A unique melting pot born from the union of three continents; an island where brilliant sun, clear blue sky, and the dazzling sea set the scene for the holiday of a lifetime. Mauritius is waiting to share with you its cultural wonders, serve you culinary delights, and leave you feeling as though you have found paradise.
The Martello Tower or rather the Martello Towers are today classified as a national heritage.
They date back to the time of English occupation, more precisely during the period of the abolition of slavery. The one that overhangs the beach of La Preneuse in Black River is a museum and a mandatory stop for those wishing to better understand the history of Mauritius.
Fearing a revolt from the planters (who had the support of Reunion Island) which would have represented a direct threat on the agricultural activity, the English built five towers at strategic points on the West coast of the island. They were to help them protect themselves in the event of an invasion coming from the sea. These towers were erected in 1815 by the Royal British Engineers. The design is a reproduction of a tower in Cape Mortella, in Corsica, from where the English had been pushed away. The function of the Martello Tower of La Preneuse was to protect jointly with the tower, of Saline Pilot the whole bay of Black River, through cross fires.
The Martello Tower of Black River is the best preserved one on the island. It is made up of 60,000 (black) basalt bricks. It is 9 metres high, has a diameter of 9 metres for its solid foundation and of 8.50 metres for its terrace. The thickness of the walls is of 3.50 metres. Its hiding place is in the centre: an underground tank which can contain up to 17,000 litres of water. On the terrace two canons pointed towards the bay of Black River.
The Martello Tower was restored in 1992 thanks to associations such as ‘Friends of the Environment’ and ‘Raleigh International’. Salvage archaeology which was underway made it possible to find 800 objects. Since the year 2000, the Martello Tower became a museum. Inside, one can see weapons dating from the time of the English, wax statues and various utensils which offer a glance on Mauritian life two hundred years ago.
A sanctuary of Mauritian biodiversity.
The Vallée de Ferney, located in the Bambou mountains north of Mahébourg in Grand Port District, is a sanctuary of Mauritian biodiversity.
The Ferney Trail contributed to the fame of this place. But the excursions and the trekking also make the visitors discover the richness of the valley. This one shelters a native forest belonging to the last natural sanctuaries of Mauritius. Here lives side by side: the Ebony trees, cafés marron, takamakas, cacapoule lianas, the labourdanasia calophylloidest, Eugenia bojeria, araucarias (the despair of the monkey) and other invasive species such as the ravenalala, commonly called the traveller’s tree, all silent but majestic witnesses of the floral inheritance of the island.
The flora and fauna found in Ferney is the perfect oasis of calm they need to blossom. The kestrel, only raptor having survived in Mauritius, completely disappeared from the East Coast in the Fifties following the spreading of the DDT to fight against malaria, it was considered as the rarest bird in the world in 1974. Its population was made of only four species, of which one egg-laying female. This species was reintroduced in 1987 in the Vallée de Ferney and other sites of the mountain range of Bambous. Its current population is estimated at 600 individuals in the wild, including 200 to 250 individuals located on the East Coast. The Pink Pigeon, the big Cateau Vert, the Merle Cuisinier, the Wood Rooster and soon the Bird Bezel, also made their nests there.
A Conservation Trust – public-private partnership between the Mauritian government and the CIEL group – exists since 2006. It takes care of the restoration and the protection of the natural habitats present in the reserve.
Thanks to the Programme of Micro Financing of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the approval in 2013 of the first strategic project for Mauritius with a maximum of Rs 4.5 million spent, the Valleé de Ferney becomes a must see of conservation and conscientiousness site for the Mauritian biodiversity. Thanks to this support and the propagation campaign, it should on the long-term be resident for 5,000 and 10,000 rare plants.
Mahébourg bears the name of Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, famous general governor of the Mascareignes.
As soon as he took office in 1735, he contributed to the expansion of the French settlements in the ‘Indian seas, Isle de France and Isle Bourbon’.
In 1804, the Pord Sud-Est became the ‘Bourg of Mahé’, capital at the time of the south of the island. The streets in straight lines, the houses with a creole architecture still testify of the colonial past of this village, the same area with an open door on the largest lagoon of the island. The remains of the Dutch, French and British occupation staked the area, the marine remains which gave birth to Mauritius’ biggest crop: sugar cane.
