La Vanille Nature Park – photo review, how to get there, excursions, and tips

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La Vanille Nature Park in Mauritius is always on the list of top attractions on the island. It was created in 1985 as a way to conserve and increase the populations of the Nile crocodiles, the Seychellois giant tortoises from Aldabra Island, and the exceptionally rare rayed tortoises. Below I will talk about what the La Vanille Natural Park in Mauritius is like and what animals can be found here. You will find out what to expect from visiting La Vanille, how much tickets cost and how you can buy them, how to get to La Vanille Park, and other useful information.

Review of La Vanille Park in Mauritius

My face when I saw so many giant tortoises for the first time

What is La Vanille Park in Mauritius like?

Park La Vanille is located on a plot of 5 hectares in the south of Mauritius, among lush tropical vegetation. In part, it is a zoo, but not quite an ordinary one. Here they are engaged in the restoration of the livestock of rare turtles, and in addition to that, La Vanille is involved in various conservation programs. This allows us to considered it to be more of a nature park than a zoo.

Often the main goal of a trip to La Vanille Park for the tourists is to see the giant tortoises. The park is home to the largest population of giant tortoises on the island, among which is one of the five oldest and largest tortoises in the world.

The most numerous inhabitants of La Vanille are tortoises and crocodiles, and they are of various ages. Crocodiles are seated in special enclosures and terrariums depending on their age. Little tortoises are kept in special “crèches”, while adults graze in half-open pens, or even in open space.

Tortoises can be stroked and fed with plant stems, which are sold at the entrance to the turtle pen. But climbing on the turtle’s shell, and even more so standing on it at full height, is not recommended. In La Vanille, this is only allowed for children under 12 years of age.

Where to feed giant tortoises in Mauritius - La Vanille Park

I fed the giant tortoises at La Vanille Park. To get on time for the feeding, it is better to arrive at 10-11 am.

For those who did not have enough close contact with tortoises, a petting zoo is open in La Vanille, as well as paid feeding of crocodiles and lemurs. Otherwise, it is strictly forbidden to violate the boundaries of enclosures or try to give some food to the animals.

In addition to turtles and crocodiles, there are other interesting inhabitants here. Cages and enclosures are spaced far apart, and you can get to different parts of the park along the paths, guided by signs. The paths are laid among bamboo and palm thickets, which brings La Vanille even closer to the reserve. Next to each enclosure there is a sign with a photo of the animal and information about it cited in English.

Should I go to La Vanille Park?

In addition to giant tortoises and Madagascar crocodiles, you can see iguanas in the park.

Different rare birds and mammals can be found at La Vanille Zoo, such as golden fruit bats from Rodrigues Island, lemurs, Japanese koi, mongooses, Javanese deer, geckos, crab-eating macaques and the critically endangered Psittacula eques, or echo parrots.

Also, in La Vanille there is a small aquarium department with fish and aquatic turtles.

For families with children, La Vanille has an excellent children’s playground. In addition to the usual swings, bridges, climbing walls and ropes, there is a zipline here – low, but exciting.

You can explore the park on your own or with a guide. Free guided tours run every half hour. Several times a day there are feedings of different animals that you can attend.

Giant tortoises of Mauritius

You can feed the turtles in La Vanille Park

How much time do I need to visit the park?

On average, a leisurely tour of the park takes 2-3 hours, but if you are also going to visit all of its museums, the visit can take up to half a day. For those who get hungry, and just for lovers of exotic cuisine, Le Crocodile Affamé, “The Hungry Crocodile,” is open in La Vanille. In addition to the usual hamburgers, chops, and salads, you can order here crocodile meat dishes as well.

There is also a Crocod’Île souvenir shop in La Vanille, which sells various crocodile skin products.

Museums within the park

The museums of La Vanille Park are its pride. The collections that are here can compete in importance with the exhibits of many biological museums worldwide.

Insectarium 

The insectarium of La Vanille Park is one of the world’s largest collections of dissected insects. In total, you can see here more than 30 thousand specimens of butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, and other insects belonging to 26 thousand species. Some of them are endemic to the Mascarene Islands, including already extinct species, but in general, representatives of the fauna of all five continents can be seen in this insectarium.

The entire collection was assembled by just one person – entomologist Jacques Sidleki. It took him over 30 years to create it! Sometimes he appears in the insectarium in person, talks about the exhibits, and shares fascinating stories from his life.

