A Look at Mauritius, with “Seven Coloured Earths” and a Ganges River, But We’re Not in India

“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
These are the words of Mark Twain, author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. Can this island really be so wonderful? I wanted to go and see, hoping to catch a glimpse of heaven while still alive. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) for Mauritius is “.mu”.

◆Where is Mauritius?

The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation of Africa, located about 900 km east of Madagascar. The island covers an area of 2,040 square meters, with about 1.2 million people living on an area almost the size of Tokyo. Like the Virgin Islands, Mauritius is known as a tax haven, and it is popular among celebrities from around the world as a place to go on vacation. The currency used is the Mauritius Rupee (MUR).

* This article was published in November 2019.

= Table of Contents =

◆Is the Dodo the Ancestor of Orville from “Animal Crossing”?

◆Closure of the Capital? Port Louis is Shut Down

◆The Seven Coloured Earths; Ideals and Realities

◆Minor Attractions Recommended by the Locals

◆The Ganges River in Mauritius

◆Reservoirs and National Parks / Interesting Things Around Mauritius

◆How to Purchase a SIM & Test the Internet Speed

◆Finding “.mu” Around Town


◆Is the Dodo the Ancestor of Orville from “Animal Crossing”?

We arrive at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. The cabin attendant walked around the cabin spaying something. It doesn’t land directly on the passengers and it doesn’t smell bad, but it’s not a good feeling in an enclosed space. This spraying is done on the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) prevent contagions and infectious diseases carried by insects and other VOCs. I understand that the insecticides used are those specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and should not cause harm or discomfort to passengers and crew.

※reference http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/airplane-cabin-spraying/

The airport is named for the 1st Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.

Looking closely, I found the dodo (Raphus cucullatus) a national bird, on the immigration stamp.

The dodo is a now extinct bird that once lived in Mauritius. The wild dodo was not a very suspicious bird, it couldn’t fly and it walked around and built its nests on the ground. Sadly, it was driven to extinction by the humans that invaded the island. A sketch of the dodo is on the back of the immigration card.

Orville, a character in “Animal Crossing” and staff of “Dodo Airlines” may be a descendant of the dodo. Unfortunately, there was no real Dodo Airlines at the airport.


◆Closure of the Capital? Port Louis is Shut Down

We chartered a taxi to check out Mauritius. Our driver is named Rakesh. One day’s fare, including pick up at the airport and drop off in the capital, Port Louis, was 100 euros. We told our driver that we only visit islands with their own domain, and only spend a few hours in each place. He told us: “You need at least 8 days to see Mauritius!”

First, we head for the capital Port Louis.

We have arrived in the beautiful port city of Port Louis. In December 1852, the East India Squadron of the United States Navy, led by Admiral Perry, departed for the coast of Uraga to ask Japan to open its shores, and also called at Mauritius on the way. At that time, there was no suitable island in the Pacific Ocean for steamboats to refill their supply of coal, and the Port of San Francisco was unfinished, so after crossing the Atlantic, they called at Madeira Island, St. Helena and Cape Town, finally arriving in Mauritius on February 18, 1853 where they had a 10-day rest.

At 4 pm, we take a stroll through the capital of Mauritius. There are only a few people.

There are very few people here and it is very quiet.

What…? There are no people at all. If you look closely, almost all the shop have their shutters down, even though it’s a Thursday!

When we asked Rakesh, he told us it’s the day of the parliamentary elections, the police have ordered all shops to stay closed except for a few commercial facilities, like restaurants and casinos. Ah, yes, there are some posters of candidates.

Even in Chinatown, there were only a few street vendors.

Actually, I was hoping to see the “waterfall in the sea” and had booked a helicopter tour before leaving on this trip, but later I got an email saying that the company was not open on that day and the tour was canceled. Probably that was because of the election.

Elections are held every five years. Before you travel to Mauritius, I recommend that you check in advance about this.

Umbrella Square (Republic of Mauritius) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


◆The Seven Coloured Earths; Ideals and Realities

About 45 km south of Port Louis, or an hour’s drive, there is a place in Chamarel village where you can see a place with seven coloured earth. One of the main attractions of Mauritius, which is an active volcanic island, is this “7 Coloured Earth Geopark”.

Admission is 250 MUR for adults. It’s open all year round, and the closing times are 17:30 in summer and 17:00 in winter. There’s a car to take you around the park.

