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Mauritius - So much more than just Paradise...

“Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” (Mark Twain, after his visit in 1896). This beautiful tropical island circled by silver sands and azure waters, dotted with scarlet flame trees and jagged mountains draws almost as many tourists annually as its actual population.

You will find yourself hopping from one picture postcard setting to another enjoying the different cultural offerings and warmth of the sun and the locals.

Location

Mauritius is ideally located in the South West part of the Indian Ocean, north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The island of Mauritius lies 855 kilometers east of Madagascar and about 3,900 kilometers southwest of India, between longitudes 57 16′ and 57 49′ east, and latitudes 19 58′ and 20 34′ south. Mauritius is Less than 4 hours flight from South Africa, 40 minutes from Reunion and 12-13hours from Europe.

Mauritian territory also incorporates the island of Rodrigues situated 600 kilometers east to Mauritius mainland.

Culture

Mauritius is a melting pot of diverse cultures and religions due to it being an immigrant population brought from their ancestral countries. In terms of religion there are Hindus, Tamils, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and others from all over the globe. Mauritius is very much an “island of temples, churches and mosques. Their festivities are celebrated in a spirit of peace and harmony throughout the year.

The island has a rich cultural heritage in terms of the number of ethnic groups on the island as well as the distinct Mauritian Creole culture. There are a number of museums all over Mauritius to tell the history of the island such as the Natural History Museum, Blue Penny Museum, Photography Museum and Naval Museum etc. Moreover, each of the different cities and villages in Mauritius has a distinct history and each one is equally interesting.

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Ocean

The island is surrounded with a barrier reef, and the diving areas are divided in North-West (from Tombeau Bay till the islands of the North), South- West (from the Morne to Flic en Flac), and the East (from Belle Mare to Mahebourg). Each of these different areas has a different kind of dives and different kind of sea landscape. Mauritius is blessed with turquoise water, blue lagoons and amazing diving! You will find a lot of variety when it comes to diving: from coral reefs with abundant marine life, to drop-offs decorated with gorgonian fans, rock formations with an interesting arch architecture, some tunnels and caves, and rusted shipwrecks that bring you into a day-dream era.Diving in Mauritios you will find colorful tropical fishes but also pelagic species. Here are scorpion fish, stone fish, lost of different eels, and you will see sharks here too: black tip reef sharks, bull sharks and Grey sharks. Mauritius is also famous for dolphins and spermwhales.

Food

Mauritian cooking is in a class of its own: a combination of flavours that have evolved through its different cultural heritages and cooking traditions.

Vistors to the island have the opportunity to sample a variety of foods, including Indian, Chinese, Creole and European.

The creativity displayed by Mauritians knows no bounds, mixing various styles and techniques into a single  dish or menu. They experiment with recipes from Chinese, Indian or Muslim cuisines as they are to create tempting Creole or European dishes. Seafood is a must whilst you are on the island, magical seafood platters or Octopus Vindaye popular choice. One has to try the local favorite ”street food” too, including ‘dholl purri’ wheat pancakes stuffed with dholl and served with curry and tomato sauce, faratas, gateaux piments (chilli bites) and samosas.

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Activities

Mauritius has something for everyone! On land some things you can keep yourself occupied with are Horse riding, cycling, trekking or nature walks, rock climbing, tennis, volleyball, football and there are also a number of golf courses in Mauritius for those into this sport.

When it comes to the sea, the turquoise waters and hot beaches call out for swimming and sun bathing almost all over the island but other activities include, submarine trips, undersea walks, dolphins experiences, snorkeling, big game fishing, kite surfing, parasailing and scuba diving to name a few.

Weather

Mauritius is the perfect island for holidays due to its sunny and beautiful weather. Coastal regions experience sunny days throughout the year. Mauritius really has only 2 seasons. Firstly, summer which occurs between the month of December to April and the atmosphere is wet, humid and hot. Summer in Mauritius normally reaches a maximum temperature of around 30°C during the day. Secondly, winter which occurs between June to September. It usually reaches a minimal temperature of 18°C at night. During the winter period, the weather in Mauritius is often influenced by anticyclones. In summer, the country is sometimes affected by tropical cyclones which are formed near the equator in the Indian Ocean.

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Languages

Mauritians are proficient in several languages. Most Mauritians are at least bilingual, if not trilingual. “The Mauritian Constitution makes no mention of an official language and its 1.3 million citizens speak English, French, Mauritian Creole, French-based Creole, and ethnic languages such as Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Urdu, Tamil or Mandarin.” Both French and English, which have long enjoyed greater social status, are favored in educational and professional settings. English is generally accepted as the official language of Mauritius as it is the language of government administration, the courts and business sector. It is quite easy to converse with the locals as there is a good chance they can communicate in a language similar to a tourist, even if only at a basic level.

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