Discover paradise on earth
Mauritius is usually known among our guests as the paradise for shopping. There is a variety of items available ranging from handcrafted ship models, duty free diamonds to designer clothing. You can also purchase clothes directly from the factory shops that produce clothes for export. These clothes are sold at discounted prices. These shops are condensed mainly in the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis, Flic-en-Flac, Quatre Bornes, Curepipe and Floreal. Also, a number of shopping malls have been built during the past few years including the Bagatelle Mall, La Croisette Mall and Cascavelle Mall which provide large shopping and eating areas.
Being a tropical island, Mauritius has a tropical climate throughout the year. It has two seasons, namely Summer extending from November to April and Winter from June to September. The months of October and May are referred to as the transition months.
Temperature in Mauritius: The maximum summer temperature can reach up to 38 °C and the minimum winter temperature is usually about 24 °C. The warmest months are January and February. Concerning the temperature of sea water, even during the coolest months, which are from July to September, the sea water remains relatively warm at an average temperature of 20 °C. However, the sea temperature may fall lower during anticyclones. The temperature of the sea stays refreshing all year round. The west coast of the island, starting from Riviere Noire till the capital, is considered to have a hotter and drier environment than the east coast which enjoys the South East Trade Wind.
Wind in Mauritius: The climate of the island is significantly affected by the South East Trade Winds blowing from the South East of the island throughout the year. Trade winds are defined as south-easterly surface winds that generally blow from the subtropical high pressure zone. The gentle summer breeze provides pleasurable relief from the heat while the stronger winter winds are delights to sailing and kite-surfing lovers.
Rain in Mauritius: Due to climatic changes occurring at global level, there is no definite period for rainy weather in Mauritius. It is interesting to note that the frequency of rainfall is different from one region to another. However, rainfall is more intense on the highlands of the island, which is the central plateau.
While on your holidays in Mauritius, you will notice that there is usually no significant difference in the temperature between the two seasons prevailing in Mauritius. Further to this and the temperature of the sea water remaining pleasurable all year round, Mauritius is considered as the ideal place to spend your holidays irrespective of the time of the year.
The official language of Mauritius is English but the mother tongue of the population is Creole. Also, most of the Mauritian people are bi-lingual since English and French are both compulsory in the educational programme of Mauritius till the age of 16 years old. Thus, guests speaking either English or French languages will communicate easily with the local people.
Mauritius is the perfect example of a multicultural nation. The population is very diverse with Indian descendants (Tamils, Telegus, Marathis, Muslims), Creoles origins (originated from Africa), Chinese origins and European origins. This peaceful harmony between the different cultures adds to the beauty of our paradise island. Further to the above, a visit to our paradise is an enriching and unique human experience.
Our mother tongue is “creole” which is a mixture of different languages namely French,English, Hindi and other languages.
As a result of this diversity of cultures and origins, there are many religious festivals which are celebrated in Mauritius. Our population has brought many customs and beliefs from our ancestral countries. In order to better understand and appreciate the beauty of the different religious festivals in Mauritius, you need to experience it. These festivals account partly for the uniqueness of our paradise island. The most popular religious festivals celebrated in Mauritius are included below:
03rd February 2017
Thaipoosam Cavadee is celebrated in honour of Lord Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva, and is considered as the most important festival in the Tamil calendar. After ten days of fasting, the devotees go on a procession to local temples (“kovils”), carrying their cavadees which are carved, wooden structures decorated with leaves, flowers, fruits and miniatures of Lord Muruga. Some devotees pierce certain parts of their body.
19th February 2017
Chinese Spring Festival is celebrated by the Chinese community whereby food is served among the family members. Chinese cakes, like the wax cake, are shared with family and friends. Firecrackers are set out so as to drive away evil spirits. It is also the occasion when the Chinese dancers perform Lion dances on the road.
07th March 2017
Mahashivaratree is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva. The pilgrims, dressed in white converge to the Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin (“Ganga Talao”), carrying their “Kawal” which are carved wood decorated with flowers and mirrors.
26th June 2017
Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated at the end of the holy month of fasting which is known as the Ramadan. The Ramadan is a period of around one month during which the Muslim fast during daytime. All Muslims celebrate this day with prayers at the mosques where food and cakes are shared. The Muslims also exchange gifts with their relatives and make donations to poor people on that occasion.
25th August 2017
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated either in August or September, depending on the Hindus’Calendar, by the Hindus of Marathi faith as the birthday of Ganesh, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles. On the day of the festival, processions are held with devotees escorting statutes of Lord Ganesh and immersing them into the sea.