Drones are prohibited.

This park doesn’t just have the Seven Coloured Earth. Water cascades 100 meters down the Chamarel falls. This is the highest waterfall in Mauritius.

They say that the amount of water flowing down during peak times is 40,000m³ per minute.

There was an Aldabra giant tortoise. Also called the Seychelles giant tortoise.

Jonathan, the giant tortoise we met on Saint Helena, was an Aldabra giant tortoise.

We arrive at the Seven Coloured Earth. Awesome! I have never seen nor heard of soil coloured like this. I’ve got a lot of expectations.

From this spot, I can’t see much colour. At first glance it just looks like dirt, like on a construction site. So I get a bit closer.

What…? I check it out from different angles.

It’s not the vivid colors I was expecting, but you can see some color if you look closely at the pictures I took.

But compared to the Seven Coloured Earths promotion photos in the park and on the net, the color doesn’t seem remarkable at all.

Look at the previous photo and the photo edited by iPhone. Now you can see the real Seven Coloured Earth.

The lava sands that make up the Seven Coloured Earth are estimated to be between 3.5 and 7 million years old. It seems if you want to see them at their best you must come in the morning when the morning sun shines on the dew. In other words, if you don’t come in the morning, you will need to edit your photos like I did. So, please check it out in the morning.

The Seven Colors of the Earth (Republic of Mauritius) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


◆Minor Attractions Recommended by the Locals, Model Ship and Glass Workshops

On election day, we were able to visit minor attractions recommended by the locals. The name of the model ship workshop is “Le Port Ship Model” (https://le-port-ship-model-factory-and-showroom.business.site/)。 Compared to “.com” and “.net”, you can still get short domain names with “.site”, so I wondered why the address was so long … anyhow, we went into the workshop.

There are no fees to go in. You are not allowed to take pictures in the souvenir shop side.

The craftsmen / craftswomen make all the parts by hand, from tiny to bigger etc.

Intricately made hulls are lined up on the shelves.

One with a mast attached.

The captain of the Domain Island Tour was fascinated by the work of a particularly skilled craftsman, and since he has some education in marine engineering, he bought a model of the Royal Navy’s HMS Bounty. Of course, he put it in his carry-on and took it home with great care.

A similar model ship was for sale at the airport, but it was more expensive than the one at the workshop.


Next, another minor attraction recommended by the locals is a glass workshop, called the “Mauritius Glass Gallery”.

Rakesh talked with the lady at the reception desk. Here too, there were no fees for admission. The lady says, “We also make Coca-Cola bottles here.”

I found a spot with hand prints in glass.

Percy Montgomery (former rugby player) and Tilda Swinton (Hollywood actress) were on display.

Beverage bottles.

A variety of glass crafts are on display.

Dodo figurines (130MUR) and shot glasses with dodo pictures on them were on sale starting at 100MUR.

An item that seems to be a spherical paper weight starts at 300MUR.

Mauritius is known as the lady of the Indian ocean, because of her beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, but visiting these craft workshops is a lot of fun as well.


◆The Ganges River in Mauritius

In Mauritius, where a variety of religions co-exist, Hinduism is the most popular, accounting for 52% of the total. Mauritius is the only country in Africa with Hinduism as the major religion. At first, we were planning to go see the Hindu Temple “Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Kovil”, but Rakesh recommended we visit “Ganga Talao” also known as “Grand Bassin” instead.

Rakesh himself is a devout Hindu. The reason he recommends Ganga Talao is because it is the only holy ground outside of India, and every February a festival is held there called the “Maha Shivaratri” when all the Hindus on Mauritius walk for miles to gather together at the temple. In the parking lot, there is a statue of the goddess Durga, which is 108 feet (approximately 33 m) high, resembling the Ushiku Great Buddha. Behind is the lion on which the goddess rides.

The lake on site is called Ganga Talao because the first Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, brought water from the Ganges river and poured it into the water of the lake, linking it to the sacred Ganges river and making the site a “most sacred place”.

There are many statues.

Among the mix of tourists, there were some people praying.

A statue displaying “Sathya Sai Baba”. Sathya Sai Baba is a spiritual leader in India known for purportedly materializing vibhuti (holy ash), and is famous in Japan under the name Saibaba. This statue seems to be a model of him.

At some statues, bare feet are required to worship. There was a sign saying “please take off your shoes here” but many people were worshipping with their shoes on.

