If you’re heading to Mauritius on a personalised holiday, you will doubtless be keen to enjoy the beautiful white sand and the luxury of the relaxing spa treatments, as well as simply soaking up some sun with the sea breeze rolling in. Sun and sea is one of the best things about Mauritius; that’s for certain. But if you venture up beyond the beach and into the natural world of this wonderful island, you will find a unique ecosystem to discover.
Out in the Indian Ocean just east of another great wildlife destination, Madagascar, Mauritius’ island nature means it has relatively few species compared to other places that are famed for their wildlife, but many of the creatures that are here can’t be found anywhere else. Through the mountains, waterfalls, woodland and pine forest, there are all kinds of endemic flora and fauna to be found, all within such easy reach of the hotels that it almost seems like you’ve stumbled into a wildlife reserve straight out of the hotel door.
The first Dutch settlers here thought they had hit upon the Garden of Eden, and more recent celebrated visitors have talked along similar lines: Mark Twain called the island “paradise” and Joseph Conrad called it “a pearl”. Take a hike through the Black River Gorges National Park amongst the mango trees and you may not come across a single other person, even on a long walk.
There are trees such as the Bois de boeuf here that can no longer be found anywhere else, and the native pink pigeon is one of the rarest birds in the world, just one of the over 100 airborne species that live on the island (the Mauritius kestrel is another one worth keeping an eye out for).
Off dry land and out into the warm waters, you can swim with dolphins in the surrounding sea and go whale watching on the west coast. Giant tortoises patrol the Giant Tortoises Park in the south of the island, where you can stroll among large numbers of these majestic creatures and take a trip underground to explore the cave system.
There are few more idyllic places to go on a wildlife walk than Mauritius, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an era of untouched natural beauty. One of the most accessible ‘wild’ landscapes from the comfort of a nearby hotel, Mauritius and its spectacular flora and fauna are not to be missed.