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» 07 May 2009

La Vanille Reserve des Mascareignes was opened in 1985 in Riviere des Anguilles in the south of Mauritius. This part of the island has, more than any part, kept a feeling of “old Mauritius”, whether it is the manner of the people, their traditions or even the unspoilt scenery.

The guides will take you on an unforgettable walk and you will stroll through luxuriant greenery where banana trees, palms and giant bamboos provide shade for the thousands of Nile crocodiles which are reared in this park, and which you can visit in perfect safety.

You can visit the Tortoise Savannah, a two acre park which has the world's largest group of captive Aldabra and Radiata tortoises, and have your photograph taken with Domino who weighs in at two hundred and seventy five kilograms and at ninety five years is the oldest tortoise in the park. The  original Mauritian and Rodrigues tortoises are extinct and so others were brought in from the Seychelles in the 1880s on the recommendation of Charles Darwin. The Radiata hail from Madagascar and though they can live up to one hundred and forty years, they are an endangered species.

Owen Griffiths, biologist and co-founder of the Vanille Reserve des Mascareignes, was the person behind the idea to reintroduce giant tortoises to the island of Rodrigues. This vision, to re-make Rodrigues the giant tortoise island as described by Francois Leguat three hundred and fifteen years ago, is now a reality. Already La Vanille has sent over three hundred captive bred Aldabra tortoises, raised over the last twenty years, back to Rodrigues and the Francois Leguat Tortoise and Cave Reserve, which is open to the public.

You will also discover a variety of other creatures; geckos, monkeys, Madagascan tenrecs, Java deer, Japanese Koi Carps, Fruit bats and many other species.

A must-see is the collection of butterflies and other brightly-coloured insects, which is one of the largest and most fascinating in the world. It has taken Mr Jacques Siedlecki thrity three years of patient work to put together this amazing collection, and he will greet you himself and talk all about his passion for insects.

The “Crocodile Affame” or “Hungry Crocodile Restaurant”, built among the tree-tops, will offer you a choice of Mauritian and other dishes, in particular several made with crocodile, which tastes not unlike chicken with the texture of calamari. Snacks and various drinks are also available.

In the “Crocodile Shop” you will find hand bags, wallets and other articles made from farmed crocodile skins, as well as a range of other gifts and souvenirs made in Mauritius which will help remind you of your visit to the park.

The entire La Vanille Reserve des Mascareignes team will be happy to welcome you to this unique place where nature and humans come together in a truly Mauritian way.

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