Mauritius Vacation Guide

Written by Andrew Muigai

Mauritius has successfully managed to position itself as an exotic beach destination. With beach destinations so plentiful, this has been sustained not by mere hype, but byrepparttar substance there is to this claim. Visitors are drawn to Mauritius by repparttar 146508 reputation of its 140 km of white sand beaches, andrepparttar 146509 superb opportunities for water sports. Swimming, beach combing, sailing, surfing, kayaking, diving and deep-sea fishing - there is a sport for almost everyone.

Arab traders discoveredrepparttar 146510 then uninhabited island inrepparttar 146511 10th century. But they were not charmed sufficiently to consider permanent settlement. The Portuguese early inrepparttar 146512 sixteenth century landed, but they too passed overrepparttar 146513 chance to lay claim for their king. But in 1598repparttar 146514 Dutch finally seizedrepparttar 146515 opportunity. The island was grabbed for and named after Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau -then ruler ofrepparttar 146516 Netherlands.

Inrepparttar 146517 century that followed,repparttar 146518 Dutch established settlements and devised means to live offrepparttar 146519 land. They introduced sugar and tobacco, which they farmed using African slave labour. Sugar is today still an important part ofrepparttar 146520 economy. The Dutch were insensitive torepparttar 146521 extremely fragile ecosystem that makes up an isolated island such as Mauritius. On their watch, most ofrepparttar 146522 islands' indigenous forests were felled, and lost. The bird known as dodo was also shot to extinction. Thus didrepparttar 146523 trigger-happy Dutch give life torepparttar 146524 expression "as dead as a dodo".

The Dutch courage that had made them pioneers was however not to last. They were subjected to many trials byrepparttar 146525 forces of nature - cyclones, droughts and floods. And also byrepparttar 146526 forces of man, for pirates were a constant headache. In 1710, they fled torepparttar 146527 more hospitable Cape of Good Hope, at Africa's southern tip. A short five years afterrepparttar 146528 Dutch left,repparttar 146529 French claimedrepparttar 146530 island, and renamed it Isle de France.

The French were much more successful thanrepparttar 146531 Dutch in harnessingrepparttar 146532 potential ofrepparttar 146533 island. They maintained law and order and laidrepparttar 146534 foundations for administration of society. Underrepparttar 146535 celebrated French Governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, real nation building began. The French brought in more African slaves and expanded further sugar farming. They also laid out some social and economic infrastructure to supportrepparttar 146536 settlers. Port Louis, named after King Louis XV, and todayrepparttar 146537 capital of Mauritius, dates back to this period.

Thoughrepparttar 146538 French had introduced systems of law and order, Port Louis turned out to be a favourite of corsairs. Corsairs were mercenary marine who specialised inrepparttar 146539 plunder of ships on behalf of a client country. The British, a great sea power atrepparttar 146540 time, had a vested interest in terminatingrepparttar 146541 power of these mercenaries. And that is how Mauritius, so far away from Europe, got involved inrepparttar 146542 Napoleonic wars. In 1810,repparttar 146543 British backed by superior force of arms, persuadedrepparttar 146544 French to leaverepparttar 146545 island.

Inrepparttar 146546 1814 Treaty of Paris,repparttar 146547 British - magnanimous victors indeed, allowedrepparttar 146548 French settlers to remain in Mauritius. They too were allowed to retain their property, language, religion and legal system. The British reverted torepparttar 146549 namerepparttar 146550 Dutch had givenrepparttar 146551 island, but Port Louis retained its name. But inrepparttar 146552 century and a half thatrepparttar 146553 British ruled, they were never really as grounded asrepparttar 146554 French had been.

Franco-Mauritians prospered on an agrarian economy based on slave labour. But in 1835, they feltrepparttar 146555 capricious hand of a great power when slavery was abolished. This is perhapsrepparttar 146556 single most important measure carried out under British rule, andrepparttar 146557 consequences had a far-reaching effect onrepparttar 146558 evolving demographics ofrepparttar 146559 nation. India, a British colony greatly abundant in human resources wasrepparttar 146560 answer torepparttar 146561 labour problem that arose. Inrepparttar 146562 years that followed,repparttar 146563 descendants ofrepparttar 146564 Indian labourers who came to workrepparttar 146565 sugar fields greatly multiplied. The Chinese also came -as labourers and traders.

Today, Indo-Mauritians constitute close to 70% ofrepparttar 146566 population. As in other colonies in that historic period, and uptorepparttar 146567 1930's in Mauritius, non-whites had very limited say inrepparttar 146568 running ofrepparttar 146569 country. And that is why Gandhi - that great liberator of men's minds, came to Mauritius in 1901, in particular to give heart to Indo-Mauritians. After years of protracted concessions to democratic rule,repparttar 146570 British finally bowed out in 1968, when finally granted independence.

