Mauritius is a beautiful island filled with many things to discover and enjoy but nothing could have prepared me for two mornings hiking on the West of the island. The first trip was to climb up Le Morne Brabant and the second, to hike up the Tamarin Falls and swim in some of the seven cascades. Nothing could have prepared me for two of the most enjoyable days I have spent on the island in the last ten months.
This blog will deal with Le Morne Brabant. It forms an important part of the history of the island and is a now world heritage site.
In the early 19th century, slaves would escape to Le Morne and hide in the many caves on the mountain. When slavery was abolished in February 1835, the police went to mountain to tell the slaves they were now free. They were not believed and many tragically jumped to their death, fearing the consequences of recapture.
Le Morne beach is one of the island’s most beautiful and is a peninsula on the South Western tip of the island. There is an aerial view often used in travel brochures of the lagoon looking a little like a waterfall and an opportunity to see both the South and West coasts from the top of the mountain. Public access to the mountain had only recently been granted and a new road had been laid for access.
I wanted to learn more about Le Morne and its role in the history of Mauritius so I chose a guided tour with Yan, the founder of Yanature. His company has permission from the Gambier family, the owners of Le Morne, to take visitors across their land and on the mountain. This was an excellent decision.
Having met opposite the Paradis hotel, we drove a short distance from Le Morne to the main coastal road and then through a private access gate across some fields and up a rocky unmade road suitable for 4 wheel drive only. The weather was perfect. Around 15 of us, all ages and build, listened as Yan and his colleague Zack gave us a brief introduction to the walk which was expected to last around 3 to 4 hours.
The sun was making it difficult to photograph the West coast view but the South coast was looking amazing.
Yan gave us a short talk on the what we might see on the way up the mountain, some safety advice and some tips on how to manoeuvre the tricky parts of the climb.
The weather was improving by the minute, sunny, warm and acres of blue sky. Beautiful.
You need to be reasonably fit to do this hike and walking boots or shoes are very useful! On the steeper parts of the climb you have to go slow and work out where to put your hands and feet. There is are ropes in places to help as well.
The view up can be daunting. Staying close to the rock and spreading your hands and feet gives good anchor points. Believe me!
This is the only place you can see the National Flower of Mauritius in the wild. It flowers from June to October.
It had taken us about 90 minutes to get to this viewpoint over looking Le Morne and the coastline used by hundreds of kitesurfers each week.
The last steep climb seemed to take an age and it was frustrating to see people already there.
And so, two hours after starting the climb, we are at the top, 1825 feet above sea level.
So after 15 minutes admiring the views and getting our breath back, we started to descend. It really was easier going down with your back to mountain rather than facing it going up.
It only took 80 minutes to get to the base of the mountain and it was much easier with the rope.
This is definitely a hike to do with a guide and I could not recommend Yan and Zack from Yanature enough. They were great company and great fun to have an unforgettable morning with.