Among the vibrant choices of tourist destinations in Mauritius, Chamarel - the land of seven colours - houses a relatively new attraction, the Lavilleon Natural Forest. Recently opened to the public, this natural forest is a haven of biodiversity. What once used to be a beautiful hunting estate has now been transformed into one well-preserved nature conservation.
Although it suffered a little from deforestation, Lavilleon natural forest is still home to some beautiful patches of primary forest and wildlife species including endemic trees, bamboos introduced from China, deer and great 300 years old ebony trees. They managed to endure through the menace caused by the colonisers and have survived over the years. Lavilleon nature forest covers 500 hectares, and it is owned by Swaley Ramjan, director of United Bus Service.
Inside the Forest
Forest Trails, Flora and Fauna
The various trails found in the Lavilleon natural forest can be scaled by the visitors themselves or under the guidance of a specialised guide. No need to book them in advance; guides are available right at the entrance of the conservation area to supervise the curious ones with an activity of their choice. With some luck, you can spot some rear birds like the Rooster, the Cook, and even the Pink Pigeon. There are more than 400 deer in Lavilleon natural forest. They were introduced in Mauritius by the Dutch Governor Adrien van der Stel in 1639. The deer were raised in pens for their meat. It is believed that the deer sank in the wild during the cyclone and that is how they populated the natural forest, taking advantage of the lush vegetation with no natural predators to harm them.
81 endemic trees have been identified in the forest so far. The endemic forest opens with the stretches of ebony trees. Over 200 of them are standing proudly on the forest grounds. The ebony trees are distinctive with their blackish bark that is quite hard and resistant. One particular species named Cervus timorensis rusa was chosen by the Dutch for its natural resistance characteristic.
Going further deep into the forest, you are welcomed by the wooden and concrete structures - 'Chamarel Chalet'. In addition to the lush greenery, these eleven cottages in the middle of this exotic wildlife make the Lavilleon nature forest the perfect getaway venture. Nine of the cottages have a single bedroom while two of them are double-bedrooms cottages. They serve the accommodation needs for a solo traveller, couples and families as well. The residents can cook their meals if they wish to.
Adventure Sports & Activities
Another more sporty and playful way of immersing yourself in the heart of this protected Mauritian nature is to take up an archery course. It is a challenging way to learn how to combine riding and achieve shooting precision at the same time. The archery course will take you through a field consisting of different shooting ranges. African moss animals are used as targets, and you can compete either with your family or with your friends to find out who the better hunter is!
More adventure enthusiast visitors can opt for the 260-meter long zip line over a canyon, followed by a vertiginous Nepalese bridge, almost 200 meters above the ground. Lavilleon nature forest also houses a restaurant with 25 small cottages that have access to the swimming pool. Each cottage of the restaurant offers a breathtaking view of Le Morne, Ile aux Benitiers, Baie du Tamarin and La Tourelle de Tamarin. You must visit the restaurant before leaving the nature park to soak up in its serenity.
Lavilleon natural forest represents a complete getaway amidst the heart of nature. The serene surroundings, the fun-filled activities and a living-in-the-wild experience ? this is all that sums up this carefully conserve a piece of nature. Don't miss it!
Entry fee and thirty-minute stroll through the endemic forest: INR 150 per adult and 100 per children from 12 years and below
Zip lining and tour of Nepalese bridge: INR 600 per person
Guided walk in the endemic forest: INR 600 per person
Archery: INR 300 per session and INR 1000 for an entire course
Chamarel Chalet - INR 5000 per night for one-bedroom cottage and INR 6000 per night for a two-bedroom cottage
All the activities take about one hour and thirty minutes. No reservations are required for any event, except for canyoning that is offered only on request. It is highly recommended that you bring along sneakers and mosquito repellent.
How to Reach Lavilleon Natural Forest
Coming from Curepipe, drive from B70 La Brasserie road and B103 Plaine Champagne road to Riviere Noire District. Once you reach Chamarel, it will take you a 10-minute ride to reach Lavilleon natural forest.