MAURITIUS TRAVEL DOCUMENTARY | Indian Ocean Treasure Chest
Mauritius From bewitching coral reefs to prominently-shaped mountain peaks, dreamy honeymoon resorts to an exceptional wildlife Mauritius is an Indian Ocean treasure chest. Follow us on our journey, as we experience the multifacetedness of this tropical island nation. This travel documentary was produced in collaboration with Beachcomber Resorts And supported by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Agency. Located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is an island nation sitting roughly 2000 km east of the African mainland. Together with La Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius forms the Mascarenes a group of islands that are linked by their common volcanic origin and distinct flora and fauna. Our journey through Mauritius started by picking up our rental car at the airport.
As soon as we had loaded our luggage, we started to head northeast. Moments later, we rejoiced upon being welcomed by rows of palm trees along the highway. Passing through the busy streets of Mahébourg proved to be our initiation rite to the unpredictability of Mauritian traffic. Just north of town, we visited the site of the 1598 Dutch landfall, which eventually led to the first human settlement of Mauritius.
Upon their arrival, the Dutch found a mostly pristine island that had only been visited by Arab and Portuguese traders in the past. It wasn’t long, of course, until humans started to wreak havoc on the fragile ecosystem in many cases unintentionally. Importing South East Asian macaques as pets, an alien species was introduced to the island. All of a sudden, the local wildlife found themselves facing a formidable enemy. Macaques are very adept at raiding bird nests as well as feasting on fruits, flowers and seedlings, which deprives the native animals of their food source.
The only way to protect the precious endemic species is to reduce the number of macaques drastically. Continuing northwards along the coast, we soon came upon our first beach. Needless to say, we did not shy away from exploring the sandy trails with our 4x4. Large parts of Mauritius are surrounded by a reef, which makes the coastal waters appear in a mesmerizing turquoise color. Additionally, remains of dark basalt rock hint at the volcanic formation of the island. Carrying on, we paid a quick visit to a Hindu temple that sits on a small island, before continuing towards Bras D'Eau National Park.
As one of three national parks in Mauritius, Bras D’Eau allows visitors to gain an impression of how the island looked before the arrival of humans. Taking a walking trail, we strolled through the shaded forest and listened to the melodic singing of the birds. Having driven roughly 100 km along the eastern coastline, we arrived at Cap Malheureux. From there, a wonderful view onto several smaller islands opened up, including the nature reserve of Round Island in the distance. Furthermore, a picturesque Catholic Church can be found just above the beach.
Following one more stop along the beautiful Mont Choisy public beach, which is very popular among sun-seekers, it was time to head towards our accommodation for the next nights. Arriving in the lush gardens of Trou aux Biches Beachcomber, we were immediately struck by the natural elegance of the resort. As one of currently eight Beachcomber hotels, the 5* resort is part of the oldest hotel chain in the country. Because the resorts are conveniently located around the island, they are ideal for those wanting to experience different sides of Mauritius.
First things first, we got a thorough introduction to the grounds. Next up, we hopped on a beach buggy and headed directly to our room. You have the privilege to open the door Which I need the card for Upon entering, we found ourselves in a spacious Junior Suite that beckons visitors to wind down. Our favorite aspect though was the direct access to the enchanting garden.
All around us, birds were singing - a wonderful sound we would wake up to each morning. Keen to see more of the resort, we didn’t waste any time and promptly headed out again. We began our exploration by wandering through the gardens as the many interesting plants, fruits and flowers captured our interest. Before long, we came upon the large swimming pool which is the centerpiece of the resort.
Surrounded by numerous palm trees, this was a marvelous place to relax. Strolling along the promenade, we also threw a glance at the sandy beach. Similar to other parts of Mauritius, the area close to the shoreline is protected by a fringing reef.
Geologically speaking, the fringing reefs of Mauritius are rather young, dating back roughly 5000 years. As they slowly formed, these reefs created lagoons which provide fish and other aquatic animals with a protected coral habitat. Impatient to explore the wonders of this aquatic realm, we packed our fins and headed to the beach. As soon as we dipped our heads below the surface, we noticed that the water was rather murky. This is due to sediments being swept up by the waves.
