Mauritius Optional Sightseeing
Our local partner, SummerTimes, has a wide variety of sightseeing on offer, including activities on land and on water. The following are highly recommended:-

Island Retreat Wonders of the Deep Sea
Exotic North Adventurous Mauritius
Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve
Aquarelle
Simply Sailing Escapade to Reunion Island
Croisieres Australes Fun and Thrill in Water and Air
   


TROPICAL SPICES
(Half Day - Pamplemousses Gardens / Port Louis)

A must for any visitor: Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens created by French naturalist Pierre Poivre in 1767. The Chateau de Mon Plaisir, built in 1735, can still be seen there. The garden is known by world famous botanists for its 500 rare plant species from all over the world and housing the "samadhi" (funeral shrine) of the Father of the Nation, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.

The most famous are the giant Victoria Regina water lilies and the 80 varieties of palm tree, including the talipot, said to flower once every 60 years and then die.

Tour the capital, Port-Louis, founded in 1735, a photo stop at La Citadelle, an old fortress built in 1834, view the Champ de Mars, the second oldest race course in the world, and various modern and ancient buildings between the harbour and mountain range, including some fine colonial buildings such as the Government house (1735), the Municiple Theatre (1822), Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals, a Mosque, the Supreme Court and the Natural History Museum.

Visit Le Caudan Waterfront, a modern precinct with designer shops, duty free jewellery, craft market, spices, souvenirs, basketry and craftsmen at work. It's also possible to visit the covered market.

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COLOURFUL SOUTH
(Full day to Curepipe, Grand-Basin, Plaine-Champgne and Chamarel)

From the centre of Curepipe a road leads up to and around the rim of Trou-aux-cerfs, an extinct volcanic crater, whose floor is now heavily wooded. Enjoy a magnificent view over the whole island and its mountain ranges.

Stop at Colonial House (built in 1888) with a mini Eiffel Tower in the garden, which now houses a Private Collection, a duty free shop with a range of collectibles and art objects from around the world.

Drive South to Grand-Basin (Ganga Talao, the Ganges reincarnate and pilgrimage place for the Hindu. Continue to the forest reserve of Plaine-Champagne, stopping at a viewpoint over the spectacular Black River Gorges.

Travel through thick Chinese Guava groves, arriving at Varangue Sur Morne for lunch, the restaurant, originally a gamekeeper's lodge, has views of the only surviving native forest of the island. After lunch make your way through Trochetia nature trail to see some endemic and medicinal plants.

On to the magnificent Chamarel waterfall emerging from the moors on the way down to the unique seven-coloured earths of Chamarel, unusual mounds of undulating land stretching in contrasting rainbow coloured layers, believed to be the result of weathering and volcanic origin.

Back along the West coast past the Mourne mountain, Benitiers Island, fishing villages and the famous salt pans of Black River.

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ISLAND RETREAT
(Full day on Isle-aux-Cerfs)

Ile-aux-Cerfs is a real open-air retreat off the coastal village of Trou-D'eau-Douce on the East Coast.

You will be driven from your hotel to Pointe-Maurice and transferred within minutes by shuttle boat to the island.

There are no deer (cerfs) remaining on this island of 79 hectares, covered with casuarinas, coconut trees and flower bushes. As you step off the boat you are greeted by white sandy beaches for sunbathing and translucent turquoise waters for swimming and snorkelling.

You can hire water skis, pedal-boats, sailboards and laser dinghies to practice your favourite water sports (with a supplement) at the boathouse.

There is a bar and lunch will be served at Paul & Virginie restaurant. Board the shuttle back to the mainland in the afternoon to catch your coach.

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EXOTIC NORTH
(Full Day - Pamplemousses Gardens, Historic Marine & Port Louis)

The day starts in Port-Louis for shopping. At Le Caudan Waterfront, the craft market offers a range of spices, souvenirs and basketry, next to designer shops with top quality clothing and duty free jewellery. You can also have a glimpse of the fascinating cross section of Mauritian life at the local market.

The next highlight is an incursion into local history and art. The Blue Penny Museum houses the famous Post Office stamps, first issued in Mauritius in 1847, a collection of prices documents, prints and paintings witnessing the discovery of the island. A boutique offers souvenirs and reproductions from the museum collection.

Then board a cabin cruiser for a relaxing trip along the North West coast to Trou-aux-Biches for lunch at La Cravache d'Or or a veranda beach restaurant with a coastal view. At Cap-Malheureux enjoy a view over Gunner's Coin and Flat Island before proceeding to Historic Marine, a museum come shop of 18th century hand-made ship models.

The day ends with Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens created by French naturalist Pierre Poivre in 1767. The Chateau de Mon Plaisir, built in 1735, can still be seen there. The garden is known by world famous botanists for its 500 rare plant species from all over the world and housing the "samadhi" (funeral shrine) of the Father of the Nation, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam..The most famous are the giant Victoria Regina water lilies and the 80 varieties of palm tree, including the talipot, said to flower once every 60 years and then die and the spices- nutmeg and clove.

