Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens in Mauritius

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Pamplemousses Botanical Garden in Mauritius, also known as the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, named after the founding father of the Mauritian nation, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s hard to name it as  the main attraction of Mauritius, but in my opinion, this is one of the places worth visiting.

In the article below, I will tell you what the Pamplemousses botanical garden is like and share my own impressions from the visit. And at the end of the article – how to get to the park on your own, what excursions there are in Pamplemousses, the opening hours of the park and other useful information.

Garden of Pamplemousses - a must-see in Mauritius

Giant lilies in the garden of Pamplemousses

Is Pamplemousses Park worth visiting? Reviews

Reviews of Pamplemousses botanical garden in Mauritius vary considerably. Many tourists admire the variety of vegetation, rare birds that can be found here, and the peaceful atmosphere. Some even take visiting Pamplemousses to be the best way to get acquainted with the nature of the island. Hundreds of exotic plant species are collected here on a small piece of land, and it is very convenient to inspect them – trekking through more “wild” landscapes is not for everyone.

But other visitors remain dissatisfied. They note the desolation and unkemptness of the park – after all, its best years are clearly behind. The asphalt of the paths is cracked, in pools that should be full of water, there is only mud at the bottom, the animals of Pamplemousses – Javanese deer and Aldabra tortoises – are kept in worse conditions than in Casela Park. To be honest, during my trip to the park, I did not notice those things from the negative reviews of the park. Personally, I am delighted with Pamplemousses and consider it a place where you should definitely visit in Mauritius along with La Vanille Park.

Which tours bring you to Pamplemousses Park

All excursions with a visit to the Pamplemousses Park include other attractions of the island. Most often, such excursions consist of a visit to the botanical garden, sightseeing in the city of Port Louis: the Citadel, the Square of colored umbrellas, the Crafts Market, the Caudan Waterfront shopping center, sometimes including the Blue Mauritius Museum (detailed article, what to see in Port Louis), – and a couple of other places depending on the specific excursion.

I have selected some of the most interesting excursions that include Pamplemousses Park. These are one-day tours on minibuses or cars:

  • Instagram tour of Mauritius. The purpose of this tour is to visit the most picturesque and photogenic places in Mauritius. It includes the Square of Colored Umbrellas in Port Louis, the botanical site of Pamplemousses, the Hindu shrine of Ganga Talao with giant statues, the seven-colored sands of Chamarel and the Chamarel waterfall, the highest one in Mauritius. Read a detailed description, find out the price and book a tour you can on this site →
  • Dodo route tour of the north of Mauritius includes more sights of Port Louis. It consists of climbing the walls of Fort Adelaide, exploring the city center with municipal buildings and Saint-Louis Cathedral, walking through the market and the Caudan promenade, visiting the Blue Mauritius Museum and visiting the Pamplemousses botanical garden. Read reviews about the tour and make a booking on the tour page →
  • Mauritius Northwest Coast tour includes Tamil temple, Mont Choisy and Grand Baie beaches, Cap Malheur Roman Catholic Church famous for its red roof, sugar factory and Château de la estate – Bourdonnay, Port Louis and Pamplemousses Park. Detailed description, reviews and prices for the tour on this page →

There are several more excursions that include a trip to the Pamplemousses park, but these are the most interesting, in my opinion.

What is Pamplemousses Botanical Park?

The original name of the Botanical Garden Sir Sivusagur Ramgoolam (SSR Botanic Garden) – Pamplemousses, means “grapefruit” in French. The sound of the word pamplemousse is also very close to pamplemousser, which refers to the pomelo, the ancestor of the grapefruit. The botanical garden was named after the grapefruit trees that once grew in its place, saving sea travelers from scurvy.

Pamplemousses botanical garden in Mauritius - excursion review

The history of the Pamplemousses park can be divided into several stages, each of which brought it closer to its modern form.

In 1736, Pamplemousses was a plot in the personal possession of the governor Mahe de la Bourdonnay near the estate of Mont Plaisir. An attempt was made to grow mulberry here in order to feed it with the leaves of silkworm caterpillars. Sadly or luckily, nothing happened with the production of silk, and this piece of land fell into disrepair.

Everything changed when, in 1767, the garden was transferred to the care of the French intendant Pierre Poivre. This man was a natural scientist by vocation and collected rare plants from all over the world to plant in his botanical garden. According to legend, he got them in India, China, African countries and the Pacific Islands in a variety of ways, including illegal ones – for example, he would smuggled them out. So that’s how the sago palm, cinnamon tree, hevea, from the juice of which rubber is made, breadfruit, pepper liana and many other exotic plants appeared here.

The turning point in Pamplemousses’ fortunes came in 1770, when Pierre Poivre was presented with a huge batch of seedlings of nutmeg and clove by his fellow botanist Provost. This was done in order to break the Dutch monopoly on the production of spices. The enterprise was crowned with success – the trees took root perfectly in Mauritius.

Subsequently, Pierre Poivre was replaced as director by Jean-Nicolas Céré, thanks to whom Pamplemousses acquired his main attraction – ponds with water lilies, where the giant water lily Victoria amazonica now lives among other aquatic vegetation.

