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MAURITIUS DISCOVERY
» 28 Nov 2014
DISCOVERY

The tourist who loves to hike will really enjoy venturing through the Black River Gorges. In the southwest of the island you will find the Black River Gorges National Park. It covers 3,5 percent of the island and is the hometown for more than 300 species of flowering plants and nine species of birds that are unique to Mauritius, including the famous pink pigeon.
The park was established in 1994, since it’s situated on a plateau, the temperature is lower than in the rest of Mauritius. Thanks to its rare flora and fauna it is a well known place for bird watchers. Here you will find the Mauritius kestrel, echo parakeet and the Mauritius cuckoo shrike and many other unique bird species. Also the rare tambalacogue or dodo tree, the black ebony trees and the wild guavas can be found in the park.  There are various ways to explore the park, by drive or take a bus through the park. However it is better to explore the park by foot. This way you can take as long as you want and enjoy the beautiful views that the parks has to offer. There is a network of hiking trails across the entire park. Although the markings have been improved and there are some good maps available, it is advisable to first check out the current state of the trails at the information centre. Another option is to hire a guide, this can be done at the visitor centre. It is advisable to reserve in advance. The main visitor centre can be found at the west entrance of the park and the second one, the Petrin Information centre, is located at the east entrance of the park. The staff will provide you with information and advice about the various trails and will give you a roughly sketched map.

MAGNIFICENT VIEWS
There are many trails to be found across the park, though nine of the trails have been placed in the official map. The trailheads are visibly marked and can be accessed from one of the two roads that run through the park. The main road runs from north to south along the parks eastern border, past the Petrin Information Centre, then swings westward at Les Mares to go up onto the Plaine Champagne. At Alexandra Falls there is a new viewing point, from where you get a superb view over the south coast. Unfortunately, due to the bushes in front of the viewing point, you can’t actually see the waterfalls, you can only hear them.  The Gorges viewpoint can be found two km further west, which offers magnificent views and even gives you the opportunity to see wild monkeys. After ten km further the road drops to the coast at Grande Case Novale.  The second road is at the south at the Les Mares junction. Three km further it passes Bassin Blanc, a crater lake surrounded by forest. After the lake the road criss crosses down the valley to Chamouny and Chemin Grenier.  The best time to visit the park is during the flowering season. This is from September till January. The best way to get to the trailheads is to get a taxi and at the end you can take the bus back to your hotel. Also bring enough water and snacks with you, as you cant buy food or drinks in the park or at the visitor centers.
Furthermore you need insect repellent, wet weather gear and proper hiking shoes. For the Bird watchers dont forget to bring your binoculars and ask the park wardens for the best viewing spots.

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