Mauritius attracts more South African holidaymakers than almost any other destination in the world. In fact, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents has just named this Indian Ocean island the second-most popular holiday destination for outbound travel from South Africa.
The variety of resorts on the island and value-for-money options make the island famous, says Luandre Krause, Team Leader at Flight Centre Pinelands. “In Mauritius, you can enjoy a tropical island holiday, without having to travel across the globe or endure the costs of applying for a visa.”
Cedric Frank, Team Leader at Flight Centre Cavendish Square, says the store receives approximately 20 queries a month for Mauritius, equal to major European and Far East holiday destinations.
“While Mauritius resorts remain a popular option for South African families, there is a great deal more to do on the island. It’s an all-rounder destination appealing to different interests, as our Flight Centre consultants have discovered first-hand,” says Nicky Potgieter, Leisure Marketing Leader.
From pyramids to lush hiking trails, here are some unusual Mauritius experiences to add to your itinerary:
It’s not only Egypt that has pyramids
Pyramids in Mauritius? That’s right. There is much debate about the origin and significance of seven small monuments that appear on the South side of the island, on a flat plain known as Plaine Magnien.
The structures are similar to pyramid structures found on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and the island of Tenerife off the western coast of Africa – islands that, like Mauritius, have volcanic origins.
Take a hike
Consider climbing up the Le Morne peak, take a leisurely walk through the Black River Gorges National Park or summit Le Pouce and Black River Peak for unforgettable views.
With its highest point reaching 490 metres, Le Morne is not too demanding physically, and the six-kilometre round-trip will last roughly three or four hours. Try to embark on the hike in the early hours of the morning when the sun is more forgiving and also, do not attempt the hike on rainy days: the trail is extremely slippery, and the clouds won’t let you appreciate the views.
At 812m, Le Pouce or ‘The Thumb’, so named because of its thumb-shaped peak, is the third highest mountain in Mauritius. The mountain’s relatively central location on an island that’s only 45 kilometres wide and 65 kilometres long means you can see much of the island from the summit and its slopes. A hike of 4.3 kilometres will take approximately two to three hours.
The Black River peak (Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire) is part of the Black River range and is the highest mountain in Mauritius at 828 metres. Hikers can choose different routes to the top. The easiest is via Plaine Champagne as you will start at an altitude of about 678 metres and therefore only need to go up the remaining 150 metres. The hike to the top is approximately 3.5 kilometres. You can also start lower via the trail of Plateau in Chamarel but it is more of a climb, even if not too difficult. The elevation at the start is about 250 metres and the distance to the top about 5.2 kilometres. The trail of Grand Piton in the Black River Gorges is the hardest and longest way up. The elevation at the start is around 100 metres and the distance to the top 5.5 kilometres.
For the thrill-seeker, there are several zip-lines on the island, at varying heights. Flight Centre experts’ favourite is the Chamouny Zip Line in Riviére des Galets.
Cosy up under the sun or plan a day trip to soak up more of the island’s unique heritage.
Plan a day tour to the Chamarel Rummery for some rum tasting, or visit the island’s tea factory to sample some delicious teas over lunch. There are also Hindu temples to discover around the island, while Mauritius is home to one of the oldest horse racecourses in the southern hemisphere.
The island’s man-made forest offers impressive views of the valley, or there is shopping at the Grand Bazaar, quad biking for families and trips to the Seven Coloured Earth. Grand Baie is best for nightlife, sunset cruises and day-time markets.
Solo travellers can enjoy all the island has to offer, with organised parasailing, diving, kayaking, sea scooting and dolphin encounters.
Go ‘glamping’ in Mauritius
In Otentic, the island’s first and only tented eco-lodge, the Otentic Eco Tent Experience, rests on the slopes of Grande Riviére.
There is a choice of river and mountain experiences, with accommodation in comfortable safari tents.
Otentic is also the starting point for many hiking and mountain biking trails. Kitesurfing, sea and river kayaking, kayak-rafting, SUP (stand-up paddle) and snorkelling trips are also available.
Mauritius is a world-class luxury destination and is a front-runner for wellbeing experiences in the region.
From yoga and tai chi to hiking and sophrology, there are plenty of opportunities to relax.
Seven Colours Wellness Experiences are available at three different locations in Mauritius: Heritage Le Telfair, Heritage Awali and the Veranda Resorts using the power of colour and chromotherapy lights, vibrational music, aroma-therapeutic fragrances, energised water and healing hands to stimulate the senses.
With so many resorts and activity options, it is worth speaking to someone who has experienced all of these highlights and more at your local Flight Centre store.
7 travel tips from Flight Centre Mauritius experts
- Always pack SPF50 sunscreen and a proper sunhat.
- Take your snorkelling gear.
- Opt for a catamaran instead of a speedboat tour. Catamarans have a net at the bow where you can relax.
- Parasailing is an extraordinary experience offering spectacular views.
- Pack your metal straw. Indian Ocean islands are increasingly sensitive about single-use plastic straws and bans are already being applied on many islands.
- Opt for an all-inclusive package. You will save in the long run, and it ensures excellent value for money.
- Explore the outer island. Your resort may be what you paid for, but this added experience is priceless.