Friday, January 27, 2017

Mauritius - day 4

27 January 2017

Our first stop for the day was Tamarind Falls (also known as the 7 cascades) in the southwestern part of Mauritius. However, it was going to be a darshan-from-a-distance because the actual falls are situated in a very hard-to-reach location, and if you want to hike there you have to take an experienced guide along because it is considered to be one of the most dangerous hikes in Mauritius. In fact, children under 10 are not even allowed. As you can tell, we had several reasons not to attempt to get close to the falls. With two seniors and a kid, it was going to be impossible anyway, but we thought we could drive by the waterfalls and see them, even if it was from a distance.

Xena's toy enjoys the card ride to the Tamarind Falls viewpoint. 

After parking the car, we had to take a walk to get to the viewpoint. We spotted several cauliflower farms along the way. Needless to say, Dad was thrilled. 

Contrary to what it looks, he was not trying to harvest the cauliflower. He was just giving an impromptu botany lesson to Xena. 

Strange upside-down flowers

The two gal pals pose with some sugarcane plants. 

Finally, we reached the viewpoint, but it was impossible to get a photo of the waterfall. All we got was this, and unless you click on it and really zoom, you can't even tell there is a waterfall at all in the picture!

But the backdrop was pretty, so we got some family shots. 

It was quite windy, and Mom's hat would have flown off, if not for the strap!

Many more tourists turned up soon. Some were obviously going for the hike as they were accompanied by guides.

While the hikers headed towards the falls, we headed back to the car. Our next destination was the Black River Gorges national park, the largest on the island, spanning about 67 square km! The park is a very popular tourist destination full of waterfalls, picnic spots, about 60 km of hiking trails, and of course, panoramic views. 

Xena jogs ahead of us on the wooden trail. 

We climbed up on this wooden platform...

...and were rewarded with this gorgeous view.

And here are is the famous Alexandra Falls, located about 700 metres above sea level. 

Viv tried to pull this stunt to get a better picture of the waterfall, totally freaking Mom out. 

While we were taking photos on the steps of the viewing platform...

...Dad had found a different kind of platform to perch on! Did I mention he likes to sit on trees and have his photo taken?

Soon, he had convinced me to join him...

...and then the rest had no choice. Viv escaped with the excuse that he was the photographer!

Xena plays peek-a-boo!

The weather was very nice that day, otherwise I might not have lasted all that walking. I have a tendency to faint if I'm out too long in the sun. Plus, the paths were mostly shaded. We walked around, enjoying the scenery. 

Love this backdrop!

How awesome would it be to have a picnic here?! 

Next to where we had parked our car was a tiny stall selling green coconuts and a few more fruits. My dad struck up a conversation with the coconut seller. His name was Ram Goolam, and his ancestors were from Bihar. Dad was only too happy to share with him his Bihar experience (he had been posted in Bihar for almost 20 years). We bought some coconuts from Ram Goolam at the crazy tourist price of 150 rupees per coconut.

We walked around a bit more in another section of the national park, with more magnificent views...

...and some monkeys! One of the monkeys even posed patiently for a group of Chinese tourists who spent at least 15 minutes photographing it.

It was a very touristy area with lots of tiny shops selling all kinds of souvenirs. 

Dad collects wooden sculptures, so he was quite happy to check this shop out. 

Next, we headed to Ganga Talao (also known as 'Grand Bassin'), the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius. Apparently, during Shivratri, many pilgrims walk barefoot from their homes to the lake. 

Ganga Talao is a crater lake situated about 1800 feet above sea level. 

I hadn't expected a lake to be this huge. It was gigantic. We couldn't walk all around it. It would probably take half an hour or more.

I got this interesting trivia about the lake from Wikipedia:

In 1897 Shri Jhummon Giri Gosagne Napal, a ‘pujari’ (priest) of Triolet together with a 'pujari' priest from Goodlands Sri Mohanparsad saw in a dream the water of the lake of Grand Bassin springing from the ‘Jahnvi’, thus forming part of Ganga. The news of the dream spread rapidly and created quite a stir in the Hindu community. The following year, pilgrims trekked to Grand Bassin to collect its water to offer to Lord Shiva on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri. The lake was then known as the ‘Pari Talao’. In 1998 it was declared a "sacred lake". In 1972, some holy water from the Ganges River was mixed establishing a symbolic link with the sacred Indian River and the lake was renamed Ganga Talao.
Mangal Mahadev, the tallest statue in Mauritius stands 33 metres tall at the entrance of Ganga Talao.

