Mauritius is a hikers paradise - dense tropical forests, cascading waterfalls and enormous mountain ranges, all of this add a thrilling, adventurous touch to your laidback holiday. Beaches and lagoons are excellent, but if you do not indulge yourself with the breathtaking trekking experience; your trip to Mauritius is going to be incomplete. Talking about mountain ranges, let us get you familiarised with the second highest mountain in the island - Pieter Both. With a height of 820 meters, it falls behind than the highest point of Mauritius - the Black River Peak that is 828 meters tall.
Pieter Both is a part of the Moka mountain range of Mauritius that is situated in the centre of the island. It is an iconic and unique mountain as it is easily noticeable due to its round shaped boulder at the extreme top of the hill, almost making it similar to a human head. Pieter Both is also famous for being the home for the rarest palm species Hyophorbe amaricaulis, covering most of the mountain.
History and Legend
The mountain gets its name from the first Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, Pieter Both. Under his command, eight vessels left the Netherlands for Mauritius. Unfortunately, after being caught in a cyclone, Pieter Both’s ship sank near Tamarin Bay killing him and 45 other men.
There's a mystical legend related to this mountain that is not known to many, but the oldest locals only. It is believed that there was once a milkman from the village of Creve Coeur, situated at the foot of the mountain, who used to sell milk in the neighbouring villages. One fine day, the milkman decided to take a shortcut to reach the next village by passing near the mountain. Tired from the walk, he decided to take a nap. However, when he woke up to the sound of music, he was surprised by his core. He saw fairies singing and dancing around after opening his eyes. The fairies warned him not to reveal what he just saw to anyone otherwise they would turn him into stone. He agreed to the terms and continued his walk to the nearby village. Nevertheless, once he reached, he couldn’t keep the secret and revealed it to all the villagers. The fairies got to know about his disloyalty and turned the milkman into stone when he was on his way back from the village.
In the present day, the rock on top of the mountain is believed to be the milkman who broke the fairies’ promise and failed to keep the secret.
Pieter Both Mountain is widely popular among the tourists for providing one of the most exciting hiking trails in Mauritius. You get a chance to savour the slender peak, panoramic views of the island and lush green surroundings as far as your eyes can see. Enjoying a picnic amidst this diverse wildlife setting is something you wouldn’t want to miss.
The summit of Pieter Both can be divided into two stages – the first known as the ‘shoulder’ and for those who are willing to take a step further, continue ascending to the top boulder of the mountain; that is the second stage. With the growing popularity of hiking enthusiasts, iron rungs were installed on the rocks several years ago. However, the iron rungs have deteriorated in their build and integrity over the years, and it’s not recommended to undertake the final ascend to the top without the use of ropes and proper rock climbing experience.
The starting point to climb the Pieter Both is in a small village called La Laura, which is located near St. Pierre. Take the Pieter Both road from the village and drive towards the mountain from the junction. The condition of the road starts to degrade eventually, and it’s better if you find a convenient spot to park your car.
You’ll need to follow the wide grassy road that is quite curvy. The area is covered with Chinese guava trees, and that's where you will find a track leading into the undergrowth. The path pierces its way through the guava trees emerging out to a large rock. You can either choose to climb the rock or take the sideways through the shrubs and trees. The path is pretty clean and comfortable to follow until you reach the top of the cliff. However, once you keep on continuing to enter the small valley between Pieter Both and Creve Coeur Mountains, the route transformers into an overgrown path and the ground isn’t very clear either. So be extra careful while taking your steps.
Up next, you'll come across the first hurdle of the hike in the form of a wet v-gully. You can head straight up if you are confident enough and if not, always use the conveniently placed rocks to support your steps as you make your way up. The track continues further ahead along a grassy slope, and this is where you should start becoming extra cautious. You’ll find another wet v-gully that needs special care to climb, as there is no support to hold. Also, keep in mind that the GPS will end a few metres ahead of that point. The path leads to a narrow edge on the mountain, and this is the point that is known as the ‘shoulder’.
You can hike up to this point on your own, but we strongly recommend taking a guide along with you who will ensure your safety and lead you through the well-treaded paths. Besides, it is challenging to remember the way while returning to the ground. For those who wish to ascend to the top-most point will need a guide as well because it is quite risky to depend on the iron rungs and manoeuvre the climbing ropes. Only go ahead if you have prior experience of rock and mountain climbing.
Pieter Both Mountain is one of the most discerning features of this paradise island. The view from the top of the summit is unforgettable as is the entire journey to reach it. Even if you are not up for an adventure, visit the village of La Laura and witness this massive spectacle of nature – the mountain with a human head, Pieter Both.
You need to reach the village of La Laura to get the best view of the Pieter Both Mountain or if you are interested in hiking the mountain. From Port Louis, take the M2 motorway heading towards Terre Rouge. Drive on the Terre Rouge-Verdun-Trianon Link Road and continue up to Royal Road. Drive further ahead you will reach La Laura village. Take the Pieter Both road from the village to reach the mountain.