Mauritius: The best Africa destination you know almost nothing about

 

SOURCE: CNN.com

 

(CNN)Mauritius is a model of true democracy for every African country.

First, I want to argue on behalf of the title of this article; that this tropical island 2,000 miles off the southeast coast of Africa does indeed provide a template for a model African travel destination.

1. Mauritius: The Island

When your island is surrounded by perfect white sand beaches, themselves surrounded by the stunning blue Indian Ocean, and the center of the island contains mountains and breathtaking scenery, plus almost year-round sunshine, it’s difficult to be miserable.
I lived in Mauritius for more than three and a half years until June 2010, enjoying its scenery and also witnessing its democratic impetus firsthand.
Since gaining independence in 1968 there’s never been a coup, or military or populist uprising of any kind on this small Indian Ocean island (just more than 2,000 square kilometres in size).
The population of almost 1.3 million is 68 percent Indian, but also comprises Creole, Chinese, French, plus a smattering of English and South Africans.
Between them they speak English (the country’s official language), French, Mauritian Creole, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Bhojpuri and Hakka.
Often, the sound of the native Sega music (an Indian Ocean version of calypso) inspires dancing and laughing on the beaches all night.
Participants refresh themselves with the local ice cold Phoenix beer, the occasional Green Island rum and Coke and barbecue, freshly caught seafood like snapper, dorado, prawns, octopus and lobster.
Yet any holiday on Mauritius needn’t be a laze on the sand.
For sightseers there are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape), the colonial capital of Port Louis, one of the oldest horseracing tracks in the world at Champs de Mars, one of the world’s best botanical gardens at Pamplemousses, the Blue Penny Museum (home to one of the world’s rarest stamps), the Black River Gorges National Park and the Casela Wildlife Park, where you can walk with lion cubs.
To get to any of these, or just to get around Mauritius, you can use taxis (find a good one on your first day and stick with him), hire a car or use one of the many tour companies in Mauritius like White Sands Tours (www.whitesandstours.com) or Mauritours (www.mauritours.net).
Living on Mauritius can also be cheap, with a modest one bedroom flat costing from US$320 a month, car rental from US$350 a month and utility bills much cheaper than most countries.

2. Food

The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian. It’s common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.
Strong ties with the French (who ruled the island from 1710-1810) has meant that even today French dishes such as bouillon, tuna salad, daube and coq au vin are popular, while Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius brought their cuisine with them, making curries, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste that’s popular especially when served with fish) and pickles popular especially when given a unique Mauritian flavor.
The arrival of Chinese migrants at the end of the 19th century led to rice becoming part of the staple diet of the island and noodles, both steamed and fried, became common.
Chinese appetizers such as crispy chicken and crispy squid have also become part of the Mauritian diet.
Le Chteau de Bel Ombre: Located in the south of the island this lovingly restored 19th-century colonial mansion is the best restaurant on Mauritius.
In an elegant setting, la carte fusion food is served, while on Saturday, Mauritian night, there’s the chance to try authentic island dishes.
Domaine de Bel Ombre, Southwest Mauritius; +230-266-9768;
Domaine Anna: One of my favorites when I lived close by in Flic en Flac, this spectacular Chinese restaurant is set in the midst of sugar cane fields.
At night guests are greeted with lit torches along the driveway and eat in individual gazebos set on manmade lakes within tropical gardens in this palatial restaurant.
All the vegetables are grown locally and there’s live music and dancing at weekends.
Domaine Anna Restaurant, Mdine, Flic en Flac, West Coast; +230 453 9650.

3. Activities

Land sports: Any resort hotel will also have its own people to provide you with almost any land sport you want. Otherwise, companies such as Yemaya (www.yemayaadventures.com) provide mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and cycling.
Mauritius Horse Trails (www.mauritiushorsetrails.com) can take you on some wonderful horseback tours of the island.
Golf: There are seven great golf courses on the island, the best being Golf du Chateau and the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita, plus several nine-hole courses.
Deep sea fishing: Mauritius has some of the best deep sea fishing in the world and the Marlin World Cup (www.marlinworldcup.com) is held here every February/March.
Best expert charters on the island are run by JP Henry Charters Ltd (www.blackriver-mauritius.com).
Mountain trekking: There are well more than 20 great mountains to trek up. The best people to guide you here are YANATURE (www.trekkingilemaurice.com).
Watersports: Any resort hotel will have its own people to provide you with any watersport you can think of.
Any village on the coast will likewise have several companies to do the same. Just ask and any Mauritian will tell you where to go.
Shopping: Local arts and crafts stores can be found in most villages, as well as designer factory outlets that sell Ralph Lauren and other brands at a fraction of European prices.
And there’s the magnificent shopping mall at Caudan Waterfront (www.caudan.com) in Port Louis.

