We took a 6-nights/7-days tour-package from TravelGuru for this trip, which included airfare, hotel stay with breakfast and dinner ("half-board"), airport pick-up and drop-off and a basic set of tours. We had to travel via Delhi (at an extra cost) since the direct flights from Bangalore connect with Mauritius during the middle of the week, instead of the weekends, for some weird reason. We stayed at the Jalsa Beach Resort. The tours were organized by Seaside Holidays.
|The View From Our Resort|
The second, and bigger, shocker for us was to discover how expensive everything was in Mauritius, especially food and drinking water. The rate for a bottle of drinking water was particularly bad at the hotel (75 Mauritian Rupees for a liter of water), so we got a couple of crates of water from a super-market at the first available opportunity. Anoop, one of our drivers, explained it to us once by pointing out that tourism and sugarcane-cultivation were the main sources of income in Mauritius - almost everything else was imported from elsewhere.
Two things we quickly noticed in Mauritius were the ubiquity of sugarcane-fields and the preponderance of people of Indian descent.
It seems as if every square-meter of land that is not covered by a building or a road is devoted to cultivating sugarcane. (Oddly enough, they seem to export almost all of it and then import sugar from South Africa, the one thing you would expect them to not have to import. Even odder was that we could find sugarcane juice to drink at only one place, that too at the exorbitant rate of 100 Mauritian Rupees for a small glass of the stuff.)
Roughly 70-75% of the population seems to be of an Indian origin, descended from the indentured Indian laborers brought over to the country during its occupation by the British.
The people in the country mostly speak Creole and can converse in a heavily-accented English with you (they can also easily talk in French, if you know the language; one of the reasons why it is so popular with French tourists). All the people we met were almost always very polite and courteous. This was especially visible on the roads (which were mostly very well-maintained, if a little narrow in places).
The tours included in our package were the North Tour, the South Tour and the Island Tour. Apart from these, we also opted for an Under-sea Walk, a Blue Submarine Dive and a Catamaran Cruise.
The North Tour comprised visits to places in and around Port Louis, including a big super-market (a surprising stop for a tour, but very useful for buying water, wine, etc.), Aapravasi Ghat, Fort Adelaide (La Citadelle), Marie Reine de la Paix and finally the Le Caudan waterfront. Of these, I found only the Le Caudan waterfront exciting. It was very lively, very clean and quite beautiful.
|Le Caudan Waterfront|
The Catamaran Cruise to Ile aux Gabriel was amazing. It was made thrilling by some high waves on the sea that rocked the boat and several sightings of flying fish. The island itself was beautiful, surrounded by shallow seas where you could wade in quite a bit. I tried snorkeling for the first time in my life and was very excited to find out how long I could remain underwater in this manner and how many intrepid fish I could spot, and almost touch, this way.
On the whole, it was quite a memorable vacation.