Most visitors to Mauritius make a beeline for the beach, yet hidden away in the lush interior is a world that I think is even more stunning. At the risk of showing my age, the Chamarel Valley and Black River Gorges National Park in the south west of the island reminded me of Jurassic Park. The ancient forest foliage is alive with wildlife and waterfalls, and I half expected a dinosaur to come trundling down one of the jungle trails.
I spent a blissful couple of days exploring the area from Lakaz Chamarel, a tropical garden eco-lodge nestled beneath the iconic Chamarel mountains.
The suites were designed to echo the ethnic diversity of the island, with furnishings from Africa, India and even China. It was however the open air bathroom that did it for me. There’s nothing more rejuvenating than showering underneath a starry sky, or being visited by exotic birds as you wash the shampoo out of your eyes.
So what is there to do in the area?
Having a glimpse into this little lost world was a privilege I’ll never forget, and I now understand why Chamarel Waterfall is one of the top sights in Mauritius. Cascading 83 metres over the edge of a cliff into a steamy forest plunge pool, this surely has to be the perfect waterfall.
7 Coloured Earth
You don’t need to be a geologist to appreciate this bizarre but beautiful natural site, with its mesmerising layers of rainbow coloured sand glinting in the sun. The best way to understand the science behind the colours is to go and see it for yourself!
Black River Gorges National Park
There are several hiking trails in the national park. Some take in precipitous peaks whilst others focus on viewpoints and ice cream vans. Both have their merits. The intense heat doesn’t seem to abate with height, so make sure you take plenty of water, and keep an eye out for monkeys. They have a penchant for picnics!
Rhumerie de Chamarel
I’m not much of a drinker, but when there’s a tour involving rum then I’ll be the one at the front of the queue. Especially when the distillery in question is hidden away in a lush tropical valley. The tasting tour at the Rhumerie was great fun, helped in no small measure by the numerous samples we were allowed to try. It was fascinating as well as tasty. Did you know that rum is made from sugar cane?
If you really need to have your beach fix, it’s only a 15 minute drive to Le Morne and Baie du Cap. Just don’t forget your suncream!