The Mascareignes Archipel is made up of Mauritius, Reunion island and Rodrigues. It obtained its name after the dutch navigator Pero Mascarenhas who was one of the first europeans to indicate its existence at the begining of the 16th century. Mauritius, independent state, is situated at 890 KM east of Madagascar, between 19?50' and 20?32' of south latitude and 57?18' and 57?46' of East Longtitude. Reunion, french island, is 200 km south west and Rodridues, a dependence of Mauritius is 600 km to the East North East.
Of volcanic origin, these islands separated by sea pits of 4000 metres depth, have emerged from the abysses as a result of gigantic underwater volcanic eruptions that happened thousands of kilometres to the east of the continental block made up by Africa and Madagascar. Regarding the age of these different islands, it is known that Mauritius has started to emerge some 8 million years ago whereas Reunion emerged some 5 million years later. Even if the plateau under the lagoon of wide area surrounding Rodrigues may be much more ancient than the island, the island is only 1.5 million years old.
Regarding the topography of Mauritius, it has an area of 1860 Km2 and is made up of a central plateau gradually rising towards the south west where it reaches its highest point at 800 metres with the Piton de la Riviere Noire. This plateau is still surrounded with what is remaining from the primary crater in the form of a chain of mountains that are not very high (Moka, Corps de Garde, Pieter Both) and some isolated peaks (Piton du Milieu, Motte a Th?rese).
It was only in 1598 that Mauritius received its first inhabitants : a small colony of Dutch and their slaves of african origin. These Dutch, coming from the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, seemed to have had to face a succession of ordeals such as cyclones, food shortage, slave evasion, pirates visits and ship wreckage including the one of the Admiral Pieter Both who died in 1615 at the Tombeau Bay. The dutch left in 1710. During their occupation, they exploited excessively and destroyed the forests of ebony trees and exterminated the last of the Dodos.
It was as from the French occupation in 1715 that Mauritius became '?le de France, and started to develop and to have the aspect of a prosperous colony. The great creator of this colonial world was Bertrand Francois Mah? de Labourdonnais, who was appointed Governor for the Compagnie des Indes Orientales, that was given to the island. He created official buildings, warehouses, barracks, ship yards and also industries to promote the exploitation of the existing forests for construction wood and the production of sugar from sugar cane. He also re established order. From a wild and almost desert island, Labourdonnais made in a few years a thriving and productive colony and a french active port in the indian ocean. The two other great men of the French period of Mauritius were Pierre Poivre and the general Decaen.
After the blockade and the landing of a British troops superior in number than the French force of the General Decaen, the French capitulated in December 1810. From the Treaty of Paris of 1814, Mauritius and its dependencies became British, whereas Reunion even that it was captured, was given back to France. Mauritius became British and got back the name the Dutch gave her, but stayed quite close to France as she kept the language, culture and French laws.
Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions which our immigrant population brought from their ancestral countries. Their festivities are celebrated in a spirit of peace and harmony throughout the year.
Agra is one of the most important centers for handicrafts, made of marble and soft stone inlay work. Major handicraft products of Agra, besides inlay work are leatherwear, brassware, carpets, jeweler and embroidery work. The major languages spoken here are Hindi, Urdu and English.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated each year on a different date, owing to the differences between the lunar and the solar calendars. Houses are thoroughly cleaned before the festival. No knife or scissors are used on the actual day of the festival. Red, a symbol of happiness is the main colour of the day. Food offerings are made to ensure that the following year will be plentiful and traditional ?Wax? cakes are distributed to parents and friends.Firecrackers are set off to drive away the evil spirits.
This festival is celebrated in January/February. Bodies are pierced with needles, tongues and cheeks with pins, devotees in a trance carry the ?Cavadi? on their shoulders as a penitence. The ?Cavadi? is a wooden arch, covered with flowers and with a pot of milk at each end.
The Festival of Lights is celebrated in a spirit of pure joy, in the month of October or November. Small clay lamps line the walls, balconies and yards. They are lit at sunset. Their golden light, which is believed to guide the Goddess of wealth and good fortune, can be seen everywhere. Divali represents the victory of truth (light) over ignorance (darkness). The Festival of Lights, Divali, is a celebration of joy, happiness and for many Mauritians, a time for sharing.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the lunar month of August/September by Hindus in honour of the birth of Ganesha, God of wisdom.
This Hindu festival is as colourful as the many legends from which it originates. It is above all a festival of joy during which men and women throw coloured water and powder on each other and wish one another good luck.
The Id-El-Fitr festival signals the end of the Ramadan - the fasting period for Muslim people. Prayers are said in mosques all day long.