Swimming further out, the water quickly became clearer and we soon spotted many corals and fish. Some, such as the dusky farmerfish, were particularly curious and frequently investigated our camera. Others, such as this black spotted puffer fish, were content with relaxing on the ocean floor.
A little later, we discovered a geometric moray, which looked somewhat threatening. Adorned with striking zebra stripes, the Indian Ocean humbug was one of the most common fish in the lagoon. Even more beautiful, however, was this Moorish Idol with its large dorsal fin.
Just as we were about to head back to shore, we swam right into a swarm of striped large-eye bream. During the day, these fish often congregate in large groups whereas during the night, they mostly feed alone. Of course, other than snorkeling, the lagoon can be experienced in myriad ways.
Back on firm ground, we continued to explore the gardens. Among the many beautiful birds we spotted, one, in particular, caught our attention. Biologically speaking, the Village Weaver is an exotic bird as its not endemic to Mauritius.
The original habitat of the bird is Sub-Saharan Africa, where it can be found in open and semi-open woodlands. As the Village Weaver is an extremely gregarious species, they can often be found roosting in large groups that communicate noisily throughout the day. This is especially true during the breeding season when males vie vociferously for the attention of females. Most striking about village weavers are their suspended nests which are often skillfully woven onto strands of palm leaves.
It is the responsibility of the male bird to weave the nest out of grass and leaf strips. Creating this spherical structure with a downward-facing entrance requires hundreds of leaf strips. which are transported one after the other.
If a nest isn’t built well, or if no female shows any interest in it, male village weavers will often destroy them. Naturally, the village weaver is not the only exotic bird species that has found its way to Mauritius. Other examples include the red fody, which is native of Madagascar as well as the red-whiskered Bulbul, which was introduced from Asia. A truly endemic species, on the other hand, is the Mauritian Flying Fox. In the past, this fruit bat was the largest mammal on the island with adults reaching a wingspan of up to 80 cm. Flying Foxes play a pivotal role in the health of their ecosystem as they act as pollinators and seed dispersers.
Many native plant seeds are much more likely to germinate once they have passed through the digestive system of a flying fox. During the day, flying foxes roost in large colonies, hanging upside down from the branches of tall trees. Once the sun is about to set, they wake each other in a raucous manner, before heading out to search for fruits.
One of their favorite trees to roost in are the enormous banyan figs. These staggering plants can reach a height of up to 30 meters while their sideways growth is nearly unlimited. The reason for that is their ability to produce propagating aerial roots that grow downwards like lianas. As soon as these touch the ground, they take root and grow into supportive trunks themselves, continuously widening the girth of the tree. With the day drawing to an end, we made our way to the bar, where we soon enjoyed wonderful cocktail creations. In the meantime, the clouds created a spectacular sunset scenery, before the fiery ball dipped into the ocean.
Our evening was far from over though. Sitting down in one of the several restaurants of the resort, we now came to enjoy a variety of tasty dishes for dinner. The next morning, we took things slowly and started our day by visiting the soothing Spa. This was our first professional massage in several years and I think we really missed out there because this massage was utterly rejuvenating and now we are taking things slow, just relaxing in this beautiful area here before we will continue with our day Once we woke up from our reverie, we headed to the kitchen to learn more about the Mauritian cuisine. Our culture is very unique, like I said in terms of culinary sense because, we say, that we have Muslim Malagasy, South Indian Middle Indian, we have a French touch we have English touch so it's a very diverse cuisine One of the culinary influences that Mauritians are inspired by is the Thai cuisine. Taking the traditional dish of Pad Thai, we watched as the chefs used local Mauritian ingredients to add their own spin to it.
