If you can peel yourself away from the beautiful beaches and reefs of the Mauritian coast, a daytrip to this island nation’s only national park is well worth a visit. Black River Gorges National Park is a spectacular natural wonderland that covers 6,574 hectares and is home to waterfalls, rainforests and many endangered species of plant life and wildlife.
Nature lovers can stretch their legs on a number of hiking trails that weave their way through the park. A good option is the three-hour trek through wild forest up to Black River Peak. Standing at 828 metres tall, this mountain is the highest point on the island; it promises sensational panoramic views sweeping out over the Indian Ocean. Before you set off, be sure to stop at one of the visitor centres (Black River Gorges Visitor Centre at the park’s western entrance or Petrin Information Centre on the park’s eastern side). Here, you can pick up trail maps and ask staff for advice on the best trails for your skill level.
The park has successfully carried out conservation programs to save the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon and bright-green echo parakeet from near extinction, so keep your eyes peeled for these precious and pretty creatures. Again, the visitor centres can offer guidance on the best places to go to try to catch them feeding and socialising. Other animals to be on the lookout for include the Mauritian flying fox, red deer, wild boar and some cheeky monkeys.
To get to Black River Gorges National Park, you can hire a car, take a taxi or arrange for an experienced guide to accompany you. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and a packed lunch for when it’s time for a break at one of the park’s many picturesque picnic areas.