A journey through the Southern and Western coasts of Mauritius.
This road trip had been planned since November last year, but for some reason or other, it always ended up being called-off - one of the 3 explorers being busy, cyclones, heavy rain & me falling sick.
At one point, we all thought it was jinxed. Three weeks ago, while I was expecting a last-minute postponement, the trip finally happened.
So we were given Rs 100,000 and were told to buy a used car and meet up at Réduit.
Although I wished it was true, that didn't actually happen. We did meet up at Réduit and headed South towards Souillac.
Our first stop was at Rivière des Anguilles, near the bridge over Rivière des Anguilles.
The Rivière des Anguilles Bridge
There was a wooden bridge on this river at the beginning of British occupation. It allowed the passage of ox-driven carts and stage coaches. Its structure was too weak and insecure for heavy road traffic.
In 1878, a new bridge standing on three piers was constructed. It stands at 105 feet (32m) above the river bed and spans over 241 feet (73.5m).
& you wouldn't believe what we found in the river!
An anguille! Now you know why it's called River of the Eels. :)
The old bridge which has since been widened.
I definitely wouldn't want to live up there.
It was a brief stop because there was nothing of particular interest. So we moved on...
Until we reached St Aubin. While we were taking photos of the alley, a guard approached us and informed us that since it was International Day for Monuments, the visit was exceptionally free to the public. A ticket normally costs Rs 500.
If you've seen the infamous Enquete Exclusive M6 programme on Mauritius, this is where the Rhum St Aubin 1819 is distilled.
We did a quick tour of the alley until we road-blocked by what looked like a toy.
It was indeed a chameleon.
As the guard came over, he explained why it wasn't moving. A Myna had tried to kill it by puncturing it with beak. Fortunately, chameleons are tough and it had survived the attack.
We continued our visit and and entered through this ornamental gate...
... beyond which was one of the few remaining colonial-era houses of Mauritius.
Maison Saint-Aubin - now transformed into a restaurant – was built in 1819 using wood from disused ships. & then reconstructed in 1970 when it was moved away from the sugar factory.
While the fountain may not be antique, the restaurant had clearly been expertly restored.
A wonderful example of the heritage of Mauritius.
The spacious grounds had various trees, like this Bilimbi.
Since we had a road trip to complete, we didn't visit the estate. Check the Flickr links at the bottom for more.
The next stop was at the planned start of this journey – Le Gris Gris.
Le Gris Gris was allegedly named after Abbé de la Caille’s dog, Gris Gris. A great astronomer and mathematician, he was the one who drew the first accurate map of Mauritius in 1753 (Gris Gris however doesn’t appear on that).
The Gris Gris scenery was exactly how you would expect it to be - very windy, the incessant waves and the mist rising from the sea.
The waves assaulting the rocks was a spectacle to behold.
With a very loud soundtrack.
Oh, a radar station. It appears the SMF/NCG have decided it would be great to build these in the most scenic locations of Mauritius (like at Pointe aux Caves).
We descended to the beach.
Not a proper beach to enjoy a day at the seaside, but still quite nice for wave-watching.
& for crazy experiments like those done by PAPM.
I should point out that in Oct 2007, the beach had to be cordoned off when a rare green turtle laid its eggs right here!
Despite the multiple warning signs, we saw two daredevils playing in the water. Mauritian stupidity literally knows no bounds.
& here's the video. I had to lower the volume because of the howling winds.
Our next destination was La Roche qui Pleure.
& I have a bad news. Remember the Le Domaine du Gris Gris billboard from earlier. This is where the houses will be built, effectively cutting off the coastal access via this road. Henceforth, no one will be able to walk through these trees from Gris Gris to La Roche qui Pleure. (Ref: Le Mauricien - DÉVELOPPEMENT À GRIS-GRIS: Des voix s'élèvent contre le projet de morcellement résidentiel)
The Weeping Rock.
“La Roche qui Pleure” creates a weeping illusion as surging waves recede on the cliff. Strangely, nature has carved the profile of the poet Robert Edward Hart on the rock.
The absence of a coral barrier, the presence of huge boulders of basaltic origin and erosion by the action of strong battering waves, have sculpted weird figures on the cliffs.
It was around 9:45am and so far we hadn't encountered any of the Sunday crowds that haunt these places.
This is La Roche Qui Pleure.
On the Western side, we had a view of the cliffs up to Gris Gris.
One of the carved figures the info board was referring to.
On the Eastern side, there were some more cliffs.
& a cove filled with driftwood.
What was more fascinating though was the waves crashing against the rocks and sometimes spraying us.
As the week-end tripsters filled in, we followed the trail beyond La Roche Qui Pleure.
