In 1735 the French Governor François Mahé de Labourdonna broke ground in the district of Pamplemousses near Port-Louis to create a garden for his family. In 1988 the world-class botanical that evolved from his creation was renamed in honour of the island’s first prime minister, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, and remains one of the oldest, most prestigious gardens in the southern hemisphere.
More than 500 species of plants are on display, including some giant Victoria amazonica water lilies, which form the centrepiece of the garden’s splendid pond. At least eighty varieties of palms are scattered around the grounds, including Latanias, Verschaffeltia splendida and Talipots, which live for forty years and only flower once shortly before dying. Other unusual curios to keep an eye out for include the marmalade box tree, fish poison tree and sausage tree.
As an additional option, L’Aventure du Sucre (Sugar World) inside the former Beau Plan sugar factory offers a fascinating insight into this valuable commodity. The original factory was founded in 1797 but only ceased working in 1999. For this reason many of the guides are former workers who are able to provide a first-hand account of life on the production line and the historical impact of sugar upon Mauritius. After touring this fascinating museum there will then be a chance for some sugar and rhum tasting.
Free time will be available to take a walk along the cosmopolitan Caudan Waterfront, in the capital of Port Louis, which has a beautiful craft market selling traditional handmade goods such as sarongs, embroidered linen, stained glass objects, wooden sculptures and basketwork.
Directly south of Port Louis lies the long dormant volcano of Trou-aux-Cerfs. This well-defined cone and crater has not been active for over 100,000 years and is covered with lush plants and flowers, offering spectacular views across the island in all directions as well as to the town of Curepipe below.
After spending some time at Trou-aux-Cerfs, the next stop on this panoramic tour will be to a factory specialising in the making of beautiful scale model ships and other nautical vessels. These intricately hand-crafted replicas are constructed from various kinds of wood and sold across the world.
The spiritual centre of the island is lake Ganga Talao, or Grand Bassin as it is more commonly known. The peaceful waters here are surrounded by Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva, Hanuman, Ganesh and Ganga, reflecting the site’s deep connection with the River Ganges.
Lunch will be at the idyllic Varangue sur Morne restaurant, located inside Black River Gorges. This picturesque national park is the largest protected forest on Mauritus and is home to some rare species of birds. Then for a sweet digestif, the Rhumerie de Chamarel distillery and museum offers a fascinating insight into how traditional island rhum is produced, followed by a tasting.
Chamarel is also home to a ninety-five metre waterfall and a unique geological formation known as the “Seven Coloured Earths”, a surreal landscape made up of multi-coloured layers of sand which seem to settle into stripes spontaneously.
The most visited attraction in Mauritius and the Indian Ocean, Casela World of Adventures has been welcoming guests of all ages since 1979. Originally a bird sanctuary, the site was expanded to save the local forestation from being redeveloped. In 2015 it was redesigned to feature even more world-class facilities and 21st-century attractions.
Spread over 250 hectares, the park is divided into four “Kingdoms” known as “Safari”, “Nature”, “Mountain” and “Discovery”. The Discovery Centre is a state of the art building adorned with pillars replicating giant baobab trees and imitation creepers stretching across the ceiling. It has an array of animal statues and boasts the island’s first 4D cinema, a scale 3D replica of Mauritius and interactive displays to help visitors discover more about the island.
The three animal kingdoms are home to a wide variety of birds, alongside giant tortoises, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, white lions, lynxes, servals, hyenas, dromedary camels, pygmy hippos, white rhinos and more. A range of optional activities are available to choose from at your own leisure, include a petting farm, “Segway Safari Trip”, horse and camel riding, as well as the chance to feed the park’s nine giraffes.
During a Big Cat Drive Thru, the park’s guides share information and interesting personal anecdotes about their time working with these amazing animals. Then for the more adventurous there’s also the chance to walk with lions, cross a high-wire “Nepalese Bridge”, try your hand at some dry tobogganing or take an exhilarating ride on a zip line above the forest.