4. Hotels

Mauritius is filled with luxurious five-star hotels and resorts, plus plenty of budget options. For a list of accommodation on Mauritius visit www.mauritius.net. Meanwhile here are a few of my favorites.
Lakaz Chamarel: Mauritius has numerous small boutique hotels well off the beaten track and, for my money, this is the best.
It’s located high in the Chamarel hills in the south of the island and has 20 luxurious guest rooms and a superb restaurant.
With rates starting at around MUR4,700 (US$160) a night it’s not cheap by island standards, but its tropical surroundings are worth it.
Piton Canot, Chamarel; +230 483 5240; www.lakazchamarel.com
Le Touessrok: This great place is on the island’s east coast, with luxurious rooms, most with Indian Ocean views, a great golf course on its own island, regular shows at night and a wonderful selection of restaurants of which Three-Nine-Eight, serving cuisine from nine different countries, is unparalleled.
Trou d’Eau Douce, Flacq; +230 402 7400; www.letouessrokresort.com
Villa Paul Et Virginie Hotel: Located in Flic en Flac on the west coast, the Villa Paul et Virginie is a beautiful hotel for those on a tight budget.
Just two minutes walk from the beach and serving excellent food, this 12-room hotel has an outside bar covered with a huge honeysuckle plant that provides welcome shade from the noonday sun.

5. Seven-day itinerary

Day one: You can get over the long flight by relaxing on the beach, snorkeling in the beautiful Indian Ocean and chilling out with a few local beers and fresh-caught seafood.
Good to know: Mauritius has some of the best spas in the world at all the major resort hotels.
Day two: Sightseeing in the south. Start with the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the magnificent Le Morne mountain then head up into the Chamarel hills for lunch at one of the roadside Creole restaurants.
After lunch take in the Black River Gorges National Park before watching the sun slowly set at Le Chamarel Restaurant, which has incredible views across the south of the island, Le Morne and the Indian Ocean beyond.
Day three: Time for some sport or, for sun worshippers, some lazing on the beach or by a pool. Otherwise play golf, go deep sea fishing, mountain trekking, mountain biking or maybe take a cruise around the island.
The golf clubs will have great restaurants for lunch and the other activities will provide packed lunches.
Day four: If this is the first Saturday of your trip, Saturday is Port Louis day. You could spend the morning touring the old colonial center of town before grabbing lunch at Champ de Mars, the oldest horseracing track in the southern hemisphere.
In the evening, the huge Caudan Waterfront shopping center (home to the Blue Penny Museum) offers a chance to pick up souvenirs, enjoy street entertainers and find a good restaurant for dinner.
Day five: Sightseeing in the north. Visit Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses, one of the best botanical gardens in the world. Spend a long morning here then take a late lunch in ritzy Grand Baie, Mauritius’ main tourist spot.
After lunch explore the wild north including Grand Gaube, where the British first landed on Mauritius, before returning to Grand Baie for dinner and to enjoy the nightlife.
Day six: Shopping day. Souvenirs. The Central Plateau area around Phoenix and Curepipe is great for this with several large malls, arts and crafts markets, and the Mauritian Glass Gallery where, in addition to picking up all manner of souvenirs made entirely of glass, you can watch the glass blowers at work and tour the Glass Museum. Have lunch in one of the malls and find a really romantic restaurant for dinner on the way back to your hotel.
Day seven: It’s your last day in paradise. Go to the Casela Wildlife Park (www.caselayemen.mu) and walk with lion cubs if you’ve got time.
Tony Smart is a lifelong golf fanatic and journalist who’s been lucky enough to play golf all over the world. He has written for a wide variety of magazines including Golf Digest Ireland, Golf World, Golf Monthly, Golf International, The Robb Report, Asian Golf Monthly, Golf Vacations and The Peak.
Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2013. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.

SOURCE: CNN.com

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/06/travel/mauritius-best-africa-destination/index.html

Zanzibar: A taste of Africa’s Spice Islands

SOURCE: CNN.com

(CNN)“Have you seen ‘The Lion King‘?”

