Heaven on earth

Let the lights shine down on your next holiday and open the golden gates to a world of colour, history and sustainable regrowth.


Kate Veteri

Destination: Mauritius

Mark Twain wrote ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius’. The combination of sapphire-blue water, paper-white sandy beaches and beautiful views of the Indian Ocean make Mauritius the ideal holiday getaway.

For the best in colourful views visit the seven-coloured earth of Chamarel Dunes, formed from molten lava exhibit seven colours of earth swirled together, set amid a luxurious tropical forest on the volcanic island of Mauritius. Now containing oxides of iron and aluminium, the seven colours can be seen at their brightest when the sun is high in the sky. Impressively, the seven-coloured earth dunes do not erode, even with the tropical rains experienced in Mauritius.

A panoramic route cuts through the forest to surround the seven-coloured earth with a variety of viewing points to admire the exquisite and colourful views. The geographical creation is a treasure not to be missed rising 283 metres above sea level.

Other sights in the area, such as the outlook over the Chamarel waterfall and land turtles living by the seven-coloured earth dunes prove just how heavenly the island of Mauritius is.

Travel to the south-east coast to a nature reserve that has its own island. Situated in the Mahebourg Bay, Île aux Aigrettes is made up of coralline limestone and is a popular ecotourism destination. In 1965 the island was declared a nature reserve aimed at restoring the forest that was previously affected by tree logging, land clearance and the introduction of exotic animal and plant species. Île aux Aigrettes is now home to many endangered native animals that had disappeared from the mainland. The radiant colours of Mauritius continue through this untamed island, home to Aldabra giant tortoises, wild orchids and the endangered pink pigeon.

Intentions of preserving the natural glory of Mauritius do not end at Île aux Aigrettes. The development of the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), Ebene, has introduced the combination of sustainable design and architectural beauty. Surrounded by a 980m2 photovoltaic farm, this 10-storey building stands out with its elliptical shape held aloft on four pillars. Boasting eco-friendly features such as rainwater harvesting, energy storage and recycled flooring, the 10,000m2 MCB building was the first building in the southern hemisphere to achieve a BREEAM rating – a sustainability assessment method for infrastructure and buildings.

The attention to orientation played a large role in the success of this environmentally friendly building. Facing due north and south, the generous overhang of the façades eliminates direct solar heat gains, ensuring the building does not overheat.

The geometric building continues the innovation with plant rooms – traditionally located on the roof – situated on lower levels of the building to improve access and the ease of maintenance.

While the MCB is the oldest bank in Mauritius, the new eco-friendly building harmoniously combines the history of civilisation and the future of the environment.

The history of Mauritius is one enriched by the sugar cane industry introduced by Dutch settlers as far back as 1639. While sugar cane was introduced by the Dutch it was French Governor Mahé de Labourdonnais who opened the first sugar estate in 1743.

The sugar cane industry became prosperous on Mauritius and became the backbone of the island’s economy. Reinventing itself for the demands of today’s society, the sugar cane industry has transformed itself by selling products such as rum, made by using the sugar cane by-products.

For greater understanding of the history of Mauritius visit the L’Aventure du Sucre museum in Pamplemousses. Now a museum, the transformed sugar mill takes you back 250 years and walks you through the importance sugar played on the island. Former workers of the sugar mill are available at the museum, able to answer your questions and shine a light on the complicated process of turning sugarcane into crystals, with old machinery still in place to provide added submersion into the heart of the nation’s history. A Sugar Adventure for children tells the tales of history in an interactive experience led by two mascots: native birds of the island. With entertaining videos, quizzes, and questions and answers found in envelopes placed around the museum and factory, it is truly an immersive experience for all. At the end of the educational tour taste some of the 15 varieties of unrefined sugar, two of which were invented in Mauritius – leaving you with a sugar-rush of knowledge.

While on a tour of your tastebuds take a trip down the tea route. Exploring traditional tea plantations, factories and museums, learn about how tea is made and sample the heavenly blends home to Mauritius – including the world-famous Mauritian vanilla tea.

Feel the warmth of the tea and the tropical sundrenched island for the best that vacations can offer by visiting what Mark Twain felt was the first heaven – Mauritius.

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