Living the high life on an island that’s full of surprises JON MACPHERSON
Sees another side to the romantic Indian Ocean destination Mauritius
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 (www.cenizaro.com/ 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