Written by MichaelJM on 18 Nov, 2013
There were only half a dozen or so different varieties of birds around our hotel but it provided easy bird-watching and there antics proved to be fascinating. I took one step closer to fight my fear of birds. Over the last few years I've progressed…Read More
There were only half a dozen or so different varieties of birds around our hotel but it provided easy bird-watching and there antics proved to be fascinating. I took one step closer to fight my fear of birds. Over the last few years I've progressed from avoiding them at any cost and feeling my heart race if they got closer than a few metres.A couple of years ago I forced myself to hold out a gloved hand for a hooded kestrel to be placed on it, then got quite close to the birds on Galapogas. I could, before this holiday, happily watch their antics from a distance. Here on Mauritius, close to the hotel all the birds seemed fairly comfortable with people and if I was going to enjoy relaxing in the gardens I needed to be comfortable with the close encounters that would certainly follow. The "king" of the birds seemed to be the Indian Myna, who would easily see off the smaller birds, and they were all smaller than him. If this bird wanted easy access to the easily available food it would perch on the tree tops, before swooping and frightening off the smaller ones. When it had had its fill it left the ground available to the other residents of the garden. Over the fortnight the "pecking order" became very clear and we could almost predict where the territorial battles would be fought and who would win.The most fascinating bird, in our view was the somewhat precocious red breasted "red fody". There were only a few of these "in town" but they were perching on nearby trees before swooping delicately down to the hedges and then investigating the ground and dining tables for crumbs. Indeed latterly in the holiday they were cheeky enough to take food out of the palm of your hand. Alongside them were the brightly clad "green singing finch" and they like the Red Fody seemed to have pecking order rights over the plainer finches which won hands down on the number count but were clearly somewhat intimidated by their more brightly coloured cousins. However, it was the finch that gave us the best photographic opportunity of the holiday as the parents few away for food to bring back to their "starving chicks". I’ve never before been that close to a wild bird feeding its young. What a great site.Walking at our feet we regularly saw the "zebra dove" which initially was hard to spot in the undergrowth, but once we got used to it we watched it meticulously covering the ground in search for food.The punk member of the bird family in Mauritius is the attractive Red Whiskered Bulbul, with its punk styled "comb" on top of its head and its splashes of red. A strange looking bird on first glance but close up it was an attractive and intelligent looking bird. It never squabbled with the other birds, perhaps not wanting to spoiled its neatly coiffed hair do!I guess the busiest bird on the block was the Village Weaver who had hardly a moment to eat as it seemed to be constantly occupied with building its intricate nests. It’s easy to see how people become obsessive bird watchers and I have to confess it was probably more interesting than people watching! Watch out I’m now looking for places I can visit with good opportunities for ornithology! Close
Written by MichaelJM on 08 Nov, 2013
Our hotel was set in the middle of a large bay and in a hop skip and a jump from the hotel reception we could be on the fine silky sand of a Mauritian beach. Well don't let me deceive you too much, because, although…Read More
Our hotel was set in the middle of a large bay and in a hop skip and a jump from the hotel reception we could be on the fine silky sand of a Mauritian beach. Well don't let me deceive you too much, because, although the sand was as just described in places near the hotel, in other parts it was somewhat harsh underfoot as it was littered with coral to various degrees. We saw large pieces of dead coral that had been washed in from the reef as well as small shards of the stuff which was well on the way to forming the white sand that we preferred underfoot. It was, therefore, advisable to wear a pair of decent waterproof shoes so you could enter the sea without any concerns about standing on a rough piece of disintegrating coral. Also ther were loads of bright blue material that had been weathered by the sea. A closer inspection identified this bright blue semi precious stone as weathered plastic!Along this part of the coast are the Casuarina trees, a pine like tree with very small pine cones which litter the ground and prove a real hazard for bare-footed tourists. These trees date back to the 1770's wh en they were introduced onto Mauritius and planted along the cost to offer a windbreak for the nearby crops, some much needed shade. There most obvious quality being that they are not bothered about growing close to salt water. They are certainly an attractive addition yo the coastline and we read that the tree avenues in Belle Mare are often occupied by local Mauritians over the weekend as the travel to the coast to chill out.Another coastal attraction on this stretch of coastline between Belle Mare and Longbeachs a small Hindu Temple (see separate review) and it seems somewhat incongruous that the peace and serenity of a temple should be only a few paces away from the water sports centre that is based around the corner on Longbeach. Here you can have a go at paragliding, water skiing, kite surfing, dinghy surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and