Famous for its pristine beaches, dazzling natural beauty and a very vibrant capital, Mauritius is a hidden African jewel in the heart of the Southern Hemisphere. Far from the chaotic madness of the world, this peaceful island country is home to panoramic landscapes, an unusual history and offers a plethora of activities for nature lovers, honeymoon backpackers, adventure seekers and gypsy souls. With a population of just 1.256 million, the country is a unique blend of Indian, French and African cultures. On planning the visit, I thought Mauritius would just be like any other island nation with seafood and beaches in abundance but turns out it is much more than the cliché. The country is quite culturally rich and takes pride in its values and religions, hence you see the many temples and remote churches on almost every nook and corner. Mauritius is diverse and tolerant thanks to the many ethnicities and nationalities that exist here. The visit, nonetheless, is a soul-searching experience that leaves you with ever-lasting memories.
Here are my top five favourite attractions from the island country!
Pay a visit to the sacred lake that is home to some of the most esteemed temples in Hinduism housed ‘in the crater of an extinct volcano.’ Many devotees come here to meditate and pray and are welcomed by the massive statues of Lord Shiva and goddess Shakti. The place has been visited by many heads of states and remains one of the most serene and exquisite spots in the foothills of the Mauritian mountains, a must on your itinerary! The sounds of temple bells mingled with the smells of incense sticks in the middle of the lake take you on a spiritual retreat.
Black River Gorges
Experience the rainforest life and go on an ultimate hiking adventure at the Black River Gorges, spread across the 2% area of the country. Visitors here feed the monkeys, watch the wildlife and relish nature - there are approximately more than 700 species of plant. Where it mostly rains on the peaks and gets super cloudy in the darker hours, the views from the top overlooking the rest of the island are particularly spectacular. The many roaring waterfalls and green fields give visitors a perfect opportunity to connect with mother nature and the wilder side of the island.
Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths
In the middle of the jungle, somewhere in the island’s South, lies the spectacular Seven Cloured Earths - one of the most visited attractions in Mauritius. The unique composition of sand and minerals decomposited from the molten volcanic lava is a real, natural wonder glowing in seven distinct colours - as the name rightly suggests! A few kilometers away are the Chamarel waterfalls surrounded by lust, green vegetation. Both the attractions can be seen together on a single visit due to their close proximity.
Being the capital of the country, Port Louis is the central hub for all the commercial and business activities with a very contemporary waterfront shopping and entertainment complex, featuring plenty of cafes, restaurants and hotels. Port Louis’s central markets with local food are evidently famous among the locals and tourists alike. The waterfront shares resemblance with Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour to some degree and is ideal for a stay if you prefer to live in the city centre.
Île aux Cerfs
Hop on to a boat and make it to the Deer Island in the heart of Mauritius to explore some of the world’s breathtaking beaches and enjoy water sports. The speed boat rides are particularly famous since they cover pretty much all of the isle and take you to a massive waterfall and the nearby beach restaurants. Mauritian sunsets are particularly exotic and there isn’t a better way to witness them than the beach itself with rugged hills in the backdrop. Whether it’s the much acclaimed turquoise waters or an insight into its rich, colonial past, the very calm and exquisite Mauritius has something for everyone. The country is a must-see destination with tonnes of beauty, history and culture in the middle of the Indian Ocean.