Ile Aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve, Mauritius Overview
Ile Aux Aigrettes is a 26 hectare nature reserve 800 meters towards the south east off the coast of Mahebourg bay and has gained popularity over the years as an ecotourism destination. Unlike Mauritius, the most of which was formed by volcanic rocks. Ile Aux Aigrettes was primarily formed from coral limestone and it is pretty low-lying. It has a scientific research station which works towards the preservation of the numerous rare and endangered plant and animal species.
The natural reserve has lost many of its indigenous species because of logging and invasive species. The ?Mauritius Dry Coastal Forest? is the worlds only remaining vegetation type of its kind and is being conserved in Aigrettes. The reserve was once home to the extinct species like the Dodo bird and the endemic Giant Tortoise. The island reserve is home to several reptile species like the Telfairs Skink, Coloured Day Gecko and Aldabra giant tortoises that are non-indigenous. Aigrettes also have rare species of ebony trees, for example the Diospyros egrettarum, which is named after the island.
History of the Island
Way back during the Second World War, the forests of Ile Aux Aigrettes were cleared off by the British to be used as their military base. Remains of few buildings dating back to that time can still be found in the island's premises. the island got its name because of the huge of colony of Egrets which dominated the island in the 1600s. In 1965, it was declared as a Nature Reserve and it was not until 1985, when the Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund (MWAF) took matters in their own hands and started an effective initiative of rehabilitating the habitat of the island and to restore it to its former glorious state of abundance of flora and fauna. Since then, MWAF have been managing the restoration of the island along with making it accessible for the public.
The one and half hour of the island is a famous tourist attraction at Ile Aux Aigrettes. It begins with the boat ride from Point Jerome where the tourists get onboard and head towards the island. A designated guide takes you on from there to discover the nature up close and species of plants and animals only found in Mauritius. You get to see the indigenous plant nursery of the island where you can spot rare birds species like the Pink Pigeon and the Mauritius Kestrel. The tour is full of outstanding views of the south-eastern scenery of Mauritius and a glimpse into the history of Mauritius. Amazing trees with uncommon names, like Ox wood, Pipe wood, Rat wood, Bottle palm etc. can be found. With some luck, a full bloomed rare orchid sighting might be possible as well. Souvenirs can be brought from the gift shop in the Visitor? Centre once the tour has ended. All the revenue collected from the tours and gift shifts go into the renovation and restoration of the nature reserve.
Tour Timings and Prices
Monday to Saturday: 9:30 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:00 PM Sunday: 9:30 AM, 10:00 AM
The tour price is all inclusive of the boat ride from Pointe Jerome to the Ile Aux Aigrettes and vice versa, and the tour of the island:
Adults: EUR 26 Children (4 - 12 years): EUR 18 There is no charge for babies between 0 to 3 years
So wear some comfy clothes and put on your sunglasses and set forth on the refreshing boat ride and explore the marvellous beauty of this nature reserve of Mauritius amidst the turquoise blue water. The peaceful ambience of Ile Aux Aigrettes will definitely take you on a different experience altogether!