of course the unique sea bed walking (see separate review)Often as weas we walked the shoreline we'd see fish seemingly beached on the water's edge but I do, with hindsight, wonder if these were the unwanted spoils of the local fishermen. Regularly they'd be out line fishing from the rocks and not surprisingly, if you fancy going fishing they can arrange a fishing trip for you. We also heard, but never witnessed that locals can often been seen at low tide at night walking the coral for any fish that have been landed there as the tide went out or the waves beach them on the rocky crags of the coral reef. I did promise myself that I’d check this out but never quite made it as after eating and drinking in the hotel restaurant I was quite happy to sit and chat.The whole lanscape in this bay has been influenced by the coral reef and it's fascinating to watch the waves breaking on the ocean' sedge, a kilometre away fom the beach. There's a constant boom as the water breaks on the coral - the sound of the sea at its best. Of course the lagoon isn't totally becalmed but it's almost free of waves although it still manages to produce some fairly stiff currents. We learnt that at high tide the water only covers the reef by 25 centimetres before a sheer drop of 50 metres . The profile of the land here is pretty extreme and once again we were told that the lagoon is shark free but in the murky depths of the Indian Ocean, the sea side of the reef they lurk hunting for their prey. I was happy to accept the word of the local for that! Walking towards Belle Mare we saw, just off the beach, a memorial. We were intrigued and had to investigate further. It was a sad reminder of a plane crash that happened back in 1987s The basic sign close to the monument says "After the accident of ZS-SAS Helderberg, this monument has been erected in fond memory of passengers and crew who lost their lives". It’s seems to be that the cause of the tragedy is still not fully explained and this mysterious tragic crash may well remain unexplained forever.There are long stretches of this beach that are almost deserted at certain parts of the day and the gentle thud of the waves on the coral reef make a walk along the beach at Belle Mare a very pleasurable event. Of course the Mauritian sun helps a bit! Close
Written by MichaelJM on 26 Oct, 2013
One day I went down to the beach a little earlier to take a few photos of the Hindu temple (see separate review) and was amazed to be "greeted" with a strong and unpleasant smell. It was a bit like rotten fish, but not quite…Read More
One day I went down to the beach a little earlier to take a few photos of the Hindu temple (see separate review) and was amazed to be "greeted" with a strong and unpleasant smell. It was a bit like rotten fish, but not quite as pungent. My immediate thought was that the smell was emanating from the piles of seaweed that had been pulled out of the sea by the hotel staff to create a better swimming experience for the guests. I approached one of the piles with some trepidation to check it out but it was almost odour free.I returned to the task of photographing the temple and as I approached along the water's edge I noticed that there were sections of the sand that were red. I was quite obviously so but a gentle rub along the surface showed that this was not deep seated, just superficial. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought in the words of Alice in Wonderland, as I noticed that the water at this point of the bay had a film of red on the ripples as they flowed to the shore. Well that explained the red sand, but what about the red sea water and the pervading stench?I took a photo or two and then meandered back to the hotel for breakfast when I mentioned this bizarre occurrence to my wife and friends. I'm fairly sure that none of them believed me but after breakfast when we headed off to the beach, the smell was still evident and my friend headed off to check out the phenomenon. He returned, with a few photos and confirmation that my description was in fact true. We decided to check out where the stench was coming from so asked the receptionist in our hotel. He confirmed that the smell was indeed emanating from the sea and that it was an annual occurance. No one was absolutely sure what the source of the smell was but it is believed it comes from the coral reef. However, the red film on the sea was even more of a mystery and the reason for this sounded more like mythology than any attempt to seek out the facts.We were told that the oceans are generally believed to be female and that the red dye was a sign of her fertility. It was, to quote the receptionist, her "annual cycle". That's exactly the way it was described to us. Throughout the morning the red film seemed to grow in volume around the Hindu temple but by early afternoon it had almost disappeared. The smell lingered on until half way through the next day, but then cleared totally.I decided that I would check out the internet to see if there was any reference to this natural phenomenon. Despite using several different descriptions in search engines I’ve failed to find any information about this phenomenon. I’d like to think that it was a natural occurrence rather than pollution created by man and for now I will sit back and accept the fact that this is a rare happening and we were privileged to be there when it happened. Unless, of course you know different!! Close
The village of Belle Mare was only a short walk from our hotel. You can walk On the beach of by way of a tree clad avenue between the beach and the road. Having walked the beach on a few occasions we decided one late…Read More