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CHARMS AND FLAVOURS
(Full Day - Tea Route, Crocodile Park, Bel Air Estate)

The Tea Route starts with Les Aubineaux, one of the few remaining typical colonial houses of the Central Plateau, built in 1872, and boasting authentic period furniture, paintings and photographs of Curepipe in the past. After a tea break drive through the tea-fields to the village of Bois-Cheri for a guided tour of the factory. Discover the thousand and one secrets of the Tea museum, a real trip through the history of tea.

In the South of the estate is Le St-Aubin, a plantation house, built in 1819. Visit the Vanilla House and the greenhouse filled with anthuriums intermingled with vanilla pods. Enjoy lunch prepared from produce of the estate in a Creole dining room.

The second stop is in the wild South; the Domaine de Bel Air, nestled in the valley of a little stream named Gros Ruisseau. To the North; the Vanilla Crocodile Park, harbouring Nile crocodiles imported from Madagascar Board the original Mauritian train which takes you on a memorable ride through Paradise Valley across the tropical vegetation and vanilla plantations. Catch a glimpse of ostriches, turkeys and guinea fowl, watch java deer grazing and wild boars in the undergrowth.

Admire the sea crashing and foaming onto lava-block cliffs from La Baleine view point and enjoy refreshments to conclude your day.

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JOURNEY INTO THE PAST
(Full Day - Glass Gallery, Eureka, Domaine Les Pailles & L'Aventure du Sucre)

In the morning you visit the Mauritius Glass Gallery in Phoenix, where you can watch craftsmen blowing and hand working molten glass to produce pieces from 100% recycled bottles. In the boutique, among a wide range of objects, are paperweights of three endangered local birds; sales from these are donated to support the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation.

Stop at Eureka, a unique Creole house in a magnificent garden, nestled between the Moka Range and the flourishing ravine where dense vegetation spreads sweet fragrances. Walk along the riverbank and discover its waterfalls before stepping into the 109-door house built in 1930, another era filled with antic furniture and rare objects.

Then proceed to Domaine Les Pailles, a 3,470 acre national park where you will board the authentic train "Lady Alice" for a drive through the reserve. The aroma of cane syrup over wood fire welcomes you into a unique 18th century ox drawn sugar mill. Move next door to Queen Distillery, where molasses from the sugar mill is distilled to produce the Domaine Les Pailles rum.

A brief visit to the mask museum will be followed by lunch in a typically colonial French 18th century planter's house - Le Clos St-Louis. After lunch, horse drawn carriages drive you through the estate.

Drive through Les Mariannes at the foot of the Pieter Both to "L'Aventure du Sucre", an incursion into the memory and history of sugar on the island. In this 5,000 square metre authentic site of the sugar factory of Beau-Plan, go deeper into the discovery of sugar cane.

Episodes of the great Mauritian epic will unfold through images, colours and sounds: sugar trade routes, history of the pioneers from East and West who settled on the island, sugar technologies and knowhow. The Village-Boutik offers a wide range of souvenirs, gift ideas and exclusive products on the theme of sugar cane.

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AQUARELLE
(Full Day catamaran on the West Coast)

As a highlight of your holiday treat yourself to a dream cruise along the magnificent lagoon of the West Coast on board Catamaran "Aquarelle II"

Begin at Black River with the gentle billowing of the sails and the tranquil lapping of the waves leading you to "Ilot Benitier". Relax and enjoy the coastline of Casuarina lined beaches and Tamarin Bay, a haven for surfers and dolphins.

Experience the transparency and various shades of greens and blues of the lagoon as well as the unusual shape of the coral "Ilot Benitier".

The approach to awe-inspiring "Mourne" mountain from the distance is simply breathtaking. This rock, which seems to spring out of the sea, is said to have been the refuge of slaves fleeing from their masters and forms part of the cultural heritage of the slavery period.

Enjoy swimming and snorkelling before and after a barbecue lunch served on board.

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SIMPLY SAILING
(Full day Catamaran cruise on the East coast with a stop at
Ile-aux-Cerfs)

Explore Mauritius differently by spending a whole day between sky and sea. Drive to Tou-D’eau-Douce where you board the “Oceane” catamaran to sail along the picturesque East coast, the longest and largest lagoon of the island stretching over 22km.

The catamaran sails inside the sheltered lagoon, where you can marvel at the shades of blue and green in the crystal clear waters. As you go further South, the mountains come down steeply to meet the sea and provide the richest coastal scenery of the island. Relax in the sun after the long journey across the ocean.

