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Adventures in Mauritius

10 mild and wild adventures in Mauritius

By Fiona McIntosh

, |

Adventures in Mauritius

10 mild and wild adventures in Mauritius

By Fiona McIntosh

, |

5 min read

Think Mauritius and the images that spring to mind are probably of lazing on white sand beaches, swimming in the turquoise waters of the shallow lagoon, and sipping cocktails while watching spectacular sunsets. But there are plenty of active adventures in this tropical paradise.

Hiking

Mauritius Hiking, Chamarel Coloured Earths, Sahen Adey

Whether you’re a nature-loving rambler or a peak bagger, the forests, mountains and rugged coastline of Mauritius make for wonderful hiking experiences. Wander around the Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths and the Trou aux Cerfs crater to learn more about the island’s volcanic origins, check out the endemic birdlife and flora of the Macchabée Forest, or hike up through the Black River Gorges National Park to the island’s highest point, the non-technical, 828-metre-high Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire.

Rock climbing

The second highest peak on Mauritius, the Pieter Both Mountain, is a different kettle of fish. Although only four metres lower than Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire, the ball-shaped rock that is balanced on its summit requires basic rock-climbing skills to surmount. But don’t do it alone unless you really know what you are doing. Otelair offer a full day trip with an experienced climbing guide who will rope you up for the ascent: then you abseil and trek your way down.

Mountain biking

MTB Mauritius Yemaya

‘It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them,’ claimed Ernest Hemingway. And his famous quote is very apt for Mauritius. A network of MTB trails, from easy scenic rides to challenging technical routes, lead along the dramatic coastline, through the tangled forests and to the lakes and mountains of the green interior that that few visitors ever explore. Yemaya Adventures offers a range of guided MTB tours to suit cyclists of all abilities and fitness levels. Novices can enjoy rare bird sightings and visits to cultural attractions on the leisurely Bras d’Eau trail, while the dirt hounds can test their mettle and enjoy the views, lakes and waterfalls of the gnarly, 35-kilometre Mare aux Vacoas, Mare Longue and Tamarin Falls ride.

If you prefer to be self-sufficient, you can hire a bike and a GPS and follow the pre-loaded routes at your own pace.

Quad biking

BigFoot quadbiking

Quad biking tours with Big Foot Adventure take you to remote, little-travelled parts of the island. Trips range from a two-hour, 18-kilometre tour of the southern part of the island, which takes in the Rochester Falls and the dramatic volcanic cliffs of Gris-Gris, to a full-day, All-Terrain-Vehicle adventure on which you journey along a river and a wild section of the coastline in the Savanne District, stopping off to see the crocodiles and giant tortoises at La Vanille Nature Park and making a lovely stop for lunch and a swim at the scenic Leon Falls.

Horse riding

Riding a horse along the glorious sandy beaches of southern Mauritius and swimming with your four-legged friend in a shallow lagoon is exhilarating. Or, for romance, head out for a sunset ride, which includes a cheese and wine tasting, with Centre Equestre de Riambel.

Canyoning

Mauritius canyoning Ortelair

One of the most exciting ways to explore the beautiful gorges and waterfalls of Mauritius is on a canyoning trip with Otelair. Trips range from easy half-day hiking and abseiling excursions down the Tamarin Falls (these are open to non-swimmers) to the ‘7 Cascades’, a full-day, strenuous adventure that involves numerous waterfall abseils, jumps and swims through the pools.

Sea kayaking

Sea kayaking Mauritius Yemaya Adventures

A visit to the offshore island of Île d’Ambre is a relaxing day out. So called because of the ambergris that used to be found there, the island the perfect place to paddle around, detouring into the tiny coves. Clear, calm waters invite swimming and snorkelling, while the network of trails into the central forests make for great hiking.

Sea kayaking Mauritius Yemaya Adventures

Boat trips are run from Grand Gaube and Poudre d’Or, but the best way to get there is by sea kayak with Yemaya. After the short crossing from the mainland, you glide through the dense mangrove swamps to secluded beaches. Simply heavenly. Yemaya Adventures also offer guided hikes (which start with a trip across to Île d’Ambre on a traditional pirogue) on which you learn more about the history, flora and conservation work being done on the island.

Diving and snorkelling

Encircled by almost continuous reefs, the warm, calm turquoise waters off Mauritius are rich in colourful marine life. There are dive sites to suit everyone from complete novices to those seeking more technical and adventurous dives on wrecks, in fast-flowing canyons through the reef, and/or with sharks and big pelagic fish. Check out the Mauritian SCUBA Diving Association website for the most convenient dive school.

Mauritius SCUBA diving

The profusion of easily accessible shallow reefs and excellent visibility means that snorkellers, too, are spoilt for choice. Top spots include the marine reserve of Blue Bay and Île aux Aigrettes in the southeast, Île aux Cerfs in the east, Île d’Ambre in the northeast, Balaclava-Turtle Bay Marine Park in the northwest and the offshore islands to the north.

Blue Safari Submarine

Blue Safari submarine

If you want to marvel at Mauritius’ colourful underwater world without getting wet, sign up for a submarine trip. There aren’t many places in the world that offer this unusual window on what lies beneath the waves – Blue Safari Submarine https://www.blue-safari.com/ is the only such operator in the whole of the Indian Ocean – so it’s a real treat.

The excursion starts with a briefing and a speedboat transfer out to the submarine base, after which it’s all aboard the 10-seater sub for the once-in-a-lifetime adventure. During the 40-minute dive you’ll descend to depths of 35 metres in the pressurised vessel, ogling the colourful reefs and myriad tropical fish that swim past or come to check you out through your individual window. The interpretative underwater tour takes in a wreck as well as a 17th-century sheet anchor and, if you’re lucky, you might enjoy sightings of turtles and big game fish before returning to the surface.

Blue Safari submarine

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the company also offered the chance to pilot your own mini-submarine. After a 10-minute briefing on how to manage the easy controls, you could head off alone or with a companion in a two-seater ‘subscooter’ under the supervision of two accompanying diving guides. All very James Bond! So we’re holding thumbs that the activity restarts once the world returns to semi-normal.

Kite surfing

Kite surfing is a very popular sport in Mauritius – the water is warm, the winds fairly predictable and the instruction top-notch. The skies along the south coast and Cap Malheureux are dotted with the colourful canopies of the daredevil enthusiasts. Nico Kux, the island’s first kite surfing instructor, will show you the ropes if you fancy joining the throng.

Fiona McIntosh is the author of Seven Days in Mauritius, Struik, 2004

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