Nature Parks of Mauritius
The first National Park declared in Mauritius was the Black River Gorges National Park in 1994, a sprawling forest haven of indigenous flora and fauna, misty hiking trails and spectacular waterfalls. Situated in the central highlands, the park is considerably cooler than the rest of the island and even has its own distinct micro-climates, ranging from the damp, rainy upland forests to drier, lowland forests. The wildlife in the national park is all indigenous, from the mischievous Macaque monkeys to the brightly colored kestrels, pink pigeons, Mauritian echo-parakeets and the famous white-tailed tropic birds that are depicted on the Air Mauritius insignia.
While following the 60 kilometers of hiking trails through the Black River Gorges, you will be able to see the oddly umbrella-shaped Bois de Natte trees, the strangely flat ‘Traveller’s Palm’ and numerous orchids, ferns and lichens as well as the Chinese Guava trees. When in season, these tart little guavas can be eaten directly from the trees, or savored with a delicious, if unlikely, mixture of crushed chillies and salt. From the Black River Gorges viewpoint, a stunning panorama of interlocking mountains looks out over the many-colored waters of the lagoon and the delicate Alexandra Falls.
For those seeking something more exotic, however, there is the Casela Yemen Nature Reserve close to Flic en Flac in the west of Mauritius. This extensive nature reserve is home to numerous different African and Asian animals including the often quoted but seldom seen combination of lions and tigers. Walking with the lions is now offered at Casela, as is walking without them; there are many different hiking and walking trails available and the enormous tawny felines come as an optional extra.
As far as rock climbing goes, there are plenty of tempting faces to be climbed, but very few bolted routes for sport climbers. The most climbed cliffs are in Albion on the west coast, although for those enthusiasts with their own gear, there are a plethora of previously unclimbed routes just waiting to be discovered all over the island.