Mauritius is pretty small but it has a million beautiful sights crammed into it. I was imagining it to be a lot like the Maldives when we first considered booking it but its a lot more green and lush and, with it being located further South in the Indian ocean, has some very fascinating natural beauty, as well as some interesting modern sights. The first thing that struck us on the day we landed was how the road network is about 99% British due to British rule from 1810 to 1968. There are now some french signs creeping in but you could quite easily make your way around the island without worrying about being on the other side. The island has also been under Portugese, Dutch and French rule throughout history. Throw in migration from India, China, Malaysia and Africa and you have an incredible mixture of culture fused into what has formed a very vibrant Mauritian existence.
We opted to do a bit of a tour of the island the relaxed way by booking a taxi tour one day and picked all the popular prime spots.
Our little tour started off in Port Louis which is the capital city of Mauritius. As the name suggests it is one of the main ports of the island and the main place I wanted to see is the Grand market. It is huge and a winding collection of alleys and enclosures hosting a large number of stalls all crammed together. My favourite was the food stalls and I instantly recognised the main overpowering smell, that of dried fish. Having a lot of Indian and Burmese relatives, dried fish is a very common feature in some of our cuisine. My dad loves a dried fish curry whilst other relatives prefer it as a topping on a Laksa type dish. I’m in the latter camp. I can’t stand dried fish curry but the smell is weirdly familiar and comforting, if a little bit acquired. The Other Half can’t stand it and can’t comprehend how anyone would even find it edible. So if you don’t like dried fish smells, you may find the fish stalls slightly overpowering. Nevertheless, the fruit and veg stalls are very impressive and worth a good walk around.
Botanical gardens at Pampelmousse
Next on our list were the Botanical gardens at Pamplemousse about a 5 minute drive away. I would completely recommend getting a guide for this tour. We were initially tempted to just walk around ourselves but were so glad we didn’t. We would have finished the entire place in about 10 minutes flat and failed to discover all the hidden gems in the place.
We saw a huge collection of different plants and trees, everything from mango trees to to huge bamboo trees to elephant footed trees. Did you know bamboo trees can grow up to a foot a day when they are young and were used in the Vietnam war as torture devices. They would make captured soldiers squat over the young shoots which would then grow through them, all the way through their heads. Pretty gruesome.
The giant waterlilies somewhat distract your mind from that horrible image and are so pretty to see. They really are massive and can apparently hold a baby up to 1kg in weight. Delicate gorgeous flowers surround it as well as dragonflies and they provide a stunning feature to the gardens.
We saw more natural beauty on our travels including a rather large dead volcanic crater and a spectacular waterfall known as the Chamerel waterfalls. You can’t tell in the photo but there this particular waterfall gives off rainbow colours due to the way the light bounces off the flowing water. We saw quite a few waterfalls during our time in Mauritius but this one has to be the most memorable because of what the combination of natural elements does.
Close by is the earth of 7 colours. I expected it to be a lot larger than it was but it was still a sight to see. Its evidence of what the minerals of the earth can give you if left to be unearthed naturallly in sand form. Very very pretty and not something I’ve ever seen before. We were told that visitors were allowed to walk over it at one time but its since been fenced off in order to preserve the natural beauty of it and to avoid mixing it up with earth from other places. We also spotted a rather still looking chameleon on one of the fences. As I can’t really crouch comfortably anymore this was the closest I got before he sped off at lightning speed.
The sights on route to all the hotspots are just as pretty and really worth seeing. I think whilst you could make your whole way around the island in two days flat you do need to stop to appreciate it all properly. A lot looks completely untouched and you hope it does stay that way for centuries to come.
After a bumper packed trip around we spent the very next morning sailing out to the Black river to watch dolphins. It took a while to find them but it was a brilliant sight to see such a big school of them. I’ve only seen them once before in the Maldives and the Maldivian ones were a lot more playful and wanted to jump along the side of our boat. These were stunning to see too though and very impressive. Little Z was pretty unmoved by them all and was more taken with a random helicopter that flew over. Ah well, can’t impress everyone all of the time.
We spent the rest of that day sat still on the beach recovering.
You can read about our other Mauritian adventures here: