Mauritius Vacation Guide

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

The island's maritime zone boasts more than 1,000 species of marine life- fishes, shells and mollusks, in numbers beyond count. The spectacular way to explorerepparttar spectacular underwater world is onboard a submarine. The sub also allows you to see some ship wrecks dating back torepparttar 146508 Dutch period.

You can swim at various places at beaches, lagoons and inlets. Swimming beaches are best torepparttar 146509 north, though there are other good sites torepparttar 146510 southwest and torepparttar 146511 west near Flic en Flac. The west coast offers good sites for surfing at Tamarin, and diving at Flic en Flac. At Grand Bay beach, you get good shopping, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants andrepparttar 146512 chance to interact with locals. In addition,repparttar 146513 swimming, surfing, sailing and angling is good. From here, you can also make a boat excursion ofrepparttar 146514 islands torepparttar 146515 north.

Inrepparttar 146516 islands' interior, there are good opportunities for hiking and trekking. Black River Gorges National Park has excellent walks, and atrepparttar 146517 same time you can see some endemic plants and birds. The Réserve Forrestière Macchabée and Rivière Noire National Park are also good for hiking. In addition, captive breeding to raiserepparttar 146518 numbers of Mauritius endangered endemic birds is underway here. For trekkers, you will do well atrepparttar 146519 plateau at Curepipe and atrepparttar 146520 island of Rodrigues.

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses are very popular with visitors. The gardens date back to 1735, duringrepparttar 146521 French period. Here you will see a large collection of exotic and indigenous plants in excellent surroundings. Amongrepparttar 146522 most peculiar specimens arerepparttar 146523 giant Victoria regia water lilies, whose origins are inrepparttar 146524 Amazon, andrepparttar 146525 talipot palm- known to bloom once every 60 years before dying. Atrepparttar 146526 Casela Bird Park, you can see some of its 140 bird species, includingrepparttar 146527 rare Mauritian pink pigeon. Some of these excursions are included inrepparttar 146528 Mauritius tour packages offered byrepparttar 146529 various vendors.

Mauritius offers some excellent golf courses, and visitors are increasingly aware of it. There are at least three hotels with 18-hole courses and another five with 9-hole courses. The Ile aux Cerfs course, which sits on its own tiny island isrepparttar 146530 most spectacular. For honeymooners,repparttar 146531 island is very welcoming. Almost all hotels offer a special honeymoon package. As a non-resident, you can easily tierepparttar 146532 knot here. But a few formalities must be completed with officialdom; make sure you comply before arrival.

Mauritius is atrepparttar 146533 cultural cross roads of Europe, Africa and Asia. The Dutch, French, Africans, Indians, Chinese and British came under one guise or another and have today influencedrepparttar 146534 character and cultural life ofrepparttar 146535 island. Thoughrepparttar 146536 island is closest to Africa geographically, culturally it is much closer to Asia.

The biggest racial groups are Indo-Mauritians who constitute about two thirds ofrepparttar 146537 nations 1.2 million peoples, followed by Creoles - Afro- Mauritians who are just over a quarter ofrepparttar 146538 population. Franco- Mauritians and peoples of Chinese origin combined make up about 5% ofrepparttar 146539 population. While English isrepparttar 146540 official language, French, Creole, Bhojpuri and Urdu are widely spoken. Religion isrepparttar 146541 other factor definingrepparttar 146542 people ofrepparttar 146543 island, with Hinduism (51%), Christianity (30%) and Islam (17%) leading.

The cuisine ofrepparttar 146544 island reflectsrepparttar 146545 diversity of its people. French, Creole, Chinese and Indian foods - with local variations are all found here. Wherever you stay, you will most likely be able to watch or even dancerepparttar 146546 Sega. This energetic and erotic Creole dance has origins inrepparttar 146547 sugar fields, inrepparttar 146548 days when African labour was captive. You may also be fortunate to encounter any ofrepparttar 146549 various festivals celebrated in this multicultural country. Onlyrepparttar 146550 most widely traveled however, will be prepared forrepparttar 146551 Cavadi. On this Tamil festival, penitents pierce their bodies, tongues, and cheeks while some march on shoes of nails.

