The gorgeous island country Mauritius through TheGlitz eyes…

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There’s something so gorgeous about the island country of Mauritius that makes me remember it over and over again. My first visit to this beautiful place was when I was hosted there to cover the Mauritius Cinema Week, after that my heart beckoned to it twice more. Cinema I loved, but I was also interested in exploring the natural side of this amazing island country, said to be nature’s bounty. Here, I list for TheGlitz the hidden, known and unknown features of Mauritius that caught my eye and I absolutely loved!

Nature Divine

Five-and-a-half hours away from Mumbai, I fly over the vast azure blue Indian Ocean to reach this tiny island, a mere dot on the map. Colonised by the Dutch, French and British, and named after the 16th century Dutch Prince Maurice Van Nassau, the tropical island of Mauritius nestled amidst the dancing ripples of the Indian Ocean, stands tall with its many hued craggy mountains and its strangely multi-hued earth, showcasing nature at its scenic best. There is immense greenery, exotic flowers, colourful rare birds, indigenous trees and wildlife here especially at the picturesque Grand Bay and its two beautiful beaches in the North – that’s where I smell the sea and chill out watching the frothy white surf leap playfully as I stroll through the silvery white sands and collected tec-tec or small white sea shells.

Les Vergers of Labourdonnais at Mapou with its wide variety of fragrant colourful rare flowers and tropical fruit trees is also a sight to behold. But of course, the gorgeous botanical garden better called Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam Botanical Garden is absolutely stunning. The entry is priced at 200 Mauritius Rupee for Non Mauritians, and this vast land reserved for the gardens is indeed beautiful – you must check out it out especially the exotic Victoria Amazonica lilies, fawns, turtles and indigenous trees.

Chateau de Labourdonnais

If you are a fan of the old world of yore, Mauritius’s majestic chalet houses will fascinate you. I visited the magnificent Chateau de Labourdonnais at Mapou and got a taste of how the rich in Mauritius lived in the 19th century. Inspired by Italian neo-classical architecture, the chateau stretches out to two tall levels. The magnificent chateau is built mainly from teak wood and has a double colonnaded gallery. The layout of the house was like the private mansions of the nineteenth century, with a central hallway leading to the dining room and the other exit, to the main lounge. The bedrooms are situated upstairs. The Chateau is encompassed by a vast green manicured garden, and looked totally awesome. The endemic plants, flora and fauna and sugarcane plantations around too will absolutely captivate you.

Sumita Chakraborty, Editor-in-chief, at Chameral village with its seven coloured earth.

Mauritius is not complete if one haven’t visited The Chamaral Waterfalls’, I am told! The Chamaral Waterfalls, a magnificent 272 feet waterfalls looks amazingly breath-taking. Close by, the charming Chameral village with its seven coloured earth is also a must visit. The strange hued earth is because of the volcanic activities that happened many years ago. This place also houses a wonderful souvenir shop where you can shop till you drop. I buy a dodo bird souvenir – after all, I am in Mauritius and the dodo though extinct is the National bird.

A drive away from Chamaral is the famous UNESCO site Le Morne Mountain which serves as a harsh reminder of the time when slavery was rampant in Mauritius. That’s where slaves set up hidden camps in caves etc, away from their prosecutors.

Sumita Chakraborty, Editor-in-chief, TheGlitz is at Le Suffren Hotel and Marina at Port Louis

Travelling though fun tends to get a little tiring. But I am put up at the extremely charming Le Suffren Hotel and Marina at Port Louis – a captivating hotel next to the Caudron waterfront with its own water taxi that ferry hotel guests to ‘n’ fro the Waterfront, and that for me, is a stress-buster. The Isle, I discover, is contrastingly uber modern with its amazing polished roads, topnotch shopping malls including the very popular Bagatelle Mall, top-of-the-line brands (FabIndia, Anita Dongre and Ritu Kumar seem to be hot faves) and stylish jetsetters.

Since I’m not too far, I visit Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, which is buzzing with activities. This quirky place houses wonderful hotels, the Caudon waterfront where you can spot boats and ships docked rather neatly, quant little buzzing hubs where you can spot the Indian, Chinese and Creole culture at its ethnic best. There are shopping malls and extremely colourful street shops where the rule of the day is to haggle as much as you can. Port Louis has an amazing vibe which is actually pretty infectious.

Surrounded by the sparkling turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a potpourri of French, Indian, Chinese and Creole cultures. No wonder, the mix of ethnicities have integrated magically into its culture, food and way of life. Though the language spoken here is predominately French and Creole, English and a smattering of Chinese, Hindi, Tamil and Bhojpuri is spoken too. The people are warm and friendly, and the weather warm and pleasant.

At Port Louis’ waterfront, street food is thriving. From dholl puri, exotic fruits, palm heart salads, curries perhaps reminiscent of Indian cuisine, the popular Creole rougaille (tomato stew), coconut cakes to even biryani – everything is super tasty. At the hotel of course, the food is more sophisticated and is reminiscent of the French culture. The Mauritius angle of course is the addition of chillies to every dish including a pot of fruits. However, their cuisine is not chilli hot and instead, it does have a sweet touch.

For people who are rum drinkers, there are rum factories galore. In fact, you must pick up a bottle of rum in Mauritius from The Rhumerie de Chamaral which is close by. You can visit it and see how rum is distilled… and guess what, they also have tasting sessions for you to sip on the fiery golden liquid.

The Nepalese Bridge

As for adventure, Mauritius is a place for adventure sports. From hiking to hard-core adventure tours on land and sea are available. For hiking, I pick the 6,574 hectare Black River Gorges National Park which incidentally happens to be the best hiking spot where you can spot wildlife through its indigenous forests. The clean crisp mountain air is invigorating and with a proper guide, hiking through the vast mountain is truly amazing. The sea surrounds this beautiful island so of course there are fabulous beaches and immense scope for water sports and scuba diving. Strangely enough, I am unable to try the water sports. The very interesting Cinema week schedule took up all my time and I had to give water sports a miss. But the La Vallée Des Couleurs Nature Park is where the adventurer in me peaked. I gingerly clambered over the mountain bike and practised but in my first bid, hit the sandbags edging the place. My guide decided I was an adventure menace so insisted on driving me through the precarious narrow mountain paths.

Up there, I meet a rather grumpy 120-year-old turtle and watch a deer gambol off into the wilderness. The Nepalese Bridge there is the longest (350 meters) in the Indian Ocean – and that I manage to cross albeit with shaking knees and a wildly thumping heart. After that I fly through the 3rd longest zipline in the world screaming my head off until I realise the scenery around me is too beautiful to ignore. La Vallée Des Couleurs Nature Park is definitely a must visit for all adrenalin junkies.

Mauritius is truly wonderful mix of adventure, romance, history, mouth-watering cuisines and more. So go ahead, put Mauritius on your bucket list, it’s indeed worth it!

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