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Exploring the Forests of Mauritius

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Psychologists have long espoused the restorative benefits of spending time in nature, be it a walk by a river or an amble through the countryside. Other spiritually-enriching natural places include the beach and the woods, with these two being of particular interest to anyone visiting Mauritius.

While the Indian Ocean island’s white sand beaches are renowned by sun seekers all around the world, the forests of Mauritius are equally wondrous, albeit in a completely different way. Both get you in touch with nature, but it is in the forest that one feels truly connected with Mother Earth.

Thankfully, for nature lovers at least, the Mauritian forests are indeed full of wonders to behold and experience. Here are some details about some of the main forests and wooded areas you can explore on the beautiful island of Mauritius…

Vallée de Ferney

This forest is over 400 years old and is protected by a reserve that is a crucial habitat for the Mauritius kestrel, an endangered species that you might just get a glimpse of by traversing the 3km trail. Guides will talk you through all the local flora and fauna, plus there will be opportunities to witness forestry staff feeding other wild kestrels.

Other endangered species reintroduced by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation include two of the island’s signature birds, the pink pigeon and the echo parakeet. The Foundation is the organisation that helps to train the guides and staff that work in the forest, plus they have significant input into the relevant policies implemented by the government.

The walking trail through the reserve also bears the scars of an attempt to pave a highway straight through the heart of the forest. You may see some trees along the trail daubed with red paint which signalled they were to be chopped down to make way for the road. The development bid failed, thankfully, and the reserve remains one of the world’s most beautiful forests.

Ebony Forest of Chamarel

The Ebony Forest of Chamarel is home to a conservation initiative that intends to restore a small area of indigenous native forest which would have covered the entire island just a few hundred years ago. The project began in earnest in 2017 following a decade that saw the planting            of 130,000 endemic plant and tree species. Once complete, the forest will span about 50 hectares.

The project remains incomplete at this moment, but there are still 7km of hiking routes which include two raised walkways that reach into the mid-canopy. There are jeep safaris available for those who prefer to travel a little quicker, plus there is also a shop for souvenirs, an interpretation centre, and plenty of viewpoints to take in all the luscious scenery.

The Mauritius Wildlife Foundation has reintroduced the pink pigeon and echo parakeet here as well. The Ebony Forest is also home to many other interesting bird species such as the Mauritius paradise flycatcher and the white-tailed tropic bird, all of which can be glimpsed during a hike along the trail.

François Leguat Reserve

Over 100,000 indigenous trees have been planted during the creation of the François Leguat Reserve, which also includes some caves with some quirky rock formations and at least one enclosure that houses a colony of giant fruit bats. However, the wildlife you will likely be visiting this particular place for will undoubtedly be the giant tortoises, of which there are hundreds ambling about the place.

The reserve is named after a French explorer and naturalist who first discovered a huge group of giant tortoises (known as a ‘creep’) on the neighbouring island of Rodrigues back in 1691. Unfortunately, those have become extinct since then, but this reserve on Mauritius intends to help restore the numbers of giant tortoises thanks to a special breeding program.

If you want to enjoy some forest bathing in Mauritius, contact Mauritius Holiday Experts who can find you the top hotels and travel packages to ensure you make the most of what will be the most memorable holiday of your life.

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