“You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then the heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” – Mark Twain
On arrival at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius, we couldn’t help but notice that paradise seemed empty, except for the people on our flight. And gosh, paradise is humid AF.
We didn’t waste time at the airport, though. The driver from Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), our host, was already waiting for us.
I, along with two bloggers, Tshepang “Twiggy” Kensani Modisane and Sebastian Montgomery Jameson, were ferried to Mont Choisy Beach Villas, where we were to spend our first two nights on the island.
In the morning, we were treated to a simple buffet breakfast at Mystik Life Style Hotel, which is located next to the self-catering villas we were staying in.
Located on the bay of Trou Fanfaron, this was where the first indentured slaves from India arrived in the 1800s – this was what the British colonisers called “the great experiment”.
Following the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, a contractual labour force was brought to the island to work on the sugar plantations. Many of these former servants were of Indian descent, which is why the majority of the population in Mauritius today is Indian and Asian.
We visited Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, with its spectacular pond filled with giant water lilies that can easily grow to 3m in diameter. The oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere, it dates back to the 1700s and has a magical look and feel.
The weather on the island is warm, with sporadic rain. Winters are mild. Karen Newk See-Moutou of Memoris, which manages a chain of hotels on the island, tells me that she remembers a time when the weather dropped to 13°C, which was considered so cold for the nation that schools and businesses were shut down. How nice.
From the garden we were taken to Grand Baie, where many young people hang out. We spent some time on the Grand Baie beach and later had dinner at Le Capitaine seafood restaurant where a platter for two could easily feed four people. It seems like many Mauritian eateries are very generous with their servings. Then after dinner we were ferried back to Mont Choisy for our last night stay at the villa before checking into another hotel the next day.
The next day on the island was a definite highlight. We spent it at Casela World of Adventures, an amusement park where we got to feed birds, enjoy go-karting, cross a Nepalese bridge and go zip-lining, an experience enhanced by my seeing a round rainbow in the sky. Being the thrill-seeker that I am, I delighted in all these adventures in spite of my racing heart.
Casela Park was a treat, except for the Mauriciano pizza I ordered. The toppings were Creole-style chicken, smoked marlin (this was the issue), cherry tomatoes and curry leaf pesto. Methinks it best to leave that marlin under the water. But the dessert that followed more than made up for my first taste of marlin. I got me a Chocolat Liegeois, which is chocolate and vanilla ice in a sugarcone cup, topped with cream and a cherry.
From the Casela restaurant we had to check into our second hotel, Voila Bagatelle, which is situated next door to the Bagatelle Mall. Now this hotel was somewhat executive and unlike the villas there was no pool. I really needed to immerse myself in water after the thrilling day I had. Alas I had to settle for a shower. But gosh the showers at this hotel are huge.
Like I mentioned earlier the itinerary was jam-packed as now we had to get ready for dinner back in Port Louis at Le Caudan Waterfront. On this night we were treated to some Chinese cuisine. But this time the serving of the chicken and noodle meal I had was enough for at least five people. I found that taking a doggie bag and hoping to offer it to a homeless person was of no use as during my stay on the island I recall only seeing one homeless erson. The employment rate in Maurice (how the locals call their country) is high.
Rum and litchi wine
Friday was a chilled and holy day of more sightseeing. Our first stop was the Takamaka Boutique Winery, which specialises in making wine from litchis. All three of the wines we tasted were on the sweet side, and this I greatly appreciated as I don’t go for the dry selections.
Soon after the tasting, we visited the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, where we were greeted by giant statues of the Hindu deities, Durga and Shiva. This pilgrimage site is home to many more Hindu divinities, and there’s a temple where all who visit can get a blessing from one of the priests, who puts a red mark with paste on your forehead.
Then it was back to sampling alcoholic beverages. This time, we tasted rum as part of our tour of the Rhumerie de Chamarel Distillery. We were taken through the process of making rum, and I was beguiled by the delicious sugary smell of the place – so pleasing to my senses. We also had lunch at the distillery and this was the first food joint that skimped on their food portions.
Our final sight-see of the day was a visit to Seven Coloured Earths to admire the striking dune landscape and its distinct colours. And then it was back to the hotel and I could not wait to get back just the get the day over and done with. Not because I was tired but because I couldn’t wait for the activities of the next day.
Our last day was spent out at sea on a catamaran. We lunched on the boat and visited Île aux Benitiers, a coral sand island with no toilet – gotta use the bush yho.
Later, we had fun at the Festival International Kreol, where we got to enjoy the local Sega music.
This was a wonderful way to round off what was a fabulous trip, except for the drama I had dealing with a rather rude Air Mauritius flight attendant on the way home. No matter; it’s the island of Mauritius that tugs at my heart. I want to visit again because it is so worth it.
*Disclaimer: Mohau Mokoena's trip was sponsored by Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority
- Mauritius has been a Dutch (1598-1710), French (1715-1810) and finally British (1810 -1968) colony.
- The island attained independence in the year 1968.
- To locals of Mauritius the country called Maurice (pronounced Moris).
- The island forms part of the Mascarene Islands along with neighbouring Reunion and Rodrigues
- The capital and largest city of Mauritius is Port Louis.
- The currency of the country is the rupee. 1 Mauritian rupee will cost you 40 South African cents (at time of writing).
- The population of the small island is just above 1.3 million people
- The official language of the country is English even though the large majority of the society speaks Creole.
- The environment is tropical.
- The cuisine of the island is made up of Creole, Indian and Chinese.