Located close to the Riviere des Anguilles village towards the south of Mauritius is the 5 hectare surface area of the La Vanille Nature Park. The park is set up in the middle of a tropical forest inhibiting vivid flora and fauna, the main attraction being the crocodile farm comprising of numerous crocodiles preserved in the premises and categorized according to age and species. Other than that, the park is home to giant tortoises, iguanas, wild pigs and deer.
The La Vanille Nature Park was created back in 1985 and its name is inspired from the old vine cultivation in the valley that used to dominate the landscape in which the park is located. The entire ambience of the park is brimming with Mauritian hospitality, welfare of the wildlife and preservation of nature. Experienced guides will take you on a knowledge filled excursion into the park and make it an unforgettable visit for you by taking you back in time to bestow upon you what Mauritius used to be like hundreds of years ago.
Inside the Park
One could opt for a guided tour of the park or explore the area themselves by following the marked path with clear signs and information panels. If someone is visiting with kids then its best recommended they check out the park by themselves as kids would be really bothered for a systematic venture and hence by choosing to tour on your own would give the little ones the necessary freedom to visit any part at any time.
Shaded by the lush green palm and giant bamboo trees, you can walk through the reserve to witness hundred of Nile crocodiles that are being raised in the park. You can also see the giant Aldabra tortoises slowly roaming in open enclosures and the information panels would remind you that it is the largest herd of Aldabra tortoise in the entire world which makes a souvenir photo with these beautiful exotic creatures a must do thing. Other animals that can be found are iguanas, lemurs, monkeys, deer, Japanese carp, mongooses and many more which constitute the euphoric fauna of the park. The reserve also displays the last locomotive of Mauritius - the Ruston & Hornsby diesel engine.
The La Vanille aquarium gives you a chance to discover some beautiful aquatic species residing in the fresh water. The beautiful sight of the iguanas sprawling on the banks of pond, and the fishes and turtles swimming together is just a peaceful experience.
After 30 years of dedication, passion and patience, Mr. Jacques Siedlecki brought life to the unique collection of 26000 insect species and 30000 specimens from about 5 continents and this insectarium is not reputed as one of the largest in the world. With some luck, you can also meet Mr. Jacques in the insectarium who will tell you stories related to his work and passion.
Named as “100 Million Years under the Sea” - the fossil museum in the park exhibits a collection of fossils from places like Madagascar, ammonites and skeletons of marine mammals such as whales.
Le Crocodile Affame
The “Hungry Crocodile” restaurant has a capacity of 120 people and it offers you an array of Mauritian local dishes and you can also chose to taste some crocodile meat from one the chef’s dish, and other treats like toasted ham, cheese sandwich and other snacks.
Generally, the first tour start at 8.30 AM and the last tour start at 4.30 PM in an interval of half an hour. However the last tour timings differ over the year:
In summer (1st November to 30th April) – last tour at 5 PM
In winter (1st May to 31st October) – last tour at 4.30 PM
It should be noted that the timings may vary according to the availability of guides during peak season.
Tips and Information
There are few entry conditions the visitors need to abide by to help the management protect the nature reserve:
Adults must accompany their children all the time
It is prohibited to enter any of the enclosures
Removal of any plants or provoking the animals is strictly prohibited
Do not throw food or any other item into the crocodile pond
The visitors must retain their ticket during their stay inside the park
The management reserves the right and has full authority to restrict access into the park to any person who is in an intoxicated state or if someone doesn’t abide by the rules of the park