Mauritius Conscious | Tailor-made holidays in Mauritius
Mauritius Conscious blog is your ultimate resource to how to live, enjoy and experience Mauritius in a conscious and sustainable way.
We offer travel packages to discover Mauritius Island in an authentic & eco-friendly way.
In times when “going green” is not only trendy, but also appealing to a growing market, it results necessary for organizations and consumers to be able to differentiate between genuine sustainability practitioners and the greenwash. An Eco-Label can help organizations and consumers to make more sound decisions for responsible travel.
Sustainable Tourism Certification Schemes
A Certification Scheme grants consumers the tools to compare and chose responsible travel, and it provides businesses, NGOs and governments with a framework to move towards recognized sustainable practices. Considering the different industries and institutions that can get certified, a lot of Eco-Labels for sustainable tourism have sprouted in the past years.
Truth is, that different businesses cannot be measured with the same criteria; in the same way, similar businesses in different countries do not respond to the same standards. This implies that different certification schemes are actually necessary to be able to offer organizations with a framework that it Specific, Achievable and Relevant for them.
But have you noticed that, when it comes to Certifications for Sustainable Tourism, it is mostly the big companies and multinationals that obtain them?
This is due to 2 main reasons:
bigger companies count with the economic resources to pay for the international third party assessments and audits and,
such companies are more likely to count with a Sustainability Management System (SMS), and therefore have a base to track, measure and prove their impact easier.
An Eco-Label for SMEs
In fragile destinations like Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the support and promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is key to mitigate the negative impacts of tourism on the environment; I’m talking about the wetlands, coastal forests, sand dunes and coral reef that get sacrificed with the construction of almost every new Resort or Real Estate development on the coast.
On the other hand, MSMEs like Guest Houses and Eco-Lodges directly contribute to the socio-cultural and economic development of hosting communities, by empowering them to run their own businesses while preserving the natural resources and traditions that attracted travelers on the first place. However, when it comes to be recognized as sustainable companies, MSMES will find it hard to afford and acquire a reputable eco-label for their sustainability efforts.
To give MSMES a fair competition ground in terms of sustainability recognition and marketing, it is necessary to
provide them with guidance on how to manage and measure their impacts and,
facilitate accessible Certification Schemes that are considerate of their company’s size, financial possibilities and the development stage of their hosting countries.
For such purpose, National Certification schemes are successfully been developed by Federal Governments in SIDS and countries around the world, such as the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL), Costa Rica’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), Ecotourism Kenya and Australia’s ECO Certification.
The Conscious Travel Assessment
Since 2017, Mauritius Conscious has taken the responsibility to asses accommodation and activities suppliers to confirm their compliance with sustainable tourism standards. Our Partners’ proven commitments can earn them or take them points in our Conscious Travel Assessment, an eco-label designed to measure a company’s impacts with regards to the triple bottom line: economic, socio-cultural and environmental dimensions. The Conscious Travel Assessment is designed based on the universal standards of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
Based on our assessed Partners’ scores, Mauritius Conscious grants them a seal to recognize their efforts. Partners can fall in one of three categories: the entry level Conscious Partner, the trascendental Conscious Leader or the unbeatable Conscious Hero. Accommodation and ecotourism suppliers are then granted specific opportunity areas to work on, to be able to attain the next level of recognition.
The purpose of the Conscious Travel Assessment is to acknowledge and reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism in Mauritius Island, which in turns builds confidence and assurance for our customers.
Being assessed by Mauritius Conscious grants our Partners the following benefits:
Credibility that their business operates with sustainable practices towards the environment, the local economy and the socio-cultural development of the local community.
Use of the Conscious Travel Seal in their communication channels and materials to position themselves before their potential customers.
Personalized feedback on the Opportunity Areas to work on to attain the next recognition level, as well as in how to track, measure and prove a business’ impacts over time.
Marketing opportunities through a personalized article in Mauritius Conscious’ Blog, and posts in our Newsletter and Social Media channels.
Access to the Conscious Travel Community, conformed by 30+ SMEs and NGOs working towards the development of sustainable tourism in Mauritius. It’s reinvigorating to mingle, learn from, and inspire like-minded people!
Who can apply?
Tourism businesses in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion Islands that are genuinely willing to engage into more sustainable tourism practices.
Accommodation, transportation and activity suppliers that are set-up, managed and run by locals.
SMEs looking for advice to implement a Sustainability Management System in their businesses.
If you are interested in getting assessed and promoted by Mauritius Conscious, start by telling us more about your venture through the link below.
The certification procedure to attain our eco-label consists of two parts: 1) a site-visit to the venue and/or an audit of the activity and 2) a meeting with the Owner, Managing Director or Sustainability Officer of the business to go in deeper detail into their engagements.
Both stages are designed to gather as much proof of the business’ sustainable commitments as possible, therefore, visits may be required to back areas such as kitchen, storerooms and trash deposits. The contact person in charge of conducting the Assessment with Mauritius Conscious may be contacted in the following weeks to provide reports, policies and other proves as deemed necessary by the Assessor.
