Mauritius – your endless summer starts here
Palm trees, coconuts, endless stretches of pristine beaches, and the unmistakable smell of tan lotion are holiday vibes that translate language and culture across the planet, and one of the top destinations dreamed about is the idyllic island paradise of Mauritius.
The island nation of Mauritius is an extremely popular tourist destination for people all over the world, ranking 3rd locally and 54th globally. With its tropical climate, warm sea waters, beautiful beaches and lush tropical forests, it is no wonder that Mauritius has received numerous world travel destination awards over the years, including World’s Best Beah. A former Dutch (1638-1710), then French (1715-1810), then British (1810-1968) colony, the island attained independence in 1968.
In the Southern Hemisphere spring officially started blooming on 1 September, but snow still covers some of the mountains and a chill is definitely still present and accounted for. Winter’s grip is quite firm this year and although the shop fronts are dressing up in short sleeves and flip-flops, most people are still donning their scarves and polar fleeces. In Mauritius, winter is a different story all together since the mercury rarely drops below 19 degrees Celsius (which, according to local Mauritians is considered really cold) and balmy temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s are the norm.
Geologically, the island is relatively young; having been created by volcanic activity some 8 million years ago and visitors to Mauritius can visit a few beautiful (happily dormant) volcanic craters. These areas are characterised by the abundance of some of the rarest plant and animal species in the world. On the southern side of the island, explorers must not miss a visit to Chamarel, or seven coloured earth, a natural phenomenon and a prominent tourist attraction. It is an area of sand dunes comprising sand with seven distinct colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). The colours evolved through the conversion of basaltic lava into clay minerals. Due to the tropical weather conditions, all the water-soluble elements have been washed out and the remains are the reddish-black iron- and aluminium oxides which create shades in blue, cyan and purple. What is fascinating is the fact that if you mix the coloured earth together, it would eventually separate into a colourful spectrum, each dot of sand rejoining its colour caste.
Even though the Dodo was flaunted in movies like “Ice Age”, the island of Mauritius was the only known home to the extinct flightless bird. The Dodo has become an icon in Mauritius, and is a prominent feature as heraldic supporter of the national coat of arms of Mauritius. The national football team is called the Dodo and all over the island vendors offer tourists various forms of Dodo-memorabilia – from t-shirts depicting dancing Dodos to carved Dodo images made from Teak wood, coconut and Turquoise stone.
Apart from the beaches, the warm water and the vibrant coral reefs bustling with colourful ocean life, the island also has a rich cultural heritage, evident in traditional dress, dancing and music. Overall, Mauritians are warm, friendly and welcoming people and love sharing the history of their beautiful country, so the next time you feel like leaving the winter behind for a bit of well-deserved R&R, get a Mauritian stamp in your passport and discover the wonders of winter, island style.