After completing my chemical engineering degree in 2014, I flew to Mauritius to reward myself. I was shook by the fact that a place could be that naturally beautiful. In October 2018 and July 2019 I was back in Mauritius but this these times, I brought a lively and eager group of ten women with me.
My travel journey started when I created this travel blog (Gophari) that gives guidance on how to make your travel dreams a reality while working full time. This has now branched into a group travel company (Gophari Travel). Through Gophari Travel, I organise group trips to African destinations. These packages include return flights, accommodation and activities. All you have to do is pitch. Mauritius was an obvious choice for my first group trip. After all, it had inspired all of my travel goals.
And yes, we are a group of strangers going on vacation together. Some women sign up for the trip in pairs and others join the trip alone – by the end of day one you can not tell that everyone just met. We have so much fun exploring destinations together and create lasting connections. To be first notified about Gophari Travel 2020 trip dates and destinations, join the mail list.
Here is a list of my top five things to do in Mauritius:
Go Beach Hopping
Mauritius is well known for its beaches for a reason. The ocean really is as blue as it looks online. In fact it’s even bluer. It’s every shade of blue! The warm Indian Ocean surrounds this small island making swimming an absolute pleasure. The water is so gentle and clear that while in it, it feels as though you are in a giant swimming pool until a splash of salt water hits your lips and reminds you that this is indeed the ocean.
Dedicate a full day to beach hopping. Chilled in the ocean, eat ice cream, enjoy the sun on your skin and admire the uniqueness of each beach. Some of the beaches to include on your beach hopping day in the North Coast of Mauritius are Trou Aux Biches, Mon Choisy, Perebeye & Grand Baie. This will give you a mix of those beaches that are lively and popular as well as quiet beaches lined with Casuarina trees.
Tip: It’s super hot and sunny in Mauritius so remember to be prepared to protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunblock regularly and plant an umbrella at the beach.
Hike Le Morne
“A hike for four hours? That’s as long as it took me to fly here from South Africa. No ways!” This was Nodumo Mhlongo’s initial reaction to hiking in Mauritius during my first group trip. Some of the other ladies were also not as excited about the idea of hiking while on vacation but once we were done they rated this activity highly. Le Morne Brabant is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is 556 metres above sea level.
Be up early for this hike to avoid the scorching sun. There are spectacular viewpoints to enjoy along the way even if you do not make it to the peak. Once you reach half way there is a sign warning that climbing is dangerous beyond that point.
Our guide, Freddy, put us at ease by pointing out where best to step and helping us along when the climb got tricky. You can expect to be on your all fours at many stages of the second half of the climb though I would not describe it as strenuous. The ocean view is accurately known to resemble an underwater waterfall. I captured it as best as we could but of course it is always better to go and see for yourself.
Tips: Remember to take at least 1.5litres of water with you for hydration and to carry a jacket as it gets quite windy on the mountain.
Bargain for goods at Port Louis Market
You must spend a day in Mauritius’ capital city, Port Louis. There is a large market there which is a great place to buy souvenirs and gifts to take back home with you. Additionally, shopping at the market is an opportunity to support the locals and get a feel for what crafts and foods they do best.
As you make your way through this busy market, you will be invited to have a look in every stall – have your bargaining skills ready! To give you an idea of prices, I bought a medium sized woven bag for R150 and got a henna tattoo on my arm for R125. Getting a henna tattoo felt like a way of keeping a piece of Mauritius with me.
Across the road from the market is the waterfront where the well-known multicoloured umbrellas are displayed overhead. This is such an instagrammable spot!
Tips: Keep in mind that you will need cash to make purchases at the market.
Go for a catamaran cruise
Enjoy a full day cruise on a catamaran boat. There will bemusic playing and unlimited drinks being served onboard. The vibe ia LAVISH. A braaid lunch is served onboard which was made up of fish, rice, fresh bread and vegetables. We danced to the reggae afro beat songs played and spent time laying on the net forgetting all of our worries. To top it off, included in this day trip is a stop at Ile aux Cerf Island for a quiet and relaxing escape.
Tip: Take motion sickness medication if you are prone to feeling sea sick.
Try a water sport
The water activities in Mauritius include parasailing, underwater walking, scuba diving and snorkeling. I recommend that you try at least one. I will never forget the first time I went snorkeling during my first trip to Mauritius in 2014. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is under there.
Nyaradzo Sanyika, the host for the 2018 Gophari Travel trip, describes underwater walking saying, “It is the most memorable activity I have done in Mauritius. I got to see and feed the most colourful fish I have ever seen!” It was Lebo Modiba’s first time traveling outside of South Africa when she joined the group trip in 2018. The water activities were included in her list of highlights. She said, “My highlights were parasailing and snorkeling and also the hike. Oh not forgetting how well we all got along even though we did not know each other.”
Tip: If you can’t swim don’t count yourself out! Lifejackets are available to keep you afloat.
The ladies loved Mauritius which is why Mauritius will always be one of the Gophari Travel group destinations every year. Mauritius is that place that I cannot help coming back to again and again and again.