However, we most enjoyed actually eating the delicious meal right after. Eager to experience something we had never done before, we also paid a visit to the diving center. As soon as we had gathered all our gear, we headed to the swimming pool. We tracked you guys down on YouTube and then I was like oh shit, I already watches this video oh did you? yeah, I watched the Maldives video A couple of things We have some basic rules foundational rules that we always have to follow It's please follow me not the fish that will be the toughest one to follow there are lots of fish and they are much faster than you so we will stay behind and we will follow them nice and slow except there is a turtle then I cannot promise anything exceptions apply then, next, just a consideration not really a rule is our communication currently, we are communicating quite easily under water we cannot communicate the same way so we use hand signs and signals this is a question and an answer so if I ask you: are you ok? you respond: I am ok! remember: this doesn't mean ok this means up, and this means down so if I ask you this, and you show me this I will laugh at you because I know you don't want to go up so I will ask you again: are you ok and you respond with I am ok Like I said, this means up, this means down If I show you this, it means slow down If I show you this, it means breathe Having gone over the basic theory of scuba diving, it was time to head into the pool for a practical training session. At first, we learned some important skills, such as how to retrieve a lost mouthpiece underwater Following that, we also familiarized ourselves with the rest of the gear, trying our best to float somewhat steadily. The best part of our diving initiation was yet to come though.
After having hopped on a boat, we gained a wonderful seaside view of the resort, before heading further out to sea. Once we had reached the outer reef, we put on our scuba gear and prepared to hop in. Of course, our diving instructor showed us how it is done properly. Entirely failing to imitate him, we instead opted to ungracefully plop into the water.
Going down meter by meter, we slowly attempted to equalize our ears. But we soon had our first major learning. Having had a cold just the week prior, Anna’s ears simply wouldn’t pop, so she had to head back to the boat as ignoring the pain can quickly lead to a ruptured eardrum. My second learning was, that GoPro buttons refuse to work when 5 meters below the surface. Luckily, our diving instructor had brought his phone, which I immediately snatched from him. For the next 25 minutes, we explored the miraculous underwater world, floating weightlessly through this aquatic space, feeling both alien and at home.
Eventually, it was time to slowly head back to the surface again. As soon as I stepped on the boat, the feeling of weightlessness was gone because gravity kindly reminded me of the scuba gear's weight. Feeling a little peckish, we went out to eat something, watching our food get prepared in front of our eyes.
Later on, we were also introduced to the world of Mauritian rum. For decades, the main export commodity of Mauritius has been sugar cane. A by-product of sugar cane cultivation called molasses is used for the production of rum, which explains why Mauritian rum has become a popular alcoholic beverage. Even though we’d have loved to stay another week, it was time for us to take our goodbyes from the wonderful Trou aux Biches. The really cool thing about Mauritius is that the island offers more than palm trees and picture-perfect beaches but that there also a couple of small mountains and if you are inclined to do so you can hike up to the summit of a couple of them and that is exactly what I am just doing heading to the summit of Le Pouce a mountain close to the capital of Port Louis Initially, the trail lead through a shaded forest, but it didn’t take long before I found myself on a rocky section hiking up the side of the mountain.
Regularly catching my breath, I turned around to admire the view. Drawing close to the summit, there were even some short climbing sections. Shortly after, I arrived at the highest point, enjoying a wide panorama of the surrounding landscape. Gazing west, I looked upon Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius which is home to roughly 150,000 inhabitants. As the largest city in the country, it is also the main cultural and economic hub.
However, aside from Port Louis, Mauritius is generally densely populated with countless villages and cities spread around the island. As a result, traffic can be intense. Hitting the road in Mauritius can be a lot of fun but only if you are into adrenaline-inducing activities because the entire process feels like a video game and it seems that the main tasks are to swerve around as many parked cars as possible and to avoid getting hit by any of the many oncoming busses so, a bit of a challenge here Driving around Mauritius, we couldn’t fail to notice that the island suffers from a major trash problem. Regularly, we would see the roadside being misused as a garbage dump, even in residential areas.
This is an important issue to tackle as the trash negatively impacts the local flora and fauna which Mauritians are rightly proud of. Driving straight through the center of the island, we crossed over from the west to the east coast. In the afternoon, we arrived at the Shandrani Beachcomber Resort, where we would stay for the next three nights. One beach buggy ride later, we walked into our room, which once more was very comfortable. Even better, being a Deluxe Ground Floor room, it provided us with direct access to the beach.
