Breakfast time! A storm in the kitchen unfolded. My older one and I were cooking the first breakfast of our vacation. Working in perfect harmony and with clockwork efficiency, we cooked and served the breakfast. It was sheer brilliance, or at least, that is what we thought. The wife and the younger one were not too amused.
Moving on with the day, we embarked on a cross-country expedition. As we drove to Pamplemousses, the turquoise waters gave way to the windy straights of mid-land and we could spot the Old Man of Maurice.
Pamplemousses, has a beautiful botanical garden which is supposedly the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere most famous for its gigantic pond of large water lilies. They house giant tortoises but they do not offer any interactive experiences, you cannot touch them. This did not go well with the children, as they wanted a “fuller” experience and by that what they mean is they wanted one next to our seat on the flight to get one back home. We hit the roads and were southbound to La Vanille nature park. We drove past Port Louis and the many model miniature ship factories. The model ship is a premier Mauritian souvenir; we bought a couple. I must admit the road network in this tiny island is par excellence and comparable to that of the most developed nations. The South is simply gorgeous, as we drove past some stunning scenery into a thick tropical rainforest of the Black River Gorges National Park – famed for its incredible hikes, views, waterfalls and approached the crystal clear waters at the south end of the island. The cellphone reception here is excellent and G-Maps was our primary navigator. After driving for a couple of kilometers on an unpaved road, we reached La Vanille.
Spread over 3.5 hectares, La Vanille nature park offers close encounters with the Aldabra giant tortoises, feeding shows, a museum and is a home to fruit bats, crocs, monkeys and various other species of animals. etc. Set midst a lush rain forest, it houses a restaurant, a nice play area for the kids and offers pony rides.
The children absolutely loved the tortoise nursery with the baby tortoises. This is one of the best places in Mauritius to get really up close to the giant tortoises, do remember to keep your hands while you feed them! And, bear in mind, the captive breeding program of the Aldabra Tortoises here at La Vanille is one of the most successful ones, it is inevitable that the children will witness an act and ask you some really “interesting” questions – be prepared with the answers.
While in the South, a visit to the Chamarel Rhumerie and Seven Colored Earths is also highly recommended. Do check the timings, before planning a trip as they shut shop early. The Rochester falls are stunning – a word of advise from the locals, one should plan a visit in the daylight hours and to be aware of your belongings at all times, especially when travelling with young children.
After La Vanille we drove to Gris Gris viewing point to witness the magnificent views of the Indian Ocean from the South.
We spent some time there and made our way to the Bagatelle Mall – a super mall that houses an excellent food court and some of the best restaurants in Mauritius.
After dinner, we made our way back to the North through the M1/M2 Motorway. They are lit motorway, making it a safer option for driving in the evening