Port Louis, Mauritius
When I went to get my usual breakfast of toast and Marmite, horrors, there was no Marmite! The waiter told me that he thought they had run out of Marmite, but there was plenty of Vegemite instead. I gave him a look, which I think he understood as fighting words, and off he disappeared, returning some time later with a new jar of Marmite. Crisis averted.
We were docked in the cargo port, so no cruise terminal in sight. No free wifi, ATM, or currency exchange. Also no welcome singers and dancers, or souvenir stalls there.
I booked a day tour with Mauritius Attractions so we could explore the southwest corner of the island, and had asked Dan and Irene to join us. We walked to the port entrance gate to wait for our driver. He ended up being a little late as he had gone to the wrong port, and was surprised not to find our ship there. So next time we are in Mauritius and we book a tour, I do need to check where the ship will be!
Traffic was horrendous in Port Louis, and it took us about an hour to get out into the countryside. Once out of the city we had a pleasant drive through sugar cane fields and small villages. Our first stop was at the Slave Route Monument, which is in a lovely shady field, across the road from the ocean. It is a somber place, but there are several very beautiful modern statues there depicting the runaway slaves. It was very peaceful.
We then drove along the coastline to a viewpoint where we had a chance to see the beautiful coastline, and we then headed into the interior of the island.
Our first stop was at the 100 m high Chamarel Waterfall in the beautiful Ebony Forest. The waterfall is formed by the confluence of 2 rivers, the St Denis and Viande Salee plunging down into the gorge to form the river Baie du Cap.
A short drive away is the 7-Colored Earth. It is a small area of totally bare landscape located within the dense forest. It was apparently formed by volcanic rocks that cooled at different temperatures and then were pulverized into sands with various shades of red, brown, grey and purple. Over the years rain has carved the area into beautiful patterns of many colors. Unfortunately it was a very cloudy day so we didn’t see it at it’s best, but apparently in sunny weather it is spectacular.
They also have giant tortoises there, which was a nice surprise.
We left the forest and drove to the Maconde View Point which gives you a wonderful view of Baie du Cap and the south coastline of the island.
Then it was time for lunch at the Varangue Sur Morne restaurant which is nestled high up in the Black River Mountains. Unfortunately our visit coincided with the invasion of several Cunard tour buses, and we had to wait until the hordes were fed before we could get our meal. We were able to sit and look at the view while we waited, but the delay meant we could not get to all of the sights we had planned to see.
The meal was actually very good, and we were serenaded by 2 charming guitarists. It would have been a wonderful experience had we not been in a rush to see everything we could before heading back to the boat.
After lunch we drove to the Black River Gorges, and stopped at a viewpoint to see the gorges and the Alexandra waterfall.
We could not possible have a temple free day, so our next stop was at the Lord Shiva statue and Hindu Temple. The statue is 33 m high, and we were told is one of the 50 highest statues in the world.
The temple complex is situated around a crater lake, the Grand Basin, and it is said that the water communicates with the waters of the Ganges in India. Anyway, it is a very holy place, and along with the huge statue there are many smaller statues of various deities, and temple buildings around the lake. It was an interesting mix of brightly colored statues and buildings, and we would have liked to be able to spend more time there, but time was fleeting and we needed to move on to our next stop.
Our final stop of the day was at the Trou aux Cerfs crater which is 85 m deep and 200 m wide. It was formed millions of years ago, and is “the most famous crater in Mauritius”. Apparently on a clear day you can see Reunion Island from here, it was raining, we couldn’t.
Then it was time to face the traffic and head back to the ship.
Our driver dropped us off at the port gate, and it was a short walk to the ship. Mauritius certainly is a very verdant, beautiful island, with fabulous looking beaches. We had had a great day.
Back on the ship I headed straight to the pool and avoiding the huge puddles on deck (it had been pouring with rain during the afternoon), settled in to read my book and cool off in the pool. Brian, the good lad that he is, headed off to the gym.
Synergy played again for our sail away, and in no time we were out to sea again, and it was time to get ready for dinner and another fun night on board. I am so getting used to the good life!
Sounds a busy, but interesting day.