While on Mauritius, we booked three trips in order to actually see more of the island than just a small piece of the ocean and the pool. The first trip was to the island of Île aux Aigrettes, which is a small island, where the scientists are trying to recreate the Mauritian nature as it was approximately 400 years ago. The grow endemic plants and have brought gigantic tortoises from Seychelles, which now roam in the wild on this small island. Mauritius used to have giant tortoises as well, but as the island was first settled, the animals were not afraid of humans, which unfortunately resulted very badly for them. The most notorious example being the dodo, but the tortoises didn’t fare much better in the hands of the Dutch settlers. Tortoises were slaughtered for food, but also for their fat and oil. Along with the settlers came species previously unknown to Mauritian fauna such as rats, who ate the eggs of both dodo and tortoise.
The drive from our hotel was about an hour and a half, during which the local guide was telling us about Mauritius, its culture, and answering our questions. Then we were joined by a few other people and took a short boat ride to the island. The water looked absolutely amazing although the corals were rather grey instead of colorful.
You are not allowed to walk on the island without a guide, so our group was told to stay together. It said that mosquito spray is recommended, but we didn’t think we needed it as we haven’t spotted mosquitos anywhere else. Boy, we were wrong! The endemic Mauritian flora is so intertwined that there was actually a lot of shade on the small island and plenty of mosquitos.
In the beginning they had an enclosure for small baby tortoises and fruit bats aka flying foxes. The bats were huge! And they did look a bit like foxes, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a good picture of them.
The tour itself took about 40 min where it was very cool to see different trees I’ve never seen before with roots growing from branches and digging deep into the earth. We also tried to spot some species and saw a lizard and a pink pigeon.
The best was the surreal feeling when we stumbled upon a giant tortoise in the middle of the forest path.
After the tour we took a boat back to the main island and enjoyed the warm breeze and the views.
From Île aux Aigrettes we continued to Île de Deux Cocos, which is a privately owned island, where we went snorkeling, had lunch, and enjoyed the sun in designer Italian sun beds.
Snorkeling was fun! I’ve only done it once in Hawaii and that was 17 years ago! We were instructed to stay in the specific area otherwise we would get a “free ticket to Madagascar”. Apparently the current is very strong in this area. But there were a few boats that brought people to the safe snorkeling area and they formed a sort of wall beyond which you weren’t supposed to go.
The lunch was delicious and much better than at our hotel. Also cocktails were really good and we were also served local rum. So while this wasn’t very different from being at our resort, it was a nice change of scenery.
We left the island around three thirty and it took us an hour and a half to get back to our hotel. The drive again wasn’t very impressive as you mostly see the sugar cane fields from the road.