The village of Belle Mare was only a short walk from our hotel. You can walk On the beach of by way of a tree clad avenue between the beach and the road. Having walked the beach on a few occasions we decided one late afternoon to wander through the trees and check out the village.It was a Saturday and groups of Mauritians were setting up camp under the shady boughs of the casuarina trees that run for five miles along this part of the eastern coast. Apparently it has become a bit of a habit for Mauritians to visit this region over a weekend. They set up tents, portable barbecues and basically enjoy each other's company over the weekend. It looked to us that small entertainment sections were being set up and a family group were clustered round a T.V, whilst groups of single men were seen haunting tree branches along the walkway to their camp. As we approached the village the dominant building was the Hindu temple, open to the public but not as exciting to look at as the Tamil Hindu temples that we'd seen earlier in the week. We took a photo or two with the sun setting over the mountains and then continues our walk into Belle Mare. We hadn't got far before voices of shopkeepers invited us to check out their shops. We resisted temptation although made a quick circuit of a shop that seemed to sell everything from spirits, tobacco, pharmaceutical products, model ship, souvenirs, and designer clothes There are surprisingly a couple of large factory shops in the vIllage selling branded products. One sells Hugo Boss and another Ralph Lauren. My wife thought we should check t.hese out and headed for the latter. These are clearly quality shops at the top end of the branded goods market but I was naively expecting there to be bargains inside. Needless to say they weren't the kind of prices I wanted to pay although my wife assured me that £50 for a branded polo shirt and £60 for a casual shirt were good deals. "They may be" I mutter to no one in particular, "but not for me".A shop assistant was soon following us round the store pointing out things that would be good deals and told be that we could claim a further 15% back at the airport. "Not for me" I chuntered as I headed towards the door and despite a noble attempt by a shop assistant to create a diversion and sidetrack me back towards the merchandise I secured an exit. I'm that there are bargains to be had if you are a wearer of designer clothes but you'll have to know your product price and cast aside your desire to barter. It seems that in the shops selling originals ( rather than the " quality fakes" that you find elsewhere on the island) there is no negotiation on prices. Indeed we were told later that the clothes in these brand shops was not manufactured on the island but shipped in to stock the designer shops. I guess their trade merits this! But "not for me" you can hear me say!Finding nothing else of merit in the village we head off back to our hotel. The numbers of tents erected since we first passed by has significantly increased and the dedicated free car parks are filling up nicely with private cars and larger vans. We notice that one of the car park states that it's for buses only so we can only surmise that. Mauritians are bused in to the area for the weekend camping. People are real friendly as we pass by and I consider checking out what happens after darkness descends. I'm presuming that a party atmosphere prevails and indeed it did!We notice as we walk through the trees that there are remnants of an old walk / road way and are reminded that there were lime kilns and sugar cane factories in this area in the past. Indeed there is roadside evidence of both along this coastline with old kilns and factory chimneys. Belle Mare isn't the prettiest of villages but the walk and the activities of the locals was worth the effort, especially on a weekend when the "Townies" Visit the area. Close
Written by MichaelJM on 19 Oct, 2013
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…Read More
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- conditioningOf 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 Close
Written by MichaelJM on 14 Oct, 2013
We've enjoyed several all inclusive holidays in the past but I'm not sure that I've ever written about the all-inclusive experience. There are of course several positives the main one being that once the holiday has been payed for the holiday expenses are down to…Read More
We've enjoyed several all inclusive holidays in the past but I'm not sure that I've ever written about the all-inclusive experience. There are of course several positives the main one being that once the holiday has been payed for the holiday expenses are down to a minimum. In our boutique hotel there was only one restaurant and a small bar but they would both prove capable of keeping us fed and watered for the duration of our stay.We could have three meals a day (that certainly wouldn't help any sensible eating regime) and for twelve hours (11.00 - 23.00 hrs) we were able to get our drinks from the bar. I said to my friend that I would happily buy him all the drinks he could manage (as long as they were locally made) for the duration of the holiday. Surprisingly he replied that he was thinking of making the same offer to me!The locally made spirits were really not bad at all and as a bit of a challenge I decided to give them all a bit of a try. The scotch (locally made whiskey) was a little on the raw side & it was decidedly sweet. In fairness I do a enjoy my single malts so there was a fairly decent chance of me being critical of a local whiskey. On the other hand I found the gin fairly acceptable as a refreshing drink before dinner.One night I