Chapter 4/4: Mauritius, all inclusive for the Olgiatis
Visiting Mauritius: the hotel and the South West
The best way to visit the island is probably to go on the organized tours
, with small groups of people (8-10). They will cost less and you'll be able to see as much as possible in a short period of time, so you can go back to the hotel to relax and have some drinks by the pool or the sea.
This is exactly what Lindsey and I did. The first day a lady from the same company we used for the airport transportation got in touch with us showing some tours we could do. We decided to take the Wild Southwest excursion on Tuesday and he Tropical Cruise on Friday. We didn't want to do too much, and we left the visit to the capital, Port Louis, to the last day before our departure, in order to avoid spending money on souvenirs earlier.
But first we decided to explore the surrounding of the little town we were staying. The whole coast was owned by hotels, some very expensive (Le Coco Beach) and some less. The coral was everywhere, but wasn't to annoying. Thanks to the perfect weather we jumped on bicycles to visit the town (Trou d'Eau Douce), but we couldn't find anything interesting.
Luckily the food, the drink and the night activities at the hotel were great.
I'm not a big breakfast person, but I enjoyed the breakfast buffet so much that usually I was full until the evening.
Drinks were good too. Ok, the ice was so thin and melting so quickly that it was difficult to enjoy a very cold drink
, but the rum-based cocktail helped get slightly more than tipsy (i.e. almost drunk) on different occasion. I couldn't say no to a drink at 10 in the morning, but soon I learned to stay away from alcohol when the sun was so damn strong.
The night activities usually revolved around this strange Franco Mauritian guy who would work on a boat during the day and become a crooner during the night. Name a style, and he would sing it. Pop, opera, Indian songs, rock, blues. He was quite an entertainer. Usually he closed the night after the evening show (dances from around the world).
The first activity we did was the undersea walk
, not too far away from our hotel, and it was great. Basically they take you on a boat to get to a floating station, on the reef barrier. Then you get equipped with weights, light plastic shoes and a giant fish bowl on your head, connected to an oxygen pump through a long pipe, and they tell you to go underwater. Thanks to the weights you don't have to swim, you can just walk. The whole area is surrounded by hundreds of fish coming to get the food from your hand.
Once you're down, and all you can hear is the oxygen pump and some bubbling when you try to laugh, you see a completely different world. Calm, slow and populated by creatures that you don't really recognize, unless they are on your plate.
It was a short (10 minutes) but incredible experience. They took some pictures and a video under water, and then they gave us a DVD with all the multimedia stuff on it.
On Tuesday it was time to visit the Wild Southwest.
The tour guide explained us the problems of Mauritius and the fact that probably 80% of the island wealth is in the hand of the 2% franco-mauritians. Only the Indo-Mauritians manage to live on a decent standard, while the Creole struggle to survive and find jobs, due to the very low literacy level (but they can't go to school because they need to help the family survive, creating a vicious cycle of poverty). If you stay at the hotel, you would probably not see the poverty in the island. But it is enough to drive on those main roads to see the situation elsewhere.
The tour itself was very interesting. We met another South African couple and we spent some time with them in order to get some nice pictures and to talk with someone. We visited Tamarin Bay before arriving at the Case Noyale and see how the locals (three women) make coffee. We bought some of it and we tasted only a month later, on our espresso machine. It was delicious.
Then we moved to Chamarel to see the 90m falls and the 7-coloured earth, a strange rock formation that shows 7 different colors. So they said, I'm colorblind and I could see only 3-4 of them, but Lindsey guaranteed me that there were in fact 7.
Lunch was server at the Domain Saint Denis, a private estate with outstanding view over the south and south-west.
After a very good lunch we visited the Back River Peak, the highest point of the island, before going to see the volcanic crater called Trou aux Cerfs.
We even managed to visit a glass museum where they were blowing recycled hot glass (just like in Murano, Venice) to make everything that was possible.
The final destination of our long tour was at the Domain Les Pailles, a reconstructed Sugar Estate, where we had tea, biscuits and fresh rum!
And then it was evening, and night again, and we were too tired to do anything the next day.