The Mascareignes Archipel is made up of Mauritius, Reunion island and Rodrigues. It obtained its name after the dutch navigator Pero Mascarenhas who was one of the first europeans to indicate its existence at the begining of the 16th century. Mauritius, independent state, is situated at 890 KM east of Madagascar, between 19?50' and 20?32' of south latitude and 57?18' and 57?46' of East Longtitude. Reunion, french island, is 200 km south west and Rodridues, a dependence of Mauritius is 600 km to the East North East.
Of volcanic origin, these islands separated by sea pits of 4000 metres depth, have emerged from the abysses as a result of gigantic underwater volcanic eruptions that happened thousands of kilometres to the east of the continental block made up by Africa and Madagascar. Regarding the age of these different islands, it is known that Mauritius has started to emerge some 8 million years ago whereas Reunion emerged some 5 million years later. Even if the plateau under the lagoon of wide area surrounding Rodrigues may be much more ancient than the island, the island is only 1.5 million years old.
Regarding the topography of Mauritius, it has an area of 1860 Km2 and is made up of a central plateau gradually rising towards the south west where it reaches its highest point at 800 metres with the Piton de la Riviere Noire. This plateau is still surrounded with what is remaining from the primary crater in the form of a chain of mountains that are not very high (Moka, Corps de Garde, Pieter Both) and some isolated peaks (Piton du Milieu, Motte a Th?rese).
It was only in 1598 that Mauritius received its first inhabitants : a small colony of Dutch and their slaves of african origin. These Dutch, coming from the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, seemed to have had to face a succession of ordeals such as cyclones, food shortage, slave evasion, pirates visits and ship wreckage including the one of the Admiral Pieter Both who died in 1615 at the Tombeau Bay. The dutch left in 1710. During their occupation, they exploited excessively and destroyed the forests of ebony trees and exterminated the last of the Dodos.
It was as from the French occupation in 1715 that Mauritius became '?le de France, and started to develop and to have the aspect of a prosperous colony. The great creator of this colonial world was Bertrand Francois Mah? de Labourdonnais, who was appointed Governor for the Compagnie des Indes Orientales, that was given to the island. He created official buildings, warehouses, barracks, ship yards and also industries to promote the exploitation of the existing forests for construction wood and the production of sugar from sugar cane. He also re established order. From a wild and almost desert island, Labourdonnais made in a few years a thriving and productive colony and a french active port in the indian ocean. The two other great men of the French period of Mauritius were Pierre Poivre and the general
After the blockade and the landing of a British troops superior in number than the French force of the General Decaen, the French capitulated in December 1810. From the Treaty of Paris of 1814, Mauritius and its dependencies became British, whereas Reunion even that it was captured, was given back to France. Mauritius became British and got back the name the Dutch gave her, but stayed quite close to France as she kept the language, culture and French laws.
Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions which our immigrant population brought from their ancestral countries. Their festivities are celebrated in a spirit of peace and harmony throughout the year.
Agra is one of the most important centers for handicrafts, made of marble and soft stone inlay work. Major handicraft products of Agra, besides inlay work are leatherwear, brassware, carpets, jeweler and embroidery work. The major languages spoken here are Hindi, Urdu and English.
Models of ancient ships with fine details as per the ancient plans constitute a very nice souvenir. Note that airlines apply an additional fee on these models depending on their size and weight. Women will prefer jewelry. Jewelry shops have inherited of a long tradition in Mauritius specially for the Hindus and the Muslims, talented artists who work with gold of 18 or 22 carat. The well know Mauritians jewelers are Poncini, Caunhye (Bijouterie Bienvenue) Shiv Jewels, Adamas for diamonds, Wahed Essa, Glod Finger and Matikola. Most of these jewelery shops also sell watches of the well known brands.
Textile also has a envious position mainly in the knitwear sector. Some good addresses are Bonair, Floreal Knitwear, Shibani and Tara for pull-overs and knitting. Various well known brands have their production been carried out in Mauritius. Once the quota for exportation reached, the remaining stock is sold locally at unbeatable price - Shirts, trousers, suits, dresses, shorts or swimming suit of well know brands cost 3 times less here than in europe. A suit can even be made withing 48 hours (Karl Kaiser - Hugo Boss in Europe), Cotton Club and Caustat are the specialists.
Handicrafts - basket making, embroidery, potery, serigraphy, stone cutting. The passionate of cuisine can bring from Mauritius fruit paste, spices and chilli. They will not forget the vanilla tea and the rhum. The main shopping centres are in the towns, namely in Port Louis where you will want to visit Le Caudan Waterfront, Happy World centre, Le Paille en Queue court. In Quatre Bornes, you should visit the Orchard Centre and the Trianon shopping park and in phoenix, the Jumbo commercial centre. Please make arrangements with your tour operator who will organise some shopping trips to Floreal square, The Ruisseau Creole Commercial centre or if yoou want, you may spend a day at the various shopping centres in Grand Baie.
These vary from town to town but are usually around 09:30 - 17:30. Many shops close on Thursday or Sunday afternoons. There exists also fairs in some towns twice per week.
Mauritius boasts a huge range of sea treasures and infinite wealth. The Mauritian sea never fails to surprise : multi-coloured fish, moray eels, magnificent coral beds. Skin-diving masks, flippers and scuba diving equipment ... enjoy one of the happiest experiences in the world! Whether you are in a diving suit or in a submarine, Mauritius can introduce you to the secrets of its submarine world.
One of the most spectacular ways to explore the ocean beds is to go on board the Blue Safari submarine. You will enjoy a superb encounter with the marine life and get a chance to see various wrecks dating back to the 17th century. Night diving, ?honeymoon? diving and training sessions are available.
During your stay, you will also have the possibility of discovering various types of dances directly inspired by the cultural diversity of Mauritius.
Whether in your hotel or on the beach, the sega, a dance invented by mauritians of african origin, has become synonymous with "joie de vivre". The sega, its music and dance form, is specific to Mauritius. The sega, mainly based on African music originating with slaves, is nowadays played with modern instruments and features contemporary musical influences.
The rubbing of feet, the swaying of hips and Creole lyrics are part and parcel of the music. The slaves obviously began dancing the sega to forget their miserable existence. There are now several types of sega in Mauritius. Standard sega (where the instruments are the ravanne, the maravanne and the triangle) has its own disciples and devotees.
Mauritius offers excellent possibilities to do nautical sports. In many hotels, the cost of renting windsirf board, water ski, drifter, kayaks, pedalo, are included in the price. The instructor are present for free initiation course for novices. Diving and big game fishing can be done at reasonable price.
Discover the underwater world of Mauritius with the 'Nessee'. Unique in Mauritius, this semi-submersible will give you a panoramic view of the corals and the underwater world of Mauritius, a privilege that stays still now the monopoly of divers. This wonderful experience is carried out on total security conditions and with maximum of comfort : Air conditioning, optimal panoramic view that will make the trip a real pleasure available to everyone.
Blue Safari Goo Submarine
The Blue Safari 600 is a submarine with 5 places for passengers. It is capable of going down up to 50 meters depth. For one hour, comfortable in a pressurized cabin, totally transparent and air-conditioned, you live the experiences as seen on documentaries on the submarine flora and fauna.