Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is a small island with a big reputation for its paradisiacal setting and weather, festivals, religions and cultures. The cultural harmony and contrasts are especially impressive in a world where people usually seem to be at each other’s throats, and here you’ll find Catholic churches, Islamic mosques, Indian temples and Chinese Pagodas happily rubbing shoulders with one another. The island seems to have an enchanted, protective aura about it. In April the weather is still pleasantly humid and warm and there is only the occasional shower, and one of the highlights of the season is the colourful Ugadi Festival which sees in the Telegu New Year.
The Hindu New Year gets off to a vibrant start on Mauritius with the exuberant Ugadi Festival on April 11th, when people take ritual purification showers and decorate their houses with rangolis and mango leaves. They prepare traditional meals such as Bevu Bella and the climax of the day takes place in hindu temples across the island when Panchanga Sravanam is celebrated. There are also various associated events and market stalls are set up for the tasting of traditional cuisines.
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Museums, beaches and waterfalls
Mauritius is famed the world over for being an island paradise rich in natural beauties. The beaches are exceptionally fine stretches of white sand, as you’d expect, but there are numerous hidden treasures as well. Head out to Grand Baie Beach, which as well as being great for strolling and chilling out at the Veranda Hotel also has lots of local boats that you can rent to take a trip around the island and explore its coves and more secluded spots.
The National History Museum is always worth a visit. It’s situated close to Mahebourg town centre and played a prominent role in the local action of the Napoleonic naval wars, when both the French and British commanders of the battling fleets ended up here for treatment after an engagement. It contains loads of wartime memorabilia such as cannons, grape-shot and a pile of wine bottles from one of the British ships.
- Address: Royal Road, Mahebourg
- Opening times: Daily 9.00am-4.00pm, Tue closed
- Tickets: Free
You can take a local guide out of Henrietta to find these exquisitely beautiful series of waterfalls and take a swim in the lagoon at their base. They’re located close to the Tamarin Falls Reservoir and are a bit of a climb to reach, but well worth the effort. From Henrietta head for Curepipe and then walk uphill for just over a mile.
Blue Penny Museum
It’s probably fair to say that most visitors to Mauritius are not stamp collectors. The name comes from the Mauritian one and two-penny stamps, which are a cause celebre in the stamp world, the mere mention of which is guaranteed to get the heart of any dedicated philatelist fairly pumping with excitement. But you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s more to this museum than its impressive stamp collections, fine as these may be. There are also many great exhibits about the island and its eventful history, colonisation and settlement. It’s the best museum in Port Louis and is overflowing with antique maps, engravings and photographs from various periods.
- Address: Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis
- Opening times: Mon-Sat 10.00-5.00
- Tickets: 150 MR adults
- Website: bluepennymuseum.com