We kicked day 1 off with a casual* quad bike ride up a mountain in the rain at Domaine de L’Etoile – The biggest natural and private reserve in Mauritius, extending over 1200 hectares. This place offers a variety of physical activities from aforementioned quad biking, to giant zip lining (3km!!), horse riding, hiking, and archery. It was a beautiful and rather cleansing experience where limits were tested and fears were challenged. Would I do it again? You bet your bottom dollar!
*there was nothing casual about that drive.
Next up was lunch at Ile Des Deux Cocos an island resort located on the SouthEast side of Mauritius. Between the unobstructed views, a picturesque villa and the team of dedicated staff, you can pretty much live out your ultimate castaway fantasy on Île des Deux Cocos. You can book an overnight stay or a day visit on this cascade of torquise and white. Perhaps most importantly, they make their own rum! It is strong, delicious and somehow make you feel like you’re being healthy when you drink it.
Day 2 was for wildlife, at the Casela World of Adventures. Spanning over 250 hectares, this is the wildlife reserve you didn’t know you needed. Initially scheduled to walk lions along a path, we were thankfully late and missed that adventure. Instead we got to interact with other lions in an enclosed space (two of my favourite things). Asides that, we got to see rare exotic birds and come up close with some of the most beautiful avian life. We got upclose with 100+ year old tortoises who seemed less than impressed by our presence if I’m honest and I had a nice chat with a llama. He wasn’t a great conversationalist but I may have expected too much from a llama.
We had lunch at La Tables du Chateau a restaurant right at the heart of the Lambourdonnais estate. Battling with a gluten and lactose intolerance (I know right?) the chef was more than accommodating, and I had a delicious meal of rice noodles, glutenfree chicken curry and a mango and lemon sorbet for dessert.
Another day, another adventure at La Vallee Des Couleurs (or: the Valley of Colours), a site that spans 450 acres and contains soil of 23 different colours. We were taken on a brief excursion of the geology museum (more exciting than it sounds) before exploring the incredible attractions via quad bike (being that we were professionals by this point). We got to experience the endemic fauna and flora and six natural waterfalls, deer hunting (they are not hurt, don’t worry), fishing and so much more. Next up was lunch and a tour of the beautiful Outrigger beach resort, nestled in the nature reserve of Bel Ombre. This breathtaking resort offers, 181 rooms and suites (all with a view of the sea), 4 swimming pools, 3 restaurants, a spa, a kids club, fitness facilities and private members clubs – all on the ground. We had lunch at the Mercado Restaurant. Described, quite aptly, as a culinary voyage, this restaurant boasts a very effective market dining concept in which guests can experience Indian, Asian, French and Mediterranean cuisines daily, with live cooking stations. If you’re feeling particularly celebratory, then celebrate with what was Napoleon’s favourite wine, a 1685 Vin de Constance. Thank me later.
We rounded up our day with a tour of another hotel, the Sofitel Mauritius L’imperial Resort and Spa, located on the West coast, you immediately get the sense that you’re in for something grand, the moment you enter the driveway. Set amid 9 hectares of tropical garden and white sands and blue seas (are you noticing a trend here. These Mauritians sure know how to preserve their natural attractions).
This place boasts 143 guest rooms and 48 suites all with a balcony. The Sofitel does not skimp on its grandness, that is never more apparent than in their So|Me Spa. The door alone is like a prop from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon! It is dramatic, tasteful and a completely appropriate way to introduce you to what lies on the other side. And an incredibly peace-inducing sensory experience that is sure to leave you floating for days to come.
That night, we checked into the luxurious Intercontinental Resort, located on the North-West of the island. On this night, we didn’t get to see too much of the grounds as we were completely spent from the day’s activities. However, we did experience one of the best dinners I’ve ever had at their beachfront restaurant, Noble House. Again, with my dietary restrictions, I never once felt like a burden to the chef or the fantastic waitress who was well-versed on the menu that she could steer me away from the things that contained flour and dairy. I had an immensely satisfying shrimp and papaya salad and lemongrass chicken complete with rice noodles on the side. Again, one of the finest culinary experiences I’ve been opportuned to partake in. Wow!
The beds at the Intercontinental – as with every resort we stayed at, to be fair – are so incredibly comfortable that if you’re not careful you could easily miss your 7:45 call time! Luckily, I had set my alarm to go off every ten minutes until I sprung out of bed. This was useful as day 4 was arguably the most exciting day for me. We explored the depths of the ocean via submarine courtesy of Blue Safari Submarine. Soundtracked by a very relaxing yet funky remix of Bob Marley classics, we began our descent into the ocean. This was a very surreal experience as I have long been afraid of what lies beneath. We settled at 35 meters, coasting past braver and more skilled divers who were exploring a Japanese shipwreck. We were able to see a plethora of sea life from sea turtles to clown fish> unfortunately,
no dolphins and fortunately no whales or sharks. What a beautiful experience made even better by our wonder pilot and guide.
Back at the InterCon, I spearheaded straight back to bed for an hour-long nap, after which I went for a few laps in the heated pool overlooking the sea at sunset. I cannot stress how much I felt like I was part of a travel commercial. It all felt too beautiful to be true. After that, I went to the sauna to rid myself of all the toxins. This was much needed. Dinner was at Segala, another restaurant on site at the InterCon. A gorgeous last supper before we were to return to reality the next day.
Day 5 was our departure day and what a bittersweet experience it was. I always tend to get separation anxiety after a fantastic holiday but this was different. I intentionally didn’t set my alarm because I figured if I missed my flight it’d take them at least a day to get me another one. Alas, a wake-up call had been set up by my colleague. We were out before dawn and it was probably for the best as any later in the day and they would have had to physically grab me and force me into the taxi.
This was by far the most visually stunning experience I’ve had on holiday and I cannot thank the Mauritius Tourism Promotions Authority for inviting Genevieve Magazine alongside other journalists to experience this. And a massive shout out to South Africa Airways for taking us there and bringing us back! And to Mrs. Seyi Olusanya of Once Upon A Destination for putting the whole thing together.