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Lost in paradise: Mauritius

After Mark Twain visited remote Mauritius in 1896, he quoted an islander by saying: "Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius."

After I visited Mauritius few weeks ago I can only agree with it. 

Mauritius is an island which lies in Indian Ocean southeast off African coast (close to Madagascar) and it is one of the favourite honeymoon destination and luxury holiday spots. White-sand beaches and breath taking views are only one of few reasons why to visit this beautiful island.

The airport is situated on the east coast but speaking from my own experience, the best place to stay is on the west coast. It depends on what you expect from your holiday. Most of tourist attractions are on the west coast which is only about one hour drive from airport. The east coast might be more windy and colder but I did not experience it myself. I stayed on the west coast in Tombeau Bay which is about 10 min drive to the north from the capital city Port Louis.

Once I entered the hotel resort I felt like in paradise. I chose very cozy resort for affordable price as accommodation in Mauritius can be quite expensive. It is definitely not a place for low cost travelling and even though there are some cheaper options (apartments for rent or campings), be prepared that you need proof of booked accommodation as it is one of the requirements to get visa on arrival. So as I said already, my accommodation was small heaven on the Earth. I stayed in room with balcony and view of the private beach and pool. 

I am the type of person who enjoys staying near the pools and just chilling but at the same time I want to explore country. Mauritius has so much to offer. I stayed for 10 days but despite travelling quite a lot and seeing more than was planned, there are still so many nice places I did not have the time to visit.

Grand Baie is a harbour town and main tourist attraction on the island. There are street markets with souvenirs and local food, restaurants and night clubs. Do not expect any wild party; they are more of life music and island vibe places but worth the experience. I visited Banana Beach club which was recommended as one of the best places to go out on a Friday night. The place was very full and reminded me of the movie Eat Pray Love when Julia Roberts went to a party in Bali. In Grand Baie you can experience Mauritius, local people and you will meet at least hundred streets dogs. What I really liked about all Mauritius is that you can walk along the beaches and enter many different resorts, and in some of them you can even stay, borrow towel, order drink or eat.  

The waterfalls comprise of seven cataracts also called Seven Cascades. This place is also famous for hiking but I did not get to do that. Taxi driver, who brought us to the spot where we could see the waterfalls, said that it is dangerous to hike without a guide and some people had even got lost there.

At first, I was not very sure if this is something I should see because I expected some kind of zoo for parents with children but it was definitely one of the best places I went to. I think I spent there more than four hours. It is wildlife safari in area called Cascavelle. You can see different kinds of birds at the entrance and even enter a cage full of parrots. You can see monkeys and small animal farm as well. I was not able to resist cage with cute guinea pigs and bunnies. You can enter to cages and pet animals. Then you pass by giant tortoises. They are really huge and you can again pet them and move freely among them. Then you will get to big cat zone and giraffe feeding zone. The best of all park was short safari. But be careful, ostriches are quite aggressive :)

If you are looking for honeymoon holiday and you know you will be moving between a bed, a restaurant and a beach, you should check accommodations in Sugar beach. These accommodations are insanely beautiful and if I could stay there I would probably not travel as much as I did. I saw beautiful wedding altar on the beach, groom and wife taking pictures with amazing sunset and also hotel staff preparing tables for beach wedding celebration. The place breaths with love and luxury. Again, you can also enter the resorts and even eat there but prices are higher.

Botanical garden is named after Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, first chief and prime minister of Mauritius also known as "Father of the Nation”. It is famous for large pond of giant water lilies. It is the oldest botanical garden in Southern hemisphere. 

Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius. The main spot is Waterfront where there is a shopping mall with restaurants and umbrellas hanging down from the roof. The shops there are not as good as I expected them to be. Actually, I did not enter any of them. Other malls on the island offer variety of brands, mostly South African brands and some high end brands such as Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, La Coste, Guess etc. I recommend to visit market which is near the Waterfront and the main bus station. Besides shopping for souvenirs, you can also try local food as roti or samosas for very cheap price. I really enjoyed market and atmosphere on the streets of Port Louis. 

The highlight of my travels in Mauritius. Grand Bassin is inactive volcano and now sacred lake and Hindu place on the island. Islanders believe that the lake is filled with holy waters from the River Ganges in India. There is a majestic statue of Lord Shiva and a temple dedicated to him. I liked that people there are very open towards tourist. They don’t mind if you take picture inside the temple. I wanted to wear saree for pictures but I did not know how to wrap it. Few women helped me when they saw me struggling I did not even ask them. Yes, people in Mauritius are very friendly. Grand Bassin is full of baboons. Be careful, even though they look cute, they are aggressive. One baboon attacked me when I tried to take a picture and bit me, luckily just into my nail.

It is a small village with waterfalls and seven coloured earths. I was told to go there that it is the best place to visit in Mauritius, but I would not say that this place is the best that island can offer. There are again huge tortoises but these ones are in cage so you cannot approach them. Flora around is amazing; there are coffee trees beside the road or pineapple farm. There is also an option to take a quad bike ride but it must be booked beforehand. 

Le Morne is situated at the south of the island and it is famous for Le Morne Mountain, classified as World heritage. Back in the day, the slaves used the mountain as a hideaway from their masters. It is mostly surrounded with beautiful hotels and I again liked that I could use hotels towels and sunbed. Access to the ocean and swimming there was one of the best on the island. The place was very windy, perfect for kite boarding and wind surfing. There was a kite boarding competition with hundreds of kite boarders while I was there. It was a wonderful view.

These were the places I found the most interesting to visit. I truly recommend everybody to visit Mauritius. In case you have some questions or you need some more information, do not hesitate to contact me.

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