Most people head to the tropical island of Mauritius to bathe in its crystal-clear waters and soak up the sunshine on its white, sandy beaches. However, if you fancy seeing more of the isle’s unique wildlife, there are plenty of other things you can do here besides hitting the beach.
What there is to see
Before you book your holiday to visit Mauritius’s nature reserves, it is a good idea to understand why the island has such an abundance of exotic flora and fauna. It is situated 2,000 km from the coast of Africa in the middle of the Indian Ocean, which means that the flowers and wildlife here are often unique to the island, while natural habitats have been preserved to protect them.
It is home to 700 species of indigenous plants, in addition to native animals, including the famous pink pigeon. If you are lucky enough to see the bird, be sure to have your camera at the ready to record this sighting. Horticultural enthusiasts will love taking a look at the variety of plants here – most of which they won’t have seen before!
Tea plantations can also be found here, so if you’re keen on learning more about the island’s produce, you will have the chance to see how it is grown and cultivated. Its warm and wet climate – not dropping below 18 degrees C in the winter – mean its soil is ideal for vegetables, plants and spices so expect to see a lot growing when you come here. This will give you a good idea of what you’re tucking into when you dine out during your holiday.
Go hiking in Mauritius’s national park
Mauritius is home to one national park, but as it covers 3.5 per cent of the entire island at 6,574 hectares, you won’t tire of exploring it. The Black River Gorges National Park is home to a variety of landscapes, from dense, thick forests to gushing waterfalls, so no matter where you decide to hike, you’ll enjoy spectacular views.
If you want to stretch your legs, there are several hiking paths in the park. With so much to see, you may wish to drive through it and cover as much distance as possible, or hire a guide who can show you some of the 300 species of flowering plants here, as well as point out nearby wildlife nearby.
You may encounter some of Mauritius’s unique animals as well on a trek, including a few of the nine species of bird indigenous to the island, such as the pink pigeon. Expect to hear the sounds of monkeys swinging through the trees; you can even get a good look at the creatures, although it is wise to keep still as they will quickly scramble up the branches or jump on to the next tree if they hear unfamiliar noises.
Visit the Casela bird park
Another destination that you may wish to take in is Casela, a bird park that covers more than 25 hectares in the centre of the island. This is a must-visit destination for bird lovers, as there are over 140 species from around the world that call it home.
You will also be able to see some other creatures at the reserve, including tigers, deer, monkeys and tortoises. Mauritius’s beautiful orchid plants are also on display here.