The Black River Gorges National Park is a beautiful mountainous region in the southern part of Mauritius and most probably the best area for some trekking in the island.
However, don’t panic straight away, if you are not into walking there is also a fabulous drive through the park that is well worth the extra mile of your trip
Located on the hills of the Champagne plain, the Black River Gorges National Park covers 6576 hectares of mountain and forest, and is home to over 150 varieties of plants and 9 birds species.
Once in the park there are so many spots offering stunning views of the interior and the West Coast that you will be open mouth the all time
There are two information point, the Black River Gorges Visitors Centre, at the west side of the park, about 8km from the Trois Bras Junction (see map below for more info) and the Petrin Information Centre, on the east side of the park and just 2 km from the Grand Bassin.
I visited the second centre and there was not really too much available, just a scale model of the park. I could find, though, more information on the Mauritius Government run website.
The park is so well organised that probably you do not really need a map for a quick walk.
In saying that, it’s always better to know where you are and how long it will take for your hike. Unfortunately there are no maps at the information center. You have two possibilities:
There are few trails in the park, up to 14Km. You can even have a walk from the west side to the east side, from one visitor centre to the other (you can organise a taxi to pick you up).
If you are after just 1 hike I suggest the Macchabee trail, a 10km walk that takes around 4 hours, including the stops to enjoy the beautiful view.
It is part of the main trail, easy to follow (plenty of signals). It’s an easy walk and running shoes work good, no real need of special trekking shoes, something you may need if you decide to spend 2 or more days adventuring in the deep corners of this park.
If looking for excitement, there is an alternative route to the Macchabee trail on the way back.
It’s in the rain forest, usually wet and slippery, and the trekking shoes are most definitely a must here. I would not suggest it unless you are fit. In few points you may need to use the trees to climb the impossible slippery path.
The beauty of this alternate route is that you will walk over a waterfall with a big 100 metres drop, really magnificent (see the map for more details)
Check the closing time of the park, you don’t want to be locked in (it changes based on the season)
You can organise this drive after a visit at the Grand Bassin and the view of the scale model of the park at the Petrin Information Center (see map below for more information)
Once you take the Place Champagne Road you see your first stop on the right side, the Alexandra Falls.
Once parked the car you can reach the falls with a few hundred meters walk. It’s well worth the stop, especially if you visit Mauritius in January/February when there is more rain, and therefore more water
Next stop is a viewpoint to the unique gorges of the Black River National Park, on the right side of the road. You will then reach Chamarel, a town famous for its food and restaurants, the perfect place to have lunch.
On the descent to Grande Case Noyale (on the west coast) take it easy. Lots of switch backs followed by one of the best viewpoint of Mauritius.
Now, here is the big tip, if you like sweets, the shop stall at the viewpoint offers a local speciality difficult to find in any shop, caramelised coconut in small pieces. They don’t look great but they taste just fantastic!!
One thing you can easily find in Mauritius is an organised resort. I found that Hotels Combined offered the best packages.
The Black River Gorges National Park is actually an easy day, or half day, trip from either Le Morne or Flic en Flac Beach. You can also opt to stay in Chamarel, a small village in the park, famous in all of Mauritius for the amazing restaurants.
In Le Morne your best option is to stay in an organised resort, better service and prices too on a few days package. If you made it to Mauritius you should not miss the possibility to stay at the LUX* Le Morne, recognised as one of the best resorts in the world
Flic en Flac Beach is less pretentious, a nice village with some great food option straight at the beach and good bars to have a drink and spend the night.
The beach itself is a long one with a nice shady area created by the tall pines. Overall a great location to spend few days, or even a week.
The Aanari Hotel & Spa is a well known option, much more affordable however still great quality.
If you are after an hotel in the park then the Chamarel village is the place to be. And it’s not only for the beauty of the area but also for the amazing restaurants you can find.
When in Chamarel, even if passing at lunch time, you should stop at the Restaurant Le Chamarel for some exquisite food, in an amazing location, overlooking Le Morne. They usually run also a distillery tour, interesting as well.