asked for a rum and was offered a vanilla rum or a straightforward white rum. I must have seemed undecided (as I was!) and rather than getting impatient the bartender decided to offer me both! Perhaps, I thought, I need to be undecided more often! Interestingly the vanilla rum was measured - not something that I'd witnessed before - and probably an indication of its quality. Certainly on tasting it was beautifully smooth and pleasant to drink. Whereas the unmeasured white rum was more of a crude and harsh drink.Now I'd hate you to think that all-inclusive holidays are only about alcohol consumption. Although I do need to add that the locally brewed draught beer was extremely good at quenching our thirst in the midday sun! All drinks including tea, coffee, soft drinks and water were readily available and drinks in the mini bar, where indicated on the in-room price list were also freely available. It was certainly a novelty to be able to sample drinks out of the mini bar - something that I would normally avoid due to the extreme mark up that normally takes place on such items.Usually participants in all inclusive holidays have to wear some form of corporate identification to indicate their standing on the hotel's tariff, but on this occasion it proved not to be necessary. The staff just knew and it made the experience so much more pleasant. Having to wear a coloured wristband, as is the usual form, is not my cup of tea and I normally rebel by taking it off and flashing it from my pocket if the hotel staff demand my identification and right to free food and drink. Of course the downside of the all inclusive regime is that there is a tendency to be cloistered in the resort with the resultant failure of experiencing the local culture. Certainly we'd fallen in to that trap when we visited Egypt and we were determined to get out and about and see life on the island. This resort hotel would happily prepare picnic lunches for their guests and although we took advantage of this for one day we also visited a local restaurant when we were visiting the north-west of the island and Port Louis (pronounced Lewis).All inclusive holiday resorts have a real impact on the local economy as we experienced when we opted for a self catering holiday in Side, Turkey, with local rsestaurants struggling to get customers into their establishements because so many people are being fed and watered in the all inclusive resorts. It's something to think about when booking your holiday, but it is the case that there are several destinations where it's difficult to find a hotel offering anything other that full board / all inclusive resorts.The bottom line is they can make for a very relaxing holiday and once paid for at home there's little or no need to carry money with you. Although if like us you like seeing the sights with local guides you will need cash to fund those ventures. There are good compromises and certainly our stay in Mauritius gave us he best of both worlds - the independent traveller and the pampered all-inclusive guest. Close
Written by MichaelJM on 10 Oct, 2013
After a 12 hour flight from Gatwick Airport in the UK our first glimpse of the small island of Mauritius was through the heavily misted windows of the BA airplane. It was just after 5.00 am and already the temperature was in the early 20's,…Read More
After a 12 hour flight from Gatwick Airport in the UK our first glimpse of the small island of Mauritius was through the heavily misted windows of the BA airplane. It was just after 5.00 am and already the temperature was in the early 20's, but a heavy mist hung over the mountainous interior of the island and the sun was struggling to force its way through the clouds. The airport terminal building was a huge surprise as it was ultra-modern and significantly bigger than I would have expected. It was a fair work from the plane to the arrivals area and I was particularly keen to get there as I had slept only briefly on the flight. Passing through passport control was very efficient and "painless" with the offices being polite and very cheerful. Having crossed that hurdle we then had to take another form to the representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Quality of Life. What a great name, I thought as I took my "yellow form" to the desk, for a government body and a real indication of the emphasis that this country places on its citizens. Once again we received a cheerful smile and then headed off down a couple of floors to the baggage retrival zone. This worked very efficiently for our luggage but our friends were less fortunate. They've had luggage going missing on a couple of occasions so their anxiety was palpable as the number of passengers waiting for luggage reduced. Indeed even attempts to lighten the mood were difficult as the conveyor belt jammed and there was still no sign of their two cases. However, as if by a miracle the two cases emerged from the bowels of the earth. - the very last two items to stagger around the carousel! With obvious relief the four of us headed off to customs and having passed through without any problems we set about looking for our transport to take us to the hotel. Our travel company was Hayes & Jarvis so naturally we were looking for a banner with their name on our own name on a hand held sheet. Nothing... We walked around the departure area both inside and out and saw no reference to the names previously mentioned. I'm not panicking because I have another thought and that relates to the name of the local representative of the company. "Funny you should mention that", said my friend who has all the travel documents, "but I think there may be a reference to that in the