Of course, we didn’t waste any time and immediately set out to explore the grounds. It did not take us long to stumble upon the beautiful beaches that frame the resort on both sides. To our surprise, we woke up to the rhythmic patter of a tropical rainfall the next morning. Barely one hour later, all rain was forgotten again. Hopping on a boat, we soon found ourselves heading towards Île aux Aigrettes Île aux Aigrettes is a coral island of 27 acres and in 1965 the island was officially declared a nature reserve by the Government of Mauritius Since 1985, the island is under the management of Mauritian Wildlife Foundation It's an NGO that works specifically for the conservation of fauna and flora all around Mauritius Ecologically, Île aux Aigrettes is highly important as it preserves the last remnants of Mauritius Dry Coastal Forest.
After intense restoration work in recent decades, the local flora and fauna are slowly bouncing back. Home to many extremely rare species, the island is a window back in time to when Mauritius was less impacted by humans. One of the endangered endemic birds found on the island is the Mauritian Fody, a member of the weaver family. During the breeding season, the male’s head and chest turn a bright red color, making it easily identifiable. Another rare bird is the Mauritius olive white-eye. Since the arrival of rats and macaques in Mauritius, their numbers have dwindled drastically, as those predators will often raid their nests.
Additionally, the olive white-eye has evolved to feed on specific endemic flowers, which due to the growing agricultural sector are becoming equally rare. So, as you can see, there is a pink pigeon here and it is still critically endangered In 1990, there were only 9 pink pigeons left in Mauritius 8 males and one female Luckily, the female was always fertile and now we have around 500 pink pigeons around all of Mauritius but if you compare 500 pink pigeons to the ordinary one that is nothing, they are still in danger so that is why they need our help to protect their territory their forest, and also their population Here, we have approximately 30 of them and we always have to control the species the quantity, etc. If there is enough food for them because, as you can see, we have a lot of exotic birds here too its a competition on the island we always have to put some food as backup for the pink pigeon The pink pigeon is the only Mascarene pigeon that has not gone extinct, which is solely due to the dedicated work of conservationists. One bird, that will always come up when talking about Mauritius is the Dodo the Dodo was a large, flghtless bird that stood as tall as 1m And it was descended from pigeons that flew over from the African mainland and over time lost their natural fight or flight instinct which is an adaption called island tameness but that became a real problem as soon as humans arrived because with humans, there were cats monkeys, rats and dogs and with the Dodo not flying their numbers dwindled quickly within only a hundred years, the entire population of Dodos was wiped out the bird driven to extinction and today, the Dodo is only a memory And to quote Douglas Adams without them, the world is a poorer, darker and lonelier place Other species have been equally unlucky.
Neither the Mauritian giant skink nor the Mauritian owl have escaped extinction. Even more ecologically disastrous was the disappearance of Mauritius’ giant tortoises, Many endemic plants have evolved to germinate more successfully once they have passed through the digestive tract of a giant tortoise. To fill that ecological gap, conservationists introduced Aldabra giant tortoises from the Seychelles. Strictly speaking, these tortoises are also exotics. However, unlike other non-native species, they are actively helping to restore the ecosystem. We watched in utter fascination, as these pre-historic animals voraciously munched their way through the undergrowth, helping the island gain back some of its former splendor.
We left Île aux Aigrettes with big smiles, excited to have encountered such rare species, and feeling grateful for the tireless efforts of NGOs such as the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Back in our car, it was time to explore some bumpy backcountry trails. Soon after, we were surrounded by the boon and bane of Mauritius. Since the island was first settled, sugar cane has been a primary industry. For more than three centuries, large swaths of forest were cut down to cultivate this sought after commodity.
As a result, much of the native flora and fauna was lost. However, sugar cane also lead to prosperity which is a fundamental pillar of Mauritius’ multiethnic social stability. Leaving the plantations behind, we made our way towards the turbulent sea. Along this stretch of coastline, the volcanic origin of Mauritius was quite evident. The pitch-black cliffs provided an interesting contrast to the picture-perfect beaches found elsewhere.
