This is post 4 of 4 that details our holiday in Mauritius, covering the various incredible excursions we took. All posts on our Mauritius holiday are here.
While we spent a ton of time at our hotels sunbathing, paddling in the pool or in the sea, and generally enjoying the hotel amenities, it was also very important to us that we explored the country of Mauritius too.
This post covers most of the excursions we took, to give you some ideas of the magical things you can experience in Mauritius!
This was the most costly excursion, but also the one that left the biggest lasting impression on me, despite its short length.
The helicopter ride itself was about 20 minutes long, although that doesn’t include getting in/settled and out. We paid approximately £200 per person for this private excursion, and it was arranged solely through Trailfinders.
The excursion handily was able to pick us up and drop us back off to our hotel, Heritage Le Telfair, so all we had to do was wander to the appointed field and wait for the helicopter to appear!
Once we were safely in, had our headphones so we could hear each other and the pilot, and had done the safety briefing, the pilot took off into the sparkling blue sky! (We had, earlier that morning, breathed a sigh of relief that the weather promised to be a gorgeous cloudless day!)
Although 20 minutes seems short (and believe me, we would have loved to have been in the air for longer), it felt like we got to see a ton of Mauritius from the air. Our pilot gave us a good mixture of flying over inland Mauritius, hitting beautiful spots like the Chamarel waterfall, as well as flying over the beaches so we could find our hotel, and most breathtakingly, flying out to see so we could admire the beautiful views of the ocean.
To document the ride, I took my Nikon DSLR, as well as my iPhone. I spent a lot of the ride snapping away to document the stunning views, but if I could go back and do it again, I would probably try to give myself more time just in the moment enjoying the ride, being the air, and marvelling at the sights in real time!
If you have some cash to splash, I would highly recommend taking this tour. Despite its short length, you really do get good bang for your buck!
Dolphin spotting sounds like it will be something you want to do on paper. And don’t get me wrong, I did find it cool to be up close and personal with incredible creatures like dolphins – something I’ve never experienced before.
And you can get very close! Look at these gorgeous dolphins!
However, I did have some reservations about this excursion. Namely:
You don’t think about it, but your boat will not be the only one out there. How it works is that the boats will all descend on a pod of dolphins they spot in the water, so you basically end up with a few dolphins frantically swimming through the maze of 5-10 boats full of people that are all gawking at them. This pic is a relatively low-key representation of what its like showing just one boat – but there were mostly 5-10 boats present with us out on the water tracking the dolphins. Firstly, this didn’t feel like a great experience for the dolphins, and secondly, the amount of boats, people, shouting really affected what I was picturing as a low-key excursion.
The other aspect to this excursion that I hadn’t really thought about before the day was that this wasn’t a private boat hire for just us. There would be multiple other people on the boat. When we got to the waiting point to embark on our boat, I got really nervous that a very loud, raucous group of girls sitting with us in the waiting area would be on our boat with us. (Luckily they weren’t!)
There was also a stop to an islet that was part of this excursion. How it was described, I was expecting a secluded slice of heaven where you could perhaps get a drink, sunbathe for a bit, before getting back on the boat. What it actually was, was a small strip of land that was exclusively used as a place for locals to sell knick-knacks to tourists. There were no facilities there like toilets or seating, just rows of stalls with wares. Nobody had actually brought much/any money with them on my boat because this was unexpected, so we spent a fairly unhappy 30 mins waiting for our boat to come back and let us on again.
Finally, the food. When we had booked, the catering sounded fairly luxurious. In reality, it was someone barbecuing some meat off the side of the boat (although delicious!) and a few drinks options. It certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but there was a mismatch of expectation.
However, there were plus points to this excursion as well! As I said, seeing dolphins in the wild for the first time was definitely special. Being ‘at sea’ was also fun and we saw some interesting bits of Mauritius that we wouldn’t have otherwise..
Overall, I probably wouldn’t recommend this excursion if you have already experienced dolphins in the wild. If you’re really wanted to do it, budget-dependent, I would suggest looking for more private and customisable ways to do it.
Ganga Talao, or Grand Bassin, is a lake in the middle of Mauritius, considered the most sacred Hindu spot in the country.
Aside from the lake itself, there are multiple statues and temples dotted around it, for Hindu worshippers. It’s completely open and free for visitors, and is certainly worth a visit to see the incredible temples and statues.
Because of all of the fruit offerings that are brought there, the area is also rampant with monkeys! We spent about 45 minutes just observing monkeys, and was a really amazing experience to be so close to wild monkeys who have very little fear of humans.
I would definitely recommend taking a break from the sun worshipping and visiting here when you’re in Mauritius! A truly beautiful and calming experience!
La Rhumerie de Chamarel
The Chamarel Rum Distillery was a stone’s throw from Lakaz Chamarel, and, as you’ve probably guessed, is where you can go and see how rum is made, as well as sample a delicious selection of Mauritian rums!
The grounds of the Rhumerie itself are very well-kept and include some beautiful gardens, and the distillery itself is interesting to tour – you get to see how they make rum at every stage of the process, and view the vast machinery that is needed to make the rum.
But, there’s no denying that the start attraction is the promise of being able to sample a selection of rums at the end of the tour. The Rhumerie sets up tables for its guests, and you’re taken on a flavour tour of around 9-10 rums. They are generous with the sample sizes, and they were happy for us to have second sips or gulps of the ones we really liked!
For rum lovers, this is a great excursion. If you’re not into rum or alcohol, avoid at all costs. It is literally all about the rum!
I would also say, don’t plan to spend too much time here. You could easily do it all in 60 – 90 minutes. Most of the time we spent there ended up being in the gift shop at the end deciding what rums to buy to bring home 😅
The last excursion to spotlight was our time in the Chamarel Geopark, again handily located near Lakaz Chamarel.
The park consists of the Chamarel waterfall, the seven-coloured sands, and some elderly tortoises. and cost around £5 per person.
When you look up things to do in Mauritius, the seven-coloured sands often comes up as near the top of the list. I was expecting an extraordinary sandy vista and for my breath to be taken away.
While it is interesting that there are naturally forming different coloured sands, I do have to be real and say that it wasn’t that impressive. The plot is fairly small and you could almost think it looks like someone’s dumped a bunch of sand in the middle of a park 😕
I probably spent approximately 3 minutes looking at the seven coloured sands, and then my attention wandered to the real stars of the geopark: the tortoises!
There were about 10-15 tortoises I could see in the enclosure, and having never been up close to a giant tortoise before, I was completely mesmerised. You could get fairly close to them and I had a lot of fun staring at them for a while 😅
The other part to the Geopark is the Chamarel waterfall, which we had seen from above in the helicopter ride, but now got the opportunity to see at ground level.
There’s a little trail that takes you to a lookout point that is perfectly situated for photos, but be aware that there will be hundreds of other people jostling you for the exact same shot – so its not the kind of place you’ll necessarily be hanging out at for long.
Most of the activities in the Geopark are fairly short in length. We did the Geopark and the Rhumerie in a single morning, and that was absolutely fine.
And that sums up the main excursions we did in Mauritius! If you have any questions at all about any of these excursions, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have!
A big thank you to Athena at Trailfinders who helped us organise these excursions and ensured everything went smoothly!