Natural wonders

Rochester Falls

Only 2 kilometres from the St Felix Mill are the Rochester Falls. The falls are on the Savanne River and are distinctive because of the vertical columns of basalt over which they cascade. If you go by car (and most do), you may be followed closely by a motorcyclist who will offer to be your guide and he will probably encourage you to take photos of his friends diving into the pool beneath the falls. You will be expected to make a donation of your choice, but with salaries about 20% of those in Europe or America your 100 or 200 or even 50 rupees is a large sum to your guide.

La Vanille Crocodile Park

Do you want to ride on a tortoise? This is the place! Near Souillac, this is a must if you have children and you like animals. There is a nature trail through the forest and a delicious restaurant (called the “Hungry Crocodile”), where disconcertingly you can eat crocodile steaks. Open every day and clearly signed from Rivierre des Anguilles.

Le Souffleur

At one of the southernmost tips (Savinnia) of the island is a blow hole or “blower” in the rocks where certain tides cause the water to shoot out and rise to about 50-60 feet into the air. To visit you must get a permit from the nearby police station at L’Escalier, though some visitors don’t bother.

Le Domaine du Chasseur

This estate to the east of Mahebourg is well worth a visit. It is about 3,700 acres in extent and has a small animal reserve including goats, various domesticated birds including turkeys and a giant tortoise. However the main attraction is the deer hunting and there are about 14 hunting lodges where one can stay overnight. It is also easy to hire quad bikes with a guide and drive round the estate; though not as environmentally friendly as cycling or walking it is great fun (children are supposed to be 16 or over to join in). Their website is  http://leclubdesgrandsbois.com/domaineduchasseur/english.htm

Forests old and new

The original virgin forest was so heavily harvested and converted into agricultural land that very little survives – there is less than 1% of the indigenous forest left. What does survive has been mostly turned into nature reserves and tourists are very much welcomed there.

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