Mauritius: the bucket list dream
It is the home of the extinct dodo bird and boasts a natural phenomenon called the Seven Coloured Earths. It also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With the many affordable travel packages, Mauritius is a popular destination for South Africans.
The best time to go
Visit between April and June and September and December for the best weather. Some of the hottest temperatures are in December and it misses the high rainfall of February and March. December to March are the best months for scuba diving and deep sea fishing.
Where to stay
There are numerous hotels and self-catering accommodation options. Read traveller reviews and other safety information when choosing accommodation as belongings are sometimes stolen out of hotel rooms.
Places to visit
Take a day-long excursion to Ile Aux Cerfs. It is a small island reminiscent of paradise with its crystal clear water, white beaches and palm trees. You can swim on the northern tip of the island, however, the rest of the beach is not safe for swimming.
Another popular destination is the extinct volcano, Trou Aux Cerfs, in the middle of the island. Drive to the top to enjoy beautiful views of the entire island. Seasoned hikers can also hike down to water level but the path can be slippery and quite treacherous.
Domaine les Pailles is an estate that lies between the mountains. It is well-known for its diverse blend of cultures. There are numerous activities you can enjoy including guided tours, 4X4 mountain safari or train rides.
Bucket list experiences
The west coast of Mauritius is well-known for dolphin viewing. Take a boat-ride to where dolphins collect in the mornings. You can also swim amongst them in their natural environment. If you are lucky you can be surrounded by up to 30 dolphins at once. Be sure to choose a skipper who is environmentally conscious and avoids causing stress.
Visit the village of Chamarel to see two of Mauritius’s most famous sights. It is the home of their highest waterfall Cascade Chamarel, measuring 127m in height. It is also where you can see the Seven Coloured Earth. This is soil in seven different colours which resembles a moonscape.
Another famous sight is the Rochester Falls. They are acclaimed for the rectangular shape of the rocks over which the freshwater crashes. It is the widest waterfall in Mauritius and measures 10m in height. It is believed some people jump off the top of the falls for an adrenaline rush. If this appeals to you, check the depth of the water with locals before you do so.
Skydiving in Mauritius also takes thrill seeking to a new level. This 10 000 feet dive takes place over the ocean. It is described as one of the most visually awesome tandem skydives. You will also be able to enjoy aerial views of the beautiful island on the plane before the jump.
If skydiving is too much, you can also zipline over the ocean instead. There is a selection of seven ziplines totalling a length of 1.5km. Each zipline offers different views ranging between canopies of banana tress to glimpses of the ocean.
The best place in Mauritius to snorkel is at Blue Bay. The further out you go the better your chances of swimming into an aquarium spot. This is a stretch of water resembling an aquarium because of the quantity and variation of fish and coral.
Traditional foods and drinks
The island food is described as a ‘cultural explosion.’ The migration of a variety of cultures into Mauritius results traditional food that includes tastes from India, China, France and other African countries.
Try the variety of curries served with flat bread, rice or roti or lentil soup. Alternatively, enjoy Dholl Puri, which is the fish and chips of Mauritius. Food from street vendors is also a must especially their famous chilli cakes, gateaux piments. Choose the vendor with the longest line for the tastiest food.
Traditional drinks include cane rum or coconut water with a dash of lime and rather buy it from local shops as hotels can be much more expensive. The French Black Eagle Beer is another drink to watch out for as well.
Mauritius is the home of many natural wonders and the place where you can cross many items off your bucket list. Affordable travel packages and a favourable exchange rate make it a place every South African should visit at least once in their lifetime.
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