Grab a coffee on the go before heading to the Wild South to explore one of the island’s most beautiful natural parks, Heritage Nature Reserve. Enjoy a grand arrival through Bel Ombre’s famous palm-lined avenue and the generally nice weather. Our guide for the day will be Zino. This nature lover from the nearby village of Baie du Cap knows the region inside out. Heritage Nature Reserve gives you access to the forest around Frédérica, the historic site of L’Abbatis des Cipayes and part of the Black River Gorges National Park, which is working to secure UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere label. Let the tour begin!
Heading to Frédérica
Our tour kicks off at Frédérica with a hike that is “a favourite among visitors,” says Zino. This corner of paradise is definitely appealing with its forests, tallgrass prairies, secret tracks, streams and waterfalls. For the record, the Frédérica sugar estate was founded in 1823. The reserve’s challenging topography and relatively isolated location led to the closing of the factory in 1874. In the 20th century, cane cultivation finally gave way to breeding and the cultivation of exotic species.
A number of introduced species can still be found around Frédérica, such as bamboos, Florida pines, eucalyptus, monkeys, deer and wild boars. After just a few minutes, we actually witness a beautiful synergy between native and alien species: an ebony tree with its black bark covered with white patches of lichen provides unexpected shelter for hundreds of bats. While the branches of this exotic tree can bear the weight of these small animals, they are too fragile for monkeys. The bats can therefore sleep peacefully, out of the reach of their predators!
We explore the reserve in an off-road vehicle called “Bostok” but you can also do the tour on a quad bike, in a buggy, or even on foot. There are breathtaking views in the upper parts of the reserve, between the lush green mountains and turquoise lagoon. A perfect place for meditation, lulled by the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves in the background.
The historic site of L’Abbatis des Cipayes
L’Abbatis des Cipayes refers to the camp set up in the 19th century by Indian sepoys following the capture of the island by the British. Located on the banks of Jacotet River, this area is covered with luxurious vegetation, small paths and palm plantations. A great stop for an al freso lunch and a history lesson!
A picnic right in the heart of nature
Two very nice picnic areas have been set up by the international design agency Nomadic Resorts along Jacotet River. Guests can take a seat in the pod or on the comfy cushions on the ground to relax around a campfire and listen to the water’s musical gurgling. A tasty Mauritian menu is served and the guide teaches or helps us rediscover some traditional games. There’s nothing better than this three-hour experience to reconnect with nature, take a swim in the clear waters of the waterfall or spend an unforgettable time with family and friends.
UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme
UNESCO identified the Black River Gorges National Park as a potential biosphere reserve in 1977. A public-private partnership including the National Parks Conservation Services, the Ministry of Agro-Industry, the Rogers Group and the Village Council has been working hard in recent years on a project to obtain recognition for the park under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme.
Through joint conservation efforts, the National Park has become home to more than 150 different species, including various endemic birds like the echo parakeet, the kestrel, the pink pigeon or the Mauritius paradise flycatcher. It is an intermediate forest consisting mainly of canopy species like ‘bois de natte’ (Labourdonnaisia calophylloides), ebony and colophane trees.
The tours provided by Heritage Nature Reserve help raise public awareness of the island’s environmental issues. After all, the best way to raise concern about conservation issues is to experience this majestic, yet vulnerable primary forest.
Rehabilitation of Jacotet River
Surrounded by a rich variety of plant life, chirping birds and the gentle rush of water flowing from the upper mountains, Jacotet river is a wonderful spot for ordinary nature and wildlife experience lovers. It is also the home to several hundreds of tropical, aquatic and terrestrial species.
In addition, this river has a historical background with roots dating back to the French colonization of Mauritius. The story goes that the governors of the time installed a military post to prevent English troops from landing. The Rogers Group’s ambition is to rehabilitate the banks of the river with the support of the relevant authorities, to address soil erosion and prevent the growth of invasive plants.