Friday, 2 October 2015

Day 2 - It's not only palm trees and sandy beaches...

What are the first words that come to your mind when you hear “Mauritius”? For me it was “luxury destination”, “palm trees”, “sandy beaches”and “lagoon”. Believe it or not, I even thought Mauritius was flat because all you could see in travel brochures were 5 stars hotels surrounded by, well, lagoons, beaches and palm trees… Imagine my surprise when I landed there for the first time and told Fabrice:”Oh, there are mountains in Mauritius??” (I’m not joking, I actually asked the question).

There are mountains, and sandy beaches, and palm trees... and a 5* hotel behind them
Anyway, let’s start this 31 days series with a bit of general information about the country so you don’t look as stupid as me if you ever travel there.

Where is it?

It's a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar so you can imagine how long it can take to get there… (12 hours flight in case you’re wondering - subject that I will be covering in another post)

And this is the Mauritian flag

The Red represents the blood shed during the revolution of independence
The Blue represents the ocean
The Yellow represents the sun
The Green represents the agriculture

The island was discovered first by the Arabs and then successively colonized by the Dutch, the French and the English. The country obtained his independence in 1968 and became a republic in 1992. The national day is on 12th of March.

The official language is English (mainly used for administrative purposes), but everybody speaks French and créole, which can be a bit confusing at times. You can go to the bank, talk to the customer service agent in French and fill out paperwork in English, then turn around and speak to your friend in Créole...

Mauritius has a tropical climate, hot and humid. Being situated in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are inverted compared to Europe. There are only two main seasons: Summer between October and April and Winter between May and September.

The island is also prone to cyclonic weather. Usually cyclones go through the island between December and March, when it's the warmest. Bear that in mind when you're planning your holidays. You don't want to get stranded, unable to leave your hotel for 10 days! The best months to visit the country are March-April and October-November. 

The population of Mauritius is approximately 1.2 million and counts 65% Hindu, 25% creole (most of them descendants of slaves) and the rest are Muslim, Chinese and Europeans.

There are many natural sites to visit, and the country is extremely rich historically. This is usually something travel agents don't tell you. They're just trying to sell the sandy beaches, palm trees and overall relaxing holidays. No wonder Mauritius is one of the top honeymoon destination!

But there is so much more to Mauritius, and over the next month, I will try to make you discover the country under a different angle.