The most spectacular sight, however, was this natural bridge. Over time, the violent surf has holed out the porous rock, creating an unusual passage over the churning waters. Continuing our journey, we stuck to the smallest trail possible, driving through a shaded forest. Before long, we were back on the asphalt, following the course of the southern coastline.
Of course, we regularly stopped to take in the ever-changing vistas. Sometime later, we found ourselves heading up a winding mountain road. Our destination was the Chamarel Waterfall.
With a height of 100 m, this is the highest single-drop waterfall in Mauritius. Just a stone’s throw away, one of the island’s most famous attractions can be found. The so-called Seven Colored Earths are an interesting geological formation made up of decomposed volcanic rock. With some imagination, the colors can be described as red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow. Truly fascinating is how the distinctly colored sands have settled in irregular layers, creating a surrealistic pattern. Turning east again, we soon passed through Black River Gorges Nationalpark.
The lush green rainforest is one of the last remaining primal forests of Mauritius. Many endangered species call this their home, highlighting the importance of protecting the landscape. Another conservation area is the Blue Bay Marine Park just off the shore of Shandrani. There are many ways to experience it, but the best view of the underwater landscape presents itself when snorkeling or diving.
72 different species of fish can be found here, alongside 38 kinds of coral and a wealth of other aquatic life. Among the many fascinating creatures, the blue spotted cornetfish was the most intriguing. Reaching an average length of 1 m, these slender predators are known to hunt smaller fish as well as crustaceans and squid.
Heading back to the jetty, we threw one last glance at the resort, before leaving towards the Southwest of the island. On our way, we came upon the crater lake Grand Basin, the largest Hindu pilgrimage site outside of India. Interestingly, Mauritius is the only African country where a majority of the population practices Hinduism. This is because after the abolition of slavery, the British brought many indentured laborers from India to the island. Holding onto their faith, numerous Hindu temples were built around Mauritius.
Many winding mountain roads later, we arrived at Dinarobin, the third Beachcomber resort we stayed at. This time, we moved into a cozy Junior Suite which offered all the amenities for a restful vacation. Furthermore, it came with a very nice view of the palm-lined garden.
Having settled in, we went on a tour around the resort. One of the first places we visited was the beehive, where the staff produces honey, which we came to enjoy every breakfast. Shortly after, we walked up to the main pool, which offered us a wonderful sight. The beach chairs turned out to be just as comfortable as they looked. Turning around, we spotted the most well-known peak of Mauritius. Sitting just below Le Morne, the location of the resort is one of its greatest attractions.
The mountain offers a staggering backdrop from whichever direction one looks. No less of a scenic delight was the wide sand beach. Adorned by countless palm trees, it perfectly captured the image of a tropical paradise.
Unsurprisingly, we spent a lot of time simply watching the palm leaves sway in the wind. With the sunset approaching, we witnessed a spectacular show as Le Morne was bathed in a soft golden light. One of the best ways to start a day at least in my opinion is by being completely drenched in sweat on an early morning hike and so that is exactly what I am doing today heading to the summit of Le Morne the most prominent peak here in the southwest of the island and it is a beautiful day so far At first, the trail was fairly wide, leading through a somewhat shaded forest. While the birds sang melodically, the mountain started to come into view. The truly challenging part of the hike was yet to come though. Climbing up a steep ravine, the trail soon required the use of all four limbs as well as a head for heights.
Countless heavy breaths later, I arrived at the summit cross. Interestingly, the place of the cross isn’t the highest point of the mountain. Because of its steeply rising cliffs, the true summit can only be accessed with climbing gear. Of course, that does not do the view any harm. From the elevated viewpoint, a mesmerizing panorama of the surrounding landscape opens up.
In the distance, I even spotted the mountains of the central highland. Gazing in the opposite direction, the marvelous lagoon dominated the scenery. Especially fascinating was seeing how the fringing reef clearly separates the lagoon from the outer ocean. Another reason to hike up here is to gaze onto the world-famous underwater waterfall.