There is a shower in the bathroom. Maybe it’s to wash before praying? One might hesitate before trying to get clean here.

We ran into some wild monkeys in the parking lot, probably because the temple is in the mountain.


◆Reservoirs and National Parks / Interesting Things Around Mauritius

As the central market in Port Louis was closed for the election, we decide to go to the Marché de Curepipe. Curepipe is in the higher plateaus of Mauritius, it’s cooler than the coastal areas so many of the Europeans that colonized the island developed the area as a summer resort / luxury residential area.

Its crowded today, probably because the central market is closed.

Next to the market is an arcade style alley of shops, selling clothing and other items. The location is almost in the center of the island and access is good, so besides the locals, many tourists visit this place.

The farmland around Curepipe is not cultivated with sugarcane, as is common in Mauritius and other tropical places, but taking advantage of the cooler climate, there are many tea plantations, as well as farms growing cabbage and potatoes.

“Trou aux Cerfs” is an extinct volcano in Curepipe.

Here there were no shops, just a gentleman with a parasol hat and the Mauritius flag on his head, selling dodo figurines to tourists.

Mare aux Vacoas, the largest reservoir in Mauritius, was built in 1885. It’s a freshwater lake about 9 minutes by car from Ganga Talao.

Gorge de Riviere Noir National Park(Black River Gorges National Park) 。

There used to be an observation deck to see the waterfall, but the stairs had rotted away and could it no longer be used.

There were no shops here either, just a van selling ice cream etc. in the parking lot.


◆How to Purchase a SIM & Test the Internet Speed

SIM cards can be bought at the airport or in town. The communications company was “EMTEL”, but I couldn’t see their homepage.

We bought it at a gas station near the airport.

3GB for 7 days, and the price was 559MUR. Although the clerk set it up, it didn’t work and I couldn’t check out the speed etc.

Softbank roaming was 870kbps, and the hotel Wi-Fi environment was 34Mbps.


◆Finding “.mu” Around Town

I found the ccTLD for Mauritius “.mu” around the city. The “.mu” domain registry was changed from “Internet Direct Ltd.” to the current registry “Information and Communication Technologies Authority” in 2007.

Heading back to the airport to leave Mauritius for our next destination, the taxi driver Rakesh told us that Mauritius has no medical fees. Certainly, “Government Hospital” a public hospital, is basically free of all fees for medical treatment, examinations and medicine. Even travelers can go for free. However, private hospitals labeled “Private Clinics” and “Private Hospitals” are not free. In the event of an emergency, such as a car accident, you will be taken to a public hospital by “SAMU” (an ambulance service for public hospitals). Then, if you want, you can be transferred to a private hospital, with better equipment, facilities and services.

※reference OTOA Safety information by city

I’m not sure if I really got a glimpse of heaven, but I would love to go back to Mauritius at a time other than election time.


■List of Places Visited

For access to Mauritiusclick here

Sunset in the Seychelle Islands of Africa, 13 Hours from Japan

In spite of the fact that the Seychelles are not well known in Japan, they happen to features in many song titles by Japanese artists. For example “Seisheru no yūhi” (Sunset in the Seychelles, by Seiko Matsuda), “Seisheru – Umi No Seijya” (Seychelles – Saints of the Sea, by Southern All Stars), “Akogare No Seychelles” (Seychelles, the Islands of Longing, by Masayoshi Takanaka) and “Kochira Sēsheru Bakansu Shima” (The Seychelles, Vacation Islands, by Megumi Takamoto.) Often called the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, I wanted to see if the sunset in the Seychelles was as beautiful as expected. The ccTLD (country code top level domain) for the Seychelles is “.sc”.

◆Where are the Seychelles?

The Republic of Seychelles consists of 115 islands of various sizes, located in the Indian Ocean, about 1,300 km east of the African continent. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, often visit the Seychelles and it is a popular destination for European celebrities. It’s the only country in Africa that has an economy classified as “high-income” by the World Bank. The currency used is the Seychelles Rupee (SCR)

= Table of Contents =

◆Praslin Island – Lost Luggage and Pouring Rain

◆Anse Lazio – The Best Beach in the World

◆Finding the Phantom Convenience Store “SPAR”

◆Sunset in the Seychelles

◆How to Purchase a SIM & Test the Internet Speed


◆Praslin Island – Lost Luggage and Pouring Rain

The quickest way to get from Japan to the Seychelles is via Sri Lanka. It takes 9 hours and 20 minutes to get to Sri Lanka, and about 4 hours to get to the Seychelles, for a total of 13 hours. However, we went to the Seychelles from our previous island destination, the Maldives (via Sri Lanka). Arriving just after 4 am, we were greeted by a lost luggage situation. This is the first time on the Domain Island Tour that luggage has been lost.