As our intended destination was something further away...
The 3 worst explorers in history!
Flotsam and jetsam.
Beyond the pool was a pebble beach with even more ocean dumping.
Behold, a stream!
One which you can cross using the natural stepping stones.
I bet you don't see that everyday - a stream flowing from a tiny valley into the sea.
We moved further east, the waves being a constant threat.
Until we reached this stone structure. I have to admit that I have no idea what that is, except that it looks very old.
As we went through the stone passageway, the sun fully emerged from the clouds and revealed a long expected sight.
A small waterfall!
& it wasn’t alone. The morning rains had ensured that water was flowing down at several places, creating miniature waterfalls.
If you're ever going to La Roche qui Pleure, please make it a must to walk the half-kilometre to this place. Well, at your own risk, because those rocks are very slippery.
The sea, the waves, a rocky shore and a waterfall. Can't get a more picture-perfect scene like this. Perhaps with a sunset.
Here's the video. Apologies for the shakiness – my phone doesn’t have video stabilisation!
Sadly though we had a road trip to complete, so we started back.
Driftwood pool panorama. I wonder where all this driftwood comes from?
La Roche qui Pleure was already very much crowded.
But there was one more thing we had to see...
A view of the stream from up top. It was nearly 11am and we were running late, we decided not to visit the waterfall found further up-river. A wrong decision as that waterfall is even more impressive. Here’s a video of it.
Back at La Roche Qui Pleure. Finally, we could “start” our road trip.
The next stop on our trip was La Nef, less commonly known as the Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum.
The former residence of the poet Robert Edward Hart (1891-1954) is one of the cultural attractions of Souillac. His coral-made house called “La Nef” has been converted into a museum.
Hart is buried in the marine graveyard and the following follows his fondness for Souillac:
“In front of the India Ocean lies the poet who has praised its charms.”
The coral house of the famous Mauritian poet & curator of the Mauritius Institute.
You aren’t allowed to take photos inside of the house but what you’ll find is some antique furniture, memorabilia and Robert Edward Hart’s works and various titles. What they won’t tell you is that this house is just a replica. La Nef had been destroyed in 2001 and rebuilt in 2003. This photo from 1975 shows you the original La Nef.
Moving on, we travelled further in the village of Souillac and came across the District Court of Souillac.
The building with open verandas, housing the district court, is a perfect example of colonial architecture.
A cast metal fountain in the garden is more than a century old. A lion head, manufactured in Ireland tops it up. The pump was in those days manually activated and it still provides drinking water.
The Souillac Railway Station which has luckily been converted into a post office. The same cannot be said of the derelict Victoria Railway Station in Port Louis. Clearly, very few people are interested in
conserving knowing the railway heritage of Mauritius.
The railway line between Port Louis and Mahébourg was inaugurated in 1865 and the Rose Belle/Souillac branch became operational in 1878.
The Souillac Railway Station also housed the post office.
The railway line stopped running in 1954.
The Souillac Police Station.
In the 18th century, the building accommodated slaves who, every morning, used to go down the path situated at the back along the coast to the wharf at Port Souillac.
In the 19th century, it was used as a resting place for the train passengers coming from every nook and corner of the island. Later, a police station and other government office occupied the building.
Telfair Garden, named after Irish botanist Charles Telfair.
A nice view of the Souillac marine cemetery.
The river Savanne which had been dredged to make way for the Port Souillac, also known as Le Batelage. Due to the large estuary and lack of coral reefs, in 1779, French governor Vicomte François de Souillac decided to build a port to protect the Southern coast and to become a port of call for French ships. Also, due to the lack of roads linking the South to Port Louis, ships were used to transport sugar from Port Souillac to Port Louis.
Unfortunately, we simply forgot to stop at Batelage, so no photos. But if you’re interested, check this Souillac flickr set.
The St Jacques RC Church.
I’m sure you must have realised by now where we were going next.
Indeed, it’s Rochester Falls, the iconic 10m waterfall with step-like basalt formations.
Lava flows dating back to thousands of years have crystallised in vertical columns. Several towns bear the name of Rochester in England. The name reminds us of the main character of the novel “Jayne Eyre” by Charlotte Brönte, published in 1847. It is during this period that the name “Rochester” was given to the Domain where these falls are located.
Unfortunately, on that particular day, the heavy rain had increased the volume of water so we couldn’t cross over to the other side.
Nor could we witness any of the jumpers! Not that they were afraid of jumping in that torrent, just that there weren’t any tourists to extract money from!
So that was the first part of my road trip which so far had barely moved beyond Souillac. The red dots are the places we have visited.
