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Mauritius > Pictures and travelogues > Black River Gorges and Grand Bassin

Pictures from the Black River Gorges and Grand Bassin in the Southwest of Mauritius:
the trail to Petrin, the Macchabee viewpoint and the national park, the Hindu temples at Grand Bassin.

Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park, Southwest of Mauritius.                       In the photo: the Macchabee trail before climbing to the viewpoint.

Together with the Chamarel colored earths and Morne Brabant, Black River Gorges National Park is the main attraction of the Southwest of Mauritius. It is also the most unrecognized. It is the only National Park in Mauritius.

Black River Gorges National Park offers the main trekking trails of the island. Visiting the park gives you the opportunity to watch its unique fauna
(including 9 endemic bird species) and fauna (over 300 species). The park provide also panoramic views on the Piton de la Riviere Noire (828 m above sea level) - the highest mountain of the island - and on the coast. Birds that were once threatened with extinction, such as the kestrel, the pink pigeon, and the Mauritius parakeet, breed again normally. Watching white-tailed tropicbird (paille-en-queue) is always a pleasure.

The park is managed by the Mauritian Ministry of Agriculture. It covers an area of ​​6754 ha, or 3.5% of the total territory of the country. The Park has different microclimates depending on the location and altitude.

The two main entrances of the park, each with an information center, are located at Black River (not far from the coast) and Petrin (in the hinterland, on the road from Curepipe to Chemin Grenier). Chamarel and Les Mares offer two secondary access points.

The trekking routes in the gorge are varied and include the path to the mare aux joncs (12 km return), the parakeet trail (8 km), the loop trail to Macchabee forest (14 km return), the Trochettia trail (6 km), the paille-en-queue trail (3 km) and the track to Black River Peak (9 km). All of them are moderate trails.

The most popular trail is probably the 10 km long Macchabee trail, crossing right through the park, from Black River to Petrin (a climbing trek of over 3 hours) or the reverse (a descent of about 2h30).

Right at the midpoint of this trail, there are the Macchabee viewpoint and shelter. Macchabee is the highest point of the park.

The section of the trail that goes from Black River to the Macchabee viewpoint is first flat, then climbs continuously (500 m difference in height over 3.5 km) with a short strenuous passage. The section from the Macchabee viewpoint to Petrin is large and easy.

Black River Gorges, Macchabee viewpoint
Macchabee viewpoint and shelter, the highest point of the Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius.

Although the treks to the Black River Gorges are an attractive alternative to seaside activities, only a few foreign tourists visit the Black River Gorges National Park. The tourists you may meet within the park are often those who walk from Petrin (parking available) to the Maccabee viewpoint. On weekends, more Mauritians visit the park.

On the other hand, many tourists are found at different viewpoints overlooking the gorge in the region. In particular, the viewpoint located at the place called Gorges Viewpoint, just near the road to Chamarel offers stunning panoramic views on the gorge. Together with the Chamarel colored earths, the Alexandra waterfall or the Grand Bassin temples, the Gorges Viewpoint is part of most excursions to the Southwest of Mauritius.

Black River Gorges, Mauritius
Black River Gorges National Park in the hilly south-western part of Mauritius.

Outside the Black River Gorge, the other trekking trails in Mauritius are mainly located in the central highlands with the peaks Pieter Both (820 m) and Le Pouce (812 m).

Grand Bassin, Mauritius
Statue of Shiva on the banks of the sacred lake at Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao), Mauritius

Grand Bassin, also named Ganga Talao by the Hindus (52% of the total population of Mauritius), is a holy place for Hindus. Each year, more than 300,000 pilgrims trek to Grand Bassin from all parts of the country for the festival of Maha Shivaratri (meaning the night of Lord Shiva). The festival is held annually in February-March (depending on calendar) and lasts five days. Throughout the year, Hindus bring their offerings - fruit and flowers - to Grand Bassin.

Grand Bassin consists of the sacred lake - a crater lake, water of which is believed to have been brought originally by Shiva from the Ganges -, several Hindu temples and many adjacent parking spaces. When you go up a staircase to the small temple dedicated to Hanuman on the Grand Bassin Peak, you get a panoramic view of the site.

Mangal Mahadev, a  giant statue of Shiva with his trident, stands a bit further to the lake and overlooks the whole religious site. It is the tallest statue of the island, This is a faithful copy of that of the Sursagar Lake in Gujarat (India). It was erected in 2007. It is intended to be supplemented with other statues.

The surroundings are home to many monkeys that approach the temples.


See also

Mauritius > Pictures and travelogues > Morne Brabant pictures

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Travel guide to Mauritius with many nice pictures.