After finding out that the luggage was lost, and going through various procedures, we finally left the airport and headed for our accommodations. Although I booked a hotel which allowed early check-in (so we could take a short rest), when we got there the staff said: “No early check-ins…” We had no choice but to hang out in the hotel hallway, with no air conditioning, and not a word exchanged between us for about an hour. The rain just would never stop. Finally, in the middle of the pouring rain, we leave for Praslin Island, famous for its Coco de Mer palm trees. Here’s a picture of Praslin Island from a travel site.

The boat we rode, the “Cat Cocos” could be booked in advance from Japan. The cheapest economy class ticket you can buy is 100 Euros round trip.

The rain keeps pouring down and the sea is rough. It doesn’t feel like we are headed for the beautiful coast lines of the famous Praslin Island. In fact, when I started to think about other places where I’d hit bad weather, like when I had to extend my stay in Samoa, and also about the clothes and the drone that were in the lost luggage, I started getting seasick.

On the boat, there were TVs showing hidden camera tv shows from overseas, but I felt too ill to watch.

About an hour from Mahé Island, we arrive at Praslin Island, which is the second largest island in the Seychelles, after Mahé Island. It has an area of 38 km2 and a population of about 6,500.

You can only use local currency at the port market stalls. But don’t worry, there are many places nearby to exchange U.S. dollars, Euros and Pounds.

There was also a place to arrange tours, rent cars, or rent bicycles.
Taxis can also be arranged. Of course, you can go from Praslin Island to other islands by ferry or boat. We booked a taxi and asked to be taken around the island.
The vehicle was a Suzuki. The driver really loves it, he said: “This car is perfect for driving around Praslin Island”.

◆Anse Lazio, the Best Beach in the World

The first place we visited was the “Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve” a World Heritage site in Praslin National Park. The park has both free areas and areas that you need to pay to enter. We stuck to the free areas.

There is a legend that Praslin Island is the birthplace of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. In the 19th century, General Gordon of England visited Praslin Island, and upon seeing the fruit from the female of the coco de mer palm, which looks like a woman’s buttocks, and the catkin from the male palm which resembles the male organ, he decided these trees must be Adam and Eve. And so, he had Praslin Island made into a nature reserve.

Suddenly I noticed that it had stopped raining! And I found coco de mer palms.

There are also displays in the visitor center (free of charge). The coco de mer is a rare palm tree that is only found on Praslin Island and Curieuse Island.

There are also some specimens of local creatures preserved in formalin.

Our next destination in Praslin National Park is Grande Anse Beach, which was ranked no.1 on CNN’s “100 Best Beaches Around the World”.
Earlier, when I visited Grenada, I mistakenly thought the Grand Anse beach there (vs. Grande Anse Seychelles) had been ranked no.1 in the world, but actually it was ranked 30th. Now, finally I can see the real “no.1 most beautiful beach in the world” with my own eyes!

When I told the driver about what had happened, he said “Anse Lazio beach is more beautiful than Grande Anse Beach!” so we decided to go to Anse Lazio beach instead. Under a cloudless sunny sky that made it seem like the rain had never happened, we drove for about 20 mins. We arrive. Actually, the driver told us that even if it’s raining in the morning, it often clears up by noon. And it rains a lot in October and November.

Ooh! No wonder the locals call it the most beautiful beach! Anse Lazio when pronounced by local sounds like “ansrazio”. Anse means cove or small bay in French.

After enjoying the beach, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant.

I ordered an Octopus Burger (315 SR), Shrimp Fritters (480 SR), Octopus Curry (475 SR) and a Sey Pearl (55 SR).

The octopus burger doesn’t have a meat patty, it has sautéed octopus sandwiched in a bun and not a whole lot of that considering the price.

It seems that octopus curry is eaten almost daily here. Later, when I asked the taxi driver on Mahé Island about this, he said that on Mahé, octopus curry costs about 240 SR, which is nearly half of what it costs on Praslin Island.

Sey Pearl is a brand of ginger ale from the Seychelles.