One Hundred Million Years Under the Sea Fossil Museum

The second extraordinary museum in La Vanille Park, the Marine Fossil Museum, is the work of another enthusiastic scientist, Owen Griffith, who is now the director of La Vanille. Here you can find a grandiose collection of ammonite fossils – giant mollusks with spiral shells that lived on the planet at the dawn of the origin of life.

What's interesting in La Vanille Park in Mauritius

Nautilus Fossils

In addition to ammonites, the 100 Million Years Under the Sea Museum exhibits the skeletons of Mauritian marine mammals – primarily whales.

Dodo Museum (Museum of Extinct Animals)

The Lost Land of Dodo is another museum that owes its existence to an outstanding personality. This time we are talking about the famous English paleontologist Dr. Julian Hume, who is engaged in reconstructing the appearance of extinct species. He devoted a significant part of his life to the dodo. This bird was found only in Mauritius and was completely exterminated in the 17th century when the island was colonized by the Dutch.

Dodo Bird Museum in Mauritius

In the museum, you can see the skeletons of the dodo bird and find out what it was like in life.

Also, an important part of the museum is a memorial plaque, which contains all the extinct species that once lived in Mauritius.

How much are tickets to La Vanille and where to book an excursion?

Like many other tourist attractions in Mauritius, La Vanille has set different ticket prices for local residents and for visitors to the island. The price of a ticket to La Vanille for adult tourists is 500 rupees (11.27 €), for children (from 3 to 12 years old) – 270 rupees (12.39 €).

  • You can buy tickets to La Vanille at the box office or through the official site.
  • The Viator website sells skip-the-line tickets for 993.27 rupees (22.38 €).
  • An excursion to La Vanille and wild beaches will cost at least 100€. The tour is carried out by car with a guide. You can view the tour program and order on this site →

Is it worth going to La Vanille Park? Tourists reviews

Most of the reviews of visitors to La Vanille are very positive. Although La Vanille is positioned primarily as a crocodile farm, people often visit giant tortoises up close and spend some time with them. Visitors to the park describe their encounter with the tortoises as an unforgettable experience.

Feeding crocodiles is also considered an absolutely amazing sight. And some other inhabitants of La Vanille, lemurs, flying foxes of Rodrigues Island, and Javanese deer also make a striking impression.

Some visitors, in their reviews, express concern that it is harmful to the tortoises if children climb on their shells. Nature park staff usually respond to such comments with the explanation that the shells are designed to support the weight of an adult partner (nearly a quarter of a ton), so the weight of a human child does not harm them in any way. In addition, if the animals in the park were in unfavorable conditions and experienced constant stress, they would not breed. Still, the breeding programs for crocodiles and tortoises in La Vanille park are very successful.

How to get to La Vanille Park on your own

La Vanille Park is located here, south of the village of Riviere des Anguilles.

Unfortunately, public transport does not go here, but you can get by bus to the Riviere des Anguilles, and then transfer by taxi. You can calculate the route using the Mauritius Buses website.

I advise you to rent a car (I took it on the Localrent website) and go to the park on your own. There are at least 2 reasons:

  1. You can plan your trip in time to feed the turtles and other animals.
  2. You can also see other attractions of the island (here is a list) located nearby or along the road: wild beaches, waterfalls and Chamarel Park.

In addition, if you are traveling together, then renting a car will cost less than an excursion.

Opening hours of La Vanille Park Opening hours of La Vanille

  • Park varies by season. In summer (November 1 – April 30), its opening hours are from 8:30 to 17:30, while in winter (May 1 – October 31) – from 8:30 to 17:00.
  • Restaurant “Hungry Crocodile” is open to visitors from 11:00. They take the last order at 16:00, and by 17:00, the visitors must finish their meal.
  • The snack stall at the entrance serves visitors from 8:30 to 17:00.
  • You can shop for leather crocodile souvenirs at Crocod’Île from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
  • Giant tortoise feeding takes place every day at 11:00 and 13:00. For 25 rupees, you can participate in it.
  • Crocodiles are fed every day at 11:30.
  • You can chat with an iguana named Oktar from 10:30 to 14:30.
  • Feed the baby crocodile – at 13:30. Keep in mind that this pleasure costs 500 rupees, and the number of visitors who book the service is limited to five per day.
  • You can feed baby turtles at 10:00, 10:30, and 14:00 for 500 rupees. A visit to the turtle nursery also includes a story about the breeding and rearing of turtles and a photo with a baby turtle.
  • The opportunity to enter the cage with lemurs and feed them by hand is given at 10:00, 13:00, and 14:30. The cost of feeding is 1000 rupees, and up to 5 people are allowed to enter the cage at the same time, accompanied by a caretaker.