This optical illusion is caused by sand and silt deposits running off into the ocean. Grantedly, it takes some imagination to spot a waterfall from this angle. A much better way to take in this natural spectacle is from the air, which is why we decided to go on a helicopter ride. Before jumping into our rotorcraft, some safety preparations were needed, as we’d be flying with an open door.
Once I had my safety harness on, we walked over to the chopper where we met our badass pilot. Less than one minute into the flight, we headed over the crystal clear water of the lagoon, dazzled by the mind-blowing view of the landscape. Moments later, we gained a bird’s eye view of our resort with Le Morne towering above it. But, of course, our main goal was to see the underwater waterfall.
Quickly approaching it, we were mesmerized by the incredible sight of the reef. However, as soon as the helicopter started to turn, the view got even better. Framed by the monumental Le Morne, the intensely turquoise waters of the lagoon composed a mind-boggling image. Without a doubt, this has to be one of the most astonishing sceneries on planet Earth. Doing 5 loops around the waterfall, we took in the captivating view from every conceivable angle.
Luckily, our aerial adventure was far from over. Flying around Le Morne, we set course for Black River Gorges National Park. Along the way, we spotted both the Seven Colored Earths as well as Chamarel Waterfall.
A few minutes later, the green valleys of the national park came into sight. Another highlight was flying over the cascading Tamarin Falls. Soon after, we were back over the spectacular coastline, slowly starting to approach the resort again. Even though we would have loved to stay up in the air for many more hours at some point, it was time to return to the helipad. Funnily, our landing approach led us straight through the golf course. Travel really writes the most incredible stories because we have just returned from our helicopter flight over southwestern Mauritius which, by the way, was mind-blowingly beautiful but, by utter coincidence the pilot we flew with today, was the same pilot we flew with over the Victoria Falls 4 years ago what a coincidence! We cannot wait to fly with you again, Lourinda See you next time! Needless to say, we also enjoyed our stay culinarily - be it at dinner, munching our way through a three-course meal - or when we ordered room-service breakfast.
But, all good things must come to an end, and so our time at this wonderful resort was eventually over. During the last 10 days, we had driven 600 km across the island, visited many interesting sights and stayed at three charming resorts. We are just on our way to the airport however, we are not yet leaving Mauritius because, aside from the main island which has the name Mauritius, the country of Mauritius actually consists of two major islands and the second one is called Rodrigues, or Rodrigues Island and that is exactly where we are heading right now A couple hours later, we boarded a small propeller plane and soon were on our way to Rodrigues.
After roughly one hour flight time, we had touched down again. Taking a taxi, we embarked on the main road, driving from one end of the island to the other. The last thing to do that day was checking into our room.
The hotel we were staying at was much less garden-like than before, but the seaside views were beautiful. Situated in the captivating Baie de l’est, the hotel provided us with direct access to the beach and the glistening turquoise water. Similar to Mauritius, Rodrigues is entirely surrounded by a reef, resulting in the creation of bewitching lagoons. To explore the island, we decided to try out a different kind of transportation. Hopping on a swift-wheeled scooter, we soon explored the hilly roads with a mix of trepidation and exhilaration. Because Rodrigues is a rather small island, it didn’t take long before we arrived in the Saturday-busy capital of Port Mathurin.
Fully embracing the scooter spirit, we immediately started to overtake cars on all sides. Naturally, we wanted to explore as much of the countryside as possible, which meant that we were soon riding along the coastline. Gazing out onto the calming ocean, we understood why life on Rodrigues is much slower.
One of the highlights of our stay on Rodrigues, was the visit of Grand Montagne. Heading into the reserve, we were quickly surrounded by the forest. So, we lost our primary forest So, that is why, you see around Rodrigues it is very green, that's true but it is mainly invasives that is why we are creating here, in Grand Montagne to restore the forest like it was before so, little by little, we have to remove the exotics and then plant new seedlings, endemic ones so, it is a huge amount of work The most fascinating native tree for us was the screw pine. Their visually striking roots make the tree grow sideways leading to their nickname of walking tree. There are several subspecies of screw pine on Rodrigues.
