One day in Mauritius


The island republic is one of the most attractive travel destinations in the Indian Ocean Mauritius. The oval, 64 kilometer long and 47 kilometer wide island presents itself to its visitors as an almost paradisiacal place with a tropical climate, varied landscape, many beaches lined with coral reefs and the interesting capital Port Louis. And, Mauritius has so far been spared from mass tourism.

Port Louis skyline

Port Louis skyline


During the cruise season, mostly smaller cruise ships occasionally call at the port of the large city of Port Louis, which has a population of 146.000 (as of 2022). Some stays even last overnight. That's not enough to even get to know an island twice the size of the Baltic Sea island of Rügen. However, it's worth a try. We report on our impressions from a tour of the southwest of Mauritius.

Center of Port Louis

Center of Port Louis


Cruise ships offer their guests various organized half- and full-day tours. However, we and some other individualists rely on regional taxi providers for good reason. They also offer half-day tours to destinations in the southwest and southeast of the island. Trips to the north of the island are also organized. The drivers know the most beautiful parts of their island.

Port Louis - Cruise Terminal - Taxi Fares

Mauritius Cruise Terminal Taxi Tariffs


Discover Mauritius' southwest

Together with two fellow travelers we decide to take a trip to the southwest of the island and share a taxi. In Mauritius we learn that the island is apparently more than a tranquil, tropical holiday home. Modern commercial buildings with shiny facades dominate in the center of Port Louis and in an upstream business town. No wonder: Mauritius is a tax haven, or as a renowned Swiss lawyer put it, Mauritius is the Panama of Asia. Welcome to the international business and financial center of Mauritius.

Port Louis - Center


Port Louis - Center


Port Louis - futuristic bank building


Port Louis - futuristic bank building 


Vacoas-Phoenix

The first time our driver stops at the Clarisse House in Vacoas-Phoenix, Mauritius' second largest city. The hard-to-see property is the residence of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, and we don't want to miss the view of the property.

Mauritius - Clarisse House - Prime Minister's Residence

Mauritius - Clarisse House - Prime Minister's Residence


Five minutes later we stop a second time in Vacoas-Phoenix. The driver parks in front of a duty free center. It could be that one of us is compelled to purchase one of the fine Swiss watches, a piece of jewelry or a high-quality accessory offered there. The jewelry is nice to look at, but no one is willing or in the mood to pull out their credit card so early in the day.

Manufactory for ship models

However, we find our next destination extremely interesting. The visit is to Pirate & Co Ltd with the “Le Port Ship Shop”. The company specializes in building true-to-original ship models. The focus is on famous historical ship miniatures, which must mean a lot, especially to our friends across the English Channel. But famous German sailing ships, including the full-sized ship Preußen and the three-master Alexander von Humboldt, are also part of the manufactory's standard repertoire. The production area can be inspected in detail. Undisturbed by the astonished visitors, the women and men who work there carry out their delicate work using the simplest of tools. Group work is carried out in the colorful production. Nobody builds a ship from A to Z.

Manufactory for ship models - teamwork


Manufactory for ship models - teamwork


Manufactory for ship models - precision work


Manufactory for ship models - precision work 


Above all, the presentation of the production facility is about selling the artistic, authentic works. For the equivalent of 250 to 300 euros, visitors can receive very representative models. In addition to ships, models of aircraft such as the Concorde, globes and animal figures are also made from crystal glass. It is understood that the objects will be sent to the home addresses of the buyers.

Mauritius - model ships from Le Port

Mauritius - model ships from Le Port


Visit to the pilgrimage site of Ganga Talao

Our driver prepares to continue his journey: In the south of the island we stop in the Savanne district at the Grand Bassin, a crater lake. Hindus consider the lake with the surrounding temples and sacrificial shrines to be the most important pilgrimage site outside of India. Instead of Grand Bassin, they use the term Ganga Talao. When the Maha Shivaratree festival is celebrated between late February and early March, more than 400.000 devotees visit the remote pilgrimage site. During our visit we get to know the crater lake as a quiet, peaceful place where there are only a few people.

