Although Mauritius is a bit of a cliche destination (from a South African perspective), it is a world-class kite-surf destination and we were determined to make the most of our opportunity to explore it.
Air Mauritius has a convenient direct flight from Cape Town twice a week and although slightly more expensive than flying domestic to Johannesburg and then from there with SAA or Air Mauritius, it's a no-brainer to just take the direct flight. Apart from the time saving, the hassle of changing airlines when flying with so much gear makes the higher cost well worth it!
Travelling with kite gear can be rather cumbersome. Some people prefer to use a single 'golf-bag' style luggage which will fit all their boards and gear into a single bag. You are almost guaranteed to have an oversized or over-weight bag but your airline might accept your gear as 'sporting equipment' and allow it as part of your normal checked luggage allowance.
Before you begin packing, familiarise yourself with the baggage allowance included in your reservation as well as the fees that may apply to excess baggage. Baggage allowances are based on the origin and destination of the whole itinerary and if you have a code-share leg you should consider the allowance of both airlines as the other airline’s baggage policy may prevail. An industry standard at the time of writing is that checked baggage should not exceed 158 cm (Length + Width + Height) and depending on your origin/destination/ticket could be limited 20-32kg per piece. Some airlines are happy to combine individual pieces without limit to the total weight but most limit the number of pieces to 2 x checked bags per person.
In the case of Air Mauritius, they define an over-sized bag as:
Baggage items (excluding sports equipment) whose dimensions (length + width + height) exceed 158 cms up to 300 cms.
* Sports equipment other than surf equipment, golf bags, diving bottles and hunting trophies is included in the free baggage allowance provided they do not exceed 200 cms in dimensions (length + width + height) and do not weigh more than 23kg for economy class and 32kg for business class. If dimensions (length + width + height) of equipment are less than or equal to 200 cms and its weight is under 23 kgs for economy class or 32kg for business class, the equipment is considered as part of the passenger baggage and no charge applies if the surf equipment is within the passenger’s baggage entitlement.
*The above excess rates will apply if the baggage allowance on the ticket is exceeded or dimensions exceed 200 cm up to 300 cm. Note that charges for excess weight and excess piece do not cumulate.
So the key to avoiding excess or oversized bag fees (which can be a shock!), is to ensure you pack your gear to fit within the limits for sports equipment and include it as part of your normal baggage allowance. In our case, we used 2 x large wheely bags with dimensions under 158cm and kept each under 23kg. This was enough space for 4 x kites with their bags, 2 x harnesses, 4 x bars, 2 x wet-suits + booties. We even fitted a few extras like beach-towels, first aid kit, a box of spares and kite repair kit as well as 2 x masks and snorkels.
We removed the fins and straps off the boards and packed them (tightly!) into a custom box which just came in under the required 200cm. If you're interested in what was packed and how it came together have a look at the video below. Not easy but it can be done.
If you plan on going to Mauritius you might also find the following information useful:
Our arrival at SSR International was only after 10 pm but we arrange a transfer with our guesthouse before-hand and the driver was ready and waiting. The first task though was to get some local CURRENCY and we made a dash for the ATM's scattered around the airport.
In Mauritius ATM's have a daily withdrawal limit of depending on the bank:
Barclays 40 000 MUR
HSB 30 000 MUR
MPCB 15 000 MUR
MCB 10 000 MUR
As there's usually a flat fee for international ATM withdrawals in addition to the spread on the exchange rate make sure you maximize the opportunity when drawing cash. Usually, it's cheaper to swipe a Debit or Credit Card if you have the option to do so but you should familiarize yourself with the fees applicable from your bank when using your card abroad.