The Grand Bassin (or Ganga Talao), in Mauritius, is the most important Hindu place of the island and a must visit for anybody interested in experiencing a different culture and making some great travel photography
I visited this place in late August and I was surprised by the enormity of the parking area and the road arriving to Grand Bassin. It was definitely looking disproportionate compared with the surrounding area, why so much space left for parking? If you want a real answer come over in February, during the Maha Shivaratri celebrations where half a million people visit Ganga Talao in pilgrimage.
As the legend says, Shiva and his wife Parvati were travelling around the planet on a contraption made of flowers when they were stunned by the beauty of this island surrounded by an emerald water.
Shiva, who was carrying the Ganges river on his shoulder to defend the world from floods, decided to visit the island. During the lending, however, few drops of water spilled from the Ganges to create the Grand Bassin, in a crater of an extinct volcano.
The Ganges was not happy to be left there, however Shiva promised that one day the new inhabitants of the island would come every year for a pilgrimage during which the water of the lake would be given as an offering.
I was talking with a local guy which told me that everybody in the island goes to this pilgrimage and he could not remember a year where, beside the water from the lake, they haven’t experience lots of rain as well.
Indeed February is the month with the highest percentage of water and this area is the place in Mauritius with the highest number of storms in the island.
If you are here in February, it is most definitely a must visit place, even if the weather is not that great. It’s all about the experience.
The best way to come here is by renting a car, alternatively you can take a taxi (if you stay in the south of the island it will take 20-30 minutes). You may want to make a full day of it, visiting the Grand Bassin in the early morning and going for the South Scenic Route from Gris Gris to le Morne afterwards
Start your visit at the 33 metres tall statue of Lord Shiva. Walk to the lake and follow the path along the lake shore till you arrive at the temple (see map below)
From the temple you can follow the steps to the top of the hill where you will have a beautiful view of the surrounding area, beside encountering few monkeys always looking for food
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