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Mauritius tortoises

Mauritius: of Rum, Vanille, Tortoises and Le Telfair Resort (plus an unusual fisherman)

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Mauritius tortoisesI fell in love with giant tortoises….I cannot help it, I really did.

During our trip to Mauritius we engaged in many thrilling adventurous activities, but meeting the giant tortoises was one of my highlights.

Mauritius tortoisesOne big fellow moves slowly and gracefully towards me, chewing on some vegetables. I sit down right in front of him, actually blocking his path. But I notice no intention to stop. I mean, why should he? This majestic animal was at least 60 years old, so I had to pay him some respect.

Mauritius tortoises

Mauritius tortoises

Mauritius tortoisesThe history of tortoises on Mauritius is impressive as well as cruel. When foreigners first set foot on Mauritius around 1690 they were marveled by the abundance of tortoises.

Frenchman Francois Leguat mentioned in his diary: “One sees sometimes troops of 2 or 3 thousands tortoises; such that one can take more than a hundred steps on their backs without touching the ground.

Can you imagine how that must have looked like? A tapestry of tortoises….the painting below shows how it must have looked like.

Mauritius tortoisesThere is also a downside to that foreign interception that almost led to extinction of these fine animals:

  • They were taken on board of ships as food for sailors during long sailing trips (tortoises could be kept alive for months without water and food)
  • Others were boiled down for their fat. Horrible fact is that at least 500 animals were needed for just one barrel of oil!

On the verge of extinction, but luckily still amongst us. La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes is the place on Mauritius where you can touch them (gently) and get really close. Beware, they can still bite!

Mauritius tortoises

Mauritius tortoises

More about Vanille Réserve Des Mascareignes

The Vanille is a park where you can see the tortoises, but also bats, iguanas and crocodiles.

Mauritius VanilleDuring our tour of the park, we are invited to taste some crocodile meat. While we just learned about the history of tortoises being eaten, this invitation feels a bit awkward. For me it will be the first time, so honestly I am quite excited to taste it. Unfortunately they deepfried the meat, degrading it almost to a chicken nugget! But hey, we tried!

Mauritius travel tipsImpressive is also the insectarium with an unrivalled collection of butterflies and insects (more than 23,000 species that took the owner Mr. Jacques Siedlecki 33 years of patient work). Don’t enter if you are really scared of insects and spiders though!

Mauritius travel tips

Rum: vanille, coffee, coconut, or spiced rum. Pick your favorite!

Rum tasting! Full of expectations fellow blogger Adeline and I entered the Saint Aubin estate, a sugar cane plantation annex factory annex rum distillery. We were not dissapointed.

Mauritius rum factory

Before visiting the factory and distillery we enjoyed a wonderful Mauritian lunch in restaurant “1819”, situated in a beautiful old estate house on the same premises. “1819” is the brand of their rum and also the year it all started in the Saint Aubin area.

Mauritius rum factoryOur friendly host Ashwin Seetaram guides us to the small rum factory. Here we experience how the juice is being squeezed out of the sugar cane. Sugar cane juice is one of the main ingredients of rum, so in the land where 40% of the soil is sugar cane field, there is no shortage of raw material. Same goes for the end product by the way which is hand-bottled at Saint Aubin!

Mauritius travel tips

Mauritius rum factory

Mauritius rum factoryRum is not ‘just’ rum, there are many flavors! Vanille, coffee, coconut, spices and more. Both Adeline and I liked the vanille rum very much. No, let me correct that. Honestly, Adeline and I loved every single rum flavor the best!

Mauritius rum factoryThe vanille flavor did impress us, so Ashwin took us to their vanille plantation. Conclusion: I never knew growing this tropical orchid took that much effort! Each of the flowers have to be hand pollinated and it takes around nine months before the little vanille pod can be harvested.

Mauritius Vanille

Mauritius VanilleAnyway, visiting Saint Aubin will give you a nice insight into some traditional skills. And of course don’t forget tasting the rum…

Mauritius rum factory

Le Telfair Heritage Resort

Mauritius Telfair resortWhat a treat to arrive at Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa resort at the end of the day. Le Telfair is completely build in old colonial style. The rooms are perfect with a huge bathroom and stunning sea views. I loved my spacious room with a personal veranda facing both the swimming pool as well as the beach…..there was nothing more I needed.

Mauritius Telfair resort

Mauritius Telfair resort

Le Telfair is famous for its 18-hole championship golf course, designed by renowned architect and golf designer extrordinaire Peter Matkovich. Just look at the panorama!

Mauritius Telfair resortI am not a golfer but just drove around a bit in one of those funny golf carts together with Melvin and Adeline. But even without being a real golfer, I was impressed by the course. The views are stunning…..who doesn’t want to hit a ball from under a palm tree?

Mauritius Telfair resort

On our way to this great resort we managed to capture a very special sunset. Indeed, it’s not your regular sunset view from the beach, but Mauritius can be impressive beyond the beach as well!

Mauritius travel tips

South of Mauritius

The tortoises, rum and the Heritage Le Telfair resort are all situated in the beautiful South part of the island. This area is less developed compared to the clubby Northern part of the island. Some say it kept a feeling of “old Mauritius”; maybe it’s the manner of the people, their traditions or just the overall great scenery.

Mauritius travel tipsI am not sure exactly why I love the South. It’s a feeling that comes upon you when you drive through a particular area. In the South we passed some smaller fishing villages where the catch of the day was being presented on the side of the road.

Mauritius travel tipsWhen taking the lobster picture I noticed this man who tells me he’s a fisherman. He explains about him teaching children how to sail those traditional Mauritian fisherboats.

While we were talking, reggae music started playing in my mind. Slowly a kind of jealousy made its way to the surface. Who doesn’t want to be a fisherman and a teacher, while living in paradise….Peace man!


Next up I will take you to the West of the island exploring the Black River area where you can zip line in the Casela Nature & Leisure Park. See you soon to read more about things to do in Mauritius!

Don’t forget to read the first post about our trip to Mauritius: This is Paradise…Mauritius.

And of course there are more stories about the island:

#MyMauritius Mountain edition
Enjoy the luxury life at Saint Géran

Note: this post was brought to you as a result of the #MyMauritius blog trip, created and managed by iambassador and AHRIM in association with the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Air Mauritius. Act of Traveling maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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Bama October 13, 2013 - 12:53

Wow Emiel, your trip to Mauritius seemed to be an incredible one! I can imagine how amazing it would be to be able to see tortoises in the wild in the morning and sample some of the best rums.

Emiel van den Boomen October 13, 2013 - 13:08

It certainly was an incredible one! I feel very lucky to have been part of this trip.


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