Shrimp Fritters. They tasted exactly as delicious as they look.

Did someone get walled-in with their butt sticking out?

According to our driver, there is also a beach named Grande Anse on Mahé Island.
So actually, I still wasn’t able to see the beach ranked no.1 by CNN. But, since a local told me that Anse Lazio is much more beautiful than Grand Anse Beach, I feel satisfied that I saw the most beautiful beach in the world.

There were many beautiful little fish in the water, so I fed them some breadfruit chips I bought in the Maldives.

◆Finding the Phantom Convenience Store “SPAR”

Before going to Mahé Island, we first stop by Eden Island. Located 3.5 km from the capital Victoria, Eden Island is a man-made island created in the 2000s. The main industry on this island is tourism, and its famous for its shopping mall Eden Plaza, and luxurious residential areas.

We go to check out a luxurious residential area.

We arrive at the gate of one of the residential areas.

To enter, you need ID. No outsiders are allowed.

So, we moved on to Eden Plaza, where the residents of the luxurious residential area go shopping.

A Japanese anime character, “Arare-chan” is posted by the frozen yogurt shop. What is that thing she is holding up?

Continuing our walk, we see a familiar convenience store.
It’s SPAR! Let’s go buy something!

When you enter the store, you need to leave your bags in a special locker.

I bought a plastic bottle version of Sey Pearl (22 SCR) and Doritos (9.90 SCR). SPAR can no longer be found in Japan, in fact, when I checked, it seems the company completely withdrew from Japan in 2016.

◆Sunset in the Seychelles

Next is Victoria, the capital on Mahé Island. Mahé Island is 153 km2, and accounts for 1/3rd of the land of the Seychelles and about 80% of the population. The name of the island comes from a French governor of Mauritius, who sent an expedition to the Seychelles.

When I asked one of the waiting taxi drivers to “take us to a spot with a good view of Victoria” he agreed with an “OK, boss.”

Heading to the scenic lookout, we come across something remarkable. “This is the ‘Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar’ temple. In 2018, someone stole the golden decorations, but was caught.” the driver told us.

We resume our drive up the mountain.

I spot a strange looking bird.

After a while, the driver stops. This doesn’t seem a likely spot for a scenic view.
“This is a breeding place for tortoises. Let’s take a look” he says.

There are many turtles, but it seems the place is run by a private company. These are tortoises (Japanese: Rikugame) but the family as a whole is called the turtle family (Japanese: Kame). By the way, there was no information about this place on Google maps.

ROTCHON dam scenic area (Seychelles) – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

We arrive at Rochon Dam Viewpoint, the view point recommended by the driver. It was sunny and clear; we could see Eden Island and other distant islands (probably Praslin Island) as well. Although only a small island nation, the Seychelles has a military made up of about 400 soldiers. But no navy. In lieu of a navy, there is the Seychelles Coast Guard, made up of the Seychelles People’s Defense Forces.

It’s time to go and see a spectacular sunset. When I said to the driver “I want to see a gorgeous sunset!” he took us to Beau Vallon Beach.

Finally, I was able to see the long awaited “Sunset in the Seychelles”. This is the title of a song sung by popular Japanese singer, I felt so happy experience it for myself.

After leaving Beau Vallon Beach, we were hungry and searching for somewhere to eat in the city. We found an electric sign board with the words “Italian Pizza.”

Upon entering, we see that besides Italian pizza, there’s a corner of the shop dedicated to ice cream. It’s called “La Dolce Vita.” It seems that this place has been featured in Japanese travel shows talking about overseas resorts.

At the ice cream counter, I order a vanilla bean parfait (195 SCR), a specialty of the Seychelles. This parfait in the Seychelles was very expensive, about 1,600 Yen, but it was so worth the price.

This super long day is finally over. When we got back to our accommodations, the lost luggage had arrived! Thank goodness!

◆How to Purchase a SIM & Test the Internet Speed

You can purchase an Airtel SIM that can be used for 30 days, with 1.5GB, at a convenience store like the one in Eden Plaza. It was 299 SCR.

I went directly to an Airtel store, but it was closed and I couldn’t get the SIM.

The speed was good, without any problems.

I found the ccTLD for the Seychelles “.sc”, being used on Mahé Island, Praslin Island and Eden Island.


■List of Places Visited


■ For access to the Seychellesclick here

■For “.sc” Domain detailsclick here