Tantalising GIANT Tortoises

September 4, 2015Nia

The giant tortoises that bask in the Mauritian sun were calling. I’d heard so much about the reptilian delights that I wanted to meet them myself. Spending 7 nights relaxing in the sun at Solana Beach Hotel was amazing, but the Aldabra Giant Tortoises were definitely the icing on the cake!

I visited in June which is the winter season in Mauritius. The temperature was consistently around 26 degrees (not quite hot enough for me I admit, but perfect for my partner). Despite a bit of rain, it was well worth travelling at this time of year, mainly because of the decrease in price from the summer season which spans November to April.

Turtles
Look at the tortoises!

We stayed in Belle Mare which is said to feature one of the nicest beaches on the island. Although I didn’t get to see any of the other beaches, I can certainly testify that this beach was absolutely stunning! The water was calm and shallow and full of little fish swimming around. Oh yes, and the odd fisherman after his daily catch too! I’m not going to lie, I’m not much of a beach person as I’d much prefer to be by a bar, but I spent almost every morning sitting on my balcony, admiring the beautiful view.

La Vanille Nature Park

Many tourists choose to hire a car when they visit Mauritius as the roads are extremely easy to navigate and safe to drive on. They also drive on the left hand side of the road which is an added bonus! This time however, we decided to hire a driver for the day who would take us to any attractions we wished. We had our hearts set on La Vanille Nature Park which is located on the south coast of Mauritius, just over an hour from Belle Mare.  The park hosts an array of animals, from crocodiles to monkeys, bats and, of course, the tortoises! Entry to the park was just £7 and was worth every penny.

It truly was a unique experience, the pictures speak for themselves. I knew the tortoises were big, but I never expected them to be THAT big! I was completely speechless when I walked around the corner and saw them all basking in the sun. They were extremely friendly and we were able to feed them and stroke their necks – which both ourselves and the tortoises thoroughly enjoyed!

Nia feeding the turtles.
Nia feeding a tortoise.

The number of tortoises in Mauritius has dramatically decreased in recent years, so La Vanille Nature Park works hard to repopulate the island with these amazing creatures. There was an abundance of information about the programme posted around the park so everyone was aware of the work they were doing. The staff were extremely friendly and were always willing to give us more information about the animals and projects they were running.

I’ll definitely be returning to Mauritius, but not just to revisit my new reptilian friends. There is so much that I didn’t get chance to explore. I long to see more of the nature parks, experience the excursions that are on offer and I will undoubtedly be hiring a car to explore the towns for some local cuisine and shopping. I fell in love with the island while I was there. From the beaches, to the green mountains, to the beautiful Hindu and Tamil temples, the friendly locals and the ancient tortoises, it really is one of the most breath-taking destinations I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. Seeing the tortoises in Mauritius was truly one of the most unique and memorable experiences of my life.

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