“That’s where we are going! Hakuna Matata Spice Farm!” shouts my tour guide Aben Rehan, gripping the wheel and laughing as he repeats the Swahili phrase made famous by the 1994 Disney film.
I’ve been in Zanzibar for less than a day but have already heard “Hakuna Matata” — meaning “no worries” — yelled at me several times over.
I’ve quickly come to interpret the refrain as a local code word for, “Hey foreigner, come buy this thing.”
But as the van comes to a stop at the entrance of the spice farm, there are no crowds of tourists, no pushy souvenir sellers. I am, as far as I can tell, the only person there.
A man named Haji introduces himself and his assistant — a 15-year-old boy with a sharp knife sticking out of his back pocket.
“After this is over you will be the King…” Haji says. “The King of Spice!”

Spice trade

Spices have long been a pillar of Zanzibar’s trade-heavy economy.
Zanzibar City, with its UNESCO-listed historic center Stone Town, is the heart of this Indian Ocean archipelago, positioned 25 miles east of the Tanzanian mainland.
The Portuguese and Chinese introduced spices such as garlic, cacao and chili to the islands several centuries ago.
But it was the Omani Sultan Seyyid Said — upon moving the capital of his empire Stone Town in 1840 — who fully exploited the potential of Zanzibar’s tropical climate and incredibly fertile soil.
The Sultan mandated the establishment of clove plantations on both public and private lands and forced Zanzibar’s slave population to grow and harvest the crops, fashioning the less than 1,000-square-mile archipelago into the world’s single largest cloves producer.
Cloves were traded like gold at the time — a staple prized not only for taste but as a common method of curing and preserving meats long before the advent of the refrigerator.

Modern Zanzibar

Today, however, Zanzibar is an economy in transition.
While cloves remain the archipelago’s leading domestic product, its production numbers have been surpassed by other mega-suppliers such as Indonesia and Madagascar.
Zanzibar, as a result, has capitalized on its history as the world’s “Spice Islands” — a title also claimed by Indonesia’s Maluku archipelago — to become a popular destination for eco-tourists and food fans alike.
In a vacationer’s paradise famous for World Heritage-standard Swahili architecture, near-perfect kite surfing conditions, and a 45-seat restaurant perched on top of a sea-bound rock, spice farms like Hakuna Matata top the list of Zanzibar attractions.
And there’s a good reason for that.
Zanzibar spice tours provide an intense, detailed introduction to the region’s rich botanical and cultural heritage, as well as its dark history as the Africa Great Lakes region’s main slave-trading port.

Fragrant harvest

The Hakuna Matata spice farm is in Dole village, about nine miles northeast of Stone Town.
Over the next two hours Haji guides me through the farm’s thick maze of trees, bushes, and fragrant vines including vanilla, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, lemongrass, and more.
While it’s clear the farm’s main product is tours not exports, nothing about the experience feels artificial.
Each spice comes with its own story — how it arrived on the island and an explanation of its uses, both common and uncommon.
“A lady takes this and the shyness goes away,” Haji says as he cracks a nutmeg seed and displayed the red-veined fruit inside. “Shininess?” I ask, mishearing the word.
“Shyness but just for the lady. She takes it when she wants to celebrate some way … or wants to have a big family. This is like Viagra for her,” he explains plainly. “You get it?”
“I got it.”
As the tour comes to an end, Haji presents me with a delicious traditional meal prepared with many of the spices we have seen over the course of the afternoon, including clove-infused rice, creamed spinach, and pickled onions and tomatoes topped with biryani sauce.
“Eat as much as you want,” Aben says, joining us on a plastic mat spread across the ground. “This is all for you!”
As we finish our meal, locals sit around trading jokes and fashioning hats out of bamboo leaves.
A few others further in the bush sing a song in Swahili, the only part of which I understand is the chorus line of “Hakuna Matata.”
Now, the mantra strikes me as joyous. No longer an urgent plea, its smooth rhythms meant “no worries” and nothing else.

Zanzibar: A tropical paradise with a unique identity

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However, the difference between good tour companies and bad is readily apparent, says Aben Rehan, from Jambiani-based Mambo Poa Tours.
“We have big [tour] companies and they have many, many weaknesses. They choose inexperienced guides that have a lack of information but people don’t know.”
“This place is full of natural beauty, so whichever environment visitors face, they will like. Even if staff are crazy.”
In other words, it’s easy to let Zanzibar’s lush surroundings convince you you’re getting a good tour when you really aren’t.
It’s best to look for a company that’s going to provide the added history and context that will make your trip extra-special.
A private tour with Mambo Poa Tours costs $30, including transportation and lunch. The price of a shared tour is $20 per person.
Other major spice tour operators include Colors of Zanzibar, which runs outings for $35 per person and Pure Zanzibar, which is $40.
SOURCE: CNN.com

