The heart of the island has more rainfall and cooler weather than any other region. Of course, it is not the place to be for coastal highlights and white sandy beaches, but there are still plenty of family-friendly neighbourhoods, natural landscapes and historical landmarks to explore here.
A slower pace of life is on offer here, and you can leave behind the congested tourist traps in the other more developed areas. Not all slow living, though, you can find some bustling shopping malls in Central Plateau for all your retail needs, but it may not be inspiring enough to leave the natural beauty on display.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy including a lazy climb to Le Pouce mountain overlooking the island’s capital, Port Louis. The nearby areas such as Tamarin waterfall and western slopes of Black River Gorges also offer lovely hiking trails and other mountainous explorations.
Natural wonder awaits as the central region is home to nine species of endangered birdlife, lush forest, and the famous crater lake, Grand Bassin. Moka offers something different with its mix of mountain ranges, shopping malls and modern Mauritian life.
The Central Plateau
Mauritius has experienced unfortunate natural calamity in its recent history, most notably the devastating cyclones and malaria and cholera epidemics. In light of these, much of the 19th century saw a remarkable migration of people towards the central plateau and away from the harsher climate of the coastal regions.
This created a span of flourishing for smaller villages that are now lively towns accounting for around 30% of the entire island population. The most populated district, Plaines Wilhelms, named after Wilhelm Leicknig, a Prussian settler that landed on the island in 1721 is a bustling urban area where everyday Mauritian life is at it’s most true.
This district is mostly urban and consists of the towns, Vacoas-Phoenix, Curepipe, Quatre Bornes, and Beau-Bassin-Rose-Hill. The villages in the area are Moka, Midlands, and Cascavelle. Not much in the way of tourist development is on offer here, and travellers will need to look elsewhere for more sophisticated shopping experiences. However, there are, in fact, some notable speciality stores in this humble district.
The romantic Curepipe is named after a “pipe-cleaner” and got its moniker from the travelling soldiers arriving to refill their tobacco pipes from Port Louis. Another hypothesis is that the Curepipe was the given name of an early landowner’s town of origin in the French countryside. Whichever theory may be right, the area has around 80 000 residents crowning it one of the more populous on the island.
500m above sea level, Curepipe is the highest and wettest town on the island. So rainy that Mark Twain, at the turn of the 19th century, coined it, “the wettest and rainiest place in the world” so be sure to carry an umbrella. Another natural wonder of the area is the Trou aux Cerfs crater, a dormant volcano of old.
Colonial architecture is seen at the town hall, St. Thérèse chapel and the Arcade Currimjee, the neighbourhood shopping centre. Domaine des Aubineaux is a turquoise windowed colonial mansion in the nearby suburb, Forest Side, and one of the stops on the ancient Tea Route.
Curepipe is more developed than other areas in this district. Locals recommend it as it boasts some upmarket and wealthier areas, namely Floreal and Phoenix, that are famous for an artisanal glass-blowing tradition. The nearby Quatre Bornes is renowned for craft markets held every Thursday and Sunday close to the St Jean Road. Shopping is a definite favourite in this vibrant region!
Moka and its Mountains
The Moka District is a shopping mecca for all residents of the Central Plateau and the island over with its large mall, food court, restaurants, bars and local entertainment. The weekend activity is always buzzing here as locals flock to the most popular shopping mall on the island.
For something different, the Moka mountain range is a special place to visit. Once an ancient chain of volcanoes, this range bears the island’s highest peaks, notably Pieter Both and the thumb-shaped Le Pouce. Charles Darwin once explored this territory and climbed its summits recording his wondrous experience is his influential book, The Voyage of the Beagle.
Grand Bassin and Surrounds
Grand Bassin also known as Ganga Talao is the island’s mythical crater lake, thought to have been created by raindrops from the River Ganges. Surrounded by spectacular tropical greenery, it was once a colonial hunting ground.
Grand Bassin is now a sacred Hindu site. Small altars and burning incense can be seen everywhere as well as a staggering 10-meter statue of Shiva that welcomes you at the entrance of the Hanumanji temple. So popular a site for pilgrimage, there is a multilane highway to provide greater access for the island’s Hindu festivals.
The largest of these festivals is Maha Shivatree, certainly one of the most significant Hindu celebrations outside of India. Here you will see devotees dressed in white, colourful flower wreaths, fruit and other religious offerings on display.
Take a drive with the family to Tamarin Falls, and you’ll discover the highest waterfall in Mauritius, peaking at 293m. Also known as the “Seven Cascades“, the water runs in series down of seven larger falls, but there are eleven in total. You can glance at some of the falls from Henrietta village, but you’ll have to take a walk to see them in all their glory.
Make it to the top, and you’ll be rewarded mountain pools, canyoning, abseiling and cliff jumps with the kids. But make sure to book with a professional guide for the safest experience as some of the climbs are rather technical.
Author: Rawson Property Group