Partners Recognized by the Conscious Travel Assessment
As of March 2019, 15 tourism companies have been awarded a Conscious Travel Seal in Mauritius, positioning themselves as below.
Businesses in this category comply with the minimum standards to be considered a conscious business. Their small-scale companies are set-up and run by Mauritians, they actively support Mauritian handicrafts, artists and gastronomy, and strive to re-use, recycle and up-cycle materials to convert them into furniture, ornaments and appliances in their venues.
Bleu de Toi Boutique Guest House
Vanilla House Guest House
Nativ Lodge and Spa
Abyss Centre de Plongé
Son of Kite
Operators in this category demonstrate an active interest and determination to comply with sustainable tourism practices. They are the change-makers leading Mauritius into a more sustainable travel industry, by engaging their teams in specialized trainings, campaigning against the use of one-use plastics and supporting organic agriculture.
La Vieille Cheminée, Tropical Farm and Lodges
Ocean Spirit Diving Center
The companies that make it to this level practice a sustainable lifestyle from the core of their businesses. Their work aims to lessen the stress of tourism in overcrowded or sensitive areas, and to sensibilize travelers, and the local population alike, of the “back to basics” practices that allow us to connect with nature while respecting it and restoring it.
Aux Graines Sauvages, Reunion Island
Be part of the movement that is transforming Mauritius tourism industry into a more responsible, fair and ethical one. If you have questions or need more information our eco-label, feel free to contact us on the + 230 5981 8746 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CO2 neutral trips to the Indian Ocean
are now possible with Mauritius Conscious
Climate change represents a vital threat to human societies; even more so, to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), like our home island in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius. With coral-reef degradation, rise in sea-levels and the threat of more often and more intense natural disasters, islanders like us, and our future generations, will find it extremely difficult to adapt to the loss of ecosystems that our livelihoods depend upon. CO2 neutral alternatives, choices and lifestyles are more than ever necessary to aim at offsetting the environmental damage done to our planet.
Despite tourism’s great contribution to the development of island nations like Mauritius, we can’t neglect its negative impact on the environment and to the own country’s unsustainable development. Tourism alone is accountable for up to 80% of CO2 emissions in SIDS, as per a study conducted by the UNWTO.
Scientific studies reveal that the Tourism Sector contributes in almost one tenth to Global Warming, responsible for 8% of all Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions emitted. From this number, an alarming 75% is produced by transportation services, mainly long-haul flights required to access remote destinations. But it is in remote islands like Mauritius or Maldives, where economies are dependent on tourists’ arrivals and, moving away from air travel represents a real challenge.
The way forward: CO2 neutral trips
Limiting the negative aspects of tourism is no longer enough. Today, tourism needs to embrace restorative actions to benefit the places we visit. That’s exactly the mission behind Mauritius Conscious and its latest CO2 offsetting initiative: Go CO2 neutral!
In collaboration with Aera, the first carbon finance company in Africa, we use carbon credits to support and accelerate low-carbon technologies in Mauritius. To do so, all of Conscious Travel’s bespoke trips now include their CO2 footprint compensation, considering round-trip flights from the travelers’ departure points to cover-up for the whole carbon emissions of their trip.
How to offset CO2
Since the Kyoto Protocol (2008), an international treaty where 192 parties committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the avoidance of CO2 production in developing countries can be rewarded with carbon credits. These certificates can be monetized and traded to generate additional revenues for CO2 mitigation projects on ground (Aera, 2015).
To calculate the carbon credits of every trip, Mauritius Conscious’ Travel Consultants compute the CO2 footprint of travelers’ flights, accommodation and land transportation that constitute our tailor-made trips, based on:
the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) carbon emissions calculator
the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) tax rebate scheme for vehicles producing above 158gCO2 / km
hotel stays’ carbon calculation based on the Hotel Carbon Management Initiative (HCMI), by International Tourism Partnership and the World Travel & Tourism Council
Depending on the amount of CO2 produced per trip, Mauritius Conscious adds the costs to offset it to the final quote of travelers (an average of €20 for a 15 days-trip from Europe).
On the excursions side of things, all of Mauritius Conscious’ curated Partners offer CO2 free alternatives to commercial boat trips, helicopter rides and day-tours in vans. Through their multi-day trips, travelers get involved in hands-on activities around the reforestation of endemic forests, permaculture, organic agriculture and litter clean-ups in natural areas.
The monetized credits collected by Mauritius Conscious are destined, through AERA, to the first solar photovoltaic project in Mauritius, locally known as La Ferme Bambous. If you have plans to hike the Corps de Garde mountain during your discovery of the Island, you will be able to spot the 15 MW solar farm from the heights.
La Ferme Bambous view from the Corps de Garde Mountain, Quatre Bornes
Electricity in Mauritius is mainly generated from coal and heavy fuel oil; by supporting a renewable energy project we help avoid producing 22,000 tons of CO2 from fossil fuels every year. La Ferme Bambous has a direct, positive impact on 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG)*, and is already accountable for 2% of the 16% renewable energy generated in Mauritius.