The coast also has a very rich historical past and witnessed skirmishes between the English and the French in the 18th Century. Several islets near the reef barrier appear on the horizon. The coast is also the spot where the Dutch settlers landed.

There is time for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing before a barbecue lunch is prepared and served on board by the experienced crew. After lunch, head for the heavenly setting of Ile-aux-Cerfs, famous for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.

Let the afternoon sea breeze carry you back to Trou-D’eau-Douce to board your coach to the hotel.

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CROISIERES AUSTRALES - PASSIONS OF THE OCEAN

Full day cruise in the North with a stop at Ilot Gabriel)

Board on of the spacious catamaran “Le Pacha” for an unforgettable cruise beyond the coral reef. Relax in the immensity of the Indian Ocean with an occasional flying fish at your side. Explore the white sands, shells and corals of “Ilot Gabriel”, swim or snorkel, before a barbecue lunch on board. For an exhilarating experience, ask for Harris Wilson, the genuine 18m racing catamaran, redesigned for cruising.
Full day cruise on the East coast with a stop at “Ile-aux-Cerfs”

Leave on one of the “Shandrani” (Moon Goddess in Hindi) catamarans for a cruise to the heavenly setting of Ile-aux-Cerfs. Glide along a translucent lagoon and admire the South East coast where the mountain plunges into the ocean. Cross the historical scene of the battle of Vieux-Grand-Port between the French and English, past the islets and the reinforcements. Enjoy a barbecue lunch on board on the way. After lunch, time is available on Ile-aux-Cerfs for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing.


Full day cruise on the West coast.

Explore the magnificent lagoon of the West coast on board of one of the “Croisieres Australes” catamaran with the gentle billowing of the sails and the tranquil lapping of the waves. Experience the transparency and changing hues of the lagoon under the sun. Discover the majestic Tamarin Bay, paradise for surfers and haven for dolphins. Enjoy swimming and snorkeling before a barbecue lunch is served on board.

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CROISIERS TURQUOISES
(Full day catamaran cruise on the South East coast)

Treat yourself to an unforgettable day on board one of the Croisieres Turquoises catamarans and discover the magic of the South East coast as well as the paradise of the island Ile-aux-Cerfs.

You will be sailing in the safety of the largest lagoon of the island, where the first Dutch navigators landed in 1598.


Sail along the South Eastern coast, from Pointe d’Esny right up to Ile-aux-Cerfs. You will pass by several islets; Ile de le Passe is one of them, a gatekeeper of the lagoon’s entrance and of Mahebourg Bay, where the “Battle of Vieux Grand Port”, between the French and the English, took place in 1810.

During this cruise, take your time to admire the picturesque scenery of Lion, Bamboo and Cat mountains while you lie back and enjoy the sunshine.

A barbecue lunch is prepared and served on board while heading to the heavenly setting of Ile-aux-Cerfs, where you will step off the boat for swimming and sunbathing. In the afternoon sail back in the turquoise waters.

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SAFARI IN A BLUE SUBMARINE

If you have always dreamed of discovering the underwater world without getting wet, let it come true by boarding the Blue Safari Submarine, an amazing experience at a depth of about 30m off the north coast.

Discovering the magic of marine life and explore coral reefs in the total security and comfort of this genuine sophisticated and air-conditioned submarine, unique in the Indian Ocean.

During the 40-min dive amongst multi-coloured fish. The pilots, trained in marine biology, explain all that you see. The view of the wreck "Star Hope" with the sea creatures it harbours is a magical moment. As you go down, the colours change as the water filters the infrared rays. Do not forget your camera to immortalise this unique experience.

There are trips every hour from 8.30am to 4.30pm and you must allow two hours per trip.

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WALK ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA
(Fun and eco friendly.)

Here is your opportunity to take a stroll on the wet side of Mauritius. Whether you are a swimmer or not you can discover the magic of the underwater world - inspect the corals and meet the fish of our tropical lagoon face to face - simply by walking on the seabed.

Captain Nemo's Undersea Walk takes place on the sandy bottom of the lagoon at an average 3 metre depth. It operates from modern aluminium platforms moored inside the lagoon.

You can wear glasses or contact lenses since your head doesn't get wet. Before being escorted by well-experienced monitors, you will be equipped with a specially designed diving helmet receiving air solar-powered oil-free compressors. In operation since 1989, Captain Nemo has excursions everyday throughout the year.

The undersea part lasts about 20-25 minutes and you should allow around 90 minutes from pick-up.

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WONDERS OF THE DEEP SEA

Big game fishing is a sport practised throughout the year.

The big predators feed about a mile from the shoreline where the bottom falls to 2,000 feet (70ms).

Mauritius holds several world records in fishing - one of them being blue marlins of 1,430lbs and 1,355lbs.
Whether a beginner or an expert, you can enjoy the thrill of catching a black or blue marlin, a skipjack or yellow-fin tuna, a sailfish, a dorado etc. under the supervision of experienced skippers.

