West - South West (Mauritius)

West - South West (Mauritius)

Things to do - general

Off Tamarin Bay or Flic en Flac, heading in the direction of Île aux Benitiers, you can see the dolphins that come to these waters to rest and breed. The Morne Mountain, with its historical links to slavery, can also be found in this region –as well as some fine hotels known for their wide choice of watersports.

Slightly inland, in the hills around Chamarel, is the rum distillery that bears the name of the village. Here, you can learn about rum production and taste some of the delightful produce.

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Culture & history

9th Century
Arabs discovered Mauritius.


16th Century
The Portuguese visited Mauritius.


1598
The Dutch who were the first to colonise Mauritius, named it after their ruler, Prince Maurice Van Nassau. Ebony forests were destroyed by overexploitation and the dodo was exterminated. It later became the symbol of endangered animal species and conservation worldwide.



1710
The Dutch left Mauritius.


1715
The French took possession of the island and re-named it ‘Île de France’.


1721
Governor Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais founded Port Louis, which later became the capital. He turned the island into a prosperous French colony and a port of call on the sea journey from Europe to the Far-East round the Cape of Good Hope. He established Port Louis as a naval base and built roads and bridges. Among his other achievements are the building of the Government House, the Line Barracks, and Château de Mon Plaisir at Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens. Nowadays, Labourdonnais’ statue stands guard, facing Port Louis harbour.



1810
A major naval battle took place in Grand Port on the south-east coast of the island in this year. It was the only naval battle won by Napoleon, and is thus duly engraved on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, three months later, the British launched a surprise attack from the north of the island and the French governor General Charles Decaen surrendered.


1814
The 1814 Treaty of Paris ratified the cession of Mauritius and its dependencies, Rodrigues and Seychelles, to the British. Réunion Island, which was also captured by the British, was returned to France. The island took its former name of Mauritius, and English became the official language. However, according to the Treaty of Paris, the population was to keep its language, its religion and its laws. This is the reason why French is still widely spoken, despite the fact that the British ruled the island for 158 years.


1835
The British Abolished Slavery. As the newly freed slaves refused to work in the plantations, indentured labourers were brought in from India. Chinese and Muslim traders were also attracted to these shores – hence the melting pot which now constitutes the population of Mauritius.



1968
Mauritius gained its independence. Sir Seewosagur Ramgoolam became the first Prime Minister. Mauritius still forms part of the British Commonwealth and follows the Westminster pattern of Government.


1992
Mauritius became a Republic.


Geography

Located off the South West coast of the Indian Ocean, at approximately 230 km from Reunion Island and 860 km from Madagascar, Mauritius has a surface area of 1872 square kilometers with a central plateau rising at 600 metres above sea level and 330 km of coastline.
Of volcanic origin, Mauritius is the second largest island of the Mascareignes Archipelago.



Sheltered from the open sea by the world’s third largest coral reed, Mauritius offers natural, secured, crystal clear lagoons and golden sandy beaches.




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Sports

Le Morne


In centuries past, the fissures of the eponymous basaltic rock that towers 556 metres above the Le Morne peninsula were famously used as a refuge by runaway slaves. Today, people come to Le Morne not only to witness the iconic rock – now listed as a World Heritage Site on account of its chequered past – but also to take advantage of the immaculate three-mile beach that stretches beneath it.



Other beaches


Enjoy magnificent sunsets or a dip in the calm, clear lagoon that surrounds Flic en Flac. Those looking for a more dramatic seascape should head for Tamarin or Le Morne further south.



Deep Sea Fishing


This exhilarating sport can be undertaken between November and April. The main species that can be found in Mauritian waters are blue and black marlins, sharks, tuna and bonito. Fishing boats can be hired from most hotels and resorts. A number of deep-sea fishing competitions have become regular events over recent years. The most prestigious of these is the Marlin World Cup, which takes place every December. The main fishing centres are around Rivière Noire, Le Morne, Flic en Flac, Trou aux Biches and Grand Baie.



Kite-Surfing


Mauritius is now renowned among kite-surfing enthusiasts for its quality and variety of kite-surfing locations. Arguably, one of the very best places to do a spot of kite-surfing is Le Morne on the west coast, which is renowned for its blustery shoreline.



Surfing


Tamarin is the surf centre of Mauritius, and benefits from a high-quality surf school that will help beginners grasp the basics of this challenging sport.


Tourist places

Black River Gorges National Park


One of the main ‘green’ attractions is the Black River Gorges National Park, which extends over 16,680 acres and provides a haven to highly endangered native plants and animals. It plays home to around 311 species of native and endemic flowering plants and nine species of birds that can only be found in Mauritius.



Chamarel Couloured Earths


No one can categorically state why these undulating, dune-like knolls vary so wildly in colour. Some say the seven shades of earth were formed from volcanic ash deposits that cooled at different temperatures. Others believe that the colours of the mounds can be attributed to the differing quantity of metal oxide they each contain.



However people choose to interpret them, the Coloured Earths at Chamarel – just west of the Black River Gorges – are worth investigating. Note that they are especially breathtaking first thing in the morning, when the sun is at its brightest and the colours at their deepest.



Salt pans, Tamarin


Owing to the exceptionally high level of sunshine over the district, Tamarin has become the heart of salt production in Mauritius. The Salt Pans make an interesting diversion if you happen to be in the area.



Martello Tower, La Preuneuse


The Martello Tower at La Preuneuse was built by the British between 1810 and 1846 to protect them against their sworn enemy, the French navy. Since being restored in 1999, the tower is now accessible for guided tours.



Casela Park
Located a few miles inland from Flic en Flac, Casela provides a fantastic zoological day out for the entire family. If the younger kids tire of the menagerie – including tigers, monkeys, giant tortoises and 140 species of bird – they can always take a unique ‘walk with the lions’, try their hand in the fishing competition, play a hole on the crazy golf course, or enjoy the thrill of a mini quad-bike tour.



The park has also recently introduced a new zip-line course to its burgeoning collection of child-friendly activities, as well as segways for the over-12s and two-seater buggies for those over 16.


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