09th September 2017
Père Laval Pilgrimage is the occasion during which Mauritians, irrespective of their religious faith, walk to Sainte Croix to pray at the tomb of Jacques Désiré Laval. He was considered as the “Apostle of the black people” and is believed to have healing powers. This reminds us of the Lourdes pilgrimage in France. Also, Père Laval was the first individual to be beatified in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
19th October 2017
Divali, which is known as the festival of lights, is celebrated by the Hindus and it symbolises the victory of good over evil. Traditionally lamps made of clay are placed in front of every Hindu house so as to welcome the Goddess Luxmi, to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana and the destruction of the demon Narakasuran by Krishna. Traditional cakes like “gateau patate”, “barfi”, “idli” and “laddoo” are prepared and shared.
The Walk on Fire (“Thimidee” festival) is celebrated by the Tamil community. After 10 days of fasting and prayers, the devotees go on a procession to the temple where they walk on a matt of burning coals followed by a mixture of milk and honey to refresh their feet. This celebration is in honour of the Goddess Draupadi Ammen. The purpose of the majority of devotees is to fulfil their personal promises and to prove their faith to the Goddess. Due to its increasing popularity and faith in the Goddess, a number of Mauritians of non-Indian religions are now participating in this celebration.
FLORA AND FAUNA OF MAURITIUS
Mauritius is blessed with a diversity of flora and fauna not usually found in such a small area. This is because of its volcanic origin, age, isolation and its unique area. Mauritius has 670 native flowering species, of which around 45% are endemic to the island. Many endemic plants have become rare due to large scale habitat destruction. Examples of the impressive tropical hardwood trees that once covered a large area of the island can be found in Black River Gorges National Park and the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden. The famous one is the Mauritian Ebony tree (Diospyros tesselaria) which is a dark wood tree.
Ile Aux Aigrettes is an islet found 1 km off the southeast coast of Mauritius. The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation is working towards the extensive rehabilitation of the ecosystem of the island which has been greatly damaged for over 400 years. Guided visits are now possible on Ile Aux Aigrettes so as to discover some of the rare flora and fauna and also to appreciate the conservation work in progress. It is the only place in the Mascarenes where the giant Aldabra tortoises roam freely. The Tours usually last for 2 hours and explanations will be provided about the geology and history of the island.
Also, 89 species of Orchids can be found in Mauritius. 9 out of these 89 species are endemic to the island. Due to their rarity, conservations are being made on Ile Aux Aigrettes. There are also a number of plants with medicinal properties in Mauritius. The famous one is the ‘bois de rond’ whose bark is used to treat kidney stones. The Trochetia Boutoniana (Hisbicus) was designated as the national flower on the 12th March 1992 when Mauritius became a Republic. It is a flower endemic to the island and it can reach 2 to 3 metres in height bearing deep red flowers.
Birdwatchers who are visiting Mauritius will be spoiled. Despite the fact that only 9 endemic species of birds are remaining, some of them are the rarest birds in the world. The Pink Pigeon was saved from extinction by a captive breeding programme. This famous bird was once the world’s rarest bird but now it can be seen in its natural habitat at Black River Gorges National Park and on Ile Aux Aigrettes. In 1973, there were only 4 individuals of the Mauritian Kestrel and it was declared as the world’s rarest birds. This was due to the excessive use of pesticides. Hundreds of the Kestrel have been bred in captivity and released into the wild. The Echo-Parakeet is a species of parrot endemic to Mauritius, with bright green feathers and a blue and pink collar. They were saved from extinction through captive breeding. The remaining endemic birds have suffered great losses which were caused by the introduction of predators raiding their nests, namely the Mauritius Cuckoo-shrike, Mauritius Bulbul, Mauritius Olive white-eye and the Mauritius Foddy.
There is an abundance of tropical fruits available in Mauritius. These include bananas,papayas and other traditional tropical fruits such as mangoes, lychees, watermelons and coconuts. They are produced for both local consumption and for export.
Being a volcanic island, Mauritius had limited colonisation coming from air and sea. A small number of animals managed to reach the island, including birds, reptiles and the fruit bat. Some species are still present in the deep forest areas and surrounding islets, away from predators.