The modern boats designed for deep-sea fishing and competitions are well equipped with ship-shore communication, tackle and all amenities.

Minimum hire time is 6 hours and a boat can be shared by up to three anglers.

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ADVENTUROUS MAURITIUS

(Departure from hotels on request basis.)

Beyond the beaten tracks.

If you feel like a special day deep into the heart of Mauritian nature, a variety of excursions with trained and experienced guides can be organised on request.


Trekking: through woods and forests, lakes and rivers, mountains and waterfalls... discover the green heart of the island, blend into the landscape. See, touch, breathe, hear and feel the best of our endemic flora and fauna in natural parks concerned with the conservation of the environment.

Mountain Biking: Ride up and down, hands taut on your handlebars and face in the wind, through forests and nearby lakes and enjoy the fun and excitement of the off-road experience.

Canyonning:
For the most adventurous, gear up and abseil down under the water of a waterfall. Feel its force, its beauty and have the treat of your life.

Rock Climbing: Go to the conquest of cliffs and mountains with gravity as your sole opponent and get high.

Sea Kayaking: Paddle up river mouths among mangroves and sea birds; meet a couple of dolphins; visit neighbouring islets and snorkel around their coral reefs.

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ILE AUX AIGRETTES NATURE RESERVE

Discover near extinct birds, plants and animals, reasires unique to Mauritius in the island nature reserve of Ile-aux-Aigrettes, set in the turquoise waters of the historic Bay of Mahebourg.

Managed by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the island harbours the only surviving area of indigenous plants and the coastal ebony forest once the home of the Dodo.

As professional guides tell you how this world famous nature reserve restoration and conservation program is securing the survival of rare species, encounter the very rare Pink Pigeon, the colourful day gecko and the giant Aldabra tortoise living in complete freedom. Depending on the season you may encounter a very rare orchid in full bloom.

The proceeds of the visit and the gift shop are totally reinvested in the Foundation's projects.

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A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE ISLAND

Experience a breathtaking way to discover the most beautiful landscapes and unreachable areas of the island from above.

The Air Mauritius helicopter will fly you over the endless sugar cane fields, the unusually carved mountain ranges, rivers, waterfalls, valleys, the white beaches, the transparent lagoon, the coral reefs and the islets off the coast, as well as the towns and historical buildings.

Tailor-made tours as from 15 minutes' duration can be organised on request depending on the location of your hotel. Individual headphones are provided with the pilots commentary.

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RODRIGUES: THE AUTHENTIC ISLAND

If you want to leave the beaten track for a real encounter with nature at its best, a trip to Rodrigues can be a memorable experience.

At 560km East of Mauritius, 18km long and 8km wide, it is accessible by daily Air Mauritius flights. Poles apart from Mauritius, it has no sugarcane, no flame trees but a succession of dry hillsides and valleys dressed in casuarinas and flowery bushes.


No high-rise buildings and traffic jams, it's a haven of simplicity and "joie de vivre" where you can enjoy fresh seafood, the local cuisine, and watch the typical Sega tambour.

In spite of recent development in tourism, life has remained calm and simple: fishing and animal rearing are the main economic activities while basketwork is the mainstay of the local handicraft: hats, mats and bags woven from aloe, raffia, bamboo and vetiver.

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ESCAPADE TO REUNION ISLAND

If Mauritius is the land of beaches, its neighbour, Reunion is a surprising land of mountains and volcanoes, with a rugged coastline.

Half an hour by plane it's a "Little France" lost in the Indian Ocean.

The mountain ranges around Piton des Neiges, the inactive volcano in the northwest, are well worth seeing.

The most famous Cilaos is known for its thermal sources, embroidery and wine. In the Southeast, Piton de la Fournaise is still active. The eruptions are frequent and the most recent one was in January 2002, hence the lunar scenery.

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FUN AND THRILL IN WATER AND AIR

The unique Waterpark and Leisure Village, on the East Coast, is a just non-stop fun for all ages. The colourful amusement rides include Eureka and Funny Wheel with their rotating small boat seats, a Bumper car circuit and the Swinger. Aquatic attractions range from Giant slides, the Black hole, a kids' pool with miniature slides and an adults' one with jacuzzis and replicas of the mind-blowing slides. After the thrill and exercise, three restaurants appease your hunger with light to hearty meals.
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ANTHURIUM FLOWERS - to further holiday taste

Should you wish to prolong your colourful holidays or take back a gift for family or friends, Summertimes can arrange for you to order from a wide choice of anthuriums in different colours, the traditional packed box of anthuriums or the ready-to-offer display carton; as well as a combination of tropical flowers in season - ginger, strelizia and heliconia. Ask your Summertimes representatives for arrangements to place and pay for your order and collect it at the airport before departure.
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