Mauritius: six activities off the beaten track

Mauritius: six activities off the beaten track

Mar 5, 2024 | Activities, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Dive into the heart of Mauritius’ cultural diversity, exploring every nook and cranny, from the Grand Bassin to the Champ de Mars, not forgetting the mystical mountain of Le Morne. A journey of a thousand colors awaits you.

Undeniably, its countless crystal-clear beaches are a kaleidoscope of some of the Indian Ocean’s most enchanting scenery. The eden called Mauritius, however, has many tempting advantages to discover beyond its finely sanded contours. Characterized by a history dotted with migrant episodes, the nation manifests itself as a surprising cultural fresco. A picture where Hindu customs, Chinese rites and French and British legacies mingle and intertwine. And even if water-based pleasures (especially scuba diving) dominate, the island’s verdant heartland is teeming with priceless hidden treasures that encourage reflection and total unplugging. Here are six intriguing and disconcerting activities, off the beaten track, to help you feel the vibrant Mauritian soul in unison with your own.

The majestic ascent of Morne Brabant

Imposing its youthful reign at an altitude of 555 metres, Morne Brabant unfurls its splendour on the modest Mauritian peninsula, nestling in the extreme south-west of the island. Surrounded by iridescent lagoons, this mountain of volcanic origin, famous for its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, is a haven for endemic plant life, notably the Trochetia boutoniana, the country’s true floral icon. The mountain is also a poignant reminder of the island’s colonial history, as it was once a refuge for escaped slaves. Since 2004, Yanature, an agency created by a passionate local adventurer, one of the first to brave the mountain, has been offering organized expeditions of Morne Brabant. A hike of around four hours that invites you to climb (practically) to the peak, taking in breathtaking panoramas of the lagoon and coral reef. Despite an increasing gradient at the end of the trail, it remains accessible to people in good health and to young people aged 12 and over, offering breathtaking views at the end.

  • On a practical note

Excursions are scheduled twice a day, Monday to Saturday, all year round. To get around the stifling heat of the Mauritian summer, we recommend a 6 a.m. dawn. Groups are limited to a maximum of 15 participants, with the option of scheduling a private outing. Price: €43 per participant.

Trace history through the Beau Plan sugar estate

The Beau Plan sugar estate, once a renowned sugar factory operating for two centuries until 1999, is now the guardian of a historical treasure known as L’Aventure du sucre. Located close to Mauritius’s famous Pamplemousses garden, this unique museum is a window on the island’s sugar-making past. Through a journey that’s as instructive as it is entertaining, it reveals the intrigues and inner workings of a sector that has shaped the island’s history. The adventure begins with the introduction of sugar cane by the Dutch in the 17th century, and moves through time to the present day. At the end of the tour, a tasting awaits you with over 30 native island products, sweet or alcoholic, including 12 unaged sugars and 9 types of rum from the New Grove distillery, available specially at the Village Boutik. For those who enjoy new culinary experiences, the Le Fangourin restaurant extends the gustatory pleasure with a variety of local Mauritian dishes and an irresistible dessert menu.

  • Practical details:

Guided tours are available Monday to Thursday at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm, and Friday at 2:30 pm. The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Prices: €8 for adults, €4 for children.

Chamarel’s ballet of colors: a hike in exceptional territory

“Like a burst of cascading colors, like a silent song punctuated by a shower of sparkles”. It is in these words that Mauritian novelist Edwin Michel paints the spectacular Land of Seven Colors. Lost deep in the south-west of the island, nestled between the Rivière Noire and the Morne peninsula, right in the middle of the Chamarel plain, this natural wonder takes shape like a multicolored mosaic field, created by the embrace of mineral oxides. Small earthen dunes come to life before our eyes, with hues ranging from brilliant red, to soothing ochre, to invigorating green and mystical purple. It’s a veritable ballet of colors as the sun rises and sets. For visitors wishing to observe this natural curiosity without disturbing it, elevated walkways and kiosks offer unobstructed views. During your visit to the region, be sure to make a detour to the Chamarel waterfall, a water goddess that reigns majestically over a jungle of greenery, tumbling down nearly 100 meters in a mighty roar.

  • Practical info

The site is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. Admission is €5 for adults and €3 for children. An affordable experience in a land of colors.

Spiritual immersion in the heart of the sacred Grand Bassin lake

A revered emblem of Mauritian Hindu heritage, Grand Bassin Lake lies majestically in the crater of an extinct volcano. Every year, when the calendar marks either February or March, this site, reputed to be the most sacred in Mauritius, plays host to thousands of pilgrims from every corner of the island. The event that caused it? The authentic and vibrant celebration of Maha Shivaratree, the night to worship Lord Shiva. According to a legend that spans the ages, the origin of this pilgrimage dates back to the late 19th century, when the divine apparition of a supernatural flow of the Ganges, reflected on the waters of the lake, awakened the moved faith of a Hindu cleric. Today, Grand Bassin, also affectionately known as Ganga Talao, is overlooked by two striking statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga, standing proudly at a height of 33 meters, as well as by the Hindu temples that can be explored at leisure. If you were to venture around the lake, nestled in the tranquility of the remote southern mountainous region of this picturesque island, you would inevitably be enchanted by the mystical aura of Hinduism. And who knows? You might even make friends with the endearing colony of monkeys who have made this corner their home.

Exploring the wealth of local craftsmanship

Wherever your steps take you in the markets of Mauritius, you’ll be charmed by the diversity of products made with love and expertise. Baskets, mats, decorative ornaments. However, it’s in the picturesque village of Vieux Grand Port, nestled on the south-east coast, that the true essence and mysteries of the parasol-like vacoa plant and its subtle weaving are hidden. This tradition, which originated in Madagascar, has been carried by migratory movements to color the entire Indian Ocean region with its nuances. At her cooperative sanctuary, which brings together a brotherhood of a dozen women, Fabiola Marius keeps alive the artisan heritage of her lineage. She invites the curious into her lair for a three-hour workshop. From awakening at sunrise to harvest the leaves, to the drying ritual, you’ll be immersed in all the phases of production, try your hand at weaving and have the privilege of leaving with your hands adorned with one of your creations.

  • Practical details

Center des Tisseuses de Pandanus, located in Margeot Lane, Vieux Grand Port. From age 6, for intimate gatherings of up to six individuals, price according to age: €40 for adults, €25 for young people.

Discover the excitement of a horse race on the Champ de Mars

In 1812, the gates of the Indian Ocean’s most prestigious racecourse, the Champ de Mars, opened for the first time, under the benevolent gaze of its initiator, Colonel Drapper, one of the founders of the Mauritius Turf Club. This horse-racing arena, nestled on the bangs of bustling Port Louis, is a living testimony to the British era and their desire for pacification with the island’s French residents. Every weekend, some 20,000 enthusiasts flock to the site in an electric atmosphere. This tradition, which unites the Mauritian family around horse racing, has elevated it to the status of a national sport. The arena hosts equestrian jousts between March and December, during which local riders compete against their foreign counterparts. Always open to the general public, these competitions offer a fascinating insight into Mauritian culture and represent moments of intense popular communion.

  • Useful information

Access to the plain is free, while bleacher seats start at €4. The ticket office, open on site from Thursday to Saturday, welcomes the public between 9am and 3:30pm.

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