Tourism is one ofrepparttar 146552 main pillars ofrepparttar 146553 economy of Mauritius. The bulk of visitors come from South Africa, Germany, France, Australia and UK. Hotels in Mauritius are plenty, and they range from 5-star luxury to those with just basic amenities. Budget stay comes inrepparttar 146554 form of bungalows, guesthouses and self-catering apartments. The period June to September and around Christmas isrepparttar 146555 busy season and if you plan to travel then, you are advised to book your accommodation in advance. Mauritius is still relatively affordable, though there has been talk of turning it into an up market beach destination.

Mauritius is a year-round destination. The best times to visit however, arerepparttar 146556 periods April-June and September- November. These arerepparttar 146557 months when it rains least andrepparttar 146558 temperatures are moderate. January to April is hottest, and daytime temperatures can reach 35°C. Temperatures tend to be lower inland, away fromrepparttar 146559 coast. The main rains come between December and April, though there are light rains year round. November to February is when cyclones are most likely to occur. But do not be deterred; chances of meeting cyclones are not very high, and it is estimated that they hitrepparttar 146560 island about once every 15 years.

If you are keen on water sports, beware that diving is best December to March, and surfing between June and August. For big game fishing, come between October and April. You should be comfortable with light clothing suitable forrepparttar 146561 tropical climate. But you need warmer clothing for evenings andrepparttar 146562 southern winter months between July and September. Whatever time of year you travel, do carry some rainwear. Inrepparttar 146563 summer months between November and April, you are advised to bring along sunglasses, sun hats and sunscreen.

Copyright © Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

KwaZulu-Natal- Shaka's Heaven on Earth

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

To see wildlife you can travel torepparttar Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, 175 km torepparttar 146507 northeast of Durban. This combination ofrepparttar 146508 game reserves of Hluhluwe and Umfolozi occupies 960 sq km. The park is mostly savannah grasslands and low acacia bush, but has a forested mountainous section. You will seerepparttar 146509 famed "big five"- lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. The park is well known for its very successful black and white rhino conservation efforts. Other animal species to look out for include impala, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, zebra, nyala, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, cheetah, hyena, jackal and giraffe. Birding is great and over 300 species are on record.

You can see game on guided walks, but for obvious reasons, an armed ranger must accompany you. The less adventurous will have an equally satisfying game viewing experience aboard a vehicle. Accommodation inrepparttar 146510 Umfolozi reserve is available at various bush camps at Sontuli, Nselweni and Mndindini and atrepparttar 146511 self-catering cottages and tented camp at Mpila. At Hluhluwe,repparttar 146512 well-positioned Hilltop Camp offers accommodation ranging from a luxury lodge to self-catering chalets and rondavels. The dry season inrepparttar 146513 Hluhluwe-Umfolozi area falls between May and August, while most offrepparttar 146514 rains fall withinrepparttar 146515 rest ofrepparttar 146516 year.

Torepparttar 146517 northeast of KwaZulu Natal isrepparttar 146518 Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, which stretches along a 280 km coastline from Cape St Lucia to Kozi Bay nearrepparttar 146519 Mozambique border. This first rate eco-tourism paradise, is an amalgamation of a number of protected areas including - Lake St Lucia, St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, Coastal Forest Reserve andrepparttar 146520 Kosi Bay Natural Reserve. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1999,repparttar 146521 official bulletin justifying this distinction highlightedrepparttar 146522 existence of 5 ecosystems resulting in an exceptional diversity of species and actual ongoing speciation.

The park is a tropical and subtropical interface and has landforms that include coral reefs, sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lakes, swamps, and reed and papyrus wetlands. It occupies more than 3200 sq km, but supports more animal species than larger parks. Here you can find hippos, turtles, crocodiles, rhino, leopard and sharks. The birding is unsurpassed and more than 530 species are on record. The numerous activities possible include- fishing, hiking, boating, diving, game viewing and whale and bird watching. You can seek accommodation withinrepparttar 146523 park or nearby towns inrepparttar 146524 range of basic camps and luxury game lodges to hotels and self-catering chalets.