Cultural discovery of the
south coast on electric bikes
Mauritius Island is full of secret gem’s when it come to its history, culture and nature. For good and for bad, it is not always easy to discover them and to stumble upon someone who knows well the subject. Through this article, Mauritius Conscious’ team and friends will take you down the unspoiled south coast of the island, where we were treated for a full-day of discoveries riding our electric bikes.
Our journey started at La Place du Moulin in Bel Ombre. After understanding better how the electric-assistance bikes work and, following a thorough briefing on safety, we stepped into our adventure. First stop was the Chateau de Bel Ombre, a splendid colonial house that the very Charles Telfair used to call home sweet home, surrounded by beautiful flower gardens and a golf course nowadays. Botanist, Doctor and Personal Secretary of Mauritius Governor, Telfair was crucial to the introduction of botanical gardens in Mauritius, like the Pamplemousses Garden, and to the discovery of endemic species, like the Telfairs skink from Round Island. My favorite take-away, however, was to learn that in his public figure role, Telfair fought to improve the living conditions of slaves, like their education and housing opportunities.
We took our bikes and safely rode in single line between sugarcane fields and the turquoise-blue ocean. Second stop was at the Baie du Jacotet, a beautiful, sandy beach marked by history rather than hotel and villa developments. Turns out that this overlooked spot in the South coast witnessed a determining battle between the French and the English during the French mandate in Mauritius; a battle that injured both captains and sent them to heal next to the other at the same hospital. The drastic loss of British soldiers in this battle and the apparent weakness of the French made the Royal Navy come to a final, master decision: they should invest all their remaining resources in a surprise, land attack from the North of Mauritius – the same that won them power over the island in 1810.
The sun was bright above us and a generous breeze refreshed our way to the incredibly beautiful beach of St. Felix. The group of local riders who accompanied us couldn’t help but notice how reduced the stretch of sand was compared to their childhood memories. “Sand erosion is mostly due to two factors: the degradation of the coral reef and that of the coastal forests that used to surround the coast” said Romina, specialist in sustainable tourism. “The buildings and roads built so close to the shore have replaced the flora and the dunes that represented physical barriers for sand not to drift away. Added to that, the diminished coral barrier isn’t capable any longer to prevent the currents and waves from coming in and pulling the fragile sand deposits back with them. I felt relieved to be wearing my eco-compatible sunscreen, at least, but seeing the degradation of the beach certainly helped me understand how important it is to support less destructive kinds of developments in-land, rather than yet more Resorts on the scarce coast.
We continued our way through Riambel beach and La Roche qui Pleure, until we arrived to the lively village of Souillac to discover its old port. It’s preserved architecture from the times of French colonization made it easy to imagine how it looked in its times of splendour (late 1700’s, most of 1800’s) when it used to be one of the most important ports of Mauritius.
As my energy levels and those of my electric bike started to run low, we arrived at Madame Mala’s home, my favorite stop of the day. Mala hosted us warmly at her place and welcomed the group of bikers with the most delicious vegetarian curries I have ever had: cari gros pois, giromoun, brèdes and rougaille soya. We gladly helped her to spread the batter of the traditional flat and round rotis – only ours were squares.
After the tasteful break it was time for us to get back onto the saddle. The electric motor and support of our bikes was very appreciated at this point. We took the same road back to Bel Ombre but this time it seemed like a totally new one, thanks to the different perception of landscapes and the new stops of our guides along the road.
If you, like me, are eager to discover and learn more about Mauritius, our Conscious Partners can organize this and other biking tours around the island just as good! Give a go to the Chamarel, Le Morne, Grand Old Port and Pamplemousses discoveries in an eco-conscious and culturally-rich way.
Globe trotters, innovators and Mauritius Conscious’ first guests traveling to Reunion Island. Min and Alam reminded us the value of staying at real people’s homes; sharing, learning and connecting deeply with local people is what makes every trip unique on its own. Reunion Island pops into our minds with breathtaking landscapes and outdoor sports but – have you thought of the guys preparing a cozy bed and a heart-warming meal after your adventures? Read on to find more about Min and Alam’s trip highlights and their trips for future travelers in La Reunion.
Tell us briefly where are you originally from and about your traveling style
Min: Singapore. Alam: USA
Since we live in Mauritius, we usually stay in resorts for a weekend. When we travel abroad, we conduct extensive research online and enjoy planning our own trips; Min used to couch-surf before Airbnb, and enjoy meeting locals on our travels.
What attracted you to travel to Reunion Island?
The fact that it’s 45 minutes from Mauritius makes for a great and quick getaway destination. Having a good friend from Reunion was a big draw as well; hearing about the amazing hikes and nature and, of course, the active volcano!
Why did you choose to organize your adventure holiday with Mauritius Conscious?
We were tired of resort experiences and were intrigued about traveling while participating in the local culture and helping to protect the environment. It was also difficult to plan a trip to Reunion as we could not estimate distances, and we were so caught up with work. We also love supporting conscious businesses, so Mauritius Conscious was the perfect go-to to plan this trip.
