Lion Mountain

Overlooking Vieux Grand Port is Lion Mountain (480m), immediately recognisable from its sphinx-like profile. The mountain offers a splendid half-day hike with stunning views over the coast. It's a very challenging but rewarding walk that climbs up the lion's 'back' to finish at an impressive viewpoint on the 'head'. The trail begins beside the police station at the north end of Vieux Grand Port. From there an easy-to-find 4WD track heads inland through the sugar cane turn right at the first...

Central Market

Port Louis' rightly famous Central Market (S 5.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, 5.30am-11,30pm Sun), the centre of the local economy since Victorian times, was cleaned up considerably in a 2004 renovation. Many comment that it's lost much of its dirty charm and atmosphere (you're far less likely to see rats, although it's still quite possible ), but it's still a good place to get a feel for the everyday life of many locals, watch the hawkers at work and buy some souvenirs. Most authentic are the wonderful...

Getting There Away

When entering Mauritius you must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry, a visa for Mauritius (if necessary, see pi 50) and a ticket out of the country (together with a visa if necessary for your next port of call). If you don't have an onward ticket, you could be invited to buy one on the spot. Immigration authorities will also want to know where you are staying in Mauritius (if you don't know just give them the name of any large hotel in this book) and may cause...

Undersea Walks Submersibles

One popular but environmentally ruinous way to enjoy the underwater world if you don't dive is to take an 'underwater walk' -available at a number of places but most commonly found in the tourist hub of Grand Baie. Participants don a weight-belt and a diving helmet and stroll along the seabed feeding the fish in a sort of Jules Verne journey beneath the sea way. Oxygen is piped down from the surface - using solar-powered compressors, no less - and divers are on hand in case there are any...

In Mauritius Runion Seychelles

Health care in Mauritius and R union is generally excellent the Seychelles is pretty good by African standards, but some travellers have been critical of the standard of the public health system. Generally, public hospitals offer the cheapest service, but may not have the most up-to-date equipment and medications private hospitals and clinics are more expensive but tend to have more advanced drugs and equipment and better trained medical staff. It's a formidable list but, as we say, a few...

Gay Lesbian Travellers

French laws concerning homosexuality prevail in R union, which means there is no legal discrimination against homosexual activity and homophobia is relatively uncommon. Throughout the island, but particularly on the west coast, there are restaurants, bars, operators and accommodation places that make a point of welcoming gays and lesbians. Certain areas are the focus of the gay and lesbian communities, among them St-Denis, St-Pierre and La Saline-les-Bains. Tourist offices have a leaflet that...

Port Mathurin O

Auberge Le Port Paradis 14 C1 H bergement Fateh m am ode 15 B2 Le Flamboyant 16 C2 Pension Ciel d' t 17 C1 Dragon d'Or 18 C1 26) Restaurant du Quai 20 B2 Restaurant Paille-en-Queue 21 A2 18) Ferry Terminal 29 A1 H bergement Fatehmamode (see 15) Mauritius Shipping Corporation .30 A2 Patrico Souvenir Shop (see 18) 18) 18) Ferry Terminal 29 A1 H bergement Fatehmamode (see 15) Mauritius Shipping Corporation .30 A2 Patrico Souvenir Shop (see 18) 18) Rodrigues 2000 Tours ( 831 1894 2000trsaintnet .mu...

Cl LAOS O

To Canyon de Bras Rouge (5km) Canyon de Gobert (7km) Canyon de Fleurs Jaunes & Mini Fleurs Jaunes (8km) let Cordes (10km) Case Nyala 10 A2 Chambre d'H tes Mme Bertha Clair de Lune -Chez Alex Clain 12 B2 GTte de la Roche Merveilleuse 13 C2 GTte d' tape Le Moutardier 15 B3 Les Sentiers 28 B2 Salon de Th de l'H tel Case Nyala 10 A2 Chambre d'H tes Mme Bertha Clair de Lune -Chez Alex Clain 12 B2 GTte de la Roche Merveilleuse 13 C2 GTte d' tape Le Moutardier 15 B3 Les Sentiers 28 B2 Salon de Th...