documents". Sure enough there was and there was not now a problem. The agents were waiting for us, as were the other people on the vehicle! The bus set off a and we could now sit back and enjoy our early sights of the island on the one hour journey from the airport to our hotel. We passed by field after field of sugar cane and several small villages in which they seemed to have co-operative farming on a small holding basis. Already there were many people working in the fields and we were momentarily surprised to see farm labourers with a Chinese style hat to protect them from sun. That is until my wife reminded me that there was indeed a strong Chinese community dating back to the days when they were brought across as "forced labour" for the sugar cane industry. They are very much now part of zone community bringing parts of their own culture into the island. Many for the villages that we passed through were linear in design with a single row of houses on each side of the road with the sea on one side & farmland on the other. There was no sign of tourism in the villages until we reached Belle Mare & then it was evident that this was an emerging economy on Mauritius, which will take off as othther destinations, like the Maldives price themselves out of the popular market. As we drove along the narrow road that circumnavigated the island It seemed to us that the Mauritian population was very friendly to its visitors as our minibus was waved at and smiled uponn by the majority of locals who saw us on route. It certainly, on first impressions, seemed relaxed, happy and welcoming. It boded well for the next 14 days of our holiday on the island. Close
Written by Jolantka on 26 Sep, 2011
The first glimpse of magnificent Mauritius is available from the air, as Air Mauritius lands just after sunrise. And what a view it is! Enough to tantalize the curiosity for more spectacular views and inquisitiveness as to what else the island has to offer. Here…Read More
The first glimpse of magnificent Mauritius is available from the air, as Air Mauritius lands just after sunrise. And what a view it is! Enough to tantalize the curiosity for more spectacular views and inquisitiveness as to what else the island has to offer. Here goes a plan for a relaxing, on the beach holiday and an adventure packed exploration of the island begins.Luxury coaches are awaiting arriving passengers at the airport to whisk them to their hotels by the most direct route. I decided to take a slow road (or so I thought before I experienced the local bus driving technique) and do some sightseeing on the way. Travelling on a local bus allows for a discovery of villages and towns on route and meeting the locals. If you speak French, that is. English is the official language of Mauritius but everybody speaks French and Creole. Only some of the local population speaks English."We are in 16 eme Mille," said Mina. Mina was sitting next to me on a local bus. She was on her way to work in Curepipe and working in retail she spoke English. 16th Mile is a little town we have just passed. By 8 am I have also already visited Rose Belle and Nouvelle France on my way from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam airport to Port Louis.Local bus ride is quite an experience. There is no place for amusement parks with scary rides on Mauritius. They would not do well at all. Anybody wanting to encounter a scary ride, near death collision, adrenaline pumped to its limits only needs to hop on a local bus and hold on tight. The driving speed on narrow roads is unlimited, overtaking or passing within an inch of a car or another bus quite common. It is easy to get used to this way of driving though. I found it an exciting and enjoyable part of my sightseeing. I visited most of Mauritius traveling on a local bus.The diversity of landscapes is astonishing. Mauritius is not just a beach destination. Surely the ocean, its golden beaches, islands scattered off the shores of Mauritius play a major role. Sailing, diving, snorkeling and water sports are the definite part of the holiday. However, Mauritius offers also some unique scenery of natural wonders. Chamarel is a small village and a definite highlight of the visit with Seven Colors Earth on its footstep. The Seven Colors Earth is an unbelievable collection of colors - from pink, red, purple to gold, orange & brown depending on the iron content of the volcanic eruptions and different temperatures the lava was cooling at. The Chamarel Waterfall springing from lush green jungle is an invigorating scene.Irrespective of the entire natural wonders and dramatic scenery the ocean and its beaches are a major part of enjoyment. Flic en Flack is on route from Chamarel to Port Louis. It has an amazing sandy beach to swim of, crystal clear water and is the spot to enjoy a spectacular sun set from. Mauritius has many natural treasures but the best treasure it can be proud of is its people. They are friendly, helpful and always smiling. "This is ourite," said Mme Lise serving a delicious octopus dish, a Creole delicacy. Mme Lise is an expert on Creole cuisine. We were having a picnic on Ile aux Cerfes accompanied by Sega singing and dancing.Mauritius leaves a memory of constant happiness. The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. The nature, scenery and people enchanted me. Many call Mauritius A Paradise Island and they are not wrong. Close
Written by jorgejuan on 20 Jun, 2006
Rodrigues Island is located in the south of the Indian Ocean, at 2,500km from continental Africa, 3,500 from India, 5,000 from Australia, and 5,000 from Antarctica. But it is worth the effort to get there if you are looking for unspoiled places.
