The Hidden Highlights of Mauritius
For me, Mauritius conjures up images of long sweeping beaches and turquoise seas. Consequently when the opportunity arose to spend 6 nights savouring this beautiful island on an educational trip I jumped at the chance. It being so close to Madagascar and regular flights between the two with Air Mauritius means these two destinations can work perfectly in combination.
After a 12 hour flight we touched down and stepped foot on the Mauritian turf, and were soon showered with bright yellow floral garlands and made to feel unbelievably welcome. We set off on the coastal journey to the beautiful and elegant Dinarobin Hotel & Spa
in the tranquil south west of the island and I soon got those first glimpses of the glittering sea I had been dreaming of. And to think it had been 9°C and drizzling as I left the UK just thirteen hours previously…
So evidently, the countries coastline is spectacular and just calling for you to spend lazy days on the beach. However, what I didn’t realise is that Mauritius offers so much more….
On the first full day we had a surprise excursion lined up. We had been asked for our weights prior to the trip and I had horrible visions (or nightmares) of sky-diving and paragliding off cliffs. It turns out we were to see the island via an aerial view, but in the safety of a helicopter! The excitement built as we hurtled round to the helipad in the grounds of the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club and heard the deafening sound of the chopper ready to go. I felt as if I was in a movie as I donned my headgear and microphone and before I knew it we were hovering over the ocean with a bird’s eye view across the entire Le Morne Peninsula. We swooped around the mountain and inland where our pilot pointed out several local sights and attractions including a beautiful waterfall. With one final stomach churning turn we descended back towards the helipad to get our feet back onto dry land; however I would quite happily have stayed in the air forever!
If we thought after the helicopter experience things couldn’t get any more adventurous, we were so very wrong. Harnessed up at Casela Nature and Lesiure Park, we were driven even further up into the highlands for a double adrenaline hit. They boast the longest zipline circuit in the Indian Ocean and it was quickly realised that it is not for the faint hearted, as we saw the cables suspended many metres above the canyons. Jumping off the first rock and into oblivion was certainly not easy, but once we got going the experience was highly exhilarating and it was an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views! Casela Nature and Leisure Park also offer some brilliant wildlife and you can enjoy the natural beauty of the country by quad, buggy or segway.
If eco-tourism is more your thing, then the trails in The Black River Gorges National Park will satisfy your appetite. Established in 1994, this park is found in the south western part of the island and exists for the conservation of endemic fauna and flora and as the provision of leisure for tourists. Over 60km of hiking trails are found in the park and there are breath-taking panoramic views to be found at Gorges View Point and Alexandra Falls as well as the highest peak of the island. Simply stunning. The new Lakaz Chamarel Lodge set in the lush vegetation of the chamarel highlands nearby proves to be a perfect base for this exploration – the views from The Exclusive ‘Piton Canot’ Pool Suite villa over the entire Le Morne Peninsula are especially spectacular; this has without a doubt made it to my top 10 list of places to stay in the next 10 years!
So if you think Mauritius is all about the beaches and R&R – think again. This is obviously a big highlight of the country but if you dare to venture a little further into the heart of the country you’ll find it offers so much more…