Bel Ombre

The latest development in Mauritius' hotel scene is a string of luxury developments in the isolated south of the island, most of which are on the grounds of the former sugar estate of Bel Ombre. You're really miles from the bucket-and-spade atmosphere of Flic en Flac or Grand Baie here, although the hotels are fairly tightly placed together, meaning that despite the general removal from the rest of the country, you don't exactly feel in the middle of nowhere. The main attraction here is the...

Rivire Langevin

If you haven't brought a picnic, there's a bevy of cheap and cheerful eateries along the river at the entrance of the valley. They're pretty much of a muchness and serve up Creole classics, which you can eat in or take away. Recommended options Le Benjoin ( g 0262 56 23 90 Route de la Passerelle mains 6-11 S lunch Tue-Sun) Famed for Its th dansant (tea dance) on Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. Les Pieds dans L'Eau ( s 0262 3713 64 Route de la Passerelle mains 6-11 S lunch dally) Cheap Creole...

Sights Activities

Rodrigues is perfect for rambling around at your leisure. There are few signposts and the less popular trails are pretty ill-defined, but the landscape is fairly open so it's hard to get too lost. You can begin the classic coastal walk at Pointe Coton or St Fran ois, which takes you south to the gorgeous beach at Trou d'Argent and then around the coast to Gravier. Allow about three hours for the walk, not counting swimming and picnic stops. Both Pointe Coton and Gravier are accessible by bus...

Model Ships

Whether or not you could conceive of having one at home, it is difficult not to be impressed by the skill that goes into producing Mauritius' famous model ships. Small-scale shipbuilding has become a huge business and you'll see intricate replicas of famous vessels, such as the Bounty, Victor)', Endeavour, Golden Hind and even the Titanic, for sale all over the island it's hard to believe that shipbuilding dates back to only 1968, when an unknown Mauritian carved a model ship for fun and...

Mobile Phones

Coverage on Mauritius is generally excellent, and has recently been extended to Rodrigues. If you have a GSM phone and it has been 'unlocked', you can keep costs down by buying a local SIM card from either Cellplus ( 203 7649, www.cellplus.mu Mauritius Telecom Tower, Edith Cavell St, Port Louis) or Emtel ( 212 5400, www.emtel-ltd.com Air Mauritius Bldg, President John F Kennedy St, Port Louis). A s- 150 MAURITIUS DIRECTORY Time 5f starter pack costs around Rs 600 including Rs a 125-worth of...

Environment

Long-term overfishing coupled with silting (from erosion in the hills) is placing severe stress on the marine ecosystem, with particular concern for the lagoon. Shoals Rodrigues ( 831 1225 www.shoals-rodrigues.org), an NGO working with local fishing communities, warns that large areas of coral have been damaged, mainly through destructive fishing practices associated with octopus gatherers, who go out on foot to prise the octopus from their shelters. At the same time, fishing with seine nets,...

Mauritius

The most active groups are the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society (MM6 696 5368 http pages.intnet.mu mmcs in French) and the Mauritius Underwater Group (MUG 6965368 http pages.intnet.mu mug), both of which were founded by concerned local divers. They run education, research and monitoring programmes, campaign for the control of water pollution and reef destruction and the installation of pavement mooring buoys, and have created artificial reefs (the wrecks along the west coast) to enhance...

Surfing

The surf break known as La Gauche de St-Leu 'the Left of St-Leu' has achieved cult status among surfies from all over the Indian Ocean. Certainly not for the faint-hearted, it instils profound respect if not fear even in the most seasoned surfers. The best season runs from May to October. Beginners should make for a spot called La Cafrine, which is a bit more innocuous, or head to La Ravine de Trois Bassins see pl89 or St-Gilles-les-Bains pi84 . To brush up on your surfing...