The islands of Rodrigues,…Read More
Rodrigues Island is located in the south of the Indian Ocean, at 2,500km from continental Africa, 3,500 from India, 5,000 from Australia, and 5,000 from Antarctica. But it is worth the effort to get there if you are looking for unspoiled places.
The islands of Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion form the archipelago of the Mascareignes. They are of volcanic origin and surrounded by coral reefs. Arabs and Malaysian navigators visited them regularly as from the X century. The Portuguese, under Pedro de Mascareignes, used them during the XVI century as calls in their journeys to India and the Spice Islands. Portuguese navigator Pedro Rodrigues named the smallest of the three islands. Then came the Dutch, and at the beginning of the XVIII century they were occupied by the French. After the Napoleonic Wars the English took possession of them but finally returned the island of Reunion to the French, who still keep it, while Mauritius and Rodrigues received independence in 1968. The population of Mauritius Island (about 1,300,000 inhabitants) are mainly from India brought to work in the sugar cane fields for a derisory salary, and profess Hindu and Muslim Faiths, but in Rodrigues (36,000 people) practically all are Catholic and Creole, or Blacks mixed with Europeans, plus the unavoidable Chinese businessmen. I also met natives from Chagos archipelago that were expelled from their islands when the British ceded the atoll of Diego Garcia to USA Army to erect a Military base. The Rodrigues natives are so different from the Mauritius’s that in 1967 they all voted against the independence from U.K., at the contrary than in Mauritius Island. In Rodrigues people speak French and English, although they use among themselves a special Creole and a French patois. Many natives are illiterate and sign with the fingerprint. Creole language is simplified French, funny and easy to understand. It reminded me the Papuan New Guinea pidgin: "Missie" is Monsieur. "Sa pa fini" (instead of Ça n’a pas fini) means not yet finished. "Mo content toi" means I love you, etc. Rodrigues is cheaper than Seychelles and Reunion, and its beaches are great, but the island is not so mountainous as Reunion or Comoros. In general, people are generous.Rodrigues is a pocket island (104km²) and everything is at a stone throw. You can hire a bicycle or take a bus around the island stopping in the small charming villages by the beautiful lagoon and eat fresh octopus with the fishermen. The imposing Cathedral Sacre Coeur, the greatest stone building of the island, with a capacity for 2,000 faithful, in the village Saint Gabriel, constitutes a fine visit (I was so lucky to be there the August 15, 2005, a especial holiday, and in the service played accordions). The women assist to the Mass wearing "retro" and showy sombreros evoking Scarlet O’Hara in the film Gone with the Wind. The best beaches are near the capital Port Mathurin, in Anse aux Anglais, where there are many tourists’ activities, as for instance diving and snorkeling. Rodrigues is not crowded with hordes of tourists; there are not even backpackers.In Port Mathurin I stayed in a hostel that in Spanish we describe as having the three "B", or "Bueno, Bonito y Barato" (Good, Beautiful and Cheap): CIEL D’ETE, a pleasant colonial house with lovely gardens at 100m from the bus station, ruled by a gentle Chinese couple. A single costs 400 rupees (1 euro equal to 35 rupees) and a double 600 rupees, including a copious breakfast. In Mauritius Island I stayed in the famous tourist resort of Grand Baie and found an inexpensive room in VILLA NASSER, in Route Royale, at 50m from the beach, where I paid 500 rupees for a single with TV, air condition and enormous bed, but no breakfast. The town of Mahebourg, near the airport, is very convenient to spend the last night if you have an early flight next day. Try the Catholic Mission, which acts as a cheap hostel. In Reunion the cheapest option is the Youth Hostel in Saint Denis, and a moderated one is the HOTEL DU CENTRE, starting as from 25 euros a single, in rue Marechal Leclerc, 272Sega is a characteristic musical style from Rodrigues and Mauritius alike. It was created by the slaves torn from Africa, mainly from Madagascar, using "ravanes" or large flat drums, "bobre" or a kind of guitar with a single string, "maravanes" or a sort of rattle consisting in a frame filled with seeds or gravel, the triangle, and other basic instruments, although sometimes they also play accordion. In the British era singing or dancing Sega was taboo and punished with the whip. The colonial administration aimed to cut off the Africans slaves from their roots, but they, especially the nights with full moon, played and danced in secret before a bonfire by the seaside. At that time Sega was the expression of their sufferings, but the blues has finally given way to rejoicing rhythms and