There was the entire South-West coast in front of us to explore and I can assure you it will be much longer than this.
Part 2 is here. :)
- Patrimoine en Péril – Maison St Aubin
- Flickr - St Aubin Colonial House – Mauritius
- Flickr - St Aubin Distillery - Mauritius
- Flickr - Maurice_34 domaine de st aubin
- Mauritius Photography Blog – Gris Gris photos in the south of Mauritius
- Maurice Pascal et Moi – Le Sud
- Flickr – Gris Gris by Isla Mauricia
- Flickr – Gris Gris by zingbean
- Flickr – The Caved Beach by stuckinparadise
- Flickr – Tranquility by Daniel Cheong
- Flickr – Gris Gris by A. Samir
- Flickr – Gris Gris by Ale de Vries
- Flickr – Gris gris by sld0
- YouTube - Mauritius (Ile Maurice) - Gris Gris Beach by mauricien06
- YouTube – myZen.tv - Savanne - Gris Gris (Mauritius)
- YouTube - Gris Gris Cave in Mauritius Island & 2 by fuad1919
- Mauritius Photography Blog – La Roche qui Pleure photos in Mauritius
- Mauritius Photography Blog – Beyond La Roche qui Pleure
- Flickr – La Roche qui pleure by pixelinthebox
- Flickr – Gris Gris by Daniel Cheong
- Flickr - Depuis la Roche qui pleure (Souillac, Ile Maurice) by indeepdark
- Flickr – La Roche qui Pleure 1, 2 by mberg68
- YouTube – La Roche qui Pleure by Mauritiusphotos
- YouTube - Mauritius- Roche ki pleure!! Gris-gris!!! by sdeejay2101
- YouTube - Ilhas Maurício - Le Gris Gris by DecoMF
- YouTube – Roche qui pleure by nadfaraz
- YouTube - belle vague filmer sur le rocher : la roche qui pleure by sltchos
- YouTube - Clarel Betsy - Roche Qui Pleure
- YouTube – Souillac by bestofmauritius
- YouTube - Roche qui pleure waterfall by Mauritiusphotos
- Mauritius Museum Council - Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum
- Maurice, derrière la carte postale - L’état mauricien fait raser la maison du Prince des Poètes
- Flickr - La Nef, 1975
- Wikipedia – Souillac
- Avinash Susty – Seascapes
- Flickr – Souillac by Isla Mauricia
- Flickr - souillac station, souillac railway quarters by philatephat
- Flickr - Souillac Cemetery Just After Sunset, Souillac Cemetery - May 2008, Souillac Cemetery mid-1950s by Tiberman
- Flickr - Cemetary Souillac Mauritius by pmandjnm
- Flickr - cimetière de Souillac by otolithe
- YouTube - Plage de Maurice Cimetière de Souillac. by pjsFelix
- Flickr – Jardin Telfair 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 by mberg68
- Flickr - From Telfair gardens by Velsamy
- Flickr - Jardin de telfair 2008-07-05 by skerphotos
- Flickr - 220 public park Jardin Telfair by Tim Randall
- Flickr - le batelage by Michael Paris
- Flickr - Souillac, Mauritius by darioli03
- Maurice Pascal et Moi – Les Chutes de Rochester
- Picasa – Rochester Falls by REy
- Flickr – Rochester Falls by Isla Mauricia
- Flickr – Upstream, Return to the Falls, Outflow, Rochester Fall – Meditation, Rochester Panorama, Rochester Fall - Top View, Sneaking at the Falls by stuckinparadise
- Flickr - Rochester falls by pixelinthebox
- Flickr - Men Scale – Mauritius by Stephane Calvet
- Flickr - Rochester falls (Mauritius) by Christopher Barry
- Flickr – Rochester Falls, Mauritius by darioli03
- Flickr – Rochester by kites.ru
- Flickr - Rochester Falls, Mauritius by Anand
- Flickr – Rochester by Michael & Jo
- Flickr – rochesterfalls by rubared
- Flickr – rochesterfalls by Prof. Mortel
- Flickr – rochesterfalls by AngelDisha
- YouTube - Rochester Falls Mauritius by tvmauritius
- YouTube – Rochester Falls by bestofmauritius
- YouTube - Rochester falls Mauritius by lucraino
- YouTube - People diving from the top of Rochester Falls by mauritiusphotography
- YouTube - Mauritius.Rochester Falls by ushakatravel
- YouTube - ROCHESTER FALLS ILE MAURICE 2011 FRED by SUNNYRYAN2009
- YouTube - Mauritius Water Fall, Rochester Falls mit Gabi by detzab
- YouTube - Rochester falls - men jumping by nadfaraz