New Year in Mauritius
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
As I mentioned before; Dubai’s not too far from many places, and over the New Year I took a six day break in Mauritius, staying in a resort within easy reach of Blue Bay Marine Park. Mauritius is of course a well known island nation situated in the Indian Ocean, about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) off the southeast coast of Africa. Archives show Arab traders visited from 975 AD, followed by the Portuguese between 1507 and 1513. Since then there’s been periods of succession and colonisation between the French, Dutch and British. The island gained independence in 1968 then became a republic in 1992. These days it’s famous for its beaches, lagoons, reefs, nature and recently a potential area for missing Boeing 777 debris.
What strikes me when I look at the map of Mauritius is its geographical isolation because it’s surrounded by the vast Indian Ocean that stretches for thousands of kilometers. Isolated islands like Mauritius tend to be great sanctuaries for some of the world’s strangest animals that have evolved in different ways from animals on main lands. Remember the famous Dodo, a now extinct resident of the island. Unfortunately for the Dodo, with no land predators it became flightless, so nesting on the ground proved a useless trait after humans arrived. Another example is the resident slow-moving giant tortoises which have luckily survived. During my six days there I did manage to see these amazing creatures and take photos. I was pretty keen to experiment with my new camera lens and used my polarising filter to capture the beautiful clear blue waters over the first two days.
On the third day, we took a speedboat ride through the Blue Bay Marine Park which is essentially an underwater park, home to many beautiful corals, fish and other underwater life. The destination that day was the beautiful Paradise Island where we had a rustic lobster char grilled on the beach for a silly price. The scenery was spectacular and on the way back we passed by Pointe D’Esny to see the infamous “
” ship wreck remains that jut out of the foaming seawater, the only visible remaining evidence of that fateful day in 1902 when it hit the reef.
Then on the fifth day, we hired a tiny car which managed to take us for a whistle stop tour of the Black River Gorges National Park. The National Park is the only one on the island and is made up of dense forest spread over 3.5% of the island’s surface where it’s home to over 300 plant species and nine species of birds, including another endangered species the famous Pink Pigeon. On the edge of the Park there are tea plantations and a 33 metre statue of Maha Shivaratree sacred to Mauritian Hindus. After exploring these we stopped for a wonderful lunch in the French tradition at the Rhumeri de Chamarel Distillery which is perched on a vast hillside overlooking a sugarcane plantation. The Distillery is still operational and its museum demonstrates the process of rum making. Next up was Chamarel’s famous seven coloured layered Earth, a unique geological formation, which despite the rain and only having an hour to go before closing time, photographed well capturing some of the yellows, reds, browns, violets, purples, greens and blues of the soil to a reasonable intensity. At six, it was time to head back to Blue Bay down the winding Baie du Cap – Chamarel Road which was spectacular and something like straight out of a movie scene. Along the way was Chamarel Waterfalls, an eighty-three metre high cascade of water surrounded by lush green, and a hilly landscape lined with sugarcane and pineapple plantations.
All in all I did get one or two really good photos but what did I photograph the most? Surprisingly, I kind of got transfixed on the Emirates Airbus A380 daily 16.10 flight and made sure I was down by the beach everyday to capture it as it launched itself off the runway not too far a distance from the resort. It’s an odd looking dolphin shaped plane with four engines, looks too heavy to leave the ground, but there’s something quite majestic about taking flight and conquering the seemingly impossible.
Would I return to Mauritius? Yes, yes and yes. It’s simply beautiful, breathtaking scenery, good food and very friendly people plus the fireworks on New Year’s Eve over Blue Bay were impressive. Next time though I really should probably spend less time on the planes.
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