The events we talk about above are however very recent. About eight million years ago,repparttar 146571 island emerged fromrepparttar 146572 depths ofrepparttar 146573 sea as result of volcanic activity. Occupying 1860 sq km, it is situated just aboverepparttar 146574 Tropic of Capricorn, 890 km torepparttar 146575 east of Madagascar. Rising fromrepparttar 146576 sea,repparttar 146577 central plateau formation is about 400 m above sea level. There are mountains scattered inrepparttar 146578 island, and a few peaks,repparttar 146579 highest of which reaches 820 m.

As a country, Mauritius includesrepparttar 146580 islands of Rodrigues and Agalega,repparttar 146581 Cargados Carajos Shoals and a few smaller mostly uninhabited islands. Mauritius is almost wholly ringed by a coral reef that is reputed to berepparttar 146582 worlds third largest. Bothrepparttar 146583 Dutch andrepparttar 146584 French were extremely reckless in allowingrepparttar 146585 uncontrolled invasion of indigenous forests. Today, less than 2% of these forests remain. Many ofrepparttar 146586 nearly 700 species of indigenous plants are threatened with extinction. Starting fromrepparttar 146587 late 1970's, a belated but systematic effort has been underway to conserverepparttar 146588 unique flora ofrepparttar 146589 island.

The wildlife faces similar dangers. Inrepparttar 146590 first place, animal migration to this isolated island was by air or sea only, greatly limitingrepparttar 146591 diversity of species. The animalsrepparttar 146592 Dutch found included out-of-size reptiles and flightless birds. But except for bats, there were no mammals and no amphibians at all. The animals brought aboard ships by man include monkeys and rats - thanks torepparttar 146593 Portuguese, whilerepparttar 146594 Dutch take credit for deer and wild boar. Some of these animals threaten to chokerepparttar 146595 life out of indigenous species - they eat their eggs, and even their young.

Mauritius is not all bad news for nature lovers' -there are plenty of birds and marine life is abundant. However, some ofrepparttar 146596 endemic bird species, such as Mauritius kestrel, echo parakeet and pink pigeon number not more than a few hundred. Such are now under some form of captive breeding program, withrepparttar 146597 hope of raising their numbers.

KwaZulu-Natal- Shaka's Heaven on Earth

Written by Andrew Muigai

The remarkable diversity of attractions ofrepparttar KwaZulu-Natal region is unsurpassed in South Africa. It encompassesrepparttar 146507 splendid Drakensburg Mountains, sublime subtropical beaches, top rated nature and game reserves, historic battlefields, rolling green hills ofrepparttar 146508 Natal Midlands andrepparttar 146509 city of Durban. The range of activities possible is a challenge even for those withrepparttar 146510 most eclectic of tastes: swimming, fishing, boating, scuba diving, hiking, abseiling, game viewing, cultural and historical touring, whale and bird watching and golfing.

Warmer and more authentic South Africa thanrepparttar 146511 Cape Region, KwaZulu-Natal isrepparttar 146512 favourite holiday destination for locals. The region lies betweenrepparttar 146513 Drakensberg Mountains and Swaziland torepparttar 146514 west;repparttar 146515 Indian Ocean torepparttar 146516 east stretching from Port Edward inrepparttar 146517 south torepparttar 146518 Mozambique border inrepparttar 146519 north. As you transition from a subtropical to tropical environment, you encounter cool mountain ranges, savannah grassland, coral reefs, indigenous coastal forest and dunes, lakes and lagoons and papyrus wetlands. Here 9 million people occupy 92,000 sq km of somerepparttar 146520 fairest and best-watered lands in South Africa.

Little wonder thatrepparttar 146521 Zulu, or "people of heaven" consideredrepparttar 146522 area a heaven on earth indeed, and were extremely jealous of late comers who sought a share of it. And yetrepparttar 146523 Zulu people themselves had arrived only inrepparttar 146524 16th century. Their ancestors,repparttar 146525 Nguni, had been pushing southwards fromrepparttar 146526 Great Lakes region for at least three thousand years. The land was inhabited- if you could userepparttar 146527 term- by San Bushmen. This hunter-gatherer society was very sparing in its demands onrepparttar 146528 land. The arrival ofrepparttar 146529 Nguni, a people with numerous cattle herds and great thirst for land, putrepparttar 146530 Bushman under great stress and severe disadvantage.

The Zulu derive directly from a clan head ofrepparttar 146531 Nguni named "Heaven" or Zulu, who established a territory bearing his own name or KwaZulu inrepparttar 146532 Umfolozi valley. The Zulu was a fairly insignificant power, even amongrepparttar 146533 Nguni, untilrepparttar 146534 arrival of Shaka Zulu. Shaka, born in 1787, was first-born son to Chief Senzangakhona, but was considered illegitimate on account of a technicality. Shaka eventually corrected this injustice by plottingrepparttar 146535 death of his younger brother -repparttar 146536 legitimate heir. He thus rose to be chief of his people when his father died in 1816.