Tell us what your time in Reunion Island was about. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Meeting our awesome host Bernard, who is quite an innovator at heart. He is always looking at new techniques and ideas, hosts regular classes to teach other farmers what he learns, and also ran classes for children to see where their food comes from. In his words “If we have a generation of kids who only use what they need, and don’t waste or take what they don’t need, we would have a much better world”
The hike to Mafate in the dark! We ended up arriving at our trailhead so late that we did half the hike down to Mafate in the dark. It was a little scary hiking with our iPhones, and when Alam shone on a pair of eyes (!). Today this story makes for one of our funniest memories though.
Hanging out with Marie, our Mauritius Conscious’ hostess, who is as fast as a helicopter. We can’t believe she ran down the hiking trail in one third the time we took, to join us for breakfast the next day. We learnt a lot about Reunion culture, economy, politics, and how there’s a growing startup scene of very exciting biotech companies as part of FrenchTech.
Having dinner prepared by our host Christopher, who turned out to be a professional French chef and great dinner party host. Watching him cook in the open kitchen was really inspiring. He also has personal relationships with deep sea fishermen. We had some of the best food in Reunion here!
Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Definitely yes. Bernard impressed us with his motto of consuming only what was necessary. We felt that same attitude all throughout our trip. His guest house counts with an organic farm and about a hundred hens, that provided fresh eggs for breakfast daily! His home-made wind turbine and solar panels generate one third of the energy consumed.
We felt great joy sitting at communal tables with local people, and sharing in their stories. This was a change from the lonely resort experience. We dined with a newspaper delivery man, a nurse, holiday makers, and other locals from Reunion.
Finally, what tips would you give to other travelers booking this kind of holiday?
Learn a little French before your trip. It will go a long way!
First stop at Decathlon to get hiking and outdoors gear – there is so much choice!
You will need to cover large distances, as Reunion is mountainous; be prepared to drive.
A tip for those flying from MU: Get seats on the right of the plane when flying to Reunion, and left when flying back to Mauritius (we landed in St. Pierre’s airport).
Finally, what is one thing you would add to your trip to make it more interesting / pleasant / easy to navigate / unforgettable?
We are extremely satisfied. Probably stay more than one night at La Plaine des Cafres as we didn’t have time to check out the forests nearby.
In search of your own, authentic adventure?
Let’s tailor-make it to your dreams and needs!
Multi-day trek in Reunion Island: the Cirque of Mafate
Reunion Island is, most probably, the lushest island in the Indian Ocean, and at its core stands the Cirque of Mafate, a true gem for outdoor adventure travelers. Remote to the outside world, the only way to access the Cirque is trekking down its steep paths or by helicopter. Since the day I landed in Reunion Island, people kept singing praises about Mafate, of how lush, gorgeous, adventurous and offbeat this piece of land was. Obviously, I wanted to experience it on my own. Little did I know that it was to become the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done.
One week after my arrival, it was all settled. A group of new friends and myself drove all the way up to Bord Martin, where we started our trek in a good mood, talking and laughing all the way. The weather was on our side, with no clouds on sight. As we reached the first ridge, I stopped, speechless in front of the scenery I was facing. The volcanic past of this area left mountains with rough cliffs, but thousand of years later, nature found the way to regain its upper hand. I felt dipped into a Lord of the Rings movie, ready to meet some hobbits, elves and dwarfs along the way.
As we were passing through different settings, from dry paths to lush forests of filaos, I couldn’t help but think of the postman of Mafate. Back in the 50’s, Ivrin Pausé started a journey of a lifetime. During 40 years he walked every single day, carrying between fifteen and eighteen kilos of letters, to deliver Mafate inhabitants’ correspondence. More than a postman, he was almost the only contact these people had from the outside world. When he finally retired in the 90’s, he had already walked the equivalent of 6 times the diameter of Earth! Today, Mr. Pausé is 90 years old, has a dedicated statue and a song talking about his journey. I found his story very touching when Marie, our Reunionnaise host, told it to the group of explorers; thinking I was walking on his footsteps made this trek truly symbolic.
The first day hiking went by quiet smooth, since we were only going downhill, to the center of the Cirque. After the rewarding lunch I packed for myself, we reached Ilet à Malheur, where we checked into our local homestay, nested in a green setting.
We started an afternoon of game cards, treating ourselves with the national beer of Reunion Island, the Dodo, waiting for dinner time. And what a dinner was that! A 30-people table was waiting for us with homemade and tasteful cari poulet and rougail saucisses, cooked during the afternoon by our lovely host. The atmosphere was joyful as everyone was exchanging and laughing with their neighbours. Satisfied and tired, we slept very early all wrapped-up in our layered clothes; it was 8°C outside, in the middle of August.
New day, new adventure! The previous day was all about going downhill, which meant that, eventually, we needed to go up again. We left Ilet à Malheur, headed towards Aurère, another cute village in Mafate, where it is also possible to stop for the night. The landscape was contrasting from the one of the day before, this time stumbling upon rivers and waterfalls that invited us to refresh in their natural pools. All along the way we crossed bridges, stairs and ladders, watching the precipice right besides our feet. Nothing to worry about though, the infrastructure seemed and felt perfectly taken care of, showing no risk to fall down.
