Another wind-free day in the South of Mauritius and we take advantage of the sunny weather to see a few of the popular sights in the area. We visit Chamarel (home of the Seven Coloured Earth), take a relaxed drive through the Black River Gorge Park and visit the Grand Bassin temple complex. We even had a bit of time in the afternoon for a quick kite session!
Visiting Terres de 7 Couleurs and Chamarel Falls
After entering the iconic Terres de 7 Couleur's (Seven Coloured Earth) geopark our first stop was Chamarel Falls. The magnificent Chamarel falls are without a doubt the most famous and recognized waterfalls in Mauritius and plunge more than 95m in a single drop!
Although the Geo Park coloured sand area is an extremely popular stop for tour groups we found it virtually empty and had the place almost to ourselves! The strips of multi-coloured sand that spontaneously settle in different layers are a geological oddity and the site really is an amazing creation of nature. The seven colours are (roughly speaking): red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow.
The different shades of colour are believed to be a consequence of molten volcanic rock cooling down at different external temperatures. The sands then formed from the decomposition of the volcanic rock gullies into the clay. The two main elements of the resulting soil, iron and aluminium, are responsible for red and blue colours respectively.
The parking area near the viewpoint of the Black River Gorge National Park was VERY busy and a world removed from the calmness we experienced just minutes earlier. The chaos near the viewpoint was rather amusing with tourists jostling for a selfie with the monkeys.
The Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin, Mauritius
The sacred lake of Grand Bassin (also called Ganga Talao) represents the mighty Ganges river of India and you'll find it tucked away in the mountains surrounded by colourful Hindu temples and gods. The story goes that during the latter part of the 19th century a Hindu priest had a dream wherein he saw a holy lake which was connected to the sacred river Ganges in India. He kept searching for the lake of and eventually discovered Grand Bassin, which he recognized from his dream. News spread and soon after pilgrims started walking to Grand Bassin from all over the island.
When you visit the lake you will find devotees praying to Hindu deities with an offering of fruits or vegetables. Every year at the end of February or beginning of March up to 400 000 devotees visit the holy lake to commemorate the Great Night of Lord Shiva or the Maha Shivaratri.