Bois Cheri Tea Plantation

Our family embarked on another road trip from the north to the south of Mauritius. First stop on this day was the Bois Cheri Tea Plantation. Bois Cheri is Mauritius own brand of tea, with many different varieties. I am not much of a tea drinker (much prefer coffee!!) but I was curious to know the process of how tea is made. The tea making factory is not operating every day but the packing facility is, however in the guided tour they show you the whole process so you can see what happens.

The tea once picked is brought in large bags to several rooms where the leaves are dried for 24 hours.

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The tea leaves being brought in.

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The tea drying room.

The leaves are then chopped, dried and the fibres removed. Then the tea is put through a sieve for refining (how refined the sieve is depends on the type of tea) and then they are left in a silo for 3 months to mature. Then flavours (such as vanilla) is added to the tea before bagging and packing.

IMG_2957The girls were fascinated by the packing machines. They had never visited a working factory before.

After the tour, we then had to drive a short way through a very bumpy road (but very scenic) to the tasting room, where we could try all the different teas made by Bois Cheri.

IMG_2961H enjoyed playing tea parties…but wasn’t a huge tea fan!

I ended up buying a couple of packets of the vanilla tea to take home, still not much into tea, but the vanilla tea was rather nice!

Our day continued on as we visited Souillac and La Vanille Crocodile Park…but that is another post!

East Coast Drive

My family and I had beautiful weather for our drive to the eastern side of Mauritius. Mauritius is a small place, so to give you an idea of the size, to drive directly from “The North” to “The South” is about 90 mins max. On this day we drove from our base at Trou Aux Biches (in the North) across to Belle Mare (in the East).

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Belle Mare Beach

Along the way we saw some beautiful scenery. The one disappointment in this drive was driving through Trou d’Eau Douce, where we wanted to stop for a photo, but our car got literally bombarded by people offering deals to take us on boat rides across to Ile Aux Cerfs. We continued on and got beautiful views of Lion Mountain on the way. Lion Mountain is a Sphinx-like mountain peak.

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Lion Mountain

We ended up in the town of Mahebourg, which is in the South East of Mauritius. Mahebourg has markets on a Monday so if you are keen for some bargains and souvenirs Monday is the day to go. We did a little shopping at the markets and had lunch, where we decided to have a non-traditional option for a change (KFC). We then drove for about another 10 minutes to Blue Bay, a beautiful beach near Mahebourg and the girls had a swim and an ice cream! The soft serve ice cream was different to what I am used to, it had cherry-flavoured coconut sprinkles on it…tasted like Cherry Ripe….yum!

IMG_2937Swimming in Blue Bay Beach

Casela Nature Park

We had an absolutely amazing day at Casela!!

Casela Nature Park is in Cascavelle, near Flic-En-Flac on the west coast of Mauritius.

The park itself has quite a few exotic birds and animals. There were tortoises you could pat and touch. The park itself is not so fancy and it’s not where they make their money.

IMG_2834Me getting up close and personal with a tortoise!

The attraction for Casela are the adventurous activities that they offer as “add-ons” to the admission fee. We firstly chose to do a safari in a truck, African style. The safari takes you through a few areas where zebras, emus, tortoises and ostriches roam freely. Afterwards you can go and see the lions. The area around the lion’s “den” was being renovated so we only had limited access. Others visiting the park chose to pay extra and “walk” in the lion’s den and pat them.

19-DSC_0134 20-DSC_0135 13-DSC_0100The safari we did…

My husband also got a chance to go back into the safari area on a segway. He had never ridden one before so he wanted to try it. He says it was easy to control…you can do donuts on them but not burnouts (he tried!). He got up close and personal to the zebras.

21-_SEG3382My hubby on the segway with the zebras!

The next activity we chose was the zipline. I originally chose not to do this, thinking I could go and watch hubby and girls. Was gutted when I was then told I couldn’t go with them, and there was nowhere to watch. This is something they need to change. So for an hour I sat in the park and wandered around waiting for them. The park sends photographers with each group/activity which you can then purchase on a USB. The girls (and my husband) came back absolutely buzzing!! They loved the zipline! In the end we went to the desk and asked if there was another session we could do…there was!! So we paid the fee and later in the day I went zip-lining with the girls. They got to go twice (and have since asked to go again!)

I am so glad I got a chance to zipline. The gorge the ziplines go over are beautiful. The first zipline was a bit daunting but once you take the first one it’s fine after that. There are 5 ziplines you do. It takes an hour to do them all.

ZIP_0440 ZIP_0446The girls and I on the zipline…highlight of our day!

So in the end we spent a lot of money here. Despite the cost, it was worth every cent just for the joy on my daughters’ faces! They want to go again…will have to find somewhere in Australia that does ziplines! We ended up buying all the professional photos taken on a USB and there were over 500 photos!! A few of the photos in the post today are from them! Plenty for me to scrap later 🙂

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens and L’Aventure du Sucre

On a beautiful Saturday morning, the family went to visit the famous botanical gardens at Pamplemousses, just north of Port Louis. We paid the entry fee and then paid extra to have the guided tour. Our guide, Ariane, was very knowledgeable and was able to tell us many interesting facts about the plants and flowers in the garden.

