Travel highlights Mauritius
Black River Gorges National Park
In the south of the island you'll find Black River Gorges, which is the largest nature reserve in Mauritius, and a superb spot for hiking. It's a spectacularly wild expanse of thick forest. Walking trails of various lengths take visitors through dense forest and lush landscapes, home to numerous rare bird species. Look for the rare tambalacoque (dodo tree), the black ebony trees and the wild guavas. Bird-watchers should keep an eye out for the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, echo parakeet and Mauritius cuckoo-shrike.
An elegant Créole residence originally owned by British and French aristocrats in the 19th century, the Eureka Mansion provides an intriguing glimpse into colonial life. Constructed largely of wood and surrounded by a long verandah, the house is filled with antiques of the period. The extensive grounds consist of a curious mix of natural Mauritian plant life, including mango trees and palms, a waterfall and an English-style garden.
Grand Bassin lake
Nestling in an extinct volcanic crater, Grand Bassin lake is considered sacred by Mauritian Hindus, who make a pilgrimage to it every year for the Maha Shivaratri festival (usually in February/March). At any time of year, though, the emerald-hued lake is a tranquil spot.
Ile aux Cerfs
Ringed by pristine white sand, the tiny Ile aux Cerfs off the east coast of Mauritius is a favourite destination for water sports enthusiasts. The clear water teems with brightly-coloured tropical fish and has beautifully preserved reefs. The interior of the island contains dense forest and an impressive waterfall, popular with walkers.
Overlooking Vieux Grand Port is Lion Mountain with its sphinx-like profile. The mountain offers a splendid half-day hike with stunning views over the coast. It's a very challenging but rewarding walk that climbs up the lion's 'back' to finish at an impressive viewpoint on its 'head'.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
These attractive gardens are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mauritius with as centrepiece a pond of giant water lilies. Young leaves emerge as wrinkled balls and unfold into the classic tea-tray shape up to 2m across in a matter of hours. There's also an astonishing collection of palms of all shapes and sizes. The gardens were started in 1735 by Governor Mahé de La Bourdonnais as a vegetable garden for his Mon Plaisir Château.
Tamarin is awkward to reach, but it's worth the effort for a beautiful, deep, cool bathe at the bottom of a series of seven spectacular waterfalls. They are only accessible via a challenging trail that begins near the Tamarin Falls reservoir, but you will have to explore to find it. It's best to take a local guide from Henrietta.