is present in all the weddings and other social activities. The sensual whirling and twirling of the flowery skirts of the dancing girls is an overwhelming spectacle and reminds the Spanish flamenco.There are three wonderful restaurants in Port Mathurin: the best is LE QUAI, near the pier, where the friendly owner serves fresh fish. Second option is LE DRAGON D’OR, which is much more elegant than LE QUAI, on a second floor with terrace, but a little more expensive. Third choice is LE CAPITAIN, where they also sell food to take away. In Mauritius Island you should try PATRICK RESTO, in Mahebourg, with Creole food and original and delicious desserts with ice creams. In Grand Baie I had a wonderful and cheap seafood lunch with Creole lively music in LA VIEILLE ROUGE, and for a romantic dinner by the seaside go to CAFÉ DE LA PLAGE. In Port Luis you have hundreds of choices; just in the waterfront you will find dozens of excellent restaurants and a patio where customers from about ten stalls around sit down after buying local food. Restaurants in Reunion are so expensive that there I ate mainly baguettes with fromage that I bought in the supermarkets, and cuscus to the Muslim community.Rodrigues people live according to natural laws; after 5pm, when darkness falls, everything is closed, the central market and the shops, and the streets deserted. At 10pm everybody is in bed sleeping to wake up with the sunrise. Locals might lack agitated night life, but in compensation they have a rich day life and gather very often. In Rodrigues I met several happy French expatriates living there forever, not wishing to go back to the Western World anymore; they just spent their time enjoying the Nature of the island, fishing when they were hungry, and their souls were fed by the impressions of the beauty, by its nectar and ambrosia.
Written by Tania Riddell on 21 Mar, 2004
Mauritius is located 1600km east of Madagascar. It has endless sugarcane plantations, dramatic mountains, some of the finest beaches and lagoons and a cultural mix of people. Over the years, Mauritius has been ruled by many: the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the…Read More
Mauritius is located 1600km east of Madagascar. It has endless sugarcane plantations, dramatic mountains, some of the finest beaches and lagoons and a cultural mix of people. Over the years, Mauritius has been ruled by many: the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the British. Mauritius gained independence in 1968. Mauritius would be best known for the Dodo bird, a flightless dove which became extinct in the late 17th century.
The capital of Mauritius is Port Louis. Mauritius has plenty of activities to keep the holidaymaker busy. Surfing (the best waves are situated at Le Morne), windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, yacht cruises, hiking in the mountains and horseback riding, to name a few.
We stayed in Mauritius for two weeks. We stayed at La Croix Du Sud Pointe Jerome for two days on our way to Kenya, only 15 minutes from the airport, it is very convenient; and we stayed a further 12 days at a privately owned townhouse we booked through www.wardhouses.com. We found this company extremely good. They can organise your airport transfers and they have a wide range of accommodation to choose from. Rather than stay in one of the big hotels where usually breakfast and dinner are part of your deal, we wanted to be able to choose to eat out for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which we did on many occasions. We were located between Grand Baie and Pereybere at Les Cygnes. Each day a lady would come in to clean and if need be she will also do your washing as well for a fee.
Grand Baie is the main holiday centre for tourists. Everything in the town caters to tourists. The main street is lined with trendy boutiques. Pereybere is a couple of kilometers north of Grand Baie. It has a good beach and reef. Pereybere is a good alternative to Grand Baie. It is worth hiring a car, which www.wardhouses.com can also organise for you, and exploring Mauritius in full. You can drive right around the island within a few hours. You can explore the Botanical Gardens, Tamarind Falls, Black River Gorges National Park, and also the coastal towns. The beaches along the coast are spectacular and it is worth taking a picnic lunch with you if you can and stop at one of these places.
We found the shopping on Mauritius to be cheap for some items. Cashmere was a good buy, along with Ralph Lauren, though I have since found out all the Ralph Lauren outlets should be closed down by the end of the year per a court order, as these garments are being made illegally. Other bargains were Prada handbags, Calvin Klein jeans, Hugo Boss shirts. We also found grocery shopping reasonable with products from France, Australia and New Zealand in the supermarket. There are plenty of good restaurants at reasonable prices.