During our trip to Mauritius we engaged in many thrilling adventurous activities, but meeting the giant tortoises was one of my highlights.
One big fellow moves slowly and gracefully towards me, chewing on some vegetables. I sit down right in front of him, actually blocking his path. But I notice no intention to stop. I mean, why should he? This majestic animal was at least 60 years old, so I had to pay him some respect.
Frenchman Francois Leguat mentioned in his diary: “One sees sometimes troops of 2 or 3 thousands tortoises; such that one can take more than a hundred steps on their backs without touching the ground.”
Can you imagine how that must have looked like? A tapestry of tortoises….the painting below shows how it must have looked like.
- They were taken on board of ships as food for sailors during long sailing trips (tortoises could be kept alive for months without water and food)
- Others were boiled down for their fat. Horrible fact is that at least 500 animals were needed for just one barrel of oil!
On the verge of extinction, but luckily still amongst us. La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes is the place on Mauritius where you can touch them (gently) and get really close. Beware, they can still bite!
More about Vanille Réserve Des Mascareignes
The Vanille is a park where you can see the tortoises, but also bats, iguanas and crocodiles.
During our tour of the park, we are invited to taste some crocodile meat. While we just learned about the history of tortoises being eaten, this invitation feels a bit awkward. For me it will be the first time, so honestly I am quite excited to taste it. Unfortunately they deepfried the meat, degrading it almost to a chicken nugget! But hey, we tried!
Impressive is also the insectarium with an unrivalled collection of butterflies and insects (more than 23,000 species that took the owner Mr. Jacques Siedlecki 33 years of patient work). Don’t enter if you are really scared of insects and spiders though!
Rum: vanille, coffee, coconut, or spiced rum. Pick your favorite!
Rum tasting! Full of expectations fellow blogger Adeline and I entered the Saint Aubin estate, a sugar cane plantation annex factory annex rum distillery. We were not dissapointed.
Before visiting the factory and distillery we enjoyed a wonderful Mauritian lunch in restaurant “1819”, situated in a beautiful old estate house on the same premises. “1819” is the brand of their rum and also the year it all started in the Saint Aubin area.
Our friendly host Ashwin Seetaram guides us to the small rum factory. Here we experience how the juice is being squeezed out of the sugar cane. Sugar cane juice is one of the main ingredients of rum, so in the land where 40% of the soil is sugar cane field, there is no shortage of raw material. Same goes for the end product by the way which is hand-bottled at Saint Aubin!
Rum is not ‘just’ rum, there are many flavors! Vanille, coffee, coconut, spices and more. Both Adeline and I liked the vanille rum very much. No, let me correct that. Honestly, Adeline and I loved every single rum flavor the best!
The vanille flavor did impress us, so Ashwin took us to their vanille plantation. Conclusion: I never knew growing this tropical orchid took that much effort! Each of the flowers have to be hand pollinated and it takes around nine months before the little vanille pod can be harvested.
Anyway, visiting Saint Aubin will give you a nice insight into some traditional skills. And of course don’t forget tasting the rum…
Le Telfair Heritage Resort
What a treat to arrive at Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa resort at the end of the day. Le Telfair is completely build in old colonial style. The rooms are perfect with a huge bathroom and stunning sea views. I loved my spacious room with a personal veranda facing both the swimming pool as well as the beach…..there was nothing more I needed.
Le Telfair is famous for its 18-hole championship golf course, designed by renowned architect and golf designer extrordinaire Peter Matkovich. Just look at the panorama!
I am not a golfer but just drove around a bit in one of those funny golf carts together with Melvin and Adeline. But even without being a real golfer, I was impressed by the course. The views are stunning…..who doesn’t want to hit a ball from under a palm tree?
On our way to this great resort we managed to capture a very special sunset. Indeed, it’s not your regular sunset view from the beach, but Mauritius can be impressive beyond the beach as well!
South of Mauritius
The tortoises, rum and the Heritage Le Telfair resort are all situated in the beautiful South part of the island. This area is less developed compared to the clubby Northern part of the island. Some say it kept a feeling of “old Mauritius”; maybe it’s the manner of the people, their traditions or just the overall great scenery.
I am not sure exactly why I love the South. It’s a feeling that comes upon you when you drive through a particular area. In the South we passed some smaller fishing villages where the catch of the day was being presented on the side of the road.
While we were talking, reggae music started playing in my mind. Slowly a kind of jealousy made its way to the surface. Who doesn’t want to be a fisherman and a teacher, while living in paradise….Peace man!
Next up I will take you to the West of the island exploring the Black River area where you can zip line in the Casela Nature & Leisure Park. See you soon!
Don’t forget to read the first post about our trip to Mauritius: This is Paradise…Mauritius.
And of course there are more stories about the island:
Note: this post was brought to you as a result of the #MyMauritius blog trip, created and managed by iambassador and AHRIM in association with the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Air Mauritius. Act of Traveling maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.