Expert Reviews – Mauritius
Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.
Mauritius: Bringing birds back from the brink
An island of green surrounded by a turquoise lagoon out in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. Mark Twain even wondered whether heaven was modelled on Mauritius. The main island is ringed by near-perfect beaches that rarely get crowded. Many of these beaches have as their backdrop resorts of sublime luxury, and waterborne activities – snorkelling, diving, dolphin safaris and more – are possible from many points around the island. Mauritian food is another feature, a hot curry of influences from India, Africa, France and China that combine to create Creole cooking that is very much Mauritius’ own. The southeast coast and just offshore to Ile aux Aigrettes are emerging ecotourism destinations, while the forests and mountains of Black River Gorges National Park are again coming alive with the songs of once-extinct birds. Hiking trails scale La Morne and traverse Black River Gorges, while in the island’s interior, Chamarel is a hill-town with a renowned rum distillery, a diverse culinary scene, waterfalls, an ebony forest, a fun museum, and a remarkable patch of multicoloured earth at Terres de 7 Couleurs. Many hundreds of miles away to the east across the ocean, the Mauritian island of Rodrigues is the land that time forgot, a world of quiet seaside villages, sanctuaries for giant tortoises, and a blissful sense of being far from the world and its noise. Best of all, it’s the pace of life on Mauritius that could be its greatest gift: it’s simply impossible not to relax here.