Mahébourg is known for his naval museum, dedicated to the maritime history of the area and the famous naval battles which opposed the French to the British. It also shelters the Rault biscuit factory, specialised in the manioc biscuit starchy crop brought back from Brazil and naturalised thanks to Mahé de La Bourdonnais.
The picturesque is still the street-side gable. It is an invitation to the Mauritian reality: the houses who travelled time, the small shops where you can find everything and anything, the street food of which the famous ‘chanapouri’ of Mahébourg (fried Indian fritter), the market with vegetables, the stalls just like a rainbow, clothes begging to be taken home, the artisanal objects, the musical instruments, the sea front swept away by the trade winds.
Take a walk through Mahébourg, it is a gigantic leap in the real Mauritius.
The salines of Tamarin are more than a century-old.
Their stone basins have belonged to the Mauritian backdrop for several generations and tourists who visited Mauritius. They have a historic character and are always a main touristic attraction on the West Coast.
The show they put on is at the very least astonishing. The sauniers, protected from the sun by large hats, work in the huge salt pans sometimes with their rakes, other times with salt vats on their heads. The techniques of production remained artisanal and unchanged. They exude and old-fashioned charm.
Water is directly taken from the neighbouring sea. The water passes from a basin to another and evaporates gradually under the pressure of a burning sun, leaving room to the salt crystals. Some 1,500 tons are produced each year and are marketed locally.
The Romans paved their roads.
The first evidence of paved roadways coincides with the Middle Ages period and the urban development of the 12th century. This is to say, the predestined bond between the Vieux Conseil and its paved stones leading to the Photography Museum of Mauritius. Just as paving stones, photography stands the test of time.
The Photography Museum of Mauritius is a private museum founded in 1966 by the collector Tristan Bréville and his wife. It was initially located in their house in Rose Hill, then in Quatre Bornes. It eventually settled in its current site in 1993: in an old building donated by the Port-Louis city council and restored thanks to the assistance of the Association of French-speaking Mayors (AIMF). The official inauguration was on the 1st of July 1993, and took place in the presence of Jacques Toubon, French Minister of Culture, and Jean-Luc Monterrosso, director of the European House of photography.
Mauritius is one of the first countries in the world to have ventured in this newly discovered art. The daguerreotype made its appearance in Mauritius in February 1840, four months after the purchase of the patent of Louis Daguerre in France.
Many documents on the history of photography in Mauritius – portraits, landscapes, city and countryside scenes, major events, factories, fishing scenes, first cars, the first buses (1930), the Mauritian railroad, colonial houses, historical buildings, flora and fauna – are exposed in the Mauritius Photography Museum.
Its collection contains over one thousand cameras of different eras, of which the lens of Charles Chevalier manufactured for Daguerre in 1839. It's more than 400,000 acetate negative films, it’s 5,000 glass discs, 28 daguerreotypes, 10 autochromes of the Lumière brothers, more than 200,000 shots of history and landscapes of Mauritius, it’s 9,000 old postcards, it's more than twenty-five hours of movies about Mauritius and its inhabitants since 1939, it’s documentation of newspapers between the end of the 19th century and 1945 on photography in Mauritius and of the books and newspapers on the history of cinematography in Mauritius since 1897 also make the Mauritius Photography Museum an iconographic research centre.
We must thank Pierre Poivre, former seminarist and intendant of Isle de France, for the creation of the Botanical garden in Pamplemousses in 1770, the first tropical botanical garden in the world.
It eventually replaced the citrus fruit and vegetable gardens of the governor of La Bourdonnais founded in 1735 created to supply ships heading to the Indies.
Pierre Poivre purchased the estate of Mon Plaisir in 1770, former property of the governor of La Bourdonnais. The latter became the Pamplemousses Garden, a sampling and acclimatisation garden, place from which the botanist will send some of his precious plants to Madagascar and the Antilles. Pierre Poivre gathered trees and spices from the entire world: bay trees from the Antilles, camphor trees from China, breadfruit trees from the Philippines, lychee trees from Cochin China and reunited them in one place. Pierre welcomes Philibert Commerson, a botanist from the Bougainville expedition that stopped off in Isle de France. These two men botanised, classified, indexed, drew and planted for two years.
