A trip to Mauritius is all about unwinding, surrounded by breathtaking views of nature, found in its purest form. Take a moment to close your eyes and think about the smell, sights, and sounds that you come across when you are out in the open, in Mother Nature's lap. Perhaps you see a small stream passing through rich, dense trees or the smell of blossoms nearby a forest trail. Maybe you feel the fresh breeze nearby a waterfall and a rare sight of a deer drinking water from a stream. Words like tranquillity, peace, and calm can readily be associated when you think about nature. While this feeling might be challenging to find in the modern life, where cities have engulfed nature and concrete has taken over, such is not the case in Mauritius.
There are countless things to do in Mauritius but if spending time in nature is your thing, a trip to Bras d'Eau National Park should be on your list. Located in the north-eastern part of the island, Bras d'Eau National Park is one of the three national parks in the country.
While Mauritius was born some eight million years ago, it was only some 400 years ago that humans discovered it. Following that, the island was colonised by Dutch, the French and the British. Mauritius' sugarcane industry became the source of livelihood for the inhabitants. It was during that period that Bras D’eau was chosen as land to construct sugarcane mills on by French owners. Subsequently, people started settling around that area, resulting in the formation of a village. Eventually, the sugarcane mills were shut. The British left, and so did the villagers. What was left behind is now remains of incredible architecture work and testimony that a vibrant and colourful life existed centuries ago. The area was soon covered by forests, giving birth to Bras d'Eau National Park.
Bras d'Eau National Park is spread over an area of over 400 hectares and is perfect for the nature lovers and adventurous souls out there. With its many hiking trails and picnic spots, and abundant flora and fauna, you will surely have a memorable time here with your loved ones.
Hiking Trail to Bras d'Eau National Park
Kick start your journey by taking a stroll in the pure and indigenous Mauritian forests. You will easily find the entrance located near the visitors’ centre. You can park your vehicles at the parking facilities located at the centre opposite the trailhead. The official trail of the park is about three kilometres long. Named Coq Du Bois Loop, the beautiful trail ends past an orchard which boasts of over 200 litchi trees and over 2000 mango trees (the smell of which will be lingering in your head long after you leave the place). It's a sight you wouldn't want to miss.
The remains of the closed sugar mill mentioned earlier can be seen behind the visitors' centre. An imposing stone can be noticed on the other side of the road which dates back to the French Era. A two-hour trail will lead you to Poste Lafayette. Enjoy the walk surrounded by lush green forest and the rhythmic chirping of birds and reconnect with nature.
Flora and Fauna of Bras d'Eau National Park
The vast biodiversity present in the park is seen. The forest houses many endemic species. The unique flora comprises of Blackwood, teak, eucalyptus, and casuarinas trees, a real beauty in sight. ‘Diospyros egrettarum’ and ‘Diospyros Melinda, two Mauritian ebony tree species still survive in small numbers and can be spotted in this national park.
There's a wide range of birds that can be spotted in the forest. White eyes, sparrows, Mauritius Fodys, Canaries, and the rare white-tailed tropicbird are few of the many feathered friends that you will find here. Bras d’Eau forest is also the home of yet another rare species, the Mascarene Paradise flycatcher.
These birds can be spotted while strolling inside the park and also on the bird watching sites. One of which is Mare Sarcelle, a lake located just outside the trail. The lake is spread over an area of 89 hectares (220 acres) and covers almost half of Bras d’Eau National Park. It is only at Mare Sarcelle that you will spot mangrove swamps and migratory birds that seldom stop and stay at the park before leaving for some other place.
Have a thirst for knowledge? Head over to the centre to learn more about the endemic and native species of Mauritius. You can also learn more about them by walking through an exhibition inside the park. A brief chat with any of the forest officers will give you an insight of the place and about the species residing there.
Here's a tip, there will be a lot of walking once you are inside the premises. Make sure to wear your walking shoes. Carry a bottle of water every time with you as the day temperatures will tend to make you feel dehydrated. Also, you must carry a camera to capture the alluring nature and exotic species of flora and fauna.
Are you planning a long due family trip? Head over to Bras D’Eau National Park on your next trip to Mauritius and get home a bucket full of memories.