Shaka was a man gifted with great daring, cunning and imagination. He repulsed numerous attacks byrepparttar 146537 Ndwandwe- a rival and more militarily superior Nguni people, eventually forcingrepparttar 146538 enemy to flee northwards. Shaka appreciated that repparttar 146539 Ndwandwe would be back unless he created conditions to make it impossible. Above all else a military leader, he devised such weaponry, battle tactics and training methods that resulted in an unbeatable army among known enemies ofrepparttar 146540 day. By numerous treacherous devices -war, assassination, deceit and intimidation - he subdued smaller and larger clans, and gathered all to his realm.

Within three years to 1819,repparttar 146541 Zulu nation emerged asrepparttar 146542 largest and most feared inrepparttar 146543 whole of southeastern Africa. And Shaka, now King Shaka, was sitting pretty as its head. His success had however caused unprecedented mayhem inrepparttar 146544 region, and aroused bitter jealousy amongst his ambitious compatriots. He also ruled with an iron fist and was such a tyrant as had never risen before amongrepparttar 146545 Zulu. Shaka was speared to death by Dingane -his half brother, in 1824. The Zulu kingdom survived him, but his legacy was to be severely tested, later nrepparttar 146546 century in conflicts with new rivals -repparttar 146547 British and Boers.

The British had approached Shaka, shortly before his death, for trading rights in ivory and animal skins. Shaka signed a document granting themrepparttar 146548 chieftaincy of Port Natal, their small base onrepparttar 146549 east coast. In a very liberal and rather dishonest interpretation of Shaka's intentions, they claimedrepparttar 146550 Port Natal area inrepparttar 146551 name ofrepparttar 146552 King of England. Port Natal is today known to most as Durban -and to locals as "Durbs". The city isrepparttar 146553 gateway and business hub of KwaZulu-Natal, andrepparttar 146554 logical starting point for exploringrepparttar 146555 region.Its port ranks amongrepparttar 146556 world's top 10, and isrepparttar 146557 busiest onrepparttar 146558 African continent. To discover KwaZulu-Natal, rent a car at Durban or take a South Africa tour or safari that coversrepparttar 146559 region.

Durban's weather is mild and pleasant - temperatures average 17 degrees C in winter (June-August) and 27 degrees C in summer (December to February). Holidaymakers are favoured with sea temperatures averaging 24 degrees C in summer rarely falling below 19 degrees C in winter. This coastal playground enjoys at least a good 320 days of sunshine every year. The rains come overrepparttar 146560 summer months, when it can get quite hot and humid, with temperatures reaching for 33 degrees C. Long before everybody else,repparttar 146561 San Bushmen wintered in Durban, taking advantage ofrepparttar 146562 excellent climate relative to their inland domains.

"The Golden Mile" is a 6 km long waterfront lined with some of Durban's top rated hotels. The city has some ofrepparttar 146563 finest beaches inrepparttar 146564 country. Good beaches for swimming and surfing can be found torepparttar 146565 south ofrepparttar 146566 city- Ansteys, Brighton, Cave Rock, and Garvies. Torepparttar 146567 north- Country Club, Tekwini, and Laguna beaches are more exclusive and less crowded. Withinrepparttar 146568 city, you can visit museums and art galleries and shop for crafts. The Kwa-Muhle museum will educate you about Apartheid, which is important if you want to understand South African society.

There are numerous restaurants- Indian, African and Western - in this cosmopolitan city. The Indians started coming here in 1860 as indentured labour forrepparttar 146569 sugar plantations. Today,repparttar 146570 Durban metro area hasrepparttar 146571 largest Indian population outside India. Durban stands betweenrepparttar 146572 North and South Coast of South Africa's eastern seaboard. The North Coast beaches include Umhlanga Rocks, Ballito, Shaka's Rock and Shelley Beach. Here you find good accommodation and myriad opportunities for swimming and surfing. Around Ballito is great for watchingrepparttar 146573 ever-fascinating dolphins.

The South Coast stretches from Durban to Port Edward and covers Hibberdene, Port Shepstone, Margate and Southbroom. The region has fantastic beaches and matching amenities. Between Port Edward and Hibberdene isrepparttar 146574 scene ofrepparttar 146575 sardine run. This most spectacular display ofrepparttar 146576 natural world occurs around June and July. It is triggered by a 4-5 degrees C drop in sea temperature that prompts millions of sardines in great shoals to head northwards. On this dash, game fish, dolphins, sharks, whales and others of their mortal enemies follow. This unforgettable experience appears to berepparttar 146577 marine world's answer torepparttar 146578 annual wildebeest migration onrepparttar 146579 Kenya-Tanzania border.

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