The last 2 hours were the most challenging, as we were only going straight up; funny enough, it was also one of my favorite parts of the hike: I felt like immersing deep into the Amazonian Forest, surrounded by pristine greenery; nature here is in its purest form. When we reached the top, a peaceful feeling overwhelmed me. It made me realize how important it is to escape from the buzz of our everyday lives and to reconnect with our bodies and with nature.
What was in my backpack? (a bag of 30 liters is enough for this trek)
This interview is the first of our series of Heartfelt Testimonials, offering a deeper insight into Mauritius Conscious’ way of travel and package holidays. We honestly believe that discovering the Indian Ocean with us will blow your mind a little bit harder than usual but, better read it from real travelers and not just us, right? This is the story of Starlite and Salvador, a lovely couple we got the chance to host for their honeymoon in Mauritius last June (2018). Read on and, hope to see you next time!
Tell us briefly where are you originally from and about your traveling style
Salvador and I are living in the United States. I was born in New Jersey, USA, and moved to Portugal when I was 14; that’s where and when I met Salvador, who was born in Lisbon but grew up in Macau for several years as well. Salvador grew up in a family that travels constantly and, he passed on the travel bug to me as well. We think that the best thing in life is definitely traveling! We really enjoy learning about the culture of the places we visit and “live like the local”.
What brought you to Mauritius?
We travelled to Costa Rica for adventure holidays a couple of years ago and we loved how you could explore a lot of the country and experience its different contrasts: from mountain to beaches, forests and the locals’ love for their country.
We knew a couple that had planned their honeymoon in Mauritius 10 years ago and, we decided to look it up. We didn’t do a lot of research because, from what we first saw, we really liked it; so we decided to search for a travel agency specialized in ecotourism. That’s when we came across Mauritius Conscious.
Why did you choose Mauritius Conscious as your trip planner?
We were traveling to Mauritius for our honeymoon so, we wanted it to be extra special. A couple of emails exchanged back and forth with Mauritius Conscious. We were a bit undecided, since we didn’t know much about the country, so Romina (owner of Mauritius Conscious) asked us to chat through WhatsApp. As soon as we heard her through a voice recording we were sold! She’s the most caring, knowledgeable, honest and environmentally-friendly person. We would mention places to visit in Mauritius that Romina could have easily added to our trip because, that’s what normal agencies do, since all they see is money, but Romina didn’t ever do that. She would explain why she didn’t support certain type of outdoor activities (mostly related to wildlife exploitation and overcrowded attractions), give her opinion and, come up with a sustainable tourism offer more suitable for us.
Tell us about your time in Mauritius; what was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Our time in Mauritius was unforgettable. We landed with a smile and left with an even bigger one; we couldn’t wait to tell everyone about this hidden gem in the Indian Ocean. The entire trip we were in contact with Romina and, she would always recommend the most incredible places to visit: not touristy at all, simply beautiful and, delicious, authentic restaurants we wouldn’t have found on our own. Some of our trip highlights were:
Our PADI Scuba Diving initiation – when we were underwater we forgot about everything; it was a whole new world!
Meeting Romina and her husband over a drink at a rooftop bar – they’re an enjoyable and friendly couple!
The number one memory would be our final surprise. Romina organized a sunset boat trip with JB, one of her generous guides, with bottle of wine and snacks included. We felt like we were on the Amazon River.
Ready for their dive with our PADI Green Star Certified diving centre
Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes! For every activity we had, Mauritius Conscious was able to book us with local companies or individual guides. All the people we met were so friendly and had so much love for what they did and for their country. More specifically, we visited Ile Aux Aigrettes, a Nature Reserve Island managed by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation; the project focuses on the restoration of endemic forests and re introduction of rare species, like the giant tortoises of Seychelles. We also stayed at a family-run Guest house, a beachfront Boutique Hotel and at an incredible Eco-Lodge at the banks of a river. The food offered there was authentic Mauritian, while hot water and lighting was provided by solar energy. The eco-tents are built with recycled materials and in perfect harmony with nature, which made us feel like we were staying in the most eco-friendly accommodation possible, really.
Starlite & Salvador with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Natural pools, treks and tents at the Eco-Lodge
Finally, what tips would you give to other travelers booking this kind of holiday?
Be open-minded and accept all opinions. Try to understand how the locals live; try new experiences and, keep exploring!
In search of your own, offbeat honeymoon?
Let’s tailor-make it to your dreams and needs!
The Pieter Both stands majestically in the Moka Range of mountains; it is visible from most of the western, central and northern roads you may take if you go out on scenic road trips in Mauritius. While is not highly ranked in the list of places to visit during your holidays in Mauritius, the outline of the mountain is not one that you will ignore during your holiday.
Here is the challenge: Climb the mountain and get back down. For everyone passionate about outdoor activities and outdoor adventures, this challenge is for you. We had hyped ourselves up the entire week before doing the hike. For many of us, the hike was something that we had been working towards, doing smaller and less challenging hikes all along to one day feel ready to hike the Pieter Both.
