The Other Mauritius – A sea on an island

When I was working I would generally approach the south west from the coast road through Tamarin.  But if I were looking to hike, I would generally head this way through the towns of Plaines Wilhelms.  I would drive through Vacoas town centre, but keep going up the hill and eventually ended up at the little village of La Marie.  Beyond here first the settlements disappeared, then the cane fields, and I was driving through a scrubby terrain.  This was one of the hunting grounds of this area; a whole belt of land from west to east, apart from a few tea estates, that were extensive deer parks.

As the road continues to gently climb, a large lake comes into view, indeed the largest lake in the whole of Mauritius.  Mare Aux Vacoas may only be 2km across but for a small island that is a sea, as the French suggests.  I loved being up here and would park up for a snack or just to absorb in the view from one of the car parks above the main road.  The view was not particularly extensive or beautiful.  Below my car were pine trees, they gave way to a rocky shoreline on which little foamy waves would break.  The lake extended out to the other shore where more pine trees could be seen.  But it was not beauty or the wow factor I was seeking on these trips.  All I was after was something different.  This was not the filau tree dominated coastline.  This was not the busy bustling town and cityscape full of Mauritians of Indian, Creole, Chinese or Franco backgrounds.  It was not the vast fields of sugar cane or tea.  And that is what makes it so special.  I felt most Mauritians did not appreciate many of the landscapes of this south west corner of the island, and for that I was truly grateful.  It was one of the few parts of the island where you were not in serious traffic or jostling elbows in a crowd.

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