Monday, January 22, 2018
Our cruise ended early this morning. Since we have an 11pm flight to Dubai, we decided to take a private tour – we figured that would be better than spending most of the day in the airport. It was.
We stopped first at Pride of the Island, a ship model factory and shop. All of the ship models are handcrafted at this site, with workers specializing in specific techniques, such as carving the pieces, sewing the sails, assembly, painting and varnishing. These are truly beautiful pieces of work, very detailed. They are available for sale, but we have no room left in our suitcases!
Our next stop was at Trou aux Cerfs crater. This dormant volcano is believed to have erupted here only once, less than 2 million years ago. It’s not dead, though, and could become active again. According to our guide, scientists say that it’s not dead because the ph level of the water in the caldera changes occasionally. It’s surrounded by trees and other foliage. We walked around the caldera, a fairly short walk, and were rewarded with some great views of the surrounding mountains and towns of Mauritius.
We made a quick stop at Mare aux Vacoas, the largest reservoir in Mauritius. It was a little larger than normal because of all the rain the island had received in the recent cyclone.
The Black River Gorges National Park is home to so many beautiful features. We stopped first at Alexandra Falls, where we were greeted by some Macaque monkeys, and more great views.
Then, there was the gorge itself.
We paid a visit to The Rhumerie de Chamarel, a rum distillery. It was necessary to taste about nine different rums, dark, light, and flavored, each containing from 35-44% alcohol. After making sure we were no longer in total control of our faculties, we were shunted into the shop, where, of course, we made a purchase. I’ll find more room in those suitcases one way or another.
Lunch, then Chamarel Falls, simply stunning. Even though we’ve seen some of the most famous waterfalls in the world, Gullfoss, Iguazu and Victoria, we never cease to be in awe of each one we see.
Then, to The Seven Colored Earth, a field of sand dunes, that evolved as they converted from basalt to different clay minerals that naturally repel each other. Supposedly, if you mixed the sands together, they would eventually separate into various layers again.
Our last stop before going to the airport was at Ganga Talao, the Lake of Ganga, a crater lake that is considered by Hindus to be the most sacred place in Mauritius. The first thing we saw as we drove up was a huge statue (108 feet in height) of Durga Mata Murti, the Hindu warrior goddess. This statue was just dedicated in late 2017. Further on is a statue of Mangal Mahadev, the Hindu God Shiva, also 108 feet high. There are many other statues of various gods on the premises.
Pandi Sanjibonlal originally came to Mauritius in the mid-1800’s as a contract laborer from India. He later became a successful merchant in India, then returned and purchased the land to establish this temple, which was consecrated in 1866, and declared a sacred lake in 1998. Once a year, most Hindus on the island make a pilgrimage by foot from their homes to the lake.
We were free to enter the temple as long as we removed our shoes.
Then, to the airport for our 11pm flight to Dubai.