10 Must-See Nature Attractions in Mauritius

03 Oct 10 Must-See Nature Attractions in Mauritius

Breathe in the fresh air, look up at the sky and dive under the magnificent waves. Mauritius offers awe-inspiring natural beauty at every turn. Our beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, and our vegetation offers much to admire.

1. Breathtaking views

Forever engraved as lifelong memories or imprinted in treasured photos, Mauritius’ landscapes offer an abundance of breathtaking views. Among the most panoramic are, Trou aux Cerfs crater in the central highlands, Le Pouce Mountain, Lion Mountain, Le Morne Brabant and Macchabée forest overlooking the Black River Gorges, the rugged windswept cliffs towering over the wild beauty of the Gris-Gris beach.

2. Hiking

Though Mauritius might be best known as a tropical beauty for its seductive sea shores, the heart of the island holds untouched nature that can only be uncovered by those willing to wander off the beaten tracks. Hiking is the best way to go to discover many of the island’s generous outdoor and green tourism activities, including, Macchabée Forest, Le Pouce Mountain, which offers a matchless view over Port Louis; Le Morne Mountain, declared UNESCO World Heritage site, or roam through the preserved ecosystem of Black River Gorges. Widely renowned, and counting among the absolute musts, is the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden – the oldest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, hosting an extraordinary diversity of indigenous plants.

3. L’île aux Cerfs

Iconic Ile aux Cerfs is a beautiful island just a 5-minute boat-ride away from Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok hotel. Visitors can relax on the dazzling ivory beaches, have lunch at a choice of restaurants, have fun with kids at the tortoise farm or even have a game of golf at the extraordinary 18-hole golf course occupying the other side of the island, and one of the best Mauritius has to offer.

4. Domaine de l’Étoile

An ancient sugar plantation turned into a natural park of 1,200 undulating hectares of forests, preserved flora and fauna, hiking tracks extending between lush green valleys and mountains – such is the Domaine de l’Étoile. A range of family-friendly activities is on offer there, such as: buggy and quad rides, walks and horseback rides, giant zip line, archery. Specially designed for the youngest visitors: the kid’s village and horse riding club.

5. Seven Coloured Earth

The Seven Coloured Earth is a geological formation and popular tourist attraction on the island. It is a relatively small area of sand dunes comprising sand of seven distinct colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). The dunes were created by volcanic rocks that cooled at different temperatures and it is said that the colours are due to weathering of the basalt and the formation of secondary iron oxides and hydroxides in it. The rocks were pulverized into sands portraying the various shades of colours.

6. La Vallée des Couleurs Museum

One of its kind in the Mascareignes islands, this museum is located at the heart of a natural park. It recollects the geological history of the island, explaining how the island was formed. On exhibit are some fossils and samples of basaltic, sedimentary or metamorphic rocks. A 3-D animation shows the different geomorphological landscapes that can be encountered across the country. The various components of magmatic rocks are demonstrated in the astonishing assemblage of the 23 nuances of volcanic ashes coming from the small crater of Bassin Blanc.

7. Ile aux Aigrettes

Placed under the guardianship of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, this small calcareous coral island of 25 hectares of preserved nature is anchored off the coast of Mahebourg, in one of the most beautiful lagoons of the island. This gem sculptured by nature is the remnant of a sand dune that emerged after the sea levelled down some 10,000 years. The natural reserve today shelters several rare endemic and indigenous Mauritian species of flora and fauna: kestrel and fody birds, Telfair’s skink, giant tortoise and the pink pigeon, a highly precious, because threatened, species. The flora to be found there is as invaluable – “bois de bœuf”, “bois de pipe”, “bois de rat”, bottle palm and an extremely rare orchid which, sheer luck allowing, one can admire in flowering stage.

8. La Vallée de Ferney

Placed under the guardianship of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, this small calcareous coral island of 25 hectares of preserved nature is anchored off the coast of Mahebourg, in one of the most beautiful lagoons of the island. This gem sculptured by nature is the remnant of a sand dune that emerged after the sea levelled down some 10,000 years. The natural reserve today shelters several rare endemic and indigenous Mauritian species of flora and fauna: kestrel and fody birds, Telfair’s skink, giant tortoise and the pink pigeon, a highly precious, because threatened, species. The flora to be found there is as invaluable – “bois de bœuf”, “bois de pipe”, “bois de rat”, bottle palm and an extremely rare orchid which, sheer luck allowing, one can admire in flowering stage.

9. Black River Gorges National Park

The first national park of Mauritius was established with the view to preserve the last remaining endemic forest of the island. Inaugurated and opened to visitors in the 1990’s, it includes the Macchabée forest, Combo and Bel Ombre’s natural reserves. Still standing there is the today rare ebony tree, sought for and plundered by constructors of seafaring war crafts as the hardest wood available, during the expansion era of maritime navigation. The park also offers several hiking and trekking tracks of different distance and difficulty level, which can be covered in a few hours. For example, the climb to Piton de la Rivière Noire, the highest peak of the island at an altitude of 828 metres is surprisingly accessible in little time whereas some excursions through the reserve require a whole day.

10. Pamplemousses Botanical Garden

Pamplemousses Botanical Garden is the major accomplishment of French Botanist Pierre Poivre at the time when he was the colonial administrator of the island during the 18th century. Under his direction, the 37 hectares covered by this extraordinary garden were planned and landscaped to acclimate species from the four corners of the world, such as the baobab and giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies. It is also the place to admire the Talipot palm – a most extraordinary palm tree, among the nearly hundred species which have settled in the garden, together with Araucaria pines, vacoas, ravenalas and guava trees. Truly legendary, Pamplemousses Garden has seen illustrious visitors, some of whom have left a trace of their visit in the shape of a commemorative tree, namely François Mitterrand and Nelson Mandela, respectively French and South African Presidents, as well as Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – to cite but a few.

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