A Bird’s Eye View of Paradise
If you have ever dreamt of Mauritius, you have probably imagined it at sea level – or, more precisely, at the beach. Or maybe even deeper as the island in the midst of the Indian Ocean is especially known for its ideal diving and snorkelling spots. But it is also worth looking at the island from a different perspective: Far away from the beaches, high up in the hillside villages and from the peaks, you will discover the beauty of this pearl in the South Sea. As Mark Twain so aptly put it back in 1896: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” And you will only really understand what he was meant by these words once you have seen Mauritius from above.
Hike to the Landmark
At 556 metres, the peak of Morne Brabant in the south-west of Mauritius is the island’s most popular landmark. If you take on the 3.5-kilometre walk up to the cross at its peak, you are sure to be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime view. The ocean sparkles in more tints of blue than you can ever imagine, light turquoise near the sandbanks, and becoming darker in the distance. Take part in a guided hike nearby or simply explore the mountain on your own. As you set out along the path, you can enjoy the shade of the trees in the forest, but there is less and less shade the higher you go. Be sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, and sufficient water to drink.
The Last Rainforests
You will find it a little cooler in the Black River Gorges National Park, whose hilly landscapes are home to the island’s last remaining larger area of rainforest. A network of trails weaves its way through the park and to higher altitudes: the Black River Peak Trail, for example, is a 9-km-long trail that takes you up to the highest peak in Mauritius at 830 metres. But even the shorter trails like the Bel Ombre Trail offer frequent vantage points of the island’s lush vegetation and the densely forested gorges. Entry to the national park is free of charge and maps showing the trails are available at both the Visitor Centre and Information Centre.
A Natural Spectacle from the Air
For those who would like to enjoy the spectacular views without breaking a sweat, there is another more exclusive option: a helicopter ride high above Mauritius. This brings you as close as possible to the natural phenomenon of the so-called underwater waterfall. At this point in the ocean, masses of water seem to plunge into the depths, and the light blue sea becomes a dark hole. This optical illusion is created by strong currents that draw the light sand off Le Morne into deeper regions of the ocean – in fact, it is sand that is falling rather than water. The only way to see this phenomenon is from the sky on a clear day.
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