One way to tell them apart is by looking at their pineapple-shaped fruits. Of course, we also came to see the local animals. Premiere among those were birds such as the Rodrigues Warbler as well as the Rodrigues Fody, both endemic to the island. While it is a close relative of the Mauritius Fody, which is a redhead, the Rodrigues Fody styles itself as a blonde. Aside from the actual birds, we also spotted the different nests they build - both of which are very intricate. Sadly, aside from many birds, Rodrigues also lost both species of native tortoise.
Just imagine, right here, thousands of tortoises it would be hard for us to walk I would die happily I would be like: come here but he (François Leguat) said, when he arrived here in 1691 that Rodrigues was the Garden Eden He was like in paradise Resorting to the same biological trick such as on Mauritius, Aldabra tortoises were brought to the island to help in the quest of restoring the original flora. Their valuable contribution lies in slooooowly feasting on the native fruits. Time, however, is barely a concern for them, as Aldabra tortoises can easily grow older than 150 years.
Whether young or old, these armored embodiments of a more gentle past love a good neck scratch. Watching these ancient animals go about their slow-paced business, we understood how island ecologies truly are fragile time capsules. In the age of men, neither Mauritius nor Rodrigues can be the pristine tropical gardens they once were.
The times of flightless birds and giant tortoises roaming around freely are sadly over. Therefore, it is all the more important that we protect what is left of these invaluable habitats for future generations. After passing through a forest resembling the original vegetation of Rodrigues, we finished our tour at a viewpoint that provided us with a sweeping panorama. Back on our scooter, we continued to explore the island along its winding roads. Again and again, we were spellbound when coming upon a view that seemed too good to be true. Not long after, the road started to deteriorate, which meant that our sightseeing quickly turned into pothole-avoiding.
Things got even more tricky, once we started to approach our next destination. Located below the coral plain of Southwestern Rodrigues, Caverne Patate is a natural cave that can be explored on a guided tour. Following a 700 m long trail from one end of the cave to the other, we spotted countless interesting rock formations.
The black colorations on many stalactites and stalagmites were caused by early cave explorers, who held their torches a little too close. Unlike many European caves, this one was not overly built out, which created much more of a darkness-fueled adventure feeling. Having visited many parts of the southern coastline, it was now time to explore the northern shore. Riding along the coast, we enjoyed the quaint seaside vistas as well as the large forests of mangroves. With the sun starting to set, we called it a day and headed back to the hotel.
As the next day would be our last on Rodrigues, we knew we had to hit the beach one last time. Naturally, that also meant saying hello to the marine life that calls these vibrant waters their home. It didn’t take long until we were in for a treat. Directly off the beach, we encountered a large sea snail on the prowl. Even though they may not look like it, these marine gastropods are impressive predators, hunting creatures such as starfish and molluscs.
Swimming further into the lagoon, we quickly came upon countless corals. Compared to everywhere else we ever snorkeled, the reef in Rodrigues was the most colorful. It was an immense delight, to explore this marine kingdom, all the while discovering as many differently shaped corals as possible.
One type of creature that was hard to miss, were the numerous lilac-colored sea urchins. But it was the fish that most captured our attention. Among these were familiar species such as the easily recognizable Moorish idol, which always stands out because of its shape and color.
But we also encountered many others, such as this white-spotted boxfish. However, our underwater highlight was coming upon a distant relative of Nemo. Similar to other clownfish, the Mauritian anemone fish is unaffected by the stinging tentacles of sea anemones.
This provides them with a naturally-sheltered nursery for their young. Staying as long in the water as we possibly could, we spent the remaining hours of our trip surrounded by scores of fish. Our journey through Mauritius was both relaxing and exhilarating, luxurious and surprising, entertaining and eye-opening.
From flying over the iconic Le Morne to exploring the depths of the sea, we gained countless new perspectives on this tropical island adventure. But, above all, we are really grateful to have experienced the hospitality of the Mauritian people. Alongside its natural wonders, they are the crown jewel of this Indian Ocean treasure chest.