About Black River Gorges National Park
The Black River Gorges National Park is the largest national park in Mauritius and home to several endangered species of birds and over 700 species of rare plants. The park was established amidst a sprawling rainforest area on June 15, 1994 and has gained surging popularity among wildlife buffs and environmentalists of the world. The viewpoints inside the park premises offer a rewarding view of the dense rainforest area in the surroundings.
Sadly it remains as the last remains of the exotic Mauritian rainforest which is home to rich biota. The rich fauna of Black River Gorges National Park include Rusa deer, wild pigs Mauritian fody, pink pigeon and other wild creatures. The park offers activities such as birdwatching and hiking for those who are looking for a memorable experience in the tropical paradise of Mauritius. Watching birds with brilliant features and lively gestures in their natural habitat is a delight to any keen or amateur ornithologist. The park features some of the best hiking trails of Mauritius that will certainly entice the adrenaline junkie in you.
Some of the most popular trails are the Macchabée , Grosse Cateau Verte, Black River, Savanne Sud and Cascade Des Galets trails that you can choose for hiking according to your ability level. There are four and five star hotels and resorts that offer almost everything you may require for a fulfilling holiday experience. These hotels have all amenities to give you one of its kind accommodation and let you soak up the cultural vibe of this vibrant island nation.
How to Reach Black River Gorges National Park
The Black River Gorges National Park is near Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and can be reached easily from the city centre of Mauritius.
By Bus: Private buses ply regularly to and fro the park from the city centre of Mauritius. It takes around 47 minutes to reach Black River Gorges National Park and will cost you around Rs. (220-320. For budget travellers bus ride is an economic mode of conveyance. By road: If you are looking for a comfy ride, you can hire a taxi that will drive you to the park entrance in 40 minutes for Rs. (310-450). Driving by car is also the fastest mode of conveyance.
What Not to Miss at Black River Gorges National Park
Here are some of the best things to do in Black River Gorges National Park
1. Hiking- The park abounds some of the stunning trails amidst that will certainly please the adventure junkie in you. One of the most popular hiking trails is the Macchabée Trail which allures hikers round the globe to explore nature at its wildest best. For expert hikers the Grosse Cateau Verte and Cascade Des Galets trails are worth venturing into. Both the routes are a bit arduous but it is well worth your attempt when you reach the summit and take a glimpse of the breath-taking panorama of the surroundings. However, beginners can attempt to hike along the Black River Piton, Savanne Sud and Macchabée trails.
2. Birdwatching- In a joyful half day expedition to the paradise of birds you can catch a glimpse of some rare species of birds in their natural habitat. The National Park hosts about hundreds of hiking trails offering splendid vista of the surroundings. As you make your way through the rainforest region you will spot Mauritian pink pigeons, echo parakeets and other endangered species of birds.
You will be accompanied by a professional guide (EFR/WFA certified) on your trip. The forest predominantly comprises of black ebony and dodo trees. It is also a perfect spot for outdoor picnics. Shutterbugs be ready with your cameras to capture the intriguing gestures of colourful birds. The trip is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
3. Go shopping- The Central Market is a traditional shopping corner which is buzzing with energy. Admire its vibrant colour, soak up the lively ambience, taste some tropical fruits and take your best pick from the stalls of local crafts. The indoor market is also a great place to walk around, shop and enjoy local platters. The hustle and bustle of the buyers keeps the marketplace lively throughout the day.
4. Rum tasting trip- The trip has to be in the bucket list of the connoisseurs of Rum. You can watch the different stages of Chamarel Rum production right from processing of sugarcane till the final product. It is really a worthy experience to see how premium quality edible spirit is prepared from really unpromising ingredients.
The cherry on the cake is of course the degustation of various rums. You will have a generous chance to taste various types of rum before you take your best pick. The uphill road to the rum distillery is a bit challenging and you will come across a number of turns on your way. Enjoying gourmet lunch amidst picture perfect natural setting will take away the drudgery of a long journey.
Places to Visit near Black River Gorges National Park
1. Tamarind Falls- Popularly known as the Tamarin Falls or 7 Cascades is a must visit site of Mauritius for sightseeing and adventure. The spectacular canyon hosts 11 waterfalls deep ponds, multiple jumps and lush vegetation which caters to the taste and ability of amateur and hard-core adventurers. Located on the Central Plateau near the small village of Henrietta, Tamarind Falls is home to exotic flora and fauna which offers hiking expeditions to adventurists. The trail runs sometimes through the woodlands, sometimes through an open rocky space near the water course. At the bottom of the cascade you can enjoy a refreshing bath in the drop pool.
2. Le Morne- The massive, cuboid standalone rock of Le Morne is a highlighted tourist site inviting adventure and nature lovers for an amazing hiking experience. The rock and its surrounding landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was originally used as an asylum for runaway slaves. The rock stands on a peninsula at an elevation of 556 metres above the sea level overlooking the Black River Gorge National Park.
