Rivière Noire District

Anne Canaveera
Jan 12
If you were on holidays in Mauritius, and you only had one choice for a day tour during your stay, this is the one.

Start off your day by visiting the Black River Gorges National park, Alexandra Falls and Ganga Talao Hindu Temple. Drive up to the Seven coloured earth in Chamarelle, and then drive down the mountain to the Morne beach. Finish the day by enjoying the sunset...

Black River Gorges National Park offers a splendid view of the tropical vegetation that covers the island. If you're lucky, you could spot a white-tail tropic bird, which is the emblem of "Air Mauritius". If you're unlucky like I was on my first trip, you could get attacked by a monkey. I might be a bit dramatic here, but that monkey just decided to scratch my arm while I was minding my own business, admiring the waterfalls... All I'll say is, be careful of those little animals.

The Hindu temple in Grand Bassin is also known as "Ganga Talao".  You can access the temple by a walkway built all around a nearby volcanic lake.

Along the lake, you can see various representations of gods, however their names are not mentioned. The names of the gods used to be displayed for visitors, but they were removed because the place started to look too "touristic" and it's primarily a place of prayer.

Every year, during the Maha Shivarathree (Hindu festival), thousands of pilgrims come from all corners of the island, on foot, to pray in the temple and cleanse themselves with the lake's holy water.

Mauritian of Hindu confession regularly come to pray in this place and make offerings. On the picture above, you can see it consists of bananas, coconuts and various fruits.

You can also receive a blessing inside the temple.

The general atmosphere is very fervent. Obviously, there are many tourists, but it does not seem to stop people worshipping. It feels like this place has kept its "original" atmosphere, especially because the surroundings haven't been transformed into a "Hindu religion" marketing machine (like Lourdes for the Catholic just to name one)...

Before going to the waterfall, you can stop at the " Curious Corner". This is a new museum that only opened a couple of years ago, and it's all about optical illusions. The kids absolutely loved it last time we were there, and the adults too. We took very funny pictures in the "upside down" house, and the kids actually learned a few things too!

Apart from being known for its Rum and Coffee, Chamarelle is famous for its 83 metres waterfall and the Seven Coloured earth.

The Seven coloured earth is an area of sand dunes comprising of sand of seven distinct colours. When it rains, the colours go from bright ocher to brown and red to purple. When the rain stops, the clouds dissipate and the brightness of the sun makes the colours paler. The heat dries and soften the soil, and other nuances appear.

So how did these colours form in the first place? Well, it's mainly due to the minerals that make up the earth there. And scientifically speaking, it is in fact the presence of volcanic ash that contain mineral oxides of different colours.

My husband remembers going there as a kid and playing with his parents in the middle of this land that stretched much further. People were even allowed to take sand from the dunes. Over time, erosion and especially man has reduced this space to a few hundred meters, now closed to preserve the place (and taking sand home is strictly forbidden!)

When you drive down the mountain, be very careful. There are A LOT of turns. My husband used to try and count them when he was a child and came up with 75! The view from up there is absolutely breathtaking and sadly my poor camera couldn't really capture the extreme beauty of the place.

When you're finally at the bottom of the mountain, make your way to the Morne. If you can, look for a little beach hidden in between two hotels. It's an absolute gem, and the view of the mountain from the sea is just something else.

This is my absolute favourite place to be in Mauritius. This mountain is one the symbol of slavery in Mauritius.

A lot of slaves had found refuge there, and the day the officials came to tell them slavery had been abolished, they thought their masters had found them. Instead of giving themselves in, they decided to jump from the mountain. They would have rather died than give up their freedom...

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