Mauritius Travel Guide

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Mauritius Information

Population: 1.2 million

Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 4

Driving side: Driving is on the left hand side of the road

Languages: English, French, Hindi, Urdu, Bhojpuri

Religion: Hindu (51%)
Christian (30%)
Muslim (17%)

Emergency #: Police (ambulance) 999
Police: 208-7018/20
Fire: 995
Samu: 114

Mauritius Local Customs

Please note that nudism and topless sunbathing is frowned on, on the public beaches. None of the hotels will permit nude sunbathing and topless sunbathing is sometimes tolerated.

Mauritius Culture

The population of Mauritius consists of a blend of diverse cultures and religions; namely Hindus, Creole, Muslims, Chinese and Europeans.

Mauritius Popular Destinations

Port Louis This is the capital of Mauritius and is backed by mountains at the north-western end of the island. For the relatively small amount of the country's population in the city, it is still a bustling, noisy city during the day. At night it is very quiet except for the Le Caudan Waterfront, where there are cinemas, shops, restaurants and a casino. The city centre can be easily traversed by foot. The best place to get a feel for city life is the Port Louis Market, where visitors can buy just about anything from fruit and vegetables to souvenirs and crafts. There are some very good museums in the city. The Muammar El Khadafi Square is distinctly Muslim the opposite can be said of John F Kennedy St at the other end of the city. Around Royal St is a Chinatown where you will find the Islamic Jummah Mosque which was built in the 1850's.

Moka This is the islands centre of academia and is only 12km (7mi) from Port Louis. These two towns are definitely not alike by any manner. Moka has landscapes of trees and forests and towering mountains and some very impressive manor houses. The University of Mauritius and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute can be found here and between them they share the islands' scholars. The Institute was founded to preserve and promote the Mauritian Indian culture.

Le Reduit - The former governor's mansion (the Refuge) which was built in 1874 is about a mile outside Moka and is well worth a visit. Unfortunately the building itself is only open two days a year to the public in March and October as it is now used by the military, there are however, guard-escorted walks through the gardens.

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens These gardens have got to be the highlight of a visit to Mauritius. This is home to the giant water lily 'Victoria regia' which has a bloom that opens white on one day and closes red on the following day. There are not many flowers in the gardens, but there are trees such as the chewing gum tree, the golden bamboo, fish poison trees and a 200-year-old Buddha tree. There is camphor, sandalwood, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg which make for a very fragrant garden.

Moving Around Mauritius

Buses travel between the cities daily and are generally good although a bit slow, there are taxis as well. If you feel brave enough you can rent a car, but beware as there many pedestrians and speed limits are often ignored. Boats and bicycles can also be hired.

National festival and holidays

Divali The Festival of Lights is a celebration of joy, happiness and for many a time of sharing. It is held in either October or November and small clay lamps will be lit at sunset and placed along walls, balconies and yards. The glow from the lamps can be seen everywhere and it is believed that this light will guide the Goddess of wealth and good fortune.

Holi This Festival is one of joy and is a colourful as the many legends from which it originates. However, should you be in the vicinity when the festival is in progress expect a soaking as the Hindu men and women throw coloured water and powder over each other to wish them good luck.

Spring Festival This is the Chinese New year festival and is celebrated on different dates each year, due to the difference in the lunar and solar calendars. Red is the main colour used on the actual day as it means happiness. No knives or scissors are used on this day and food offerings are made so that the following year will be one of plenty. To drive away evil spirits firecrackers are set off.

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