Also, a number of fascinating and endangered reptiles exist on the Round Island which is found 22km north of Mauritius. The island has remained uninhabited by man and rats thus allowing reptiles, seabirds and plants that have disappeared elsewhere to survive. The large Telfair’s skink, the strangely Nocturnal Durcell’s Night Gecko and the remarkable Keel-Scaled boa are now endemic to the island and endangered. In order to protect the species on Round Island, the latter has become a natural reserve. Measures were taken so as to get rid of the predators and the results have been spectacular. Most of the endemic and indigenous plants of the island have been restored. The increase in fruits and insects has brought about the significant increase in the population of reptiles on the island.
PORT LOUIS – CAPITAL CITY OF MAURITIUS
Located in the North West of the island, Port Louis is the business and administrative capital of Mauritius. Port Louis was first occupied by the Dutch in the 17th century. It was then developed into a busy capital and strategic port in the Indian Ocean by the French Governor, Mahe de Labourdonnais, after the year 1736. It consists of mainly modern administrative buildings which house many businesses and shopping outlets. However, Port Louis still bears some heritage of its colonial past with its ancient Creole houses and stoned buildings, like the Post Office and Police Head Quarters, and other cultural sites, like the Aapravasi Ghat and the Theatre. You will be amazed by the beauty of this busy capital city. Start with a walk through the colourful fruits and vegetables of the Central Market. Do not miss a visit to the Dodo at the National History Museum. You also have the opportunity to have a beautiful overview of the city from La Citadelle (also known as “Fort Adelaide”). Your shopping will not be completed without a visit to Le Caudan Waterfront. The places to visit in Port Louis are numerous and the above are just a few of them. Therefore, do not miss to visit our capital during your holidays.
LOCATION OF MAURITIUS
The island of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, South East of the African Continent.With a population of 1,291,500 people and an area of 1,860 km2, Mauritius forms part of the Mascarenes Archipelago together with Reunion Island and Rodrigues Island. The islands originated from gigantic underwater volcanic eruptions.
Mauritius has a unique mixture of different races, cultures and religions. Apart from being the habitat of the endemic bird, the Dodo, Mauritius is also known for its magnificent beaches, amazing landscapes, its cultural heritage and the various activities available.
HISTORY OF MAURITIUS
Mauritius was first known by the Arabs as ‘Dina Arobi’ on their map. Our island was then officially discovered by the Portuguese in 1505. Don Pedro Mascarenhas named the 3 nearby islands, Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues, as the Mascarenes islands. However, the Portuguese did not stay long in Mauritius. The Dutch first landed on our island in 1598 and in the honour of the Prince Maurice Van Nassau, the island was named “Mauritius”. The first Dutch settlement in Mauritius was in the year 1638. They discovered the Dodos, which were flightless birds endemic to the island. The Dodos became extinct due to the great number of predators including the Dutch and other animals introduced by them. The Dutch also introduced the sugarcane plant, which later became the main crop of the island. The Dutch finally left the island in 1710.
The French took possession of Mauritius in 1715 by Mr Guillaume Dufresne D’Arsel and they renamed the island as “Isle De France”. In 1721, the colonisation of the island by the French started. The development of the island was brought about by the French Governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, in 1735. Under his governorship, Port Louis was established as the main harbour and fort of the island. Also, a great number of buildings were constructed and some of them are still being maintained and used including “Le Chateau de Mon Plaisir”, found in Pamplemousses, and the Line Barracks which is now our police headquarters found in Port Louis. The famous Botanical Garden of Pamplemousses, now known as the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, was created when Mahé de Labourdonnais chose to set up his domain in Pamplemousses.
In 1767, the French Intendant, Pierre Poivre, introduced a variety of vegetables, fruits, flowers and spices from all over the world. Many of these plants were considered as prized species at that time, namely nutmegs and cloves. The garden was later administered by Nicolas Céré. The SSR Botanical Garden is now considered as one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in the southern hemisphere.
With the abolition of slavery in 1835, the planters brought a great number of indentured labourers from India to work in the sugarcane fields. The Indian immigrants consisting of both Hindus and Muslims were soon joined by a small number of Chinese traders. The cultivation of sugarcane expanded on the island and Mauritius flourished, particularly with he export of sugar to England. Further to the economic development, there was improved and extended means of communication. Gradually, proper infrastructures were created.
In 1810, the British gained possession of the island after the battle of Vieux Grand Port where the French capitulated. In 1814, in virtue of the treaty of Paris, the island took its former name “Mauritius” and its control was given to the British together with its dependency, namely Rodrigues Island. In the Act of Capitulation, the British took the engagement to respect the language, customs, laws and traditions of the island. There were rapid social and economic changes under the British Governorship.
In 1968, Mauritius got its independence and later became a republic in 1992 with a democratic parliament.