Mauritius

Mark Twain once said that heaven was fashioned after the island of Mauritius and if he had done a little more exploring he’d have found that there is so much more to Mauritius than just its fabled white beaches, cerulean waters, and luxury hideaways. Mauritius has numerous hiking trails that take hikers up through forested mountains while the ocean provides unbelievable diving excursions. Tours of the country’s famous botanical gardens and colonial houses are also available, and with so many options, guests can enjoy the kind of holiday that perfectly suits their expectations.

The gorgeous beaches of Mauritius are without a doubt the biggest attraction. The soft sands, palm trees and warm waves are everything a tropical island should be.

The island has several popular beaches as well as a few hidden attractions for those who are looking for a more reclusive stay.

The Dutch called Grand Baie “the bend without an end” because the bay seemed to simply go on forever. Today, however, the name is quite fitting for another reason, as the developments that have taken over the bay also seem to have no end.

Grand Bay has several interesting attractions including bars and restaurants serving local cuisine, places to do a little shopping, as well as a few historical sites.

The Flacq Market is one of the country’s largest open air markets and it is the perfect place to indulge in Mauritian street treats, pick up souvenirs and mingle with the locals.

The market is one of the best places to buy vanilla pods, all sorts of curry spices and Bois Cheri Tea.

For those who want to spend some time outdoors, the utterly otherworldly Chameral is one of the best places on the island to see a landscape that is completely unlike the island’s landscape.

Also known as the 7 Coloured Earth, Charamel is over 600 million years old and is lauded as Mauritius’ most iconic attractions.

The main attraction is the multi-coloured dunes. The yellow, violet, green, purple, blue and red sandy landscape is a geological oddity and well worth the visit.

A religious experience awaits those who journey to the Grand Bassin.

This attraction is a sacred crater lake which represents the Ganges River of India and has become an important Hindu pilgrimage site.

The country’s most beautiful Hindu temple has been built here.

How To Get There

International visitors can fly into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (SSR) International Airport, which is the island’s only mainland airport.

There is also the option of travelling by boat on one of the long-haul ferry services which operate between Reunion and Mauritius once a week.

Best Time of the Year to Visit

The high season runs from December to February. During this time of the year, the humidity is extremely high as are the temperatures. The island is in a hurricane zone, so guests should be cautioned about travelling between January and February.

December is the best time for both diving and snorkelling. The winter months are between May and September, and because the temperatures remain tropical, these months are great for hiking and sunbathing, but not great for diving and snorkelling.

The Seychelles

The Seychelles are described by writers as Mother Nature’s most astounding work of art. When flying over these islands, and seeing the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lapping on the sun bleached sands that encircle each island, it is quite difficult to believe that such a gorgeous place exists. But it does, and guests from all over the world have the opportunity to treat themselves to a luxurious break. The Seychelles are an idyllic getaway and guests can choose how they’d like to experience the islands. Whether it is lazy days spent soaking up the relaxed vibe on the beaches, beneath the palm trees, or exploring the marine life and coral reefs below the waves.

The powdery white beaches of the Seychelles are endless. It is safe to say that all who go to the Seychelles will spend the vast majority of their time on one of the many beaches. Some of the beaches are certainly more beautiful than others with a few offering activities.

Some seaside activities include snorkelling and diving, popular past times which allows guests to see the tropical fish and colourful corals below the waves.

Consisting of 6 islands in total, and a fantastic place to go snorkelling, diving and experience the thrill of a glass-bottom boat excursion. 

Day trips are permitted to the Moyenne Island and Cerf Island, enabling guests to see more of the Seychelles during their stay.

Declared a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vallee de Mai National Park is a prehistoric forest and one of only two places on earth where the Coco der Mer fruit palm grows naturally.

This national park is a birding paradise and guests may be lucky to spot the blue pigeon, the endangered black parrot, the Seychelles bulbul and the Seychelles warbler.

Guests to the park can enjoy the hiking trails, of which there are three, walking through primaeval forests which were, until the 1930s, left untouched.

With the most popular modes of transport being bicycles and oxcarts, it is quite difficult to be in a rush when visiting La Digue Island.

The island has granite boulders dotted along its beaches, which are considered amongst the best.

How To Get There

The Seychelles International Airport in Mahe welcomes international flights daily and most guests will arrive via this airport.

Most travel between the islands is done via helicopters or small planes, while there is also the option of using boats.

Best Time of the Year to Visit

Being such a popular destination, the Seychelles are incredibly busy in December and January, and again from May to September when the weather is ideal for travelling.

The winter months run from October to April and it is during this time that the islands get their annual rainfall, although the temperatures never really drop below 24 degrees Celsius.

Madagascar

For those who love to spend their time outdoors, Madagascar is just the place. Spotting lemurs in their natural habitat, hiking through gorges, spending some time exploring deserts, and simply sitting on the beach, watching the world go by, Madagascar is the dream destination. The island is a wild world, home to 5% of all known plant and animal life on the planet. A place made for the intrepid traveller looking for an adventure, the island has numerous national parks set aside for conservation, and the most astonishing biodiversity. Great swathes of dense natural rainforest cut off some places from the rest of the country, making a holiday here feel like a real escape from it all.

While most of the pictures of Madagascar paint a country of tropical palm trees and indigenous forests, what makes the island so special is that it boasts 3 different ecosystems.

And nowhere is that diversity more evident than in the savannah grasslands and deep gorges of the Parc National Isalo. The rock filled landscapes seem more fitting country that sees little rain and the park has been dubbed a rocky museum.

A trip here is a must for anyone interested in geology, especially as it also happens to be Madagascar’s most visited park.

Sand, surf and seafood. The most popular beach in all of Madagascar is Nosy Be and it offers everything one could expect from a tropical beach.

Nosy Be has something to keep everyone entertained, from sunbathing and gorgeous swimming spots to water activities which include diving, fishing and sailing.

When guests have had their fill of the ocean, the Parc National Lokobe is just a short journey inland. Home to vanilla and ylang-ylang plantations, ancient craters and beautiful waterfalls, this National Park is the ideal place for a hike.

Day tours, shopping, historical sightseeing and local food, the capital city which is affectionately known as Tana by the locals, is alive with the hum of business, culture and tradition.

The city has numerous stunning colonial buildings as well as wildlife activities and the climate here is a lot cooler than in other parts of the country, making it the ideal place to spend a day or two.

It is the main port of entry for travellers, but because it is so busy, most head directly into the country when they arrive, missing out on a myriad of opportunities to explore. 

Guests who make some time for the city can stock up on a few keepsakes while chatting to locals and tucking into decadent food.

How To Get There

International guests can fly into the country’s capital city, Antananarivo, and from there make their way around the island.

As many resorts and attractions are quite far-flung, and because dense forest cuts off many places, travelling by light aircraft as opposed to driving is the more convenient option.

Best Time of the Year to Visit

Madagascar has near perfect weather all year round, making it ideal for holiday here at any time of the year quite enjoyable.

That being said, guests might want to avoid visiting during the rainy season, which runs from November to March, as the country is known to flood and seeing as the island is in hurricane territory, it does take the occasional hit from passing storms.

The best months to visit are from April to December.

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