Lush greenery, crystalline turquoise water and a perpetual rainy season are probably the first three things that can be used to describe Curepipe. One of the most well-known cities in Mauritius, Curepipe, also known as La Ville-Lumière (meaning City of Lights) is built on one of the island’s highest plateaus and is renowned across the entire country for its cool, rainy climate and its plethora of upmarket shopping destinations. The myths behind the place being named Curepipe are many, with the most intriguing one being how the train pipes needed to be cleaned after having climbed up the steep expanse from the adjacent Rose Belle. Another legend states that the town was so named because of people escaping here from the lowlands back in the 1800s to escape the malarial plague back, and thus ‘curing’ their pipes here in the highlands. Regardless of its curious name, the city is actually one of the top-visited destinations in Mauritius, and the perpetually rainy and foggy climate of the city gives it a rather mildewed, surreal feel, which everyone falls in love with.
Curepipe: A Relaxed Holiday Amidst the Lap of Nature
If the fact that the town has a rain-washed glow to it all year round doesn’t attract you, then the presence of numerous tourist destinations that are as fascinating as they are intriguing definitely will. If you’re the kind of person who loves a peaceful holiday in the midst of nature, then Curepipe is just the place for you. The second you set foot in Curepipe, you will be greeted with verdant greenery no matter where you look. Under such circumstances, it is only natural that the town is home to the second most massive botanical garden in all of Mauritius, the Curepipe Botanic Gardens. Spread out over an area of around two hectares; the Curepipe Botanic Gardens have been in existence since 1870 when it was built with an initial goal of fostering foliage that couldn’t survive in the hot tropical regions of the island. Of course, Curepipe is tropical as well, but due to its higher altitude, its climate is a lot cooler than the plains and coastal territories. The Curepipe Botanic Garden is home to a vast variety of indigenous exotic plants, as well as other species that have been brought from different regions in and around Mauritius and cultivated here. There’s no better way to spend a quiet afternoon than to take a walk through the lush green foliage of the gardens, letting nature’s peace and tranquillity take over you.
Into the Heart of a Volcano
Curepipe is the only place in Mauritius where you can look down into the crater of a volcano that used to be active till quite recently! The most popular tourist attraction of Curepipe, Trou Aux Cerfs is a dormant volcanic crater, where you can stand on the rim of the crater and look deep down into the pit of the now-dormant volcano. With the depth of the crater being over 100 metres, peeking down from the top into the pit where now all you can see are trees and stagnant water, but imagining it once spewing molten-hot lava and ash is a rather thrilling experience. Trou Aux Cerfs is famous not just because of its inward view, but because of its outward view as well, because one look out towards the ocean gives you a panoramic 360 degree of the entire island and the miles of water surrounding it. The bowl of the crater is densely forested, and it is a favourite hangout for walkers and joggers, not just for tourists but the locals as well.
An Intriguing Colonial Throwback
One of the oldest buildings on the island, and also the first residential building ever in Mauritius to be fitted with an electrical connection, the Domaine des Aubineaux has a lot of history attached to it. Built back in 1872, the Domaine des Aubineaux has distinct colonial architecture, and its wooden build with pretty blue-grey turrets send you on a trip back in time. The mansion has been renovated many times since its construction, and today it stands as a museum that is the first stop on the Mauritian Tea Route. Guided tours are available (and recommended), and a stroll through the various rooms in the house will give you a good idea about the history of tea production in Mauritius. Despite the mansion being refurbished many times, original furniture, paintings and other antique curios and artefacts from the colonial ages have all been preserved carefully, and are on display for tourists. Once you’re done checking out the various rooms, take a walk to the camphor tree garden behind the mansion, which houses a diverse variety of endemic plants and trees, along with a beautifully manicured little tea plantation that is a delight to see. The tour ends at the renowned Tea Room, where you can relax and sip a nice hot cup of tea, along with other light snacks that you can buy.
Another historic building in Curepipe is the Carnegie Library, which is one of the oldest libraries on the island, and the architecture of the building has a distinct neo-classical feel to it, replete with a stone build and pretty little porches. While it is not a standard tourist attraction, a visit to the library – which boasts of a collection of scarce books about the history and traditions of Mauritius dating back to the late 17th and 18th century – will give you detailed information about the island.
With the delightful weather, a misty, rainy climate, and old buildings that give off a typical colonial-era vibe, Curepipe is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Mauritius, and despite the lack of beaches, the town – in all its surreal and ethereal glory doesn’t disappoint.