When I found this fare, I realised that due to flight schedules, I could actually have an 8 hour stop in Mauritius…right in the middle of the day! I figured with a good driver, on a small island nation, I could see a lot. Everything worked out, and it was an amazing day!
We landed right on time in Mauritius at 8:45am, and by 9am I was out of immigration and customs with all my bags, and my driver had met me. I had booked the “Mauritius Private Southwest Tour” with Mauritius Attractions, and they met with with one of their drivers at the airport…and dropped me off back there about 6 or so hours later. It was a slick deal, and for 100 euros I had a driver and all entrance fees covered. For the efficient use of time, it was absolutely awesome!
Stop one was the Trou au Cerfs. This was approximately a 30 minute drive from the airport, and is a huge natural volcanic crater, 85m deep and 200m wide that was formed millions of years ago. It had a fantastic panoramic view of the crater as well as the town of Curepipe. Supposedly when the sky is clear it is possible to see all the way to Reunion Island, but I was unable to find it in the distance. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but you can see a bit of how deep it is.
From there, our next stop was the Casela Safari and Bird Park. I wasn’t thrilled to spend lots of time here, since most of the animals on display weren’t even native to Mauritius, but it was a nice 45 minute walk that let me stretch my legs after the long flight and get the blood flowing again. Plus, it’s not every day you can pet a giant turtle!
…and did you know that they’ve successfully cross-bred parrots and pheasants? Who knew!
…last but not least, only because it reminds me of one of my favourite Monty Python sketches….A TIGER! IN AFRICA!
After the park, we drove past a few vantage points, including views of the southwest coast from the town of Curepipe and the Alexandra Waterfalls:
Après ça we continued on to the Terre de Sept Couleurs – or Seven Coloured Earth. Due to mineral desposits, the dirt in this very small area takes on several different hues:
From there, our final stop was to be the Mangal Mahadev, a Hindu temple, and the statue of Shiva the Destroyer. The statue is 33 meters (108 feet) high, and is the highest known statue in all of Mauritius (and one of the 50 highest statues in the world). Other than the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, it’s definitely the largest religious statue I’ve ever seen, and quite impressive:
From there, I continued to the temple, and spend some time contemplating nature:
We still had a bit of time, and it was mid-afternoon, and I was starving (and more importantly, under caffeinated) not having eaten anything since the plane. The driver suggested a good place, and I was sold. Had a local beer (can’t be a country without a beer!), an amazing shrimp and chicken curry, and couple of double espressos. At nearly $40 it wasn’t cheap, but from what I understand, nothing in Mauritius is.
It was just past 2:30 at this point, and my flight departed at 4:25, so it was time to get back to the airport. For having just about 6 hours, I feel like I saw a ton of the country. I’d love to come back, see the northern parts and do some scuba. What impressed me the most was not only the natural beauty, but the amazing blend of cultures. It was Africa meets India, Hindu meets Muslim, East meets West….a true melting pot that was really awesome!