When Mauritius changed hands and passed to the British, Pamplemousses fell on hard times. Perhaps this is where the story would have ended if the park had not been saved by the intervention of James Duncan, a British who became director of the park in 1849. He revived the dying botanical garden and enriched it with hundreds of new species – in particular, a collection of various palm trees.

Review of a trip to the Pamplemousses botanical garden in Mauritius

Pamplemousses has a wide variety of palm trees. Palm alleys are very beautiful.

Finally, the final touches to the modern look of the park were added in 1868 and in 1995. In 1868, Pamplemousses was presented with his famous white gate – a work of blacksmith art with an armorial lion, unicorn and crown, which won the international exhibition held in London’s Crystal Palace. In 1995, with the assistance of a team of like-minded people from China, a corner for medicinal plants was created in the botanical garden, where more than a hundred species used for medical purposes now grow.

Now in the Pamplemousses botanical garden you can see all of the above and much more:

  • a baobab growing with its roots up;
  • talipot palm with a lifespan of about 60 years, which blooms with the largest inflorescences in the world and only once, after which it dies;
  • Kigelia sausage tree, the fruits of which resemble giant sausages and are poisonous, but when properly prepared are used to heal many ailments;
  • a walking pandanus tree whose roots sprout from the middle of the trunk and allow the tree to move slowly.

But first of all, people come to the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden to look at the Victoria Amazonica – a giant water lily, the leaves of which reach two meters in diameter and can withstand the weight of a small animal or a newborn child. They do not look like the leaves of other aquatic plants – they are almost round, with a purple or reddish underside and are equipped with vertical “sides”. Her flowers are also unusual. They go through the stages from bud to wilting in just two days and at the same time change color from white through pink to crimson.

The fauna of the botanical garden is often unjustly overlooked. There are paddocks with Javanese deer and giant tortoises (as, indeed, in most natural parks in Mauritius), but the most interesting thing are the winged inhabitants of Pamplemousses. Herons, lanes, moorhens – there are a lot of birds here, and they are almost completely unafraid of visitors and allow them to approach very close.

In addition to natural attractions, Pamplemousses also has some man-made ones:

  1. The picturesque stone bridge Pont des Soupirs or “Bridge of Sighs”, washed by the waters of two rivers.
  2. A replica of a sugar mill that was once used to press and refine sugar cane juice.
  3. House-museum of the Château de Mont-Plaisir, where the furnishings of the estate around which the Pamplemousses botanical garden was originally created were restored.

Tips before visiting

  1. Do not go to the park from 12:00 to 15:00 – this is when it’s the hottest.
  2. Be sure to bring water, a hat and some comfortable shoes. The park is big and you can walk for a long time.
  3. In the botanical garden there are only toilets and rare gazebos. There is nowhere to eat. Therefore, either eat in advance or take a snack with you.

Opening hours of the Pamplemousses park, prices for entrance tickets and guided tours

The latest information on the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden can be obtained on the official website.

Pamplemousses Park opening hours are from 08:30 to 17:00, including weekends and public holidays.

The ticket price for tourists is 200 rupees (4.51 €). For children under 5 years old – admission is free.

There is a guide in the park. Cost of a guided walk in the park:

  • If the group of tourists consists of less than five people – 100 rupees each (2.25 €), and for children under 12 years you don’t have to pay.
  • If the group size is from five to ten people, then the fee is reduced to 75 rupees (1.69 €).
  • If there are more than ten tourists, then they will have to pay only 50 rupees each (1.13 €).

In Pamplemousses you can rent a golf cart for up to three people. It is hired for 45 minutes, and you will have to pay 250 rupees for an adult (5.63 €) and 100 rupees for a child from 5 to 12 years old (2.25 €).

Parking at the Pamplemousses Park is free, but cars cannot be parked right at the gate.

How to get to Pamplemousses on your own?

If you do not want to take a tour, then you can get to the Pamplemousses botanical garden on your own. From Port Louis and the resorts of the north, northwest and northeast of Mauritius (for example, Grand Baie or Trou aux Biches) you can even get there by taxi, because the distances are very small. At the same time, taxi drivers will gladly wait a couple of hours while you walk around the park, so you can go back in the same car.

It will also not be a problem to get to the Pamplemousses park in a rented car. Website Localrent is the best option for renting a car from locals in Mauritius. I already explained how to rent a car in Mauritius and shared my experience in the same article. Getting there is very easy. From Port Louis, follow the M2 highway without turning anywhere to the Pamplemousses Roundabout. If your point of departure is Grand Baie, then exit it along the B42 until it flows into the M2 and then follow to the same ring.

You can also get to Pamplemousses Park by bus, although not all localities have direct lines here. To figure out the route, you can use the Mauritius Buses website. In the “destination” column, you need to put Eau Partagee (Pamplemousses) or Pamplemousses (Eau Partagee), not the Botanical Garden St. Because, the second one is a completely different attraction.

There are three buses from Port Louis to the Botanical Garden, No. 22, No. 227 and No. 85, which depart from the Hospice Pere Laval bus station. At the same time, only the first bus runs quite often – on average, once every quarter of an hour. It’s best to use them. You can read more about the schedule and route of bus number 22 here.

If you are coming by bus, ask to be dropped off at Pamplemousses Park. When you get out of the transport, walk forward along its course until you see the road to the left. From the stop to the main gate of the botanical garden – only about 10 minutes of leisurely walking. Return back through the same gate.