Its summit covers an area of over 12 hectares can be accessed only by licensed mountain guides for protecting the cultural heritage of the place. The summit of the rock along with its caves and overhangs on its steep slopes were inhabited by the slaves in the latter years of their estrangement.
3. Ebony Forest Reserve- A guided tour along the raised walkways will take you through one of the endangered forests in Mauritius. For the hikers, there are shady trails offering spectacular views of the Western and Southern coasts where you can spot rare endemic birds such as the Flycatcher and Mauritian Merle. Hiring a jeep safari you can access the raised walkways and reach up to the Sublime Point.
Trust us, the stunning panorama from its summit will be an experience of a lifetime. Do not forget to visit the museum at the Visitor Centre. If you are interested to know the island's ecological history and other hidden treasures of the Ebony Forest it is advisable that you hire a guide for your trip. End your sojourn by stopping at some eatery at the Sublime Point or Visitor Centre for some quick refreshment.
4. Chamarel Waterfall- The Chamarel Waterfalls plunging down a height of 83 m amidst vegetation of the black river gorges is a sight to behold. Formed by the river Saint Denis, it is the most visited waterfalls in Mauritius due to its unique topographical features. You can appreciate the phenomenal view from the upper deck situated at Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth Reserve.
You can also enjoy the view from the lower and upper view points of the Black River National Park. At the foot of the waterfalls is a shallow water drop pool where tourists can enjoy swimming. The free flowing of St. Denis River through the vast green expanses into the sea makes a picture perfect setting for nature lovers.
5. Trou D'argent Beach- Trou D'argent beach is a highly recommended destination which brings a surfeit of activities with it. Whether you want to bask in sunshine or stroll around the secluded beach or take a refreshing dip in the sea, the place is well worth your visit. You can explore the stretch of rocky coastline in a 3 hours' hiking expedition between two villages. The stunning panorama across the skyline is certainly a sight to behold for nature lovers. Stop for lunch at any of the beaches between Les Graviers and St. Francois and relish some of the signature platters of the place.
6. Ganga Talao- Ganga Talao is also known as the Grand Basin which is basically a crater lake resting at the height of 1800 feet above the sea level. The place gained prominence from the amalgamation of two branches of faith. Ganga signifies the holy river of the Hindus and ‘talao’ means pool.
Amidst the lake lies the massive statue of Mangal Mahadev i.e. Lord Shiva which is arguably the highest statue of Mauritius. At a close proximity to the temple is the Hanuman Hill which is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Visitors will never miss the amusing gestures of the monkeys when they visit the place.
Other Essential Information About Black River Gorges National Park
- Visiting Timing: Everyday between 9am -5pm.
- Visiting Duration: 2-3 hours
- Entry Fees: No entry fees. Potential fees for guides.
Historical Essence of Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park has a glorious history of independence from its colonial rule by the Dutch settlers. After long years of struggle for independence the country had its self-government in the 1950s. Finally on March 12, 1968 Mauritius became an independent nation with Sir Seewosagur Ramgoolam as its first prime minister who stood at the helm of the movement. The present natives of the region are descendants of the European settlers, African slaves, Creoles, Chinese traders and Indian labourers. During the years of Dutch rule slaves and labourers were brought in to Mauritius from Africa and India by the Dutch, British and French. Therefore, you can witness a unique hodgepodge of different cultures in this region which stands as a fine example of cultural integration today.
There is as such no official language in Mauritius. All administrative and official works are conducted in English while newspapers and other media use French as the language of interaction. In many parts of the island Creole is spoken by the locals (86.5%) with a strong French influence. The rest of the natives speak Bhojpuri (5.3%) and French (4.1%). Due to its veritable plethora of cultural influences since the days of Dutch colonisation, the Black River Gorges National Park fairly boasts of its religious diversity. Across the length and breadth of the country you can spot iconic cathedrals, mosques pagodas, and Hindu shrines that testify to the religious freedom conferred to the natives of the island nation.
Places to Stay near Black River Gorges National Park
1. Residence Les Alizes- Located next to a golf course in La Gaulette, it is a great retreat for spending your vacation in style and comfort! The family-friendly property offers 3 types of furnished accommodation with all amenities for children and adults. It also provides limo/town car service, separate pools, laundry facilities and express check-in for premium borders.
2. Green Cottage Chamarel- Tucked amidst dense thickets of the park, this 4 star holiday home gives you the real feeling of staying close to nature. Sitting in the comfort of a room you can enjoy the unspoilt beauty of the surroundings. The cottages are furnished with free Wi-Fi, rooms open to patios, free toiletries, free self-parking, airport shuttle, kitchenware and other amenities.
