Trail Run­ning in Mau­ri­tius

Tourism Tattler - - CONTENTS - By Deb­bie Hath­way

Thou­sands of lo­cal and for­eign trail­ers joined in the 10th an­nual Fer­ney Trail Run to raise funds for the phys­i­cally hand­i­capped and na­ture con­ser­va­tion in Mau­ri­tius.

Ev­ery­body wants to go to Mau­ri­tius, at least once, but my love for this is­land and its peo­ple have opened the door to many op­por­tu­ni­ties. I visit of­ten ‘to work' (a writer's brain is al­ways look­ing for the next story an­gle), I drive my­self around, I have a Mau­ri­tian mo­bile phone num­ber. Oh, and a tat­too of a dodo on my right shoul­der – and I was one of those who swore she'd never have one.

There's some­thing in the air, lit­er­ally, that re­ju­ve­nates body and soul from the minute my feet hit the tar­mac at Sir See­woosagur Ram­goolam In­ter­na­tional Air­port (re­search by the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme (UNEP) in 2015 rates the is­land's air qual­ity one of the best in the world). Hav­ing pre­vi­ously hiked up Le Morne Bra­bant, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site known for the shel­ter it pro­vided ru­n­away slaves in the 18th and 19th cen­turies, in the southwest, I jumped at the chance to cover a trail run in the pro­tected La Val­lée de Fer­ney (Fer­ney Val­ley) in the south­east.

Fer­ney Trail Run

The Val­ley is about an hour's drive from Long Beach Golf and Spa Re­sort on the Mau­ri­tian east coast, my ho­tel for this trip. I was part of a se­lect group of me­dia in­vited to run, walk and hike through in­ter­sect­ing routes of the an­nual Ciel Fer­ney Trail in Septem­ber 2017, eas­ily the sin­gle largest sport­ing event on the is­land by num­ber of par­tic­i­pants, play­ing host to 3 200 trail­ers. This in­cluded about 30 hand­i­capped peo­ple who com­pleted the course un­der the su­per­vi­sion of In­clu­sion Mau­ri­tius group NGO vol­un­teers and Ciel staff. Among them was the phys­i­cally hand­i­capped 12-year-old Ethan, who was car­ried by a team of vol­un­teer trail­ers along the Nando's 10km track in a spe­cial chair usu­ally used for the Rod Trail on nearby Ro­drigues Is­land.

The Fer­ney Val­ley is a 200ha sanc­tu­ary for rare or en­dan­gered indige­nous species such as the Mau­ri­tian fal­con known as the kestrel. A pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ship be­tween the Gov­ern­ment of Mau­ri­tius and Ciel Group en­sures the restora­tion and pro­tec­tion of this part of the is­land's rapidly di­min­ish­ing her­itage – less than two per­cent of the indige­nous ecosys­tems on Mau­ri­tius are still in­tact.

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