Mauritius - Le Grand Bassin
Mauritius - Le Grand Bassin - Temple
Mauritius - Le Grand Bassin
Mauritius - Le Grand Bassin - Shrine of the Three Serpent God

Before we reach the lake, we pass Mangal Mahadev, a 33 meter high statue of the Hindu deity Shiva. It is said to be a faithful replica of a Shiva statue in Vadodara, India. And of course the Hindu god adorned with a trident is the largest statue in the country. Mangal Mahadev was only consecrated in 2007.

Mauritius - Grand Bassin - Shiva statue

Mauritius - Grand Bassin - Shiva statue


Black River Gorges National Park

After another fifteen minutes of driving we reach the Black River Gorges National Park. Tour guides and taxi drivers unload their groups and passengers in front of the Gorges Viewpoint. Coming from the parking lot, we pass many souvenir stands before reaching a well-kept viewing platform. The 67 square kilometer protected area was proclaimed in 1994. It protects the local flora and fauna. Almost half of the approximately 700 plant species found in Mauritius thrive in the park. Endangered bird species, flying foxes and butterflies as well as introduced animals (deer, roe deer and wild boars) find a home in the park.

Mauritius - View of the Black River Gorges National Park


Mauritius - View of the Black River Gorges National Park


Mauritius - View of the Black River Gorges National Park


Mauritius - View of the Black River Gorges National Park 


A system of paths was created for hikers. On our tour we only have time to visit the viewpoint. Despite the cloudy sky, we enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding green rock massifs and deep forested valleys.

The Chamarel waterfalls

A visit to the National Park would not be complete without a view of the Cascade Chamarel. A half-hour drive takes you from Gorges Viewpoint through tropical landscapes. A large parking lot identifies the Chamarel Waterfalls as a major tourist attraction.

Mauritius - viewpoint at the Chamarell waterfall

Mauritius - viewpoint at the Chamarell waterfall


In the region of the national park, the annual rainfall averages one and a half meters. The large amount of rainwater flows via two rivers to natural collecting basins, from which it is released into the Cascade Chamarel. During the dry season between May and October, an average of 22.500 cubic meters of water falls 90 meters every day. During the rainy season, the amount of water doubles to almost 41.000 cubic meters. Hikers are allowed to descend to the lower end of the waterfalls via secured paths.

Mauritius - Chamarel waterfalls


Mauritius - Chamarel waterfalls


Mauritius - Chamarel waterfalls


Mauritius - Chamarel waterfalls


We don't have the time for such an undertaking. We also have to pass with regard to the nearby natural phenomenon of the Seven Colored Earth. The colors of the undulating volcanic soil vary from red, blue to violet to blue-green as a result of natural transformation processes. At least our driver shows us some of the outskirts of the tourist attraction.

Morne Brabant mountain range

The tour through Mauritius' south ends with a view of the Morne Brabant. The 556 meter high mountain rising on a peninsula is particularly linked to the fate of the slaves on the island. The impassable mountain range offered fugitive slaves protection from persecution. When, after slavery was abolished, the search for slaves to give them freedom began, this act was misunderstood. Many slaves chose to commit suicide on the mountain out of fear of discovery. UNESCO honored this tragic event by including the mountain as a cultural landscape in the World Heritage Site.

Mauritius - Le Morne Brabant

Mauritius - Le Morne Brabant


After a final look at the Morne Brabant, we begin the journey back to the cruise terminal in Port Louis.

Conclusion

The journey took longer than five hours and cost 130 euros for four people. – We use the afternoon to Port Louis by taxi and on foot to discover. With our taxi driver we first take a tour of the city's worth seeing destinations. We then explore individual attractions on foot.

Update March 2024