Having said that, the gardens themselves, although pretty, were nothing spectacular. I was here in 2000 and the gardens were much nicer even then. Apparently the government is not putting in the money to maintain the gardens as they did before so as a result the garden has fewer trees and plants. When I was here before the water lily ponds were covered.

IMG_2752The girls were encouraged to climb the coconut trees!

IMG_2772The water lily garden

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IMG_2784IMG_2787The gardens had tortoise and deer enclosures.

Afterwards we went across the road to L’Aventure du Sucre. It’s an old sugar mill which has been converted into a museum. We ate lunch at the restaurant, Le Fangourin first and although we had a reduced menu (there was a wedding reception being held there later in the day) we were served a delicious creole style meal (and complimentary cocktails as part of our admission fee) and the kid’s meals were massive!

IMG_2792The complimentary cocktail I received with my admission fee…it had rum, sugar and lemon juice.

IMG_2799Mum’s coffee came with 4 different sugars to put in it!

The museum itself had a lot of detail. It explains the history of sugar mills in Mauritius and also shows the sugar making process step by step. Although I think it had a lot of info, I think the museum needs more interactive exhibits and less reading. Plus all the bits aimed at the kids were not in English, which was a shame.

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At the exit there was a souvenir shop as well as sugar and rum tasting. They had a rum kit you could buy… you buy the bottle, then you add sugar, vanilla sticks and coffee, then you let it soak for a day before drinking it straight. Was really nice but I don’t think I would drink it that often!

Glass Bottomed Boat

Our family was lucky to experience a couple of hours out offshore on the coral reef. For 2000 Rupees (about $AU65) all 6 of us got to go out on a glass bottom boat and if we wished, we could snorkel amongst the fish and corals. Basically to get one of these experiences you walk along the beach and there are the different vendors along the beach trying to sell their business. My dad (being from Mauritius and he still has a very thick accent…locals generally get cheaper prices than the tourists) negotiated the price for us.

The boat picked us up from the beach in front of our bungalow.

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Miss H (age 7) and Miss O (age 5) both had a go at snorkeling for the first time. The masks and snorkels were a bit big for them so they didn’t last very long. O was a little scared of the deep water and putting her head in it.

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My hubby had a great time looking at the fish and snorkeling. He even went under the boat for a photo under the glass bottom!!

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Was a great experience for the girls, they loved looking at the different corals and fish. Well worth the money!

Our Mauritian Journey – The Beginning!

Our family has finally made it to Mauritius!!

It took 2 flights and almost 24 hours, but it was worth the hassle!!

We had to get up extremely early (4:15am) to leave our Sydney home to go to the airport for the 7am flight to Perth. The first flight to Perth was 5 hours. After arriving in Perth we had to then catch a shuttle bus from the domestic terminal to the international one (10 mins) and after going through immigration, wait for the connecting flight to Mauritius. The flight to Mauritius was around 8 1/2 hours and very long. It was daylight all the way, we arrived just before the sun set. The girls flaked out about an hour before the plane landed. It was about midnight Sydney time when we landed (6pm in Mauritius). Then another hour driving to our bungalow in the North (the airport is in the South).

Our accommodation is in Trou Aux Biches, which is on the North-West coast of Mauritius. We are staying in a holiday unit (bungalow) on the beach which is owned by my mum’s cousin. The unit has 3 bedrooms and opens out right on the beach.

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Views from the back of the villa and the 3 bedrooms (don’t mind Miss O photobombing LOL).

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It’s clean and comfortable.

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The beach…

Things I love…the beach is 50 steps from the back porch. Food is cheap here. We bought take away last night for 1200 rupees (about $40) for the 6 of us. The supermarket 500m down the road makes bread and pastries (croissants and the like) and they cost around 50c each. Cheap breakfast!

Things I can’t (and probably won’t) get used to…there is a very nice lady that comes and cleans here every day. In Mauritian homes many people hire servants to clean and do housework.

There is a TV but most of the channels are in French (US shows dubbed over), and the girls have been watching their favourite cartoons in French!

 

More to come…

 

 

 

Mauritius 2014

I love to travel!!! I am very excited about my upcoming trip to Mauritius. My parents were born there and this is my second time visiting my ancestral home. For my family though, it’s their first time.

Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean east of the African continent. The main languages spoken there are French, English, and Mauritian Creole. It is known for its beautiful beaches and unique flora and fauna.

Our plans for this trip are not set in stone. My parents are also going with us and we are staying together in accommodation arranged by members of my family who live in Mauritius. I want to explore the areas my parents grew up in, as well as visit many of the country’s famous landmarks and attractions. As I also have family in Mauritius, seeing them and hopefully spending time with them is a big part of our holiday.

By the way, for those who don’t know, the picture in my countdown widget is of Le Morne. It’s a large monolith on a peninsula in the South-West of Mauritius.