I usually plan a family trip during dasara holidays. As soon as my daughter got her school’s holiday schedule for this year, I looked for places to visit during dasara week. The main criteria was weather, cost and location. Mauritius looked like a nice place to visit in October from all aspects.
|View from La Mourne|
In this post, I will bring out some of the logistical part of the trip which I believe helps others while traveling. In general, I booked the flight and accommodation three months before the trip.
Mauritius is a small island of the coast of Africa. Famous for its coral beaches, it is one of the key tourist destination for Indians. It was ruled by Dutch, French and British before becoming independent in 1968. Everyone is a migrant as there are no native people in Mauritius. (Hence Dodos were extinct very quickly after humans entered Mauritius as they had not adapted to live in human presence). Today, Indian origin people who went to Mauritius as laborers during British rule form majority in Mauritius.
|An island seen from La Mourne|
Indian citizens do not need visa to enter Mauritius as tourists. I was asked to show my return ticket and the passport was stamped. Very simple process.
Air Mauritius has weekly two flights from Bengaluru with a layover at Chennai. It also turned out to the cheapest option among all others. There are daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai. I had difficulty in booking on their site and had to rely on makemytrip. This resulted in additional charges as service. I got some money in wallet from this purchase but it was useless (as it expired in three months)
|Tanu in front of a waterfall|
Mauritius is a small island of about 60 km in length and 50 km in width. It made sense for me to stay at the central place and cover the places of interest during the day instead of hopping between hotels every day. I chose Airbnb apartment at Flic en Flac for its central location. It was a two bedroom apartment with swimming pool and parking facilities. Very convenient. Started to like Airbnb more.
|View of the swimming pool from our apartment|
I found renting car as the most convenient and cost effective option for traveling between locations when compared to hiring a car with driver. There are many operators renting vehicles. While renting charges of international companies were very high, local companies provided competitive rates. After some research, I booked “Nissan March Automatic” with AKD location voiture (http://www.akd-locationvoiture.com/car-rental-mauritius.html) from airport to airport. My experience with them was very good.
Ah!! I forgot to mention that Indian driving license is valid in Mauritius.
Mauritius follows left side driving like India. There is one highway where speed limit is set to 110 km/hr. All other roads are single lane with speed limits of 60 or 80 km/hr. Most people follow driving rules and hence driving is quite easy when compared to India. Care must be taken of pedestrians and two wheelers who would jump into the road any time!!
I had hired GPS device with the car. It turned out to be useless (the car company had told me about it!!). It is sufficient to download google maps offline and use it. Sometimes, it put me into sugarcane fields or led to a dead end. It is not surprising for people who regularly use google maps but in Mauritius you can rely on locals for any directions.
|Our companion in Mauritius|
In spite of Indian origin people being majority, I did not find many Indian restaurants. Most of them were situated around the capital city of Port Louis. Since we were staying in an apartment, we had the opportunity to cook and eat. We experimented with couple of restaurants but the food was just ok. There are vegetarian options in most restaurants.
English, French and Creole are predominantly spoken. No issues for Indians as most understand English.
Mauritian currency is called as Mauritian Rupee. 1 MUR is approximately 2 Indian Rupees. Better to get Dollars/Euros and get it converted to MUR. I think it is also possible to exchange Indian currency in airport but I haven’t tried it. Credit card could be used at fuel stations, super markets and restaurants. But local currency is needed at road side shops, adventure sports (if you go directly with operators in the field) and entrance fees to few locations.
|Chaya posing for buggy ride|
Mauritius is near to Madagascar, Seychells and Reunion islands. If you have time and money, all these places can be combined. It tried to include Madagascar or Seychelles but the cost turned out to be prohibitive and I had to extend my holiday and I could not afford both. You can also consider visiting Rodrigues island which is part of Mauritius.