National parks and reserves for trekking in Mauritius

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When people hear about a vacation in Mauritius, many of them think of a beach vacation. But we must not forget about the unique nature of Mauritius – its mountains, waterfalls and reserves with dozens of rare species of plants and animals. Recently, walking tourism has become widespread here – trekking and hiking. Mauritius has dozens of eco-paths and peaks you can climb. I already talked about mountain peaks and waterfalls of the island. This article will discuss the national parks and reserves of Mauritius, which are open for walking tourism.

What you need to know about trekking in the national parks and reserves of Mauritius

Trekking in the national parks of Mauritius – the best way to get to know the flora and fauna of the island. Trekking and hiking in nature reserves have several advantages over climbing a mountain.

  1. Such trails are much less physically demanding than climbing a mountain peak.
  2. Trails in national parks usually go in a circle, ending at the starting point, so you don’t have to go back through the places you’ve already seen.
  3. National parks usually offer several routes, and you can choose the one whose length suits for you.
  4. Usually, the routes often pass not in open areas, but in the shade of trees. It’s not too hot during these walks, so it’s not necessary to schedule your hike in the early morning or in the evening.

There are downsides, too:

  1. You have to bring your mosquito repellent, because mosquitoes multiply by the thousands in humid conditions.
  2. You also need to find out in advance what are the rules for visiting the national park. Most likely, you will have to pre-register on the park’s official website or on the website of the conservation organization that is responsible for it – for example, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation or National Parks and Conservation Services.
  3. There are an entrance fees to enter national parks. And in several national parks it is necessary to have a guide.

Black River Gorges National Park (Black River Gorges)

📍 On the map

Black River Gorges National Park spreads over 6574 hectares and is the largest piece of tropical forest in Mauritius that has almost escaped human intervention. The total length of hiking trails laid in the park is more than 60 km, and they pass through a variety of landscapes. There are routes that lead deep into the thickets, and there are routes that run along the slopes of the gorges. The trails leading to the waterfalls (Alexandra Falls) and the climb to Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire (Bench 828), the highest mountain in Mauritius, deserve special attention.

Read my detailed article about this national park, in which I share my experience of climbing the Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire.

National Park Bras d’Eau National Park

📍 On the map

This is one of the three national parks in Mauritius. It is located in the northeast of the island, near Poste Lafayette.

Bras d’Eau National Park – the best place for birdwatching in Mauritius. The park has many ponds with ferns and orchids, while Mare Sarcelle Lake is swampy and covered with mangroves, which are home to a large number of birds.

In addition, in Bras d’Eau National Park there are several walking trails, the Mauritius radio telescope and historical 200-year-old ruins (the remains of a sugar factory and a lime kiln). There is a picnic area in the forest with wooden tables and the hiking trails are marked.

How to get there: on your own by car. I didn’t find any tours to this national park. A car can be booked in advance on the Localrent website, I gave all the details about it in a separate article.

Islets National Park (Islets National Park)

This is the third and last national park in Mauritius. It differs from the previous two in that Islets National Park is not located on the main island but consists of eight islands off the coast of Mauritius. It consists of the following islands:

  • Amber Island (Île d’Amber)
  • Pigeon rock
  • Rocher des Oiseaux
  • Île aux Fous
  • Vacoas Island (Île aux Vacoas)
  • Île aux Fouquets
  • Illot Flamants
  • Île aux Oiseaux
Interesting fact: Mauritius is surrounded by 49 small islands. In addition to the islands included in the Islets National Park, 7 more islands are nature reserves.

I want to say more about Amber Island which is interesting for walking tourism.

Île D’Ambre or Amber Island

Amber Island or Île D’Ambre is located in the north-west of Mauritius (the nearest settlement to it is the city of Grand Gaube) and is interesting in that in a small area (~ 140 ha) you can find a variety of landscapes – coastal lagoons, mangroves, a tropical forest, a volcano crater, a freshwater cave and even the ruins of a settlement dating back to the 18th century!

You can get here on your own and even swim if you are confident in your abilities to overcome 400 m of water to the island. There are also several tours to Amber Island:

  • Trekking around the island – the route is simple, 3-4 km long, partly along the landscaped paths, partly along the “wild” ones
  • Kayaking off the coast of Amber Island – Kayaking off the coast of Amber Island – a 3-hour tour of the island’s mangroves + landing on the island for a short excursion. You can learn more and book this tour on this page →

Visiting Île D’Ambre without a guide gives you much more freedom, but it can be problematic since it is officially prohibited. However, if you still decide to explore the Amber Island on your own and ask one of the local fishermen to take you here by boat, it is unlikely that someone will hold you accountable.

Île aux Aigrettes Island Reserve

Île aux Cerfs Island near Mauritius

On the right – Île aux Cerfs and the island of Mangenie

📍 On the map

Île aux Aigrettes – is a small coral island off the east coast of Mauritius, not far from the city of Mahébourg and Blue Bay. It is the only piece of land in the world where a special type of vegetation called “Mauritian dry coastal forest” has been preserved. Some of the animals and plants that can be found on Île aux Aigrettes have disappeared even from Mauritius itself.

The island is protected by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, and they also organize walking tours on it. They depart from Pointe Jerome at Mahebourg six times a day – 09:30, 10:00, 10:30, 13:30, 14:00 and 14:30 (it is advisable to book a visit over the phone in advance). It costs 800 Rupees for adults and 400 Rupees for children. The duration of the route is one and a half to two hours. Its complexity is low, and it is suitable even for unprepared people.