Abandoned by the British after the conquest of the island in 1810, the garden was taken over by James Duncan in 1849. Regaining its charm of yesteryear and welcomed new species: ferns, araucarias, orchids and bougainvilleas. James Duncan also planted many types of palm trees.
Although having suffered from the cyclones in 1861, 1892, 1945, 1960, 1975 and 1979, the Garden’s alleys and avenues, which bear the names of the well-known naturalists having contributed to its famous flora of the Mascareignes, have survived the passing of time. A very popular tourist attraction, the garden today bears the name of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, first Prime Minister of an independent Mauritius.
Rochester Falls. It is under this name that the falls of Rochester, some four kilometres away from the village of Souillac, are most commonly known.
It is famous for its rectangular rocks and the fresh, translucent water of its pond which collects the waterfall tumbling into the void about ten metres higher.
In order to access these incredible and famous cliffs whose faint rumble can be heard from afar, in the south of Mauritius, one must go through a path flanked by sugarcane fields between the villages of Surinam and Souillac. This crossing stretches over about one kilometre. One then reaches a track that must be negotiated on foot to reach pebbles polished by water and time adorning the pond, while the rectangular rocks and enthralling spectacle of dizzyingly high waterfalls unfold right in front of your eyes.
They symbolise the beauty of the wild south of Mauritius and the gentle thrills of nature as much as the cliffs of Gris-Gris and La Roche-qui-pleure, where waves, off Gris-Gris beach, smash against the cliffs wherever there are no coral reefs.
Rochester Falls is an exhilarating experience in the heart of lush vegetation. Those whose urge for adventure runs deep can either go for a few strokes in the pond or let themselves be massaged vigorously by the gushing water cascading down the rock faces sculpted by centuries of erosion. Or else, admire the daredevils diving from a height of ten metres. No matter which one you choose, capturing this moment with a camera is a must.
The Grand River South East is the longest river in Mauritius.
It flows from its source in Piton du Milieu into Anse Cunat Bay, 34 kilometres away. It then runs along the Bamboo Mountain Range and forms majestic waterfalls that can be admired on the way up the river by boat, before ending its course in the Indian Ocean. It forms part of the offers included in the day trip to Île aux Cerfs or the boat tour to discover the islets of the southeast and remains one of the must visits for all those looking for a moment of escape in Mauritius.
The journey up the river from the mouth takes place in an authentic setting, planted in the heart of a ravine boasting a lush vegetation. The light contrast with the rocky faces is striking. One can come across fishermen’s rowboats moored on the banks and partake in unforgettable encounters with the local fauna: bats, white-tailed tropicbird or herons looking out for fish in-between rocks. The brackish water between the waterfall and the mouth teems with fish. A little further on, monkeys perched on trees or mountainsides overlooking the river observe the human parade.
The estuary narrows down as we edge closer to the falls. Diving from the top of rocks, swimming, canoeing and hiking are all activities that may be practised in this picturesque spot, and present spectacular opportunities for photo enthusiasts.
If the river and its rapids have made the place famous, Grand River South East is above all one of the most charming and peaceful fishing villages in Mauritius. A historic site also home to relics dating back to the Dutch colonisation that began in Grand Port Bay in September 1598. The Dutch settled along the coast in the southeast of the island, in Ferney, Grand River South East and Flacq. They established their administrative headquarters in Vieux Grand Port, an economic and port centre, before the administration was transferred to Port-Louis during the French era.
A wooded islet to the southwest of Mauritius, Bénitiers Island stretches over 500 hectares, 500 metres off the villages of Grande Case Noyale and La Gaulette.
It is two kilometres long, along a north – south axis, and has a maximum width of 500 metres.
Bénitiers Island owes its name to the beautiful clam shell transformed into a holy-water stoup by missionaries. It might be private property, but its foreshore, a sand strip alternately covered and uncovered by the ocean, is open to all. The magnificent beaches sink into the crystalline waters that every modern-day Robinson would dream of.
500 metres west of Bénitiers Island stands another attraction adorning the southwestern lagoons: Crystal Rock. It looks like a crystal floating on the ocean. One can easily swim around it or climb on it while immortalising this moment with a camera.