Think Mauritius – and the first thought that comes to mind is – The perfect destination for a honeymoon. Well, one is not to blame, as this tiny emerald island has been promoted for years, by well known travel magazines and media as one of the top 10 destinations in the world for a perfect honeymoon. Surprisingly, when I decided on my annual holiday, I zeroed in on this gorgeous island (not for any honeymooning), but to satiate my adventure appetite.
It was an early morning flight with lots of rough weather, it felt like I was on my way to Castaway Island. Nearing dawn, I peered out of my flight window to get a glimpse of what Mark Twain described – “God created Mauritius first and then heaven ”. The early morning sun rays split the clouds to show case Mauritian topography of green hills covered in mist and long winding rivers. I could not help but let out a sigh, I was in Mauritian heaven!
Immigration formalities were fairly quick and I was greeted by the hotel taxi driver, a nice chap, whose ancestors were from North India. He was very keen to know more about India and Amitabh Bachchan (famous Bollywood actor)! The drive to the hotel was one hour from the airport and very scenic, passing through sugarcane fields and along white sandy coastlines. I had booked myself into a boutique hotel called Maison D’Ete then run by a Swiss-Mauritian couple. The hotel is located on the east coast of Mauritius – Poste Lafayette, one of the most beautiful beach stretches the island has to offer. The hotel had its own private beach and lagoon, perfect for kayaking and snorkeling.
The hosts gave me a warm welcome and the bartender cooled me off with a refreshing island cocktail. My private villa faced the sea and the swimming pool. Double Bliss! Waking up the next morning and sitting on my patio, watching the sea waves lightly caress the rocks, was a therapeutic experience. With enough rest, I was ready to start my Mauritian adventure.
Three recommended adventure jaunts tried and tested in Mauritius:
Casela Nature Park – Situated on the south west part of the island between Flic en Flac and Tamarin, this park offers magnificent views of the countryside and the west coast of Mauritius. This 14 hectare park is host to many African animals such as big cats, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, giant tortoises, exotic birds and much more.
If you like cats, big or small, the way I do, you must do the walk with the lions at the park (at your own risk). The guides comfort you by saying that the lions are well fed and used to tourists, but judging by the way the lion I was escorted by, licked his mouth every few seconds, I had my serious doubts. Nevertheless, my love for these magnificent creatures takes over my fear of them.
Once you have satisfied your appetite of petting the cats, jump onto your quad bikes and head into the forests to discover animals freely roaming around in their habitats. Word of caution, speaking from firsthand experience – DO NOT try to touch the egg of an ostrich. Mommy Ostrich might just be behind you.
The most challenging but exciting experience at Casela is called Rando Fun. It is a whole day spent in lush nature, hiking, climbing, zip lining and swimming. It is no ordinary hike, there are lots of climbs on slippery mountain slopes, balancing on wooden ladders above moss filled gorges, crossing slippery Nepalese bridges swaying in the wind above deep valleys and ziplining across breath taking valleys. It challenges your fears and almost makes you feel like you are living a Tarzan movie. The efficient and charming guides are there for you every step of the way, walking you through every experience and calming your fears. We stop for lunch at a waterfall, where we zipline from atop the waterfall to the pool below to cool off, while our lunch of BBQ chicken is being prepared using hot stones with a creole flavoured BBQ sauce, served with roasted potatoes. We ate voraciously as we sat on the wooden platform near the water. Post lunch, some more Nepali bridges, swimming across a deep canyon and two ziplines of 150m length across deep gorges, we reach our final destination. Rando Fun is an unique experience, that not only forces you to face your fears but challenges you to come out triumphant.
Kite Boarding and Parasailing – As I drove past Bel Ombre, I saw many kiteboarders perfecting their art, but what attracted me were their colorful kites over aquamarine waters. Considered as an extreme sport, I decided to give myself a ‘good thrashing over water’. Kite boarding, a surface water sport, is one in which the kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind to drive its power kite so that the kiteboard (similar to surfboard) moves across the water at reasonably high speed. My heart was thumping so loud that I couldn’t hear the instructor’s guidelines. Strapped in and vision blurry (out of confusion and fear), before the agreed count of three, I was zoomed across water. After much butt bashing and near drowning experience, I comfortably completed one session across the waters. With the spray of water against my face, I felt victorious.
Next was parasailing over Ile aux Cerfs or Deer’s Island, a much relaxing experience. Considered as one of the most beautiful islands, known for its post card perfect beaches and beautiful lagoon, parasailing over the island, offers a bird’s eye view of the beauty the island has to offer.
Swimming with the Dolphins – This activity is a different kind of an adventure, it is almost therapeutic and healing. Swimming with dolphins in their natural environment is an encounter which is truly rewarding. The speedboats take you out at sea and after a briefing on the types of dolphins, their habits, swimming and conservation tips, let you lose in the waters. Known for their cheerful and playful attitude, I am almost certain, one of them nudged me from behind. The gorgeous blue waters of Tamarin against the emerald green backdrop of lush mountains and these fantastic creatures, this is indeed an unique and memorable experience.
Mauritius is more than white sandy beaches and azure waters. This tiny island has the appetite to satisfy all kinds of interests – a haven for nature enthusiasts, golfing aficionados, scuba divers, deep sea fishing, beach sports, under water activities like under water scooters and underwater walks, private island escapes, dolphin & whale watching, wildlife safari, canyoning, zip lining, trekking, tea plantations and the list just doesn’t end. So next time, you think about Mauritius being another boring honeymoon destination, think again. It is one small island packed with loads of action, that keeps you wanting for more.