Five Fascinating Experiences in Mauritius beyond Beaches

Five Fascinating Experiences in Mauritius beyond Beaches
Chamarel Waterfall. Photo (C)

A spectrum of colours fans out in front of me as I gaze upon the multi-hued earth at the Seven Coloured Earth in Chamarel in Mauritius. It seems like a little child has dipped a giant paintbrush in an array of hues and has painted the volcanic soil in a variety of shades. The African island nation nestled in the Indian Ocean is like a vivid picture postcard that has just come alive. Mauritius gives heaven a complex with its beautiful beaches, lagoons and lakes, mountains and valleys, national parks and fields, reefs and rainforests. The coastline that spreads across 330 km has so many beaches around it and is thronged by scuba divers, adventure enthusiasts, beach bums, and tourists. But there is more to Mauritius than sun and sand as you visit unique museums, trek through ancient islands, say hello to giant tortoises, visit sugarcane plantations, and taste rum at the chateaus. Here are five unique experiences that you must add to your Mauritius itinerary.

1. Embark on a journey through museums, history, and culture

Sugar Museum Mauritius
Photo (C) L’Aventure du Sucre

Mauritius is all about sugar and spice and if you want to flavour the sweet history, you must head to the fascinating L’Aventure Du Sucre, an interactive museum that is referred to as a “temple for sugar. The museum is set amidst 6000 sq meters, and gives you a glimpse into the historical past with the emphasis on sugar, sugarcane, and rum. Besides rum tasting, you also get to try different types of sugar.

Museums in Mauritius are windows to the cultural ethos of the island country and the Blue Penny Museum is probably one of the most charming as the collection includes the legendary 1847 Blue Penny and Red Penny stamps. If you love history, a visit to Domaine de Labourdonnais in Mapou is a must. The estate, notably the Château, offers a captivating glimpse into 19th-century Mauritian lifestyle. Lined with Intendance trees, the path to the Château leads visitors to a captivating blend of history, nature, gastronomy, and Mauritian craftsmanship. Consider having a gourmet meal at La Table du Château with its farm-to-table cuisine or enjoy lighter fare at La Terrasse café. Don’t forget to grab estate-made jams, fruit pastes, or rum from the shop for souvenirs or gifts.

Don’t miss the Frederik Hendrik Museum situated in the village of Vieux Grand Port on the southeastern coast, commemorating 400 years of French and Dutch colonial history. The French structure holds its own historical importance, housing a lodge, prison, bakery, blacksmith workshop, and nearby church on its grounds.

2. Hike around ancient islands inhabited by giant tortoises

Hiking in Mauritius
Hiking in Mauritius. Photo (C)

Immerse yourself in the ancient fascinating islands of Mauritius filled with dense woodlands and look out for endemic flora and fauna. One of the islands that should be on your itinerary is the Ile Ile Aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve, named after the egrets which are not around anymore. Take a cruise from Point Jerome off the coast of Mahebourg where you will find giant Aldabra tortoises, that have been bred here besides pink pigeons, geckos, and the elusive Mauritius Fody. Hike around the wild nature reserve with a naturalist and don’t forget to say hello to Big Daddy, a century-old giant tortoise that has made this island his home. And while you are here, take another cruise to Ile Aux Fouquets or Phare where you can see the haunting ruins of an abandoned 19th century Grand Port Lighthouse

3. Lose yourself in the myriad colours of the earth

Five Fascinating Experiences in Mauritius beyond Beaches
Seven Coloured Earth in Chamarel in Mauritius. Photo (C)

Head to the colourful village of Chamarel located in the Black River District, which is often referred to as the “amphitheater of abrupt rocks.” Whie there are several attractions in Chamarel, this is where the earth turns into a rainbow. The Seven Coloured Earth Geopark is one of the most surreal landscapes where the soil is tinged with red, brown, blue, purple, yellow, violet, and even a bit of green. Chamarel serves as an excellent destination for adventure seekers. You can enjoy quad biking and ziplining through forested terrain or opt for a hike to discover picturesque waterfalls amidst the woods.

4. Rum Tasting in Mauritius

Château de Labourdonnais.
Château de Labourdonnais. Photo (C)

Rum is more than just an alcoholic beverage and it is, along with sugar and sugarcane an intrinsic part of the cultural fabric of Mauritius. Visit century-old chateaus and plantations along with traditional “rhumarie” or distilleries where you can do a fascinating tour and end it with some rum tasting. While there are quite a few of them around, you should head to the verdant fields of Le Domaine de Saint Aubin where you can tour the estate, and the spice plantations. the traditional distillery and sample their rum. While the colonial home is a National Heritage Site, another elegant chateau that you must visit is the Domaine de Labourdonnais in Mapou. While the historic home is a time capsule, end the tour on a high note as you taste the various flavours of rum and enjoy a delectable meal.

5. Experience a wildlife safari at Casela Nature Park

Casela Safari Park
Casela Nature Park. Photo: Shutterstock

A family holiday, Casela Nature Park is a unique destination for wildlife enthusiasts and the wild at heart. Set amidst 350 hectares near Mount Rampart and home to over 1800 animals, get ready for a safari experience at Casela, which is split into five distinct zones. Besides wildlife interaction, you can also do ziplining across steep valleys and if you are feeling a bit adventurous then get ready to take a giant leap from a 45-metre platform on a canyon swing over rugged mountains. It is an experience of a lifetime.

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