The hike starts off in La Laura village, home to a number of petit planteurs (small farmers), which means that you cross many little fields of all sorts of vegetable plantations on your way to the mountain. You may also be greeted by a handful of over friendly and far too curious stray dogs, but they’re harmless and just want to find out more about your adventure holidays.
Once you reach the mountain, the ascent is constant and rather steep at times. We had two experienced guides with us: One leading the pack in front, and one at the back making sure no one falls behind. This is one of the most important parts of the hike, safety. They literally walk you through the path, help you out when you need a hand and also are quite helpful in that they know the way.
The hike is unlike any other that you will do in Mauritius, the climate of La Laura makes it very pleasant to hike during winter time, but it can get rainy sometimes, so you have to be careful. The path to the top is through a steep gorge that opens up to even steeper cliff faces. There is not a definite or marked path to console your efforts and this is where having a guide certainly helps.
However, the path gets treacherous once you get to mountain’s shoulder; we were (almost quite literally) swept off our feet. The view was magnificent: the beautiful landscapes of the centre of the island, the numerous mountains, all topped with not one, but two rainbows. It was indeed a beautiful day for it. We found shelter from the strong wind in a hollow groove covered by bushes (as authentic mountain explorers) and had lunch there. It was important to recover fully because we had seen what awaited us. The hardest part was yet to come.
With our spirits high and our batteries full we decided to continue the ascent. For this part, we needed two ropes to rock climb. With our guide belaying us, directing and encouraging us, we climbed the first of three rock climbing missions. One by one we went up and perched ourselves on the side of the cliff like mountain goats, or unicorns, if we are going with the spirit of rainbows. This is where we noticed the importance of being a small group. We were four and two guides, and this was the best way to share our experience.
At this point, the hike had become as challenging mentally as it was physically. The height and the precariousness that we were putting ourselves in was unprecedented for all of us. At one point or another, we all thought about the fatality of the human body, but the guides did a good job at reassuring us and we also had an excellent team spirit!
The part two of three was a true test of grit. It did not demand much skill in climbing but suddenly everything had become mental. Are you going to do it? Will you overcome the angst? Will you not fall? One by one again, we all did it, and we all cheered for one another. But the greatest reward was coming up to the giant iconic boulder: the head of the Pieter Both – and we were all about to conquer it!
There are metal steps making a ladder installed on the most protruding face of the boulder and that is the way up. Equipped with our harnesses, again one by one we took on the challenge of bouldering up, starting horizontally with our back to the ground, pulling ourselves up, latching and unlatching ourselves to each of the ladder steps.
When we finally arrived up at the top, our endorphins and adrenaline were off the charts. We had completed the most difficult hike in Mauritius and most of us completed our hat-trick of the three highest mountains on the island. It was the greatest feeling of achievement ever and we had all completed it together!
We were now eager to get back down and enjoy a nice, warm bowl of boulettes in Saint Pierre. And that’s what we did. In the week that came, we were all on a high, walking around with this amazing feeling of achievement. The Pieter Both, is a recommended hike for outdoor adventure lovers, extreme sports enthusiasts and seekers of authentic ecotourism.
Wanna give it a go?
We hook you up with the right guides.
The day belongs to those who wake up early; however, when you set your alarm at 5 am on a Saturday morning, you better make sure that’s gonna be worthy. We drove all the way from the northwest of Mauritius to the southeast for our rendez-vous with Gaël and Mathilde. We arrived to La Cambuse public beach at 7:40 am, the perfect time to stretch on a deserted beach while the sunlight gently takes over the sky.
Gael is Mauritian, garden artist and entrepreneur. Ten years ago, he started a food forest in a beautiful piece of land overlooking the sea. Aligned t principles of permaculture (“permanent agriculture”), his project aims to create an autonomous and self-sufficient garden, where every plant, tree and bush adapts and makes the most of the natural elements of its specific place, such as the sun, the shade, the composted leaves or the animals that visit. His French girlfriend, Mathilde, is a self-proclaimed farmer who lives and loves Mauritius, and who supports Gael in his excursions and in the garden as often as her full-time job allows. After a warm introduction, we started our botanical trek from La Cambuse, following a coastal path heading west.
On our left-hand side, we admired a succession of unspoiled beaches characterized by the wild and pristine sea of Mauritius southmost coast. Gael and Mathilde, who are also sea life and seafood aficionados, pointed to us a few spots for surreal snorkeling. I could picture Gael swimming with a knife between his teeth and a pair of rubber boots at his feet – not that he actually did it but, it’s easy to imagine him that way – while he shared with us stories of his great catches and rare finds under the sea.
At the edge of the beach, we bumped into one of the few remaining endemic species of coastal trees in Mauritius, the Heliotropium foertherianum, better known as Veloutier Blanc. Gael shared with us interesting details on the medical use of this and other creeper plants in the area.