Sodwana Bay Nature Reserve, which falls withinrepparttar 146525 Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is a haven for sport fishing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving. The underwater world, andrepparttar 146526 coral reefs in particular are outstanding, andrepparttar 146527 marine life plenty. This is one ofrepparttar 146528 world's top diving destinations. You can visit year round, but conditions for diving are best April to September. Water temperatures vary from about 20 degrees C and can reach 29 degrees C in summer. Take time off from water sports for a guided to see loggerhead and leatherback turtles. There is good accommodation for most budgets nearby.

The Drakenberg Mountains on KwaZulu-Natal's western border are one of South Africa's most outstanding attractions. Rising 3282 m above sea level,repparttar 146529 spectacular 200 km long mountain ranges were named byrepparttar 146530 martial minded Zulu as uKhahlamba or "Barrier of Spears". The thoroughly photogenic "Amphitheatre" is very impressive and is popular with visitors. This is a rock wall with a height of 500m and stretching for 5 km. Many adventure activities are available here inrepparttar 146531 most scenic of surroundings, including- hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, white-water rafting, birding, and fly and trout fishing.

There are several parks and game reserves aroundrepparttar 146532 Drakensberg Mountains,repparttar 146533 most prominent of which isrepparttar 146534 2430 sq km uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 mainly for two reasons; first for its remarkable physical charm and biological diversity, and second to highlightrepparttar 146535 outstanding collection of San rock art. Scattered over 600 sites; there are more than 35,000 well-preserved artworks, with scenes depicting hunting, dancing, fighting and food gathering. The oldest paintings are estimated to date back 2400 years, with more recent ones less than 200 years old.

Scholars have in recent years studied San rock art closely andrepparttar 146536 consensus now is that this is not merely representation art but it has some spiritual content. Atrepparttar 146537 Kamberg Rock Art Centre, you can learn more aboutrepparttar 146538 San people, and how to interpretrepparttar 146539 symbolic and spiritual content of their art. Inrepparttar 146540 Drakensberg region, there is a very wide range of accommodation including - basic bed & breakfasts, guesthouses, camps, hotels, and luxury resorts. The rains come in summer between October and April, withrepparttar 146541 rest ofrepparttar 146542 year being mostly dry. Beware that winter nights can get extremely chilly and of sudden thunderstorms in summer.

Descending fromrepparttar 146543 Drakensberg, you can visitrepparttar 146544 battlefield sites, where some of South Africa's most vicious battles were fought. The protagonists were Zulu, Boer and British who engaged one another inrepparttar 146545 nineteenth and early twentieth century. The hottest battles were fought in areas around Colenso, Weenen, Dundee, Estcourt, Glencoe, Ladysmith,Newcastle, Utrecht, Volksrust, Vryheid and Winterton.

The Voortrekkers had headed north away fromrepparttar 146546 Cape Colony to escape British control. After crossingrepparttar 146547 Drakensberg, just likerepparttar 146548 Zulu people earlier, they believed they had reached "Heaven on Earth". Conflicts over land and other resources were inevitable and in several episodes between 1836-1852,repparttar 146549 two parties sought a resolution through arms. Next camerepparttar 146550 Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. The British eventually won, but they met a number of disasters as they had initially underestimatedrepparttar 146551 Zulu army. This isrepparttar 146552 war that brokerepparttar 146553 hearts of Bonaparte royalists after Prince Louis Napoleon - an observer withrepparttar 146554 British party- succumbed to multiple assegai thrusts.

The British were busy making war again, this time onrepparttar 146555 Boers between 1880-81. They lostrepparttar 146556 war, made peace but sought a rematch inrepparttar 146557 Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. This second engagement attracted worldwide attention, and it wasrepparttar 146558 first war ever recorded on film. Two ofrepparttar 146559 giants ofrepparttar 146560 twentieth century were witnesses - Churchill as a reporter, and Gandhi as a stretcher-bearer. It is advisable to tour with an accredited battlefield guide, who will retellrepparttar 146561 story ofrepparttar 146562 battles at various sites. While inrepparttar 146563 area, there are opportunities to learn about Zulu history and culture, and also to buy local arts and crafts.

Copyright © Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

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