Stdenis

Francophiles will feel comfortable in St-Denis san-de-nee , the capital of R union. Except for the palms and flamboyant trees to remind you that you're somewhere sunnier and hotter , St-Denis could be easily mistaken for a French provincial enclave, with a flurry of trendy shops, brasseries, bistros, and boulangeries bakeries . Mmmmm those little pains au chocolat chocolate-filled pastries will linger long on the palate With most of R union's tourist attractions located elsewhere on the island,...

Visual Arts

Historically, Mauritian artists took their lead from what was happening in Europe and, in particular, France. Some of the 18th- and 19th-century engravings and oils of Mauritian landscapes you see could almost be mistaken for Europe. The classical statue of Paul and Virginie in Port Louis' Blue Penny Museum and the one of King Edward VII in the city's Champ de Mars were both created by Mauritius' best-known sculptor, Prosper d'Epinay. In the 20th century, the surrealist writer and painter...

Eating Drinking

Despite its size, Mahebourg is not a culinary treat and its nightlife is virtually non-exist-ent. The places below are the better options that exist. Chick's Resto Royal Rd pizza Rs 75 S 9am-11 pm OK it's not the Caf de Flore, but Chick's with its outdoor tables is about the only place in town to kick back with a cold beer and shoot the breeze with the locals. Pizza and chicken is also available. Le Croissant de Lune 716 4080 Rue de Labour-donnais sandwiches amp pizza from Rs 100 S 7.30am-7pm...

Medine Sugar Factory

Rather unattractively spewing out smoke into the countryside around Flic en Flac is the Me-dine Sugar Factory Map p102 452 0401 adult child Rs 150 75 S tours 9am, 10.30am, 12.30pm amp 2pm Mon, Wed, Fri Jul-early Nov , one of the country's biggest. If you get stuck behind a sugar-cane lorry overburdened by harvested crops somewhere in the region, you can bet it's heading here. During the cutting season July to early November it's possible to take a guided tour one hour of the factory. The guide...

Food

Food is likely to be a highlight of any visit with the huge choice of cuisine and some excellent restaurants throughout the country. Be aware that any restaurant aimed at tourists is likely to be anything from 50 to 200 more expensive than a local equivalent and that it pays to plan where you'll eat - many places offer up uninspiring, drab food simply because they're guaranteed customers from big resorts nearby. Choose carefully with the options in this book or ask hotel staff for advice. In...

Pop

Centre de Flacq is a world away from picture-postcard Belle Mare and the coast. Here there's the chaotic bustle you'd expect to find in the east coast's main settlement, and while there's nothing much to see or do, it's well worth an excursion if you're bored of the beach. Five kilometres west of Centre de Flacq along the road to Quartier Militaire, the Flacq Union of Estates Limited Map p96 FUEL 413 2583 sugar mill is the largest and most modern on the island. Tours of the plant take place...

The West

Welcome to R union's Sunshine Coast, or R union's Riviera, or the leeward coast. However you label it, say hello to this 45km-long string of seaside resorts and suburbs running from St-Paul to St-Louis. Truth is, there's a bit of a Groundhog Day feel about this series of getaways along the RN1, and tourist development has got a little out of hand to the south of St-Paul. But this region does have a wealth of developed tourist facilities and attractions, including the best of the island's...

Shopping

Most people come to Curepipe to shop and few leave without some bargains. Try busy Ch teauneuf St for bargain clothing oudets. There are several shopping malls around the central crossroads. Of these, the Curimjee Arcade Royal Rd contains a collection of upmarket duty-free shops selling clothes and souvenirs. Further north, the glitzy new Sunsheel Centre Royal Rd is also worth a look. There's a lovely Indian fabric shop on the ground floor and oudets of Habit and Caf Cotton. The new Lakepoint...

