Mauritius is a magical land filled with history, beautiful scenery, and exotic animals. The people are unique and friendly and share an original history. Though Mauritius has already been discovered by the hordes of package tourists around, there are still relatively untouched pockets of paradise that lay off the beaten path. There is so much to see but here are some of the most awesome highlights.
If you want to get into the thick of local Mauritian culture but away from the tourist crowds, then Rodrigues Island is your boy. Come feast your eyes on this mountainous, newly formed volcanic Island located 500 km to the northeast of Mauritius. A local cargo ships sails there once a week and they accept foot passengers so jump onboard for a real backpacking experience. The drive to promote ecotourism has facilitated the creation of numerous environmentally friendly activities, with diving as one of the most popular due to the gorgeous coral reefs. The locals of Rodrigues are unique from Mauritius locals in that they are primarily African or Creole. Their Capital, Port Mathurin, is a whopping seven streets wide so you can see why this is known as ‘anti-stress’ island.
Back on the main island, in the north, soak up the beautiful panoramic view of Port Louis from on top of Le Pounce. This is an easy 2-hour climb from Petit Verger, which is only 2 hours from Port Louis. This is a great day trip.
In the west there are nature parks galore that are packed with numerous exotic animals and plants. The Yemen national reserve on the west coast of Mauritius is not huge but it is quality. Get close to herds of wild deer, chill on one of four rustic huts and get a glimpse of the sea, or you can take it to the extreme and try out a jeep safari. On the safari you have a much greater chance of seeing the wildlife such as Zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, Java deer, monkeys, ducks and geese.
If you want to get all up in that with some wild animals, check out the Casela Nature & Leisure Park. Here you can walk with lions, and pet some tortoises at the pet farm. Cruise on some zip lines, or ride on a quad around this luscious park. Before you leave the west head to Chamarel. This rare gem has some amazing colored earth painted by mother nature. Volcanic ash has eroded to produce vibrant shades of blue, green, red and yellow. Don’t forget to chill out and breathe the cool mist from Mauritius’ highest waterfall, also in Chimarel.
In the Southwest there is some stupendous rock climbing on the Bell Vue Cliffs next to the La Pointe Aux Caves. If you’re a beginner, Mauritius has some skilled pros to help teach you, or if you are already a pro get some tips from these seasoned veterans on the best spots in the area.
In the interior there is another breathtaking park for you to explore called the Black River Gorges national park. This park has abundant lush forests and native plants.
The real highlight in Mauritus for anyone seeking an “off the beaten path” adventure, is the South/Southeast. The south is still primarily undeveloped yet it is not deprived of beauty. Go to the south and check these sites:
Le Mourne Brabant- a historical rock named because of a tragic incident in which hundreds of escaped slaves leapt to their deaths to avoid recapture.
Maheborg – a tiny quiet town that is perhaps the epitome of old Mauritian culture. Ille Aux Aigrettes – this stunning park owes much of its success to the Mauritius Wildlife Fund and features some of the most rare, endangered animals on the planet. Check out some super rare Pink Pigeons, Phelsuma Green Geckos and of course some infamous Aldabra giant tortoises.
Hopefully this should highlight the fact that tourist destinations don’t have to be all about resorts and other foreigners. Just delve a bit deeper and you can find a lot of very awesome things that few people get to see Who would have thought a holiday in Mauritius could be so far off the beaten track?! But it can be guys so good luck and happy travels!