Many hotels provide windsurfing and kayaking equipment for their guests, and for those who prefer less strenuous communing, there's usually a glass-bottom boat to be found. For Jules Verne fans, lead-booted, bubble-headed 'undersea walks' can be arranged near Grand Baie reef, as can a ride on La Nessee, a semi-submersible boat - sort of like a submarine - that allows a close-up tour of the reefs without the nuisance of getting wet.
Surfing was big on the island in the 1970s, until the rising costs of airfare and accommodation drove surfers to seek bluer pastures. Now, with vacation costs back to bearable, the crowds are picking up again. The area around Tamarin is said to be the best spot to drop in, and the season lasts from around June to August. Diving around the island is not especially interesting, save for off the outer isle of Cargados Carajos, but there are no dive operators there. On Mauritius, the best dive sites are around Flic en Flac on the west coast. Snorkelling is a better proposition, with over-the-side boat trips running from most major hotels and from Grand Baie beach. The best swimming beaches are all at the northern end of the island.
Serious anglers will love the superb deep-sea fishing in the waters off Mauritius, where there are healthy populations of blue and black marlin, bonita and yellowfin tuna, several species of shark and spectacular sailfish to hook into. Overall, October through April is the best time to sink a line, though there are fish to be caught year round and the wahoo don't start biting until September.
Though Mauritius is promoted primarily as a 'beach' destination, the attractions of hiking and trekking through the interior are legion. For lowland walking, take into account the heat and humidity. For highland treks, come prepared for rain at any time of year, especially from October to March. The Réserve Forrestière Macchabée and Black River Gorges National Park provide the bulk of the wild walks on the island, though there are some fantastic short-but-strenuous hikes in the hills around Moka Town. Curepipe, atop the plateau, is the best place for trekkers to stock up before a trip. Caving aficionados will want to visit Caverne Patate on Rodrigue.
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Area: 2040 sq km
(788 sq miles).
Population: 1,159,729 (1998).
Population Density: 589.0 per sq km.
Capital: Port Louis. Population: 147,131 (1998).
Geography: Mauritius, a volcanic and mountainous
island in the Indian Ocean, lies 2000km (1240 miles) off the southeastern
coast of Africa, due east of Madagascar. The island-state stands
on what was once a land bridge between Asia and Africa called the
Mascarene Archipelago. From the coast, the land rises to form a
broad fertile plain on which sugar cane flourishes. Some 500km (310
miles) east is Rodrigues Island, while northeast are the Cargados
Carajos Shoals and 900km (560 miles) to the north is Agalega.
Government: Republic. Gained independence from
the UK in 1968. Head of State: President Cassam Uteem since 1992.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Aneerood Jugnauth since 2000.
Language: English is the official language. The
most widely spoken languages are French, Creole, Hindi and Bhojpuri.
Urdu and Chinese are also among the languages spoken.
Religion: 51 per cent Hindu, 31 per cent Christian,
17 per cent Muslim.
Time: GMT + 4.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. UK-type 3-pin
plugs are commonly used in hotels.
Telephone: IDD is available. Country code: 230.
There are no area codes. Outgoing international code: 00. There
are a limited number of public telephone booths, mainly at the airport
and in major hotels.
GSM 900 networks, with coverage extending over the whole island. Network
operators include Cellplus Mobile Comms (website: www.gocellplus.com).
Handsets and SIM cards can be hired from Mauritius Telecoms or Emtel.
Fax: Most hotels have facilities, as well as Mauritius
Telecom offices in Port Louis and Cassis.
Internet/E-mail: There are a number of ISPs in Mauritius;
they include Telecom Plus, Mauritius Network (MNS), MauriNet and Mauritius
Telecom (http://mt.intnet.mu). There
are cyber cafés in Phoenix, Vaoas and other main towns. Most hotels offer
Telegram: Messages can be sent from the Mauritius Telecommunications
Service offices in Cassis and Port Louis. There are also facilities at
Overseas Telecoms Services Ltd, Rogers House, John Kennedy Street, Port
Postal: Post office hours: Generally Mon-Fri 0815-1115
and 1200-1600; Sat 0800-1145.
Press: Of the nine daily newspapers, two are published
in Chinese and the remainder in French and English. L'Express and Le Mauricien
have the highest circulation.
AIR: The national airline
of Mauritius is Air Mauritius (MK). Air Austral, Air Europe, Air France,
Air Madagascar, Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Air Zimbabwe, British Airways,
Condor, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Swissair also fly
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Mauritius (MRU) (Sir Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam) is 48km (30 miles) southeast of Port Louis. Taxis are available
to the city (travel time - 45 minutes to 2 hours). Airport facilities
include duty-free shops, banks/bureaux de change, snack bar, post office,
shops and car hire (Avis, Europcar and Hertz). A new terminal has recently
DEPARTURE TAX: MRs500. Passengers transiting within 48 hours
and children under two years of age are exempt.
SEA: Port Louis is the main port. It is primarily commercial
but there is a limited passenger service to Réunion and Rodrigues Island.
||Return Ticket Required
valid for at least 6 months from date of entry required by all. Passports
issued by the government of Taiwan are not recognised. The holders of
such documents can apply for an entry permit to the Passport and Immigration
Officer (address below).
Note: All visitors must hold valid tickets and documents for their onward
or return journey and adequate funds for their intended length of stay.
VISAS: Required by all except the following:
(a) nationals of countries referred to in the chart above for stays up
to 3 months;
(b) nationals of Commonwealth countries for stays of up to 3 months (except
nationals of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Fiji, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri
Lanka and Swaziland who do require a visa);
(c) nationals of Bahrain, Israel, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Norway, Oman,
Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United
Arab Emirates, and Vatican City for stays of up to 1 month, renewable
for up to 3 months;
(d) transit passengers continuing their journey to a third country within
72 hours provided holding valid onward or return documentation and not
leaving the airport.
Validity: Tourist visas: up to 6 months in any one year. Business visas:
up to 3 months. Social visas: 2 months. Applications for extensions should
be made to the relevant authority (see below).
Note: (a) Nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay can obtain
a visa on arrival for stays of up to 3 months. (b) Nationals of Mozambique
can obtain a visa on arrival for stays of up to 1 month. (c) Nationals
of Albania, Bulgaria, CIS, Comoros, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Madagascar, Poland and Romania can obtain a visa on
arrival for stays of up to 15 days. (d) Nationals of Algeria, Iraq, Iran,
Libya and Sudan need special clearance.
Notice: Please Note that these regulations are changed
on a regular basis by the different governments, Southtravels.com
can not be liable for any information that could have been changed since
we checked it. It is the responsibility of each passenger to check the
different conditions of entry to the desired country.
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