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, not even a paper map, only a scale model of the park.
The park is very well organised and probably you do not really need a map however to be safe you can always download MapMe on your mobile. It’s a free app where you can download maps and therefore no need of data connectivity (see more info on The Best Travelling Photography Apps). I used this app extensively in Mauritius and I was really surprised by the accuracy of the walking tracks, really invaluable
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).What I did was the Macchabee trail, a 10km walk that takes around 4 hours, including the stops to enjoy the beautiful view.
If you go on the main trail, easy to follow (plenty of signals), running shoes work good, no need of special trekking shoes.
I decided however to take an alternative route on the way back, in the rain forest, very wet and very slippery, and the trekking shoes are most definitely a must here. I would not suggest it unless you are fit. In few points I had 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. At first I was looking into it as an option and I found that Hotels Combined offered the best packages. In saying that, at the end I decided to go for 2 bed and breakfast because they both gave me more freedom with my timing and my photography. I did not really want to be stressed when out on a sunset (usually at the same time of dinner).
I decided to spend the first week on the south-west coast. From there I could see the southern part of the island, the Black River Gorges National Park, Grand Bassin and the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis.
After some investigation I decided to book Marlin Creek in Riviere Noire. Cristophe and Ingrid, the owners, were just two stars on earth. Super friendly and always providing advices on things to do and discover. It is in the middle of the Riviere Noir village where I could find few restaurants for the night. Freshly cooked breakfast was waiting in the morning, which was a great plus 😀
The room I had was spacious and really well cleaned. Difficult to find anything that did not work. Great experience
I booked at the Bleu De Toi Boutique Guest House in Pereybere. It was a real heaven. I stayed in the Hope room, in front of the garden and the swimming pool (I love my early morning swim) and it was just awesome. Great big breakfast too, anything you want just ask. I really liked the décor all around the guest house, I felt like in the perfect creole place. It’s not really located in the centre of Pereybere. You need a 10 minutes walk for either the public beach or the restaurants which was not a big deal to me anyway.
I personally suggest to book the accommodation in Mauritius in advance. Too hard to get around and on-line you get the best deals
Please note that I do not have any affiliations with both guest house owners, I just had a great stay