conditions from the locals is highly recommended.

Mauritius is not at all like Bali or Thailand.

Don't expect the local merchants to be interested in a long bartering game. Many shops will not come down on price at all and even at the markets don't expect more than a 10-20% discount.

There are bargains to be had however. Many large brand names in the textile world are manufactured in Mauritius and you can often find over runs or slightly flawed items at a fraction of the European prices.

It is also a good place to find unique designed jewellery, wide range of hand crafts such as: artificial flowers, model boats, wooden art and more.

It is possible to reach the main shopping centers by public transportation, or to take a full day shopping tour which includes a driver to take you to the main centers and handcrafts workshops.

The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian. It's common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.

Strong ties with the French who ruled the island from 1710-1810 has meant that even today French dishes such as bouillon, tuna salad, daube and coq au vin are popular.

While Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius brought their cuisine with them, making curries, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste that's popular especially when served with fish) and pickles popular especially when given a unique Mauritian flavor.

The arrival of Chinese migrants at the end of the 19th century led to rice becoming part of the staple diet of the island and noodles, both steamed and fried, became common.

Chinese appetizers such as crispy chicken and crispy squid have also become part of the Mauritian diet.

Le Château de Bel Ombre: Located in the south of the island this lovingly restored 19th-century colonial mansion is the best restaurant on Mauritius.

Mauritius is a paradise for the senses, not only for the eyes with its beautiful landscape, but also for the palate. Gastronomes will find a variety of flavours and aromas inherited from the different migrations through its history.

Culinary traditions from France, India, China and Africa, the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, have been passed on through generations.

Depending on the region, rice or a variety of flat bread called chapattis or roti, called farata (paratha) by the local people, is eaten with curries.

The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and herbs like thyme, basil, and curry leaves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour.

Dal, a variety of lentil soup, are many and varied according to which type of lentil is used; vegetables, beans, and pickles accompany the dishes. Dholl puri and roti, originally an Indian delicacy have become the fish and chips of Mauritians.

Biryani from Mughal origins is a dish expertly prepared by the Muslim community, with meat mixed with spiced rice and potatoes.

You can buy many snacks on the streets of Mauritius including the famous gateaux piments a variant of the indian vadai ; literally, chilli cakes, and vegetable or meat samosas (puffs), along with octopus curry in bread.

The tomato and onion based dish called Rougaille or rooh-guy is a variation of the French ragout . The dish usually consists of meat or seafood corned beef and salted snoek fish rougaille are very popular with the locals and all Mauritians eat this dish often if not daily.

Mauritians have a sweet tooth and make many types of gateaux, as they are called. The cakes vary and you can find cakes very much like those in France and others similar to Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla among many others.

Check out the queues where the street sellers are selling their type of snacks and the longest queue will probably have the tastiest food on sale and is very cheap.

For an adventurous lunch of roasted wild boar, duck or deer curry with one of the best island views, try Domaine du Chasseur's alfresco Panoramour Restaurant. This domain is the best place to glimpse the Mauritius kestrel in the wild.

Be aware there is a steep hike up the hill from the car park to the restaurant.

The restaurant offers a 4wd taxi service which is free if you eat one of their overpriced meals, but if you only want a cup of tea or desert they will slug you an outrageous 230 Rupee per person, for the 5 minute ride.

When leaving Mauritius, don't wait until you go through passport control if you want to have a snack. The coffee shop after passport control is not value for money. You would be better off visiting the snack bar before check-in and taking your purchases through with you.

In an elegant setting, a la carte fusion food is served, while on Saturday, Mauritian night, there's the chance to try authentic island dishes.

Domaine Anna, This spectacular Chinese restaurant is set in the midst of sugar cane fields. At night guests are greeted with lit torches along the driveway and eat in individual gazebos set on manmade lakes within tropical gardens in this palatial restaurant.

All the vegetables are grown locally and there's live music and dancing at weekends.

Mauritius produces a wide range of cane rum. It is very cheap and is a nice drink when mixed with cola and ice. Don't forget the coconut water with a dash of lime and a splash of local rum over ice.

The serious amateur will try to find a bottle of five years old or older rum. Worth the price difference.

If you are staying in a hotel where the drinks are wildly expensive consider collecting your tipples while you are out and about from the local village shops or supermarkets where the prices are much cheaper.

The local beer Phoenix costs around 30 rupees less than one pound sterling for a pint. Usually served very cold.

The local Black Eagle beer, brewed in Nouvelle France is one to watch out for as well. Definite refreshment to match the sweltering summer heat.

Try visiting the Medine Estate Refinery shop at Bambous 4 km from Flic en Flac, on the west of the Island, for a wide variety of locally produced rums and liquors.

Be alert for your own security in Mauritius. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would anywhere in the world. Be a smart traveller.

Before your trip organize comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Register your travel and contact details, so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

Some safety advice:

- Avoid remote areas alone.

- Do not leave valuables in view in your car.

- Avoid unexpected offers of seemingly free guided tours. Ulterior motives are common.

- Do not patronise unlicensed taxis or taxi marrons. Some robbers use this trick to lure and attack their victims.

Tourism Observer

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