Mauritius Stories and Tips

How to travel the island

Taxi! Photo, Mauritius, Africa

As a group of four we had a little debate about how best to see the island. A friend had visited Mauritius several years ago and had loaned us his travel guide and he had strongly advocated the use of public transport. However, I'd run an internet check on the regularity of buses around the island and although they are relatively frequent and very cheap it seemed like the exploration of Mauritius would be a little tedious after a time. They reckon it would take 90 minutes from Belle Mare to Port Louis and then there was a need to factor in waiting time at bus stops and the unrelaibility of the time tables. A friend who had visited the island a few years ago said that travelling on the bus was a great experience as the locals crammed in to every available space but he did not recommend a long journey as the experience is somewhat claustrophobic and of course lack air- conditioning

Of course the easiest way of exploring is by arranging a tour with the agency that brought us to the island, but there are distinct problems of an organised tour. Not least is the high cost of the arrangements, but as significant is the lack of flexibility. We want to be able to stop for photo opportunities and be able to extend, or indeed curtail, a visit depending on the interest factor.

We checked with the tour operator, and indeed the internet before we flew out to the island, about the relative cost of hiring a car for a few days. This clearly gives a lot of freedom, but it removes the element of a guided tour and requires you to make all your trips in one block period of the holiday. Again this is not ideal and car hire isn't particularly cheap on the island. I do understand that car hire generally comes with GPS mapping systems and that will make the journey less stressful, but still such a journey would need careful planning, your driving licence and some added local knowledge.

So one day I popped out to check on the local taxis to see how competItnve they were. I was pretty impressed at how cheap it came in as four of us could hire a taxi for the whole day for 2300 rupees (less than £60). The taxi drivers all have an intimate knowledge of the island - they are after all local people trying to earn a decent wage - and their itinerary almost exactly mirrored that offered to us my the tour company for a fraction of the cost.

A taxi offers more comfort that a bus, greater flexibility than an organisd tour and a more relaxing experience than a car hire. Indeed a taxi works out far cheaper for four of you than The organised tour or car hire and although it is significantly more expensive than local buses at least you can stop, admire the view and then carry on your travels immediately.

So in summary if you want to make the best out of travel on the island have a word with your local taxi driver, agree a fee and then book him for any excursions that you might fancy. It worked well for us and I'm convinced that it really is the best way to see he island

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