The Black River Gorges
Want to have a break with the sun and the sea, especially during the summer when the heat becomes unbearable? Well, the Black River Gorges will give you a nice change. With its 6574 hectares of tropical forest, it is a sure way to bring the temperature down.
The Black River Gorges Nature Park
is a spectacularly wild expanse of thick forest covering 3.5% of the island's surface and home to over 300 species of flowering plants and nine species of bird unique to Mauritius, including the Mauritian Bulbul, the Pink Pigeon, the Mauritian Kestrel, the Mauritian Parakeet and many more.
Among the numerous trails that criss-cross the forest, the followings are the most popular;
1. The Macchabee trail will make you experience the Mauritian tropical forest at its best with scenic views, endemic wildlife and picnic areas. Hopefully, you are sure not to have an encounter with dangerous animals.
The Macchabee Trail
2.The Parakeet trail is steep and will lead you from Plaine Champagne to the Gorge.
3. The Black River Peak will bring you to the top of Mauritius. Yes, the highest peak of Mauritius is only at 828m and is quite easy except for the last scramble to the summit.
4. The Bassin Blanc trail will bring you face to face with with the marvellous view of a lake nestled between the crater of a volcanic cone.
5. The Mare Aux Joncs trail is my favourite. It is a three - hour walk which is quite easy. As you make your way up the trail, you will hear a most welcoming silence which is often broken with the chirping of the endemic birds and from far away, the soothing sound of falling waters will fill your ears, indicating the presence of a waterfall at the end of the trail. You will also notice peculiar umbrella-shaped Bois De Natte trees, draped with orchids, fems and lichens, among many others.If you are lucky enough, you can spot some of the island's endemic birds in their natural habitat.
Some useful tips to make your trip memorable:
1.It is a tropical forest that you will be visiting. So, do not expect to have resto corners for you to buy food and drinks. Make sure to bring along at least a litre of drinking water with you and some snacks.
2. Since you will be in the shades of trees, there will be no need for sunblocks but a little jacket can be handy, especially when you will be at the deepest depth of the gorge. But, if you are planning to climb the highest peak of Mauritius, sunblock and a cap or hat are essential.
3. Try to bring as few things as possible since you will be having a long walk. Having numerous things on your arms and shoulders can be strenuous and tiring. Take along a walking stick which can be found almost everywhere on the trails. It was was quite useful for the elders who accompanied us during our last trip.
The walking stick was useful for the young ones and the elders alike.
4. Insect repellent is a must.
5. Bring along binoculars if you are planning bird-watching.
6. Good hiking shoes are essential as you will be walking long distances. Imagine walking bare foot on rocks or limping when returning back if ever you twist your feet. Now, that won't be fun, will it?
7. Guides are available and will cost you around Rs1200 a day. Trails are fairly well marked,so, there is few chances for you to get lost. If you want to save some bucks on this trip, grab yourself a good map and follow your instincts. In case you do get lost, the gorges are covered with the local telephone network and you can make a call right away to get you back on the right track.
8. The river waters seem tantalising? Why not bring along your swimming suit to have a dive at the Alexandra falls? You are sure to experience the thrills and the views.