Just north-east of the Mauritius capital of Port Louis in the Pamplemousses district sits one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Southern Hemisphere. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden dates back to the nation’s French occupation of the 1700s. Home to an exotic array of flora and fauna, these grounds make for a perfect place to while away a few hours in a peaceful and historic natural setting when you’re ready for a short break from the island’s bountiful beaches.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden (named in honour of the first prime minister of Mauritius) is famous for its iconic giant-waterlily pond, which captivates visitors with its blanket of the exotic Victoria amazonica (giant waterlilies), a flowering water plant native to the Amazon River in South America. (Come in January to see them at their blooming best.) The garden, which covers an area of 33 hectares, also boasts approximately 80 species of palm trees; many more native and international flowers; 100 species of medicinal plants; and a collection of spice trees including nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.
Say g’day to the resident deer, tortoises and ducks at the Animal Corner and be on the lookout for the vast array of other birds you’ll find here, including the crimson-coloured Madagascar fody. Visitors keen to cover as much ground as possible or who have limited mobility can rent a golf cart for 45 minutes, or you can take a tour of the garden with a knowledgeable guide (find them just inside the front entrance). The botanical garden is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm, including public holidays.
It’s easy to get here, too. From Port Louis, buses depart every 10 minutes or so from Grand Gaube and Immigration Square. Bus services from Grand Baie and Trou aux Biches drop you nearby as well – at the Sugar Museum and Factory, where you can also take a tour and learn about the 250-year relationship between Mauritius and this oh-so-sweet substance before continuing on to the botanical garden, which is just over a kilometre away.