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» 01 Dec 2009

The Domain of Seven Valleys, to give it its English name, is a project that was started in 2008 by Alain O'Reilly.

Alain has over twenty years experience running domains and his interest in wildlife and conservation goes back even further. In 1974 he played a large part in saving the kestrel population of the island. There were only three males and one female left but, twelve years later, following a successful breeding programme, there were one hundred and fifty two birds and the kestrel was saved from extinction.

In 1988, Alain opened the Domaine des Anse Jonchée, at a time when Mauritius was stereotyped as a   destinatino for beaches  and hotels. The sceptics thought he was crazy, but he proved them wrong and is now known throughout the country as the “father” of eco-tourism.

Located in Nouveau France, Domaine des Sept Vallées is Alain's latest project and encompasses approximately four thousand hectares of land while accounting for fifty percent of the forest cover in Mauritius.

It is also the largest hunting territory on the island and is home to two thousand five hundred Java deer and one thousand wild boar, twenty five to thirty percent of which must be culled annually to maintain the health and vitality of the others. Five professional hunters with over twenty five years experience each, ensure that the hunts go smoothly and the lack of beaters and dogs means that hunters must use their own skill in stalking, to catch their quarry.

Only the best equipment is provided, with rifles manufactured by Tikka, Mannlicher, Sako, Sauer or Savage and all equipped with Schmidt and Bender scopes. Target practise is available to allow hunters to adapt to the equipment, and a guide, tracker, 4x4 vehicle and radio are, of course, also supplied. Any paper work that is required is prepared for you with the minimum of fuss, but if you wish to use your own rifle, you must supply the details, such as its serial number, prior to the event.
After the thrill of the chase, you can look forward to a relaxing party in the evening, in the same style as took place over two hundred years ago – a large camp fire, deer roasting on a spit, fine wine and beer!

Hunting is available all year around, yet as an activity it accounts for less than one percent of the annual visitor number to the territory. Indeed, there is plenty to do besides hunting. Choose from amongst quad or mountain biking, hiking, camping, photo safaris, team building, bird watching, tai chi, archery, horse-riding and nature trails. There are conference facilities for up to thirty people and an organic farm aimed at educating both children and adults. There are plenty of other things to do too and a full day in the bush will make you feel like you are in a different country.

An activity aimed specifically at children, aged six to fourteen, is the Holiday Camp, which is run in association with C.V.L. (Centre de Vacances & de Loisirs). Children spend four days in the bush with experienced teachers, and are taught things such as orientation, traditional fishing, raft building and archery. They also learn more basic skills such as plucking a chicken and roasting it over an open fire and there are plenty of other events such as treasure hunts. It is a great way for children to experience nature and learn things that children of earlier generations would have taken for granted.

The Domaine des Sept Vallées is home to a fantastic restaurant called “La Vieille Cabane” and all the ingredients used are grown or raised on the estate and are one hundred percent organic. The menu includes, venison, boar, palm heart, chicken, guinea fowl, duck, various fruits and vegetables and fish. As well as indoor seating, six “kiosks” will be operational by early December where guests can dine surrounded by the natural beauty of the estate. La Vieille Cabane is also a guest house with a dormitory for twenty, making it the perfect HQ for outings and activities. There are also four caravans at a “secret basin” for those who want to live in the midst of nature, but with some basic modern comforts.

Phase Two of the development of the site includes the opening of two new restaurants, one of which will be situated next to a spectacular waterfall and the other which will be specialised in freshwater food like black bass, smoked eel and freshwater lobster. A spa is also planned for those who wish to merely relax and take in the ambience of the place and tree houses are to be built to give people a taste of a really different way of living, think along the lines of Tarzan!

Whether you live in Mauritius or are just visiting, if you want to try something a little bit different, something that you will surely remember for years to come, Domaine des Sept Vallée is definitely the place for you.

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