When visitors go on excursions inland on Mauritius, they get a feel for the heart of the island. Cooler than the coastal regions, the central plateau is situated between 400 and 600 meters above sea level. Starting from the South of Port Louis, this vast urban area is home to about 400,000 people, representing over one-third of the island’s population. High up on the plateau, there are forests, lakes and plantations that are well worth a visit.
Four towns, namely Rose Hill, Quatre Bornes, Vacoas, and Curepipe, make up the heart of the island.
Rose Hill’s busy high street is swarming with shoppers during the day and is worth a visit for those ready to brave the crowds and look for some great bargains. There are many shops to browse and local restaurants to choose from.
Quatre Bornes is a cosmopolitan town, where tourists can barter for great deals at its famous market. The shops on the main road are also a good place to go bargain hunting!
The town of Vacoas is best known for the Gymkhana Golf Club, the oldest golf course in the southern hemisphere. Locals run and walk around the outdoor track for exercise and play football in the grounds.
Finally, Curepipe has the coolest temperatures in Mauritius, and has retained its charm. It is home to two of the island’s treasures: Trou aux Cerfs, the crater of a dormant volcano, and the Botanical Garden with its rare plant species. The Trou aux Cerfs is the most famous dormant volcano in Mauritius. From there, one can take in a fantastic 360° view of the high plateau of the island of Mauritius. Local joggers meet every day at 5 am here.
Not far from Mare aux Vacoas reservoir is Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao. It is one of the rare natural lakes in Mauritius, formed inside the crater of an extinct volcano and is the renowned pilgrimage place for Mauritians of Hindu faith. Every year in February, during the Maha Shivaratri week, thousands of Hindus walk miles from every corner of the island to bring their gifts for Lord Shiva at Grand Bassin.
Eureka “La Maison Créole,” Moka, is a historical mansion built in 1830 with no less than 109 doors. It provides visitor with a glimpse into the lifestyle of the more affluent Mauritians during the colonial era. The Eureka House Restaurant also offers Creole meals that will delight the finest palates.
The Folk Museum of Indian Immigration at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, evokes the influx of coolies who came to work as laborers after the abolition of slavery in Mauritius in 1835. Working for a pittance, they gave a new impetus to a non-competitive sugar industry. In 1909, at the end of the Indian immigration, they were 450,000 strong. Today, their descendants account for two-thirds of the Mauritian population. This well-documented folk museum shows in detail the daily life of Indian workers during the nineteenth century.
So after the sun and the beaches, visitors should make it a point to head upwards to the center of the island to experience the heart of Mauritius.
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