We were amazed at the detailed texture of the statue's clothes. The rugged edges really made it look like fabric.

Mom poses with the statue.

A similarly huge statue of Goddess Durga is being constructed at the moment.

A sign leading to the Kashi Vishwanath temple

We went inside the temple too, and realised that we had gatecrashed someone's wedding!

Idols inside the temple

On our way out, Xena wanted me to lift her up so she could ring the temple bell at the entrance. I did so, and the bell was SO LOUD, not only was I temporarily deafened, I think it's still ringing in my head somewhere!

Check out the gorgeous colour of this flower growing near the lake.

Clueless took this very artistic shot of the flowers and the temple. 

By now, we were all pretty famished, so Viv googled and found the closest restaurant that had good reviews. It turned out to be Bois Cheri, located in the middle of an absolutely stunning tea plantation. 

The tea plantation was next to a lake with actual boats and stuff!

Check out the amazing blossons on the tree. Mauritius really is a flower-lover's delight. 

Dad walked around, capturing more flowers with his camera...

...and more...

...and more... until he wandered off and got lost! (We did find him eventually)

Yummy food at Bois Cheri (yes, the rice is indeed garnished with fresh tea leaves!)

Xena was intrigued...

...so she pulled it out and nibbled at an end. Her reaction? "Yuck, bitter!"

The waiter took this family photo of us. 

After lunch, we walked around the place. Due to the elevation, the weather was nice and cool. 

Family photo against the tea plantation

After our nice, long lunch, it was naptime for Xena, but in the car because we still had places to go to! The next stop was Trou aux Cerfs, a dormant volcano in a town called Curepipe. A volcano in the middle of a town, imagine that!

The only problem was that there were no signs at all and we couldn't find it. After navigating some narrow, winding roads on which only one car could go through at a time, we came across a barrier. Viv parked, got out of the car, crossed the barrier to go do what no man likes to do -- ask someone for directions.

He came back in a few minutes with quite a story. Apparently, he had met a footballer who gave him directions and also invited him to a football event that night which was going to be attended by the Prime Minister!

Anyway, the rest of us got out of the car and followed Viv towards the volcano.

Xena, who thought we were going to witness an actual volcanic eruption got too excited when she saw this. Then I broke the news to her that it was just a regular mountain covered in clouds. What we were going to see was the crater of a dormant volcano. Experts say that the dormant volcano could become active at any time within the next thousand years. 

The volcano is 605 metres high. The crater is around 300 metres in diameter and 80 metres deep. 

The inner slopes are full of forest, so you can't really go into the crater, but you get a good view of the marshy pool at the bottom. 

Family pic with the crater

We saw two guys in tracksuits walking briskly and we guessed that they were covering the volcano's circumference. We asked them how long it takes to go around it and one of them confidently answered, "12 minutes." Wow, precise. They obviously did this every day, trying to beat each other's time.

Panorama shot by Viv

Another cute little picnic spot!

Xena takes a shortcut back to the car!

And then she wants to drive the car! 

So Viv lets her "drive". While the car is stationary, of course. 

Our underage driver (yes, it was raining!)

Eventually, the driver who was of age, and was armed with a driver's license took over, as we made our way to Flic en Flac beach, one of the longest and most popular white sand beaches in Mauritius. 

However, it had started to really pour, and even though we got to the beach, we couldn't get out of the car. The hopeful souls that we are, we waited a good 45 minutes in the car, but the rain just wouldn't let up. So we gave up and headed home, dropped everyone off, and then Viv and I went to Ah Teeyet, a Chinese restaurant near our place, to pack dinner.

The owner of the restaurant (who was very pleased when we wished her a happy Chinese New Year) told us it would take an hour, so we got a glass of wine each and had a little chat about random things, like life and stuff. It was nice to sit back and just talk. Even though it's been 19 years of knowing each other and 10 years of being married, we still cherish just sitting down somewhere and having a chat. *Touchwood*

Click here for Mauritius - day 5!



  • Wait, what happened to the match with the prime minister? :)

    By Blogger Sowmya, at 5:33 AM  

  • The Úp-side Down' flowers bloomed for the first time in my garden last week!

    By Blogger The Gardener, at 2:32 PM  

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