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/31/travel/zanzibar-africa-spice-islands/index.html

Tanzania Safari – An Intriguing Adventure Destination

Article by Edward Muwonge

 

Are you fond of safari travel? Tanzania is one good choice. The country boasts beautiful landscapes to enjoy the scenes. Not only does Tanzania offer beautiful landscapes but also Serengeti as well as other national parks are full of a wide array of wildlife. A combination of the wildlife, attractive landscapes and pleasant people make Tanzania safari an intriguing adventure destination. Serengeti National Park has the greatest wildlife concentration on earth, creating it the top destination within the nation.
In addition to this, the park has the best annual wildebeest migration, zebras and other wild animals. Being the biggest nation in East African, Tanzania has numerous parks with ample wildlife, which gives travelers a selection of options. Serengeti is the largest along with the most famous park in the country. It occupies an area of 14,763 square kilometers. Safari visitors are assured to find out the big five namely lion, leopard, buffalo, leopard and elephant.
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Katavi National Park is one of Tanzania all-natural and beautiful landscape. This park is situated around the South-western facet of the country near Mpanda and it has an area of 2,253 square kilometers. The park has the largest buffalo herd inside the country and in addition in East Africa. This region is also a birders paradise, where more than 400 varieties of birds have already been recorded. July to October is the most beneficial time to tour the park.

 

For all those visitors thinking about chimpanzee trekking, Mahale Mountains National Park is the best destination to go. Located in Western Tanzania close to Kigoma, this park spans over an area of about 1,600 square kilometers. Other wild animals you might be guaranteed to find out include zebra, lion, elephant, giraffe plus the buffalo. Game viewing could be done by either boat or foot.

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Lake Manyara National park is well-known for viewing the tree climbing lions. This lake is an ideal home for millions of flamingo birds and other distinct bird species. The lake is located in the Good Rift Valley close to Arusha. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an additional famous park ideal for game viewing. This area has ample wildlife like: elephant, lion, wildebeest, leopard, gazelle, zebra, hyena and rhino.

During your safari to Tanzania you can attempt climbing Mount Kilimanjaro which is the highest peak in Africa. Several Tanzania tour operators, safari guides, cooks as well as other certified agents will make your safari a total journey by way of their companies in various fields.

 

About the Author
Edward is   a prominent author in Tanzania Travel & Tourism related topics. He has authored several articles on tour guide for Tanzania safaris and Places in Tanzania. Find him at http://www.guideforafrica.com/

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South Africas Diversity

Article by Nick Powzak

South Africa has risen to become a popular tourist destination with people from all over the world. It is likely to be the most diverse country in terms of geography and people one will ever experience. Its geography can go from fertile plains, savannas, deserts and huge mountainous regions such as the Drakensberg Mountains. These landscapes has paved the way for the country to offer a wide range of holidays include game reserves, relaxation and activities. The South Africa vacation home rental market is also varied as in locations there could be numerous bed and breakfast accommodations or modern apartments.

South Africa is located at the southern tip of the African content and it borders numerous African countries such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The country has three capitals, Pretoria acts as the executive capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. Cape Town in particular is a fascinating city offering amazing cultural and diverse experiences with world famous scenery. Its warm climate has made it the most popular tourist attraction in South Africa. Attractions such as Table Mountain and its adjacent national park attract millions of visitors every year. Cape Town also has some beautiful beaches where tourists can relax and sunbathe; Cape Town beach villas are available on a rental basis nearby. If you would like to take in more of the city life, there are also Cape Town apartment rentals available in this modern and thriving city.

If you are looking for a slower pace of life, maybe you should experience the stunning village of Hout Bay which has a nice harbour, people from foreign countries and local people take breaks in this area. There are numerous local Hout Bay bed and breakfast accommodations with friendly owner who will be only too happy to care for you.

South Africa is packed with national reserves and big game wildlife parks, visitors can participate in guided tours and see some astonishing creatures you may have only seen on the television before, if you would be interested in this type of vacation then maybe a South Africa cabin rental or some sort of South Africa vacation home rental would be advantageous due to the flexibility they offer.

About the Author

I’ve been managing an online vacation rentals directory for last 3 years, there are many amazing places to go, all different and specifically attractive. Check my descriptions of the most beautiful locations, based on my very own experience and my friends’ impressions.

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whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included.