On our right-hand side, a completely different scenario was presented: a lush and tropical forest, extending towards the inland. We could distinguish clearly the repeated patterns of earth dunes alongside the coast. Gael explained to us their huge relevance to the coastal ecosystem: it is thanks to them, and the flora they nurture, that sand from the beach is prevented from eroding into the sea. When hotels and other concrete constructions take over a wild coast like this, the first thing they do is flatten the dunes to be able to access and build on the acquired land. By doing so, they condemn themselves and the rest of Mauritian inhabitants (fauna, residents, travelers) to lose the beautiful, sandy beaches that represents Mauritius. Wonder why the sand is eroding in Flic en Flac, La Preneuse, Bain Boeuf, Pointe d’Esny beaches…? Take a look at the “development” built around.
The dunes and the dense biodiversity that comes with them, are just one of the many reasons for this area to be declared South Coast Heritage Zone. Sadly, and against several citizen organized movements, the government of Mauritius is starting to give away part of this land to South African investors, namely, the Pelangi Resorts (in partnership with Marriot International). A heartbreaking situation for Mauritians who have seen most of their littoral been privatized by international Hotel chains, despite the average occupation rate of 70% in Mauritius Hotels (2015).
To learn more about this story and support Mauritian citizens, visit Aret Kokin Nu Laplaz (stop stealing our beaches).
After one and a half hours of learning about Mauritius natural and social environment, we reached our goal: the beautiful fishermen village of Le Bouchon. On low-tide days, Gael likes to invite his guests for a water trek across the bay, to refresh. The tide was not in our favor that day, so we headed back to La Cambuse to enjoy the refreshing end swaying in its waves.
Gaël and Mathilde welcomed us at their home in Deux Bras, cautiously guarded by their 4 adopted dogs: Poulf, Cali, Noreille and Maroon. Together, we prepared fresh drinks straight from their permaculture garden: coconut water, citronella juice, lemonade and, for the more classic ones, a cold Phoenix beer on the shade. His garden is a mother lode, bursting with fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers of all kinds. Each of us got hands-on the ripe produce to elaborate a healthy menu, consisting of a salad of green papaya with pesto dressing, purée de manioc with garlic and pepper (cut by me, after a little lesson on how to use a machete) and the catch of the day grilled over a wood fire. I hadn’t eaten so well in a long while. It was tasty, healthy and made with love. The garden-sourced lunch marked the end of an excellent morning re-discovering Mauritius and the start of a lovely afternoon sharing and laughing with our new friends.
Interested on permaculture?
We hook you up with the right people.
Discovering the Tamarind Falls with ropes and harnesses
As you may know by now, the Tamarin Falls, also known as 7 Cascades, are one of our unbeatable must-dos while in Mauritius; simply because of the deep immersion into the island’s wild and lush nature that people seldom evokes when they think of “Mauritius”.
The possibilities to discover the set of (more than) 7 Waterfalls are vast, ranging from medium level hikes to high intensity, full-day ones. Depending on your thirst for adventure you could either hike up the so called “Death Walls” or abseil down to its plunge pools. Right, abseiling Mauritius waterfalls of up to 55 meters high. We get a lot of questions regarding safety and intensity level so, we thought of writing this detailed article on the whole experience for you.
We were scheduled to meet our conscious partner in Henrietta at 8:30 am, just on time to start before the other operators arrive. We were a small group of 6 participants accompanied by 3 instructors; a reassuring start. Albane and Athanaz, our experienced guides, started to hand over swimsuits, harnesses, snap hooks, life jackets, helmets and floating bags. After a 15 minutes down-hill hike dressed for war, we reached the top of the first and tallest waterfall we would abseil that day.
We were heading fast but safely into action. Athanaz and his two team members took us through a precise and crystal clear briefing, where we got to practice the moves, equipment and security measures until there was no room for doubt. I was relieved to learn that, even if the first and the second security measures failed, there would be a third (person) controlling the ropes and making sure we wouldn’t end up like fried eggs on the rocks.
A few guinea pigs went down before me and, my turn came to get ready. I was excited and shaking, looking 45 meters down and hoping to reach the floor as smooth as it was possible. It was the first time I did abseiling and, frankly, I almost couldn’t believe that I was to do most of the job by myself. I shook away the anxiety by focusing on the moves of my hands on the ropes. During the first section my feet were touching the wall of the waterfall and, out of a sudden, the rocks were too far for my reach, into the cave that forms behind the waterfall. With no support to ground me, I started to spin slowly around myself. I was suspended in the air, speechless, facing the open, majestic canyon – and already half way down. Between the adrenaline rush and a dizzy spell, stopping for a second to admire the view brought me back to myself. A feeling of sheer happiness flooded my body.
When my feet touched the ground, my abdominals were hurting and I was breathless but, above everything, I felt ready for the next abseil. We rewarded ourselves with a fresh shower under the waterfall and swam in the plunge pool to reach the next waterfall. For the second abseil, a 10 meters one, we were all at ease, laughing and enjoying the full experience.
