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
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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 whole time
Black River Gorges National Park entrance and fee
There are entrances to the park, both with an 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)
- the Petrin Information Centre, on the east side of the park and just 2 km from the Grand Bassin.
I visited the Petrin centre and there was not really too much to see, just a scale model of the park. I could find, though, more information on the Mauritius Government run website.
There is no entrance fee (2018) however you can leave a donation.
I rented a car and I visited the park myself, however, I heard that tourists got charged in the past by operators for an entrance fee. I confirm that there is none. Hopefully, they use it as a donation.
National Park Trail Map
The park is so well organised that probably you do not really need a map for a quick walk, however, for hiking you definitely need one.
Unfortunately, there were no maps at the Petrin Information centre. I am not sure about the other Centre.
I any case I suggest to download the below map and keep it as a reference.
Download a higher resolution map from this link
Before visiting Mauritius I have also downloaded the free app called MapMe (Android/Iphone). It uses maps offline, therefore no need for internet 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
Black River Gorges National Park hiking
There are a few trails in the park, up to 14Km.
You can even hike from the west to the east side, from one visitor centre to the other (you need to organise a taxi to pick you up).
If you are after just one 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 rainforest, usually wet and slippery, and the trekking shoes are most definitely a must here.
I would not suggest it unless you are fit. In a 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 the Mare Aux Joncs waterfall with a big 100 metres drop, really magnificent (see the map for more details, even better on Maps.Me)
There is a hike to go down to the bottom of the waterfall, however, I did not do it.
Check the closing time of the park, you don’t want to be locked in (it changes based on the season)
Black River Gorges National Park driving
You can visit part of the park also simply using the car, although you will not reach the most amazing spots, unfortunately.
You can organise this drive after a visit to the Grand Bassin. Stop at the Petrin Information Center (see map below for more information) to check of the scale model of the national park
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 switchbacks followed by one of the Chamarel viewpoint, one of the best in 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!!
How to get there
Renting a car for a day is probably the cheapest and easy solution. I booked my car from RentalCars.com, a car aggregator owned by Booking.com. I had a fantastic deal.
The only drawback is that your starting point will have to be also your endpoint, therefore you will not be able to trek through the park, between the two Informations Centres.
If you are not into driving or you want to do the walk through the park then I suggest taking a taxi and ask to wait for you on the other side. Pay the agreed price only on the way back (you want to be sure he/she will wait for you)
The last possibility is to have an organised trip to the park, with the guide as well. The resort where you stay can organise it for you.
Alternatively, you can check this tour (probably cheaper than the one of the hotel) which includes 7 waterfalls around the Tamarind area
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.
You can also plan to visit it even if you are staying in the north, just budget in an extra hour for the trip.
If you are still unsure about where to stay in Mauritius I suggest reading the guide below, full of tips and the best areas to stay based on the month you will visit the island
One of my favourite accommodations close to the Black River Gorges is the LUX* Le Morne, an organised resort which is a great value too, especially when you buy a package.
Ops, I forgot to say that the LUX* Le Morne has been recognised as one of the best resorts in the world