Sleeping Eating

Ferme-Auberge L'Ecorce Blanc S 0262 38 31 52 46 Rue Francis Rivi re d ind breakfast 30, meals 20 Aaargh, the 600m-long access road is dreadfully steep, but you'll be rewarded with sensational views over the coast. Perched on the side of a hill, way above town, this friendly ferme auberge farm inn is beloved by locals for its authentic home cooking by reservation . Sadly, the indoor dining room is as atmospheric as a dentist's waiting room. There are also four simple rooms that open onto the...

La Souris Chaude

With your own wheels, you'll need a code to enter La Souris Chaude residential area -phone your accommodation ahead and they will give you the code. Kitouni Guesthouse 0262 34 05 82,0692 60 84 05 http site.voila.fr kitoonyin French s d with shared bathroom 25 30 Kitouni means, er, 'naked bum' in Creole. Fear not, this is a respectable port of call on top of being a cast-iron bargain for budget travellers and surfies, with three tidy rooms, a kitchen for guests' use, a lounge with TV and a...

Information

Barclays Bank 234148 S 10am-2.30pm Creole Travel Services 234411 S 8am-noon amp 1-4pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat An agent for Cat Cocos. Can arrange tours and boat excursions. Explorer Internet Caf per hr Rs 60 S 9am-noon, 1.30-7pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat Same building as Mason's Travel. La Digue Video amp Internet Caf per hr Rs 60 Mauritius Commercial Bank MCB s 234560 S 8.30am-12.15pm amp 1-3pm Mon-Fri Mason's Travel 234227 S 8am-4.30pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat Can organise tours and boat excursions....

Transport Around The Region

The following section covers transport between R union, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Be aware that if you're planning to travel to both Mauritius and R union, it makes much better financial sense to visit Mauritius first and fly on to R union, as return flights work out around 120 cheaper when originating in Mauritius. The flat fare system of flights from R union to Mauritius hikes the fare by 40 . Lonely Planet Publications _ 306 TRANSPORT AROUND THE REGION Air -i There are currently no air...

Tamarin Falls

These falls, roughly 8km southwest of Cure-pipe p90 , are awkward to reach but it's worth the effort for a beautiful, deep, cool bathe at the bottom of the series of seven falls. They are only accessible via a challenging trail that begins near the Tamarin Falls reservoir, south of the village of Henrietta, but you will have to explore to find it. It's best to take one of the local guides usually waiting around Henrietta bus station. There are buses to Henrietta from Cure-pipe every 20 minutes...

Maison de la Broderie

The originator of Cilaos' embroidery tradition was Ang le Mac Auliffe, the daughter of the town's first doctor of thermal medicine. Looking for a pastime to fill the long, damp days in the Cirque, Ang le established the first embroidery workshop with 20 women producing what later evolved into a distinctive Cilaos style of embroidery. Nowadays, the Maison del Broderie 0262 31 77 48 Rue des coles admission 1 S 9.30am-noon amp 2-5pm Mon-Sat, 9.30am-noon Sun is home to an association of 30 or so...

Whitewater Rafting

R union's best white water is found near St-Benoit. The Rivi re des Marsouins and the Rivi re du M t offer magical white-water experiences for both first-time runners and seasoned enthusiasts. A half-day excursion will set you back 45. Some companies specialising in rafting trips in the area Cilaos Aventure g 0692 66 73 42 www.cilaos aventure.com in French Oasis Eaux Vives g 0692 00 16 23 www.oasisev .com in French Run Aventures g 0262 64 08 22 www.runaventures .com

Sleeping

Beau Vallon and Bel Ombre offer the widest range of accommodation in north Mah . t'liU'lIM Georgina's Cottage Map p274 a 247016 georgina seychelles.net Beau Vallon s d incl breakfast 45 60 K An excellent option if you're working to a tight budget, Georgina's Cottage offers eight rooms, a communal kitchen, a lounge area and a leafy tropical garden for added appeal. Luxury it ain't - the old-fashioned d cor could do with a litde sprucing up - but at this price it would be churlish to quibble. A...