Photo: László Wiandt

Mauritius a bastion of high-end tourism in the Indian Ocean

The current season in Mauritius is winter this time. This means a pleasant warm 28 degrees with bright sunshine. First impressions are always important and I am extremely curious. The breeze gently moves the sugar cane plantations along the roadside, the first thing that strikes me as a feature. You would think that this industry would dominate, but Mauritius' economy is much more diversified than that, which I will come to later. The other thing that strikes you first is the high quality of the roads and the left-hand traffic. Few people know that Hungarian engineers and builders played a major role in the construction of roads, back in the 1980s and 1990s. But they did. I know about this from József Mészáros, Honorary Consul of Mauritius, whom I interviewed last year. Just as Hungarians were involved in the construction of the roads, many of the public sculptures are also made by Hungarians, and we will see them in the streets and squares.
2. September 2023 5:23

The island of Mauritius and its surrounding islets were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. The island is part of the Mascarenhas archipelago, which was formed as a result of volcanic eruptions. The island’s topography and features are the result of these geological processes and although the volcanic activity that created Mauritius is currently inactive, evidence of its volcanic past is still visible in the island’s landscape, which offers a distinctive and unmistakable view, even on the island’s interior plateaus and sometimes on the coast.

It is wonderful to observe the present state of evolution of the island, as the coral reef ring around the volcanic island has created a dreamlike lagoon all the way to the island and as the ocean has gradually covered the beaches with sand from coral erosion, which is now covered with powdery sand everywhere. On the beach, volcanic rocks crawl in and out of the water, increasingly visible at low tide, once or twice a day. On the coral reef, the otherwise huge ocean waves break, so that the water to the shore is smooth, at best a pleasant ripple.

The first days are spent on the west coast, which is undisturbed, while the east coast is hit by stronger winds – much to the delight of surfers and kite surfers – which sometimes bring clouds and sometimes rain. Well, from here we set off to explore the natural, historical and architectural wonders of Mauritius, first of all the Seven Coloured Earth Geopark and within it the Chamarel Falls.


The Seven Coloured Earth National Park

The beautiful Seven Colours of the Earth National Park is currently a private property. If you drive into the Park, you can drive along an excellent road lined with dense jungle vegetation. A 3-kilometre access road takes you in picturesque surroundings to the highest waterfall in Mauritius, the Chamarel Falls, which you can see from a distance as it cascades down from the mountain opposite, some 100 metres above sea level. It is fed by the waters of three different streams flowing into the Saint Denis River, along a 6-kilometre-long path through tropical forests, before splashing down at a peak flow rate of over 40 000 m³ per minute, gushing into the valley below, into the Baie du Cap, an oval basin overhanging the ledge of a basalt cliff. It is a spectacular display of millions of years of volcanic activity. The dramatic landscape is formed by two lavas of different ages. A brecciated basalt layer near the bottom dates from between 10 and 8 million years ago, while a second layer at the top dates from an intermediate period between 3.5 and 1.7 million years ago.

We continue through the tropical forest on excellent roads and soon arrive at the geological wonder that gives the Park its name.  You can walk around the enclosed area known as the “Land of Seven Colours”. It is a natural geological phenomenon on the Chamarel plain. It is often referred to as the ‘Seven-coloured Land of Chamarel’ or simply as the ‘Seven-coloured Land’. It is a visually stunning area, where the  hummocky land surface is a riot of vibrant colours, including red, brown, purple, blue, green and yellow. The colours are caused by the uneven cooling of volcanic rock fragments, which later mineralised. The phenomenon is often considered a natural wonder and an excellent example of the island’s volcanic history and geological diversity.

Photo: László Wiandt

The Economy of Mauritius

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the economy of Mauritius is not monolithic, it is highly diversified and several key economic sectors contribute to the growth and development of the country. Let’s take a look at the main economic sectors in Mauritius:

Tourism: well, tourism is a mainstay of Mauritius’ economy. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs and luxury resorts. The tourism sector contributes significantly to employment, foreign exchange earnings and overall economic activity. It should be noted that the tourism industry’s leaders have set themselves the goal of providing high-end, or top-quality services, as detailed in my interview with the Director of the Tourism Board.

Textile and clothing industry: Mauritius has a long tradition in the textile and clothing industry, which exports its products to various international markets. The country benefits from trade agreements that provide duty-free access to a number of countries, which contributes to the growth of the sector.

Financial services: Mauritius has developed into a financial hub and offers a range of financial services, including banking, insurance and offshore investments. Its favourable regulatory environment and tax incentives have attracted both international investors and companies to the country.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): the ICT sector in Mauritius is growing steadily. The country has invested in creating technology parks and promoting innovation, making it a destination for outsourcing services, software development and other technology-related activities.

Sugar industry: historically, sugar has been the backbone of Mauritius’ economy. Although its relative importance has declined over the years, the sugar industry still plays a major role in the economy, both as an export product and for domestic consumption.

Agriculture: this sector includes the production of fruits, vegetables, flowers and other agricultural products. The country aims to reduce its dependence on food imports and promote local production.

Real estate and real estate development: the real estate and real estate development sector has experienced growth thanks to inflows of foreign investment and demand for housing, particularly in the context of the luxury tourism market.

Seafood and fisheries: due to its location in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has a fishing industry that provides sufficient seafood for domestic consumption and for export.

Renewable energy: Mauritius is increasingly focusing on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Photo: László Wiandt

Rhumerie de Chamarel

The famous Rhumerie de Chamarel distillery is located in a fertile valley in the Chamarel region, close to the natural wonder of the Seven Coloured Earth, so we combined a visit to the two attractions. On the way there, we admired the vast sugar cane plantations dotted with tropical fruits such as pineapples.

The Chamarel distillery has a rich history, deeply rooted in the Mauritian tradition of rum production. The Chamarel distillery is one of the newest in Mauritius. In 1996, the Couacaud family bought the Domaine de l’Exil in Chamarel, where sugar cane cultivation on 220 hectares is the main activity. After several years of reflection, the family decided in 2008 to build the distillery from scratch, with the aim of producing pure rum exclusively from sugar cane juice from the estate’s plantations. The next generation soon joined the team and today the two eldest brothers are at the helm of the business. Thus was born the great passion for rum at the Chamarel distillery. The distillery produces high quality rums and offers guided tours, which we took part in, of course, and which were extremely interesting from the arrival of the cane to the rum-making process, usually ending with a tasting and great fun.

The Rhumerie de Chamarel is an example of how Mauritius combines its natural beauty, cultural heritage and agricultural resources to create a unique and memorable tourist experience.

Photo: László Wiandt

Good to know

When entering the country at the airport, you will have to stop at a health checkpoint, where they will again check your passport and which countries you have been to recently.

There is a compulsory form to fill in and print out and take with you when you arrive in the country.

You will also be given a code when filling it in, which will be checked there.

Local currency is useful to change or withdraw from a cash machine, it can be useful in the local markets.

The language spoken in Mauritius is largely Creole and French, although English is the official language – it is also spoken by everyone in the accommodation and travel trade.

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