3. Marisa Residences- Located at a whopping 1.5 km from the park, Marisa Residences is a highly recommended place for beachside accommodation. The multilingual staff of the lodge are always at your service and have attention towards your needs. The wide range of amenities include an outdoor pool, free spa massage, barbeque, rooms with garden, free housekeeping, free self-parking etc.
4. Mountain View- The 4 star luxurious property gives you the comfort of a home combined with the luxury of a palace. Each apartment is well equipped with kitchenware, 32” LCD television, free Wi-Fi, free toiletries, room service, safe, garden (with barbeque facilities) and others. The apartment is located about 1.4 Km from Black River Gorges National Park.
5. La Vielle Cheminee- Located at a distance of 1.5 Km from the park, the ecotourism property is a relaxing haven for family and solo travellers. The farmhouse features 6 types of accommodations open to balconies or patios. The 3 star property is equipped with recreational amenities that promise you of a luxurious accommodation in a tropical paradise.
Flora and Fauna found in Black River Gorges National Park
Flora at Black River Gorges National Park
- The Black River Gorges National Park comprises a dense rainforest which is classified into humid upland forest, drier lowland and heathland.
- Governmental and private run organisations such as Nation Park and Conservation Service and Mauritian Wildlife Organisation collaborate with each other for preserving the rich biodiversity of the park.
- The region hosts more than 700 species of plants and about 311 species of native and endemic flowering plants.
- The park is also home to exotic wildlife which a sight to behold! The spellbinding faunae of the park includes wild pigs, Macaque monkeys, wild boars and a population of about 4,000 fruit bats.
Fauna at Black River Gorges National Park
- The Black River Gorges National Park is a peaceful haven for a diverse range of birds including Mauritian Kestrel, Pink Pigeon, Echo Parakeet, Grey White-Eye, Olive White-Eye, Mauritian Bulbul and many more.
- About 9 endemic bird species inhabit the forestland of the park. Birdwatchers can enjoy a good time watching the birds in their natural habitat.
Hiking in Black River Gorges National Park
Untraded pathways along the dense ebony forest dotted with free flowing cataracts make the Black River Gorges National Park an obvious choice for hikers and trekkers. The rewarding hiking trails run through 60 Km of dense rainforests and hidden waterfalls that are best explored on foot. The trails cater to different levels of fitness and skill. So, before preparing your itinerary, make a thorough study of the place and other details of your journey:
If you want to embark on a complete trek follow the route along the Macchabée trail, Macchabée Loop and the Parakeet Trail.
1. Macchabée Forest Trail- The 8 kilometre long Macchabée Forest Trail starts at the Petrín Forest Centre and takes you through a plateau of lovely tropical forest forming a perfect loop. The trail offers a moderate hike of about 3 hours.
2. Macchabée Loop- The Macchabée Loop passes through dense forest before it descends to the tip of a stunning waterfall plunging downward into River Noire. The trail forms a well-defined loop passing through the Macchabée Ridge trail and the Mare Longue Loop on both sides. The trail descends through stands of Chinese Guava and a small stream before it reaches the waterfall.
3. Parakeet Trail- The Parakeet Trail which runs between the Riviere Noire entrance to Black River Gorges and Plaine Champagne near the Black River Gorges Viewpoint is one of the most challenging trails of the Park. It is a well worn trail resting under the canopy of big trees offering views few and far between. During your hike you will come across the Black River and may get your feet wet while crossing the river in its full spate.
Trekking in Black River Gorges National Park
Experienced trekkers can take any of these following routes that will take them through unspoilt forestlands, ravaging cataracts and boulderous paths and certainly give their adrenaline a jolt:
1. Mare Longue Reservoir- The 12 kilometre moderate trek begins and ends at the Pétrin Visitor Centre along the dwarf native forest and a large reservoir lying at the northern end of the park. You can spot pink pigeons and echo parakeets in this place.
2. Black River Peak- The moderate trek of 3 hours takes you to the highest point of the island i.e. Black River Peak stands at an elevation of 828 metres. The trail begins along the Chamarel Road which lies 300 metres west to the car parking zone of Gorges Viewpoint. Standing atop the peak you can marble at the stunning landscape at the surroundings.
Travellers' Tip before Visiting Black River Gorges National Park
For a hassle free trip to the tropical paradise of Mauritius here are some insider tips for you:
1. Make sure you exchange your foreign currencies at Mauritius Airport. US dollars are accepted at only certain transactions.
2. Mauritius is a pretty expensive country and buying essentials there may burn a hole in your pocket. So, it is recommended that you buy your essentials (e.g. toiletries) before landing on to the country.
3. If you are on a budget trip, the bus is your best mode of conveyance.
4. Although Mauritius is a safe place for visit, petty theft and street robberies are common here. Do not leave your belongings unattended. Also, avoid roaming around late at night.
5. Mauritius experiences a terrific climate between the months of January till March. There are regular storms and occasional cyclones which may dampen your travel spirit.