A final challenge was waiting for us: a 6 meters jump off the top of the third waterfall (which definitely sounds easier than it feels when you are up there). Don’t listen too much to us but, the secret is to do it without thinking. Of course, you gotta be accompanied by professional guides who know how and where to do it before attempting a reckless jump. This last experience was the cherry on top of our adrenaline-full day; however, if heights are not your thing, you can always opt for a safe hike down the banks of the river.
If you opt for the full-day canyoning experience, the next step would be to abseil the highest waterfall, that one of 55 meters. For us, it was the end of our half-day canyoning initiation. We finished our adventure with a 20 minutes steep hike back to the top, through a dense forest of Goyavier de Chine.
Adventure yourself into 7 Cascades!
We hook you up with local guides for your multi-level hikes or canyoning adventures.
When I arrived to Mauritius almost 5 months ago, I came to learn that this tropical island is considered one of the best kitesurfing destinations in the world. It hosted the Global Kitesports Association (GKA) Kitesurf World Cup in 2016 and 2017, and will welcome it again this year from the 6th to the 16th of September 2018.
The kite season extends from May to October, during Mauritius warm and sunny winter, although the best winds come from June to September. Throughout this period, the conditions to make the kiters’ experience most enjoyable and memorable are reunited: strong winds, warm temperature, sunny weather and crazy, playful waves.
Le Morne is the most popular spot to kitesurf in Mauritius. Its large Kite Lagoon with onshore winds and shallow water make it an ideal scenario for beginner kite-surfers. For those into freestyle and riding waves, Kite Lagoon will fascinate them with its 3 famous waves: the Inner Reef, Manawa and One Eye. Attention must be driven to the two last ones, which are only for advanced and confirmed kitesurfers as they require confident technique and experience. No wonder why the third and final test of the GKA Kitesurf World Cup takes place on One Eye wave!
Kitesurfing at Le Morne
For those staying in different areas of the island, the turquoise waters of Anse la Raie (North), Poste Lafayette (East), Pointe d’Esny (Southeast) and Bel Ombre (South) are flawless spots to learn to kitesurf while experiencing different landscapes of our island. The fact that they are less frequented by tourists (thus, a safer environment to learn) make them Mauritius Conscious’ first recommendation.
For a better insight into Mauritius kitesurf world, we invited Sophie Vulliet, seasoned kitesurfer, to share her experience with us:
Where do you usually go kitesurfing in Mauritius?
The most accessible spots, to my perspective, are Anse La Raie and Le Morne, because there’s plenty of schools and shops around to rent your equipment.
Le Morne is a worldwide recognized spot that hosts several competitions during the year. Victim of its own success, Kite Lagoon is often overcrowded, which means that one must rent her or his equipment well in advance. As an alternative, the spots of Pointe d’Esny and Poste Lafayette are really beautiful and less known, so kiters have more place to practice in a peaceful environment.
What is your personal favorite spot?
That’s a difficult question; every spot has a charm of its own. I kitesurf mostly in Anse La Raie, which I find fantastic when going out of the bay to enjoy its the vast, uncrowded space. It’s worth saying that the spot can get a little technical when it comes to launching your kite though, surrounded by trees and jumping on rocks; nobody wants their kite to end up tangled on the trees. I would strongly recommend beginners interested to experience Anse la Raie to do it with an instructor to be able to make the most of it.
On another hand, I like a lot Le Morne for its lively atmosphere and its stunning mountainous backdrop. Pointe d’Esny is also special; I went there only once and it was amazing to be practically alone. This would be a great spot for beginners to grab confidence and develop skill free of trouble.
Kiting on the turquoise lagoon of Pointe d’Esny
Are these 3 spots for multilevel kitesurfers (beginner and confirmed)?
Yes, the three of them are multilevel. If I had to choose, I would recommend:
Pointe d’Esny for beginners, with its peaceful atmosphere and in-shore wind which is ideal for learning.
Anse La Raie for intermediates, as long as they come with an instructor who can reduce the risk of technical issues.
Le Morne for advanced, where the water is a bit deeper and a lot more people (beginners and advanced) can get on your way. Plus, the wave of One Eye represents a challenge that every experienced kitesurfer would like to try at least once in their life.
Do you get to meet new people while kitesurfing? How is the atmosphere for new comers?
Yes, I’ve met a lot of people from all backgrounds and generations. I became friends with the locals who work in the schools and with other expats who come to make the most of the season. It’s lovely how a common interest unites us, even without knowing each other.
Learning to kitesurf with Specialised Kiteboarding at Pointe d’Esny
Where else did you kitesurf in the world? How is Mauritius compared to those spots?
Last summer I tried out Sri Lanka. Before that, I visited Dakhla in Morocco and to Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. Each spot is unique and different. I’ve had the chance to spend the most time in Mauritius and to progress a lot in its waters, so this last place is special to me. I would really recommend Mauritius as a kitesurfing destination.
Learn to kitesurf in Mauritius!
Mauritius Conscious hooks you up with authentic guest houses and passionate instructors in Pointe d’Esny.
Looking for a challenge to upgrade your practice? We work with the best kite shop and school based at Le Morne.