When? August 2008, coming from Mozambique (via Jo’burg), going on to Seychelles How? Car, boats Who? Solo
The Dry Season
It’s hard to put my finger on the exact reason, but there’s something a little depressing, about Mauritius. It seems to lack soul. Maybe that’s unfair. The weather has continued to be poor, even though it is supposed to be dry season and nothing looks its best when the sky is grey and it’s not quite warm enough to sit comfortably in the sun.
My hotel is one of a raft of mega luxurious establishments ensconced on Grand Baie in the north. It has tiny islands linked with little bridges, pristine beaches, excellent food and an expensive spa. (As with other accommodation in the area, there is also, incongruently, much heavy thatch in evidence.) It’s extraordinarily comfortable. It’s just dark and it’s frustrating that I can’t use most of the facilities or snorkel in the bay.
Mauritius is a small island – 20 miles by 40 miles and I’ve availed myself of tours to see all the highlights. Diminutive size doesn’t preclude traffic jams and the car crawls both ways through the capital, St Louis.
The Indian influence is pervasive and at least adds some character. The crater lake of Grand Bassin, sacred to Mauritian Hindus, has a pink temple with white icing decoration. I can just make it out in the mist, and some mournful statues of Shiva and other Hindu gods suspended in the water.
The mountains are verdant (they would be with all the rain) and most easily discernible from a boat. We zip past the sands of the famous Flic en Flac beach (It’s empty). The dolphins do make an appearance here at Tamarin Bay, but the Bob the Boat curse that prevents me taking a photograph of anything more than a fin, is still with me.
The island’s geological wonder, the Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel doesn’t really live up to its name, but there are some yellow ochre and cinnamon sand dunes to record.
The nearby Chamarlel Falls, plummeting 90 metres over a cliff face, are more picturesque, although, ironically, there isn’t a great deal of water.