💡 My recommendation! You can visit the Île aux Aigrettes with “Trou d’Eau Douce: Southeast of Mauritius” sea tour. This is without exaggeration the best one-day tour on a speedboat (motorboat), which includes visiting almost all the attractions of the southeast coast of the island:

  • GRSE waterfall,
  • historical lighthouse, which is more than 200 years old – there are only 2 of these in Mauritius,
  • Deer Island (Île aux Cerfs),
  • Île aux Aigrettes,
  • Île aux Phares and Île de la Passe.

You can find out the available dates and book a spot on this GYG webpage →

The Ferney Valley Reserve

📍 On the map

Ferney La Vallée or The Ferney Valley Reserve (official website is located in the southeast of Mauritius at the foot of the Lion Mountain, not far from Mahebourg and Blue Bay. With a total area of 200 hectares, it was created at the end of 2006 in order to save several endangered species of plants and animals from destruction during the construction of the highway. During the survey of the territory, species of myrtle and pandanus, which were considered extinct, as well as extremely rare Mauritius kestrel and Mauritian flying fox were found here. Construction work was halted, and conservation organizations began to actively restore the kestrel population. Now the reserve has separate areas for feeding these birds and breeding rare plants.

In The Ferney Valley there are several hiking trails. On the main one, 3 km long, two-hour tours with guides are held three times a day (at 09:30, 11:30 and 13:30). There are more challenging trails for experienced trekkers – Vacoas Loop (5 km), Circuit Takamaka (13 km) and Lap Ebenaceae (19 km). But they are open only by prior arrangement with the staff of the environmental organization responsible for the reserve.

Another option that The Ferney Valley offers is to climb Lion Mountain, which is one of the ten most interesting for one-day trekking on the island. You can climb it on your own, or use the services of other agencies, which I will write about below – but this option should also be taken into consideration.

Lion Mountain in Mauritius

Lion Mountain

Ebony Forest Reserve in Chamarel Geopark

📍 On the map

Ebony Forest Reserve (the official website) – a protected area next to the Chamarel village, near which are also the famous Chamarel Seven Colored Earth and Waterfall. Its area is smaller than that of The Ferney Valley, only 50 hectares, but the biodiversity is just as impressive. Here you can see 140 rare species of flora and fauna that are found only in Mauritius.

There are two main pedestrian routes:

  1. Classic tour is a little more than a kilometer long and takes about half an hour, during which tourists admire the ebony tree from a specially installed footbridge.
  2. Hiking tour for trekking lovers. Hiking with a guide must be booked in advance. This can be done through the official website or on the Viator And it’s best to book 4-5 days before the visit.

Hiking tour in Ebony Forest consists of two parts, the second of which is optional. It starts in a museum dedicated to the dodo and some other extinct species of Mauritius. Then you will have a walk through the tropical forest, during which the guide will tell you about the animals and plants of the Ebony Forest, as well as the history of the island. You’ll learn why Île aux Benitiers was used as a quarantine station, where it got its name Case Noyale, how the island’s nature was affected by deer farms and sugarcane farming, and much more.

After an hour and a half and 2.5 km, you will reach the first and main stop of the route – the Sublime Point Lookout – from where you will be able to see many of the natural attractions of Mauritius. There you will have the opportunity to relax and have a snack, because the cost of the tour includes local vegetarian snacks and freshly squeezed juice. You will then be given the choice of whether to return or continue to the second optional part.

The second stop is the top of Piton Canot, at the end of a 400 m long trail. If you overcome this steep slope, a panorama of the western and south-western coasts will unfold before your eyes, including the Black River Gorges National Park.

The total length of the route is 5-6 km, depending on whether you climb the Piton Canot, and the time it takes to cross the route is 3-4 hours.

Bel Ombre Nature Reserve

📍 On the map

Bel Ombre Reserve is located in the south of the island. This is the largest reserve on the island, which has the status of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Bel Ombre Reserve offers many tours from hiking to quad bike and buggy tours:

  • Hiking to Frederica Waterfalls – an easy guided hike to Frederica Waterfalls. The price includes a picnic by the waterfall. Available dates and price of the tour can be found on this page →
  • 4×4 Safari Adventure – a tour along the trails of the reserve with a guide. This tour is suitable for families with children, too. More details can be found on the official page of the tour →
  • Quad bike tour – an extreme quad bike ride through the park. For a more detailed description see the official page of the tour →

Yemen Game Reserve

📍 On the map

Yemen Game Reserve (the official website is different from the national parks and reserves that I described above. In this area of about 3400 hectares, which is located about halfway between Flic en Flac and the city of Port Louis, many economic activities are prohibited. But conservation measures are less stringent than usual, and because of this, Yemen gives tourists additional opportunities – for example, jeep tours or deer and wild boar hunting trips.

The Yemen Reserve does not organize regular guided walking tours, but you can find them in some travel agencies. For example, Yanature offers a three-hour route of medium difficulty with a length of 6 km and a cost of 1500 Rupees. Its peculiarity is that it passes mostly through the savannah, so it is usually scheduled for the afternoon (14:00 in winter, 15:00 in summer) in order to avoid the scorching heat.

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My name is Tatiana, and I am glad to see you in my Mauritius travel guide.
For more than 12 years I have been traveling and creating travel guides to different countries. For the first time I got to Mauritius in 2018. I got inspired by the island so much that I decided to create this guide.
I personally visited all the places described on this site. Photos and texts are also taken and written by me. I update articles regularly to keep them up to date.
I hope you’ll forgive any errors or awkward phrasing, as I am not a native English speaker.