Ougadi is the Telugu New Year and is usually celebrated in March.
Every September 9, Mauritians of all faiths walk or drive towards the tomb of the Blessed Jacques D?sir? Laval, the ?Apostle of the Black People? at Ste-Croix, Port-Louis. The belief in Pere Laval, to whom powers of healing are attributed, reminds us of the Lourdes Pilgrimage in France.
In an island where people originate from a wide variety of places, the local cuisine is a testament to the influence of this melting pot. This produces remarkable results: in Mauritius, you can travel to all corners of the globe without leaving the table.
Mauritian cooking is in a class of its own: it is a combination influenced by people of different cultures and cooking traditions. Mauritian people are adventurous with food, and are perfectly happy to eat Creole, Chinese, Indian or Muslim food.
Mauritian cuisine is proud of its past but is still firmly rooted in the contemporary world. A few leading chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Trois Gros brothers and Michel Ducasse have paid a visit to the island and have thus played a part in the creation of this top-quality cuisine.
You can eat at the "Spoon des ?les", (One&Only Le Saint G?ran) of Alain Ducasse, where cooking is an art. However, during your holidays do not deny yourself the pleasure of eating local food, at a table d?h?te or in the various specialised restaurants.
Do not hesitate to try the "dholl purri" (wheat pancake stuffed with dholl and served with a tomato sauce), the "farata", the "g?teaux piments" or the "samosas".
Models of ancient ships with fine details as per the ancient plans constitute a very nice souvenir. Note that airlines apply an additional fee on these models depending on their size and weight. Women will prefer jewelry. Jewelry shops have inherited of a long tradition in Mauritius specially for the Hindus and the Muslims, talented artists who work with gold of 18 or 22 carat. The well know Mauritians jewelers are Poncini, Caunhye (Bijouterie Bienvenue) Shiv Jewels, Adamas for diamonds, Wahed Essa, Glod Finger and Matikola. Most of these jewelery shops also sell watches of the well known brands.
Textile also has a envious position mainly in the knitwear sector. Some good addresses are Bonair, Floreal Knitwear, Shibani and Tara for pull-overs and knitting. Various well known brands have their production been carried out in Mauritius. Once the quota for exportation reached, the remaining stock is sold locally at unbeatable price - Shirts, trousers, suits, dresses, shorts or swimming suit of well know brands cost 3 times less here than in europe. A suit can even be made withing 48 hours (Karl Kaiser - Hugo Boss in Europe), Cotton Club and Caustat are the specialists.
Handicrafts - basket making, embroidery, potery, serigraphy, stone cutting. The passionate of cuisine can bring from Mauritius fruit paste, spices and chilli. They will not forget the vanilla tea and the rhum. The main shopping centres are in the towns, namely in Port Louis where you will want to visit Le Caudan Waterfront, Happy World centre, Le Paille en Queue court. In Quatre Bornes, you should visit the Orchard Centre and the Trianon shopping park and in phoenix, the Jumbo commercial centre. Please make arrangements with your tour operator who will organise some shopping trips to Floreal square, The Ruisseau Creole Commercial centre or if yoou want, you may spend a day at the various shopping centres in Grand Baie.
These vary from town to town but are usually around 09:30 - 17:30. Many shops close on Thursday or Sunday afternoons. There exists also fairs in some towns twice per week.
Mauritius boasts a huge range of sea treasures and infinite wealth. The Mauritian sea never fails to surprise : multi-coloured fish, moray eels, magnificent coral beds. Skin-diving masks, flippers and scuba diving equipment ... enjoy one of the happiest experiences in the world! Whether you are in a diving suit or in a submarine, Mauritius can introduce you to the secrets of its submarine world.
One of the most spectacular ways to explore the ocean beds is to go on board the Blue Safari submarine. You will enjoy a superb encounter with the marine life and get a chance to see various wrecks dating back to the 17th century. Night diving, ?honeymoon? diving and training sessions are available.
During your stay, you will also have the possibility of discovering various types of dances directly inspired by the cultural diversity of Mauritius.
Whether in your hotel or on the beach, the sega, a dance invented by mauritians of african origin, has become synonymous with "joie de vivre". The sega, its music and dance form, is specific to Mauritius. The sega, mainly based on African music originating with slaves, is nowadays played with modern instruments and features contemporary musical influences.
The rubbing of feet, the swaying of hips and Creole lyrics are part and parcel of the music. The slaves obviously began dancing the sega to forget their miserable existence. There are now several types of sega in Mauritius. Standard sega (where the instruments are the ravanne, the maravanne and the triangle) has its own disciples and devotees.
