Liv­ing the high life on an is­land that’s full of sur­prises JON MACPHER­SON

Sees another side to the ro­man­tic In­dian Ocean des­ti­na­tion Mau­ri­tius

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

STAND­ING on a tightrope 200m in the air above a treach­er­ous canyon har­nessed in, desperately try­ing not to slip and to make it to the other side safely.

Yes, this is Mau­ri­tius, just per­haps not the one you were ex­pect­ing.

When you think of Mau­ri­tius you per­haps con­jure up ro­man­tic images of a hon­ey­moon hotspot, a hot and tran­quil par­adise with beau­ti­ful, un­spoilt beaches.

Well don’t worry, that is all there and hasn’t gone the way of the once en­demic Dodo. Air Mau­ri­tius of­fers flights from Manch­ester to Mau­ri­tius via Paris in con­junc­tion with their part­ner Air France. They also of­fer di­rect non-stop flights to Mau­ri­tius up to four times a week from London Heathrow. Prices start at £700 for

But there is much more to this In­dian Ocean is­land than first meets the eye – with ad­ven­ture, his­tory and na­ture to match the very best in the world.

After a com­fort­able 11-hour Air Mau­ri­tius flight and coast­line car ride, we ar­rive at our ho­tel, The Res­i­dence Mau­ri­tius.

stun­ning, lux­u­ri­ous and el­e­gant ho­tel set against the back­drop of mile-long pearl white beaches and palm trees bask­ing in the warm Mau­ri­tian sun.

And what bet­ter way to re­lax and un­wind than an

Aa re­turn econ­omy class flight. More in­for­ma­tion from www.air­mau­ri­tius. com. Rates at The Res­i­dence Mau­ri­tius start from £143 per night for a Colo­nial Gar­den View Room on a half-board ba­sis ( theres­i­dence/ mau­ri­tius). hour-long full body mas­sage at the ho­tel’s very own spa?

After set­tling into the spa­cious and com­fort­able room with pic­turesque ocean views, it was time for a lovely lunch at the ho­tel’s ‘house by the beach’ Plan­ta­tion restau­rant be­fore see­ing what the ho­tel has to of­fer.

And you wouldn’t be dis­ap­pointed, with ev­ery­thing from pools to bars and ten­nis courts to wa­ter ski­ing.

Our first evening in Mau­ri­tius was a mem­o­rable and un­ex­pected one with din­ner on the beach.

The scene was set with moon­light shim­mer­ing on the ocean, a sky full of stars, divine and sump­tu­ous food and beau­ti­ful mu­sic.

The next day we took a short trip and boat ride to the small is­land and na­ture re­serve called Ile aux Ai­grettes.

Step­ping on to the is­land is like step­ping back in time 400 years to a by­gone Mau­ri­tian era.

dry coastal for­est is home to the last re­mains of an abun­dant ecosys­tem, once com­mon­place across the whole of Mau­ri­tius.

Once home to the Dodo, the is­land is filled with di­verse en­dan­gered species in­clud­ing tor­toises, bats, birds and rep­tiles.

Vis­i­tors get to wit­ness first hand the in­cred­i­ble work the pas­sion­ate staff at the Mau­ri­tian Wildlife Foun­da­tion have done over the past 30 years as they en­deav­our to re­store the is­land by in­tro­duc­ing plants and rein­tro­duc­ing en­demic species that once lived there cen­turies ago.

Dur­ing a tour around the is­land peo­ple can also take part in this im­por­tant project by get­ting their hands dirty and pot­ting and seed­ing plants at their very own nurs­ery.

The next morn­ing was the calm be­fore the prover­bial storm with a lovely walk through the Pam­ple­mousse Botan­i­cal Gar­dens – the old­est in the south­ern hemi­spheres, fa­mous for its long pond of gi­ant lil­lies.

After a very re­fresh­ing and filling lunch among spec­tac­u­lar scenery at one of Mau­ri­tius’ best golf es­tates – Le Dix Neuf a TTTa­ma­rina restau­rant – we pro­ceeded to one of the most sur­pris­ing and fun-filled parts of our trip, the Casela Na­ture and Leisure Park.

From zip wiring and canyon swing­ing to seg­way­ing along­side

Aze­bras and roam­ing along­side (and touch­ing) lions, this place is a must visit for fam­i­lies and ad­ven­tur­ous in­di­vid­u­als alike. We started our visit at the deep end by har­ness­ing up for an adren­a­line-fu­elled and heart pound­ing walk across the Nepalese Bridge cov­er­ing a deep canyon to get to the start of the zip wire course.

Those afraid of heights should look away now. If that is enough to put knots in your stom­ach, the zip wire is some­thing else.

Be­ing urged on by the safety ex­perts to make a run­ning jump off a cliff edge into an even deeper canyon, with only a rope be­tween your­self and grav­ity, is one of the most terrifying yet ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ences ever.

After suc­cess­fully cross­ing the first wire, it was then time to do the ‘dou­ble zip wire’ where two peo­ple cross at the same time and can even travel up­side down.

All the time you are on the zip wire the park’s fan­tas­tic group of pho­tog­ra­phers is cap­tur­ing the mo­ment with price­less snaps which make for a won­der­ful mem­ory and sou­venir of a great trip.

Com­ing back down to earth we then vis­ited the ‘big cats’ area and got close and per­sonal with the tamest lions you will ever see.

On our fi­nal day we took a chauf­feur-driven ride along the sugar cane-bounded roads to the his­tory-steeped cap­i­tal Port Louis.

After en­joy­ing the spec­tac­u­lar views from the hill­top Ci­tadel we ven­tured into the heart of the buzzing city filled with fan­tas­tic mar­kets, colo­nial build­ings, mu­se­ums and mon­u­ments and the more mod­ern Cau­dan Water­front with dozens of shops and restau­rants to sat­isfy your spend­ing needs.

●● The Res­i­dence Mau­ri­tius ho­tel, above. Right, Jon walk­ing across a canyon

●● Casela Na­ture and Leisure Park in Mau­ri­tius

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