Ahhhh…go for a walk in the Black River Gorges, this exceptional site easily accessible by those who, like us, live on the west coast of Mauritius…. This shaded, wild place, which smells like nature and dew, unique in Mauritius for its size and panorama, is the ideal elixir for a cure after a full week at work. It provides us with a relaxation and a Zen break to reconnect with nature.
Far from the classic image of a holiday in Mauritius, with beaches, coconut palms and fine sand, the magnificent forests and steep reliefs of the Black River Gorges invite us to take the time for a magnificent mountain walk in Mauritius. Forget for a day the classic postcard of Mauritius and go wander along the narrow mountain paths for a breath of fresh and invigorating air, protected by the shade of the vegetation.
Visiting this natural park, both wild and well maintained, far from the hustle and bustle of our beaches, is an essential activity to be done at all costs in Mauritius. Whether it is a “soft” walk with the family, or the sportsmen with trekking routes that the amateurs and pro of the region know well, they are numerous to walk, climb and slide as from 6am. VTT fans also love this route in the form of simple, pleasant and soothing rides or as participants in regular competitions with, as a major obstacle, one of the most famous steep descents on the island: Difil and Zépol.
So, whether for morning jogging or a family outing on weekends, I strongly encourage you to immerse yourself in one of Mauritius’ last primary forests.
One of the assets of the Black River Gorges is the calm and tranquillity that prevails on weekdays. You will meet very few people, except a handful of Mauritian sportsmen, forest rangers, and occasionally, an army commando on training. If the weather is very nice you can also meet these ladies from the West Coast who come there to maintain their shape. On weekends, there are families or groups of friends who come to cool off and enjoy a refreshing swim in the river in summer.
The Black River Gorges, with more than 6,500 hectares of preserved forest, the majority of Mauritius’ tropical forest, is part of the “UNESCO Biosphere Reserve”. It can be accessed from Pétrin, 2.5 km from the Grand Bassin, or from Chamarel. Several hiking trails allow you to discover the richness of the area. There are only nine animal species but 150 varieties of plants. Its forest is rich in trees of all kinds: mat wood, camphor, tambalacoque… The trees are gigantic, majestic, and the vegetation luxuriant. Among the birds are the kestrel, the spectacled bird and the large cateau verte. This bird with its magnificent green plumage is a subspecies of collared parakeet. It is the last representative of the endemic parrots of the Mascarenes. At the very top of the reserve, a viewpoint has been created where you can make a pause and contemplate the Alexandra Falls and enjoy a superb view of the southern region of the island. In short, it is inconceivable to miss this superb activity which is within everyone’s reach, whether you are resident of Mauritius, or visitors passing through Mauritius.
It is 9:00 am, we are on our way to the Black River Gorges. This time, the nephews accompanied us: Gabriel, Yoan and Chloé, for a walk of about 2.5 km.
How to make little Chloe, who is only 2 years old, walk? Laurent proposes a competition: collecting the cateau verte feathers.
‘ I have one! ’
‘ Me too ! ’
‘ Mine is greener ! ’
‘ Mine is bigger! ’
The children enjoyed playing this game that requires lynx eyes.
The Mauritius parakeet, or cateau verte, is an endemic bird of Mauritius. At first glance, it could easily be mistaken for an Indian-necked parakeet. It is however distinguished by a shorter tail and darker green feathers. The male wears a black collar and a red-coloured beak. The female’s beak is black and she does not wear a collar. However, the cateau verte is not very widespread nowadays. It is also the only one of the six species formerly known in the Mascarenes to have survived.
It measures about 36 cm and feeds on leaves, flowers and fruits. Long widespread in Mauritius, the cateau verte became increasingly rare from the middle of the 19th century. They are usually found in Tamarin and Rivière-Noire where they enjoy mangoes in summer.
The terrain leading to the kiosk and the river basin is quite flat with a few rocks and two bridges to cross. These are sometimes covered with water during heavy rains.
Fortunately, these 2.5 km are done in the shade of the tall trees, which is very pleasant despite the summer heat.
This is an opportunity to discover some of the 150 species that inhabit the Black River Natural Park, an activity for the whole family in Mauritius.
We finally reach the pool. As it rained a lot few days before, the water covers the small bridge that crosses the river. We have to take off our shoes and put our feet in the fresh water of the river that rises from the Black River Mountains of Mauritius.
We sit in the shade on the rocks for a water break and “gajaks” (appetizers), in front of this fresh water natural pool.
Yoan, with his loud voice, says to me:
” This pool is “marie bonne, jamais été dedans “, a typical Mauritian language that means: ” this pool is great! I’ve never bathed in it before ”.
I decide to take the plunge with the boys. It’s great because there’s a current pulling us towards the main basin. You have to hold on to the rocks. It’s great fun for kids, but if you go there the day that follows heavy rains, be cautious though…
After a lot of swallowed water and a few skinned knees, Laurent decides to make the children dive from the top of the rock. The highest point is 3-4 meters from the water level, so don’t miss it. It can be dangerous if someone is not trained. It is therefore to be done only under the close supervision of adults and only if there is enough water in the pool and you are used to diving…
So we prefer not try the experiment with the younger kids, but Raphael being quite reckless decides to make it.
Have a look:
oan and Gabriel prefer to dive from the 1st level. It is impressive to observe them from the shore because it seems as if they are brushing against the rocks, when in reality it is much further away… An optical illusion that gives some palpitations to the mother that I am… An adrenaline activity for the children, but a less reassuring activity for the parents…
An English woman on the opposite shore is observing the dives with much attention, and she hides her eyes on every jump. The kids, having noted the reaction of the lady, become more and more intrepid to give more “drama” to their jumps….
Après une bonne matinée de 4h, il est temps de rentrer pour déjeuner. Vite, vite, il faut trouver un nouveau jeu pour rendre la marche agréable…
Cette fois ci, c’est à qui trouve les plus belles feuilles et à cet endroit magnifique, ce n’est pas ce qui manque…
This time, it’s up to whoever finds the most beautiful leaves, and in this magnificent place, these are not missing…
We return to the Gorges de la Rivière-Noire car park regretting that we did not meet one of the famous monkeys that live in these woods.
If you are in Mauritius on holiday during the Chinese Guavas season, (early winter), go up a little to Pétrin and towards the Black River mountains and enjoy this little sweet and fragrant red fruit!
Thus ends this extraordinary discovery of the fauna and flora of our beautiful Mauritius.