Do you like the idea of a truly heavenly holiday? ;) Who doesn’t? So just get on a plane and do it, like Austrian Airlines fan Charlotte did – get away from the cold winter months, and fly off to Paradise with us! Today, Charlotte will be taking you all with her to an island which will overwhelm all your senses: Mauritius.
Photos: Charlotte Hager
Mauritius: created before Paradise
They say it was Mark Twain who first compared it to Paradise. In the nineteenth century, when he visited the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar, he wrote, “God first made Mauritius, and from it he created Paradise.” Go there, and you won’t disagree with him. Austrian Airlines fan Charlotte spent eleven days on Mauritius recently, and came back shouting it from the rooftops:”HE WAS SO RIGHT!” The island was a Paradise on Earth in Mark Twain’s time – and it still is now. But why is it? What makes Mauritius quite so special?
Mauritius: an experience for all your senses
Mauritius is an island that could have come straight out of the pages of a picture book: snow-white, palm-lined beaches, turquoise blue seas, a shimmering submarine world, fields of swaying sugar cane and lush nature – and all inhabited by a melting-pot of religions and cultures who live here harmoniously.
“Fantastic, extraordinary, multi-sensual!” Asked for three words that sum up the island of Mauritius, it doesn’t take Charlotte long to come up with them. She goes on to explain why: “The island’s a multi-sensual experience! It’s always warm and never freezes. It smells just wonderful wherever you go, looks fantastic, and you can find food that’s good enough to eat just lying in the street 😉 Mangos, bananas, pineapples – you name it, they just grow like shrubs beside the roads here. There’s little or no criminality, no hidden tension amongst the population, and the people themselves are super-friendly and relaxed. You feel like you’ve been crowned king of an island where everyone’s somehow equal.”
Although the entire place is lovely enough to be a tourist attraction in its own right, then, Charlotte says that if she had to single out one part of Mauritius as being particularly beautiful and impressive, it would be the south of the island, home to the mountain of Le Morne Brabant.
Mauritius: a voyage of discovery by ship – and quad bike
As well as Le Morne, she says, you’ll also find the most beautiful beaches on the island further south, in areas like Trou aux Biches. And two other things to be absolutely sure not to miss: “A trip by quad bike to a mountain inland, to look across the island, and a journey by ship to the small island of Ile aux Cerfs – literally, ‘Deer Island’ – just off the coast. Despite the fact that’s it’s totally overrun by tourists, the island is breathtakingly beautiful!”
Mauritius is particularly popular amongst quad bikers. Provider Mauritius Attractions offers a wide variety of tours, for example, including a great selection through Yemen National Park in the west of the island.
A boat tour by catamaran is always a very special kind of experience – and all the more so when it’s out to the small island of Ile aux Cerfs, a few kilometres away from Mauritius proper. The small island just off the coast is one of the most popular destinations for daytrips, thanks to its impressive, beautiful beaches. A similarly wide range of providers will get you out here, with all of them offering transfers from the small village of Trou au Douce, in the east of the island, by speedboat or catamaran, with or without lunch (and even including a parasailing flight if you’re in the mood). And there’s a very special highlight for all you golfers on Ile aux Cerfs! The island is home to a spectacular 18-hole golf course which was designed by golfing legend Bernhard Langer and is as close to perfect as you’re going to find.
To find one of the most popular tourist attractions, you need to go to the south-west of the island, just outside the small town of Chamarel. Here, you can see an amazing natural phenomenon, the Seven-Coloured Earths. Due to chemical reactions, the earth here has turned seven different colours, from blue to violet, brown, a bluish-green and more. “You’re not allowed to even touch the earth at the site,” Charlotte explains. “It was found like this, and has never changed since.”
Nature-lovers, meanwhile, can also enjoy the lovingly-tended park at the Pamplemusse Botanical Garden, home to 500 different species of plants. There are 80 different kinds of palm tree alone in what used to be the country house of the island’s French Governor, Bertrand-Francois La Bourdonnais, as well as plants like the dragon blood tree, baobab and even a sausage tree – just a reminder that there’s nothing quite so strange, or diverse, as Mother Nature!
Land and people
If you want to get better acquainted with the locals on the island, you have a variety of different options open to you. One of these is to take a day-trip to the lively capital, Port Louis. A trip to the Central Market, a few minutes’ walk from the harbour, is worth every penny – and will let you mix with locals stocking up on fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and spices, as well as get hold of some great souvenirs. You should definitely also make time to try some local culinary specialities, such as pineapple with salt and chilli (yes, really!).
Philatelists and friends of colonial history, meanwhile, will find everything they’re looking for at the Blue Penny Museum. That’s where you can view the legendary Blue Mauritius stamp in the original!
Mauritius: we shall meet again
If you rather like the idea of visiting Paradise for a while next winter, Charlotte has a few closing tips for you: “First of all, stick around for at least 10 days! 😉 Discover the sea and the landscape inland, and go cycling on the island to see more of the real Mauritius. You can even hire a private chauffeur for a day to really get to know the country and its people. Get hold of a list of the different animals living there, and look out for them – there are some amazing birds, fish and animals to be discovered; Remember to take care in the water, as it can sometimes be dangerous – and wear plastic bathing shoes at all times! Take pills with you to aid your digestion; we’re not all used to eating everything absolutely fresh, and too much coconut can have a noticeable effect! 😉 Don’t forget to take sun cream, because the sun here is stronger than anything than anything you will ever have experienced. Otherwise, just eat as much fruit as you possibly can – the bananas and mangos taste completely different here!”
Get away from the cold next winter, and find out more about the Paradise of Mauritius – right now! 😉 To look for the right flight for the winter of 2017, just click here: