Although well known for its beaches, there is more to Mauritius than being a summer destination. This country, widely off the coast of Africa with only Reunion and Madagascar for company, is filled with other options for the intrepid traveller. An off-the-beaten path destination, travellers will find Mauritius a refreshing experience due to the number of activities in this small yet fun country.
Mauritius shares a colonial past with the nearby islands and the African mainland. It was the Portuguese who found the island before its fellow imperialists, but it was the Dutch who settled here in the 17th century. The country went through development under the French rule, however. The British seized the island during the campaign in the Napoleonic War and went on to use it as a naval and air base during the World War II. Sometime later, the country gained its independence in 1968. Its relatively peaceful political climate sets it apart from other countries, which has propelled it to become one of Africa's leading economies.
What to see & do
Travellers exploring the merry island of Mauritius will find a variety of activities waiting. There are a variety of cultural destinations vying with nature sights, which offer alternatives to spending the day at the beach. Those going around in Port St Louis will need to stop by the Blue Penny Museum which exhibits the world's rarest stamps carefully preserved to last. Other than that, there are antique maps and various artefacts from different periods in the country's history. There’s also an interactive photograph exhibit where visitors can see the changes of Port St Louis through the years.
From there, one can go on a nature adventure at François Leguat Reserve. Tourists will see here a restoration of the region's damaged ecosystem which has a trove of plants introduced to a new environment. One can also find various tortoises roaming on the grounds, which one can stroke gently. There are also guided tours through the reserve's magnificent caves which can delight those who want to see interesting rock formations. Those who want to see more plants can make their way to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. It showcases a pond of giant Victoria amazonica water lilies imported from South America. Palm trees are regular sights in this green space, with other varieties of plants and perennials such as the marmalade box tree and the poison tree.
Hiking is another activity to enjoy in the island. The Black River Gorges National Park is a place to visit for its great views and walking trails amidst rolling hills. Birdwatching is also popular here for those who want to see the elusive Mauritius kestrels, echo parakeets, and pink pigeons. There are also more than 300 species of flowering plants here, which can make quite a beautiful sight when they bloom altogether. Once travellers finish going around the area, a trip to the Central Market can be arranged. It makes a good place to find souvenirs and get some produce for those who want some fruits, vegetables, and other goods.
How to get around Mauritius
Travellers will find it relatively easy to make their way from one area to another. Mauritius has a number of bus operators taking passengers to different points within the city limits. Long-distance trips via the buses are also possible. Tourists can also ride the taxis found at the airport, hotels, and bus stations. Fares are negotiable, however, so it is necessary to ask around about a reasonable price range before flagging down a taxi.
Driving is also a possible way to get around, but one has to keep caution when out on the road to prevent accidents. The orientation is on the left side, which tourists must keep in mind. Those looking to enjoy a unique kind of transport, on the other hand, can take a helicopter ride to view the island.
How to get there
Travellers going to Mauritius will probably land on Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. Airlines serving here are: Air Austral, Air France, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, Comair, Condor, Corsair International, Emirates, Meridiana, South African Airways, Thomson Airways, and Transaero.
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