Mauritius offers excellent possibilities to do nautical sports. In many hotels, the cost of renting windsirf board, water ski, drifter, kayaks, pedalo, are included in the price. The instructor are present for free initiation course for novices. Diving and big game fishing can be done at reasonable price.
Discover the underwater world of Mauritius with the 'Nessee'. Unique in Mauritius, this semi-submersible will give you a panoramic view of the corals and the underwater world of Mauritius, a privilege that stays still now the monopoly of divers. This wonderful experience is carried out on total security conditions and with maximum of comfort : Air conditioning, optimal panoramic view that will make the trip a real pleasure available to everyone.
The Blue Safari 600 is a submarine with 5 places for passengers. It is capable of going down up to 50 meters depth. For one hour, comfortable in a pressurized cabin, totally transparent and air-conditioned, you live the experiences as seen on documentaries on the submarine flora and fauna.
Located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 2000 kilometers east of mainland Africa, the island of Mauritius is an oblong mass of coral reefs born out of a primeval volcanic eruption.
The travel destination of Mauritius is easily accessible through air, road and rail from the other major cities of the World. Tourist Places in India can arrange for you all types of transport for your comfortable journey to and in Mauritius and throughout the neighboring countries of India.
The best and the easiest way to reach Mauritius is by air. There are several airlines that link Mauritius with the other parts of the World. Mauritius may also be accessed through sea-routes, but usually the cargo only is transported across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius.
Mauritius is under the influence of the trade winds blowing south east mainly in winter. From december to april, heavy orographic rains sometimes associated with cyclones mark the summer season.
Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom. A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay also happens to be the area where Mauritians head for when they want a fun-filled night out (restaurants, bars and discos). Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.
The wonderful Pereybere public beach is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs.
The longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.
Discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.
Ile aux Cerfs is a paradise for water sports and has the most beautiful beach in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape.
Flacq is one of the most important villages in Mauritius. This meeting point for inhabitants of the East boasts the country?s largest open air market. The extremely colourful market attracts a large number of people.
Enjoy unforgettable moments sliding on the giant chutes, with family or friends. Relaxation and pleasure guaranteed. Coastal road, Belle Mare.
OMah?bourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Deca?n.
At Vieux Grand Port, the oldest settlements in Mauritius, you can see the ruins of the first Dutch fortifications. Excavation work is underway in a bid to uncover an important part of Mauritian history.
Owing to the remarkable work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund, the island has become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species. A few of the world?s rarest birds, including the kestrel, can be seen there. You can also discover the extremely rare Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise.
Nestling in the Anse Jonch?e hills, the Domaine des Grand Bois has splendid hunting grounds covering an area of 900 hectares. Stags, monkeys and boars live amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the hillside.One can watch a few species of endangered birds, including the kestrel. The Domaine contains four thatched-roof bungalows and a restaurant with a panoramic sea view. Take an opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal of venison and seafood.
A small seaside resort along the rugged coast of the Savanne district. A famous feature is the garden overlooking the sea and named after Dr. Charles Telfair. A popular viewpoint is found at the southern end of the village, right on the cliff top : Gris Gris.
A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash. The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty.
The Martello Towers represent the scene of the ancient rivalry between old colonial powers and the ingenuity of mankind. They are a milestone in the island?s history; they symbolise the end of slavery and the beginning of Indian immigration.
Owing to the exceptional high level of sunshine the district receives, Tamarin is naturally the heart of salt production in Mauritius.
Situated in the Riviere Noire district, the bird park stretches over 25 hectares and contains more than 140 bird species from all five continents. Other attractions include fish ponds, tigers, tortoises, monkeys, deer and orchids.
Yemen Reserve may not be the largest game reserve on the island, but there is still lots to see. You will be able to get close to the herds of deer, as well as admire some splendid species of Mauritian fauna. A few rustic kiosks available in the reserve provide an unobstructed view of the sea. There you can sip a local punch while watching the sun going down.
Beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano. Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva.
Visit an interactive and ultra modern exhibition situated at the heart of an ancient sugarmill and discover the fascinating history of Mauritius and its sugarcane adventure exposed over 5000 sq meters! Then, let yourself be tempted by our tropical boutik with its unique gifts, souvenirs and tasting of special unrefined sugars as well as local rum. Do not miss the opportunity to relish authentic Mauritian cuisine with refined flavours at our restaurant "Le Fangourin". Open 7 days a week from 09h00 to 18h00 - Free access to the restaurant and the Village Boutik.
This national park of 6,574 hectares was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius? remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species. A trail leads from the P?trin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area. orchids.
An old Creole residence built in 1830, Eureka is an essential place to visit during your stay in Mauritius.