Walking the Beaches – Why is the south coast a pressure zone?

Two down, four to go.  One night, Jeremy and I looked at the map of Mauritius spread on the floor of the porch and looked at the south coast.  For some reason the government had identified this area as a pressure zone.  Even from the map we could see that was hardly an apt description.  The lagoon here, where present, is very narrow, shallow and rocky; hardly suitable for resort type water activities and in many places even lacking a sandy beach.  The pressure on the government to expand the tourism product had encouraged some big name resorts to set up shop on the western part of the southern coast, mainly on old sugar plantations.  These resorts were different beasts from elsewhere, more spa like with all facilities artificially built inside the compound.  No swimming in the sea or sailing here but there were large pools or water parks nestled in amongst the buildings.  These resorts, though, were not our area to concentrate on.  We were to look from the most southerly point of the whole island, a popular cliff top park called Gris Gris, eastwards along a 30 kilometre stretch of coast almost to the end of the airport runway in the south east corner of Mauritius.  As well as it being a lot longer than our previous stretches of walk, it was logistically more challenging to complete.  All our other sites would have either a coastal road running alongside or frequent vehicular access to the waterfront.  Here there were only a couple of known public access routes and if we had to curtail our journey at any point, we would have to walk a significant distance uphill along straight canefield tracks to reach a public road.  We had started using a couple of project vehicles and left one at either end; here we decided we would drive ourselves to the start, but rely on our project team leader to come and find us when we had decided we had had enough – in case the terrain was too difficult to reach our car by nightfall.

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What lies beyond the horizon as we think of walking the south coast

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