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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cascade 500 pieds

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On the 1st of November, taking advantage of the dual public holidays, we planned a trip to the Black River Gorges National Park. Our destination was Cascade 500 Pieds also known as Cascade de Galets or Cascade de L’Exemple, a waterfall that is obviously 500 ft high (152 m).

 

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Our meeting point was Curepipe, the town famous for its...

 

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… dormant volcano.

 

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From here, we would travel by car to the Black River Gorges.

 

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Along the way, we came across Mare aux Vacoas reservoir, at less than 30% its capacity due to the drought.

 

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Our next stop was Alexandra Falls, a tourist hotspot well-known for its viewpoint &...

 

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... this wonderful alley - one of the best spots for portrait photography in Mauritius.

 

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& that of course meant handing the scene over to my tame photography model.

 

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Sadly, due to the harsh sunlight, none of our photos turned out to be good.

 

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So we continued down the alley until we reached the parking spot of Alexandra Falls. It seemed that many fellow Mauritians had followed our example & taken advantage of the public holiday.

 

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"Its..."

 

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We had no time for sight-seeing as our destination was not Alexandra Falls, but Cascades 500 pieds.

 

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For once, the 3 worst explorers of all time would not get lost because the trail was very simple. A 30 min descent from Alexandra Falls to a river crossing & then a walk to the waterfall. How hard can it be?

 

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So, off we went into the wilderness, crossing the stream that was the first of the Alexandra waterfalls.

 

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From here, we caught a glimpse of the coast of Bel Ombre & St Martin.

 

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For the first 100m of the trail, we were surrounded by trees.

 

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Slowly, the trees gave way to shrubs & we were out in the open.

 

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& thus we came across the second Alexandra waterfall.

 

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From here we could see up to the Alexandra viewpoint.

 

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This is what the waterfall looked like from the Alexandra Viewpoint. Very far from what it used to be.

 

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Moving on, we had to make detour because the ground had given away leaving this ditch.

 

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Royal Raid 2007? This has been here since 2007?

 

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Yet another nearly dry stream with a plank for crossing it. So far, the grassy path had been a walk in the park.

 

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But then there was an abrupt change to a rocky trail, which announced that the descent was starting. & it did, sharply.

 

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The vegetation became thicker as we saw wild red berries appearing.

 

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Dry hard mud. Imagine if it had been raining. That would have certainly been fun.

 

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The trail descended steadily for a while. It wasn't hard, but it wasn't easy either.

 

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For quite some time, we had been hearing the sounds of a river, but it was only here that we discovered it.

 

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In fact, there were two rivers, each on either side of us, with a sheer drop of the ground hidden by the bushes.

 

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The path was flat once again & I figured out that we were nearing the waterfall.

 

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A few minutes later, we found the river crossing.

 

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Once again, we were lucky, due to the drought, we weren't crossing a torrent...

 

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... otherwise I wouldn't have been able to get this shot.

 

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We rested for a few minutes & I fired up the GPS tracker to know our current location. So we were only 5mm away from the waterfall. Who knew it would be this easy?

 

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A short climb & once again we found ourselves in the undergrowth.

 

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Because I'm so busy taking photos, I usually end up being the last man, stranded at the back. So when I heard my friends shouting up front, I had no idea what had happened.

 

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Fearing the worst, I rushed up the path, jumped on a boulder in the river &...

 

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Oh my god!

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....

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....

You know that quote with Mark Twain?

From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.

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Well, I think I just found a piece of that heaven.

 

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Absolutely spectacular.

 

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This place is magical.

 

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To be fair, these photos don’t give justice to the stunning scenery.

 

Domaine Bel Ombre Reserve Naturelle Frederica cascade

© Veranda Resorts Heritage Resorts

To give you an idea, here’s what it looks like from afar… & from below see here & here.

 

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You can access the waterfalls from below, but it’s a private property – the Frédérica Nature Reserve of Domaine de Bel Ombre.

 

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If we had known that the water level would be so low, we could have walked all the way from the crossing!

 

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We had accomplished the 1 mile journey in under 45 mins, so we rested for half an hour, taking more photos…

 

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That was the only flower that I found, while I was looking for Nesocodon mauritianus, a flower endemic to Mauritius. Of all the places in the world, Nesocodon mauritianus is found only at Cascade 500 pieds! Discovered in 1976 by I.B.K. Richardson at the top of the cliff.

 

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Time to go back.

 

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Crossing the river again…

 

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& tada!

 

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As it turned out (once again), the ascent was hard, very hard. Well, we had an easy descent, now it was payback time.

 

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It was very strenuous, exactly like mountain climbing.

 

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Progress was done in steps – climb a few meters, rest & start again.

 

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It didn’t help that I had a nasty bout of flu since a few weeks which had weakened my stamina. Before long, I was crying out for the trail to end…

 

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At last it did! But there was still the long flat walk to the viewpoint.

 

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I have never been so relieved to see a block of wood or a ditch for that matter.

 

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But these landmarks meant that the finish line was near. & I could see the Alexandra Falls viewpoint.

 

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The final 100m & then back to the base, where I was too tired to take any more photos…

 

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So that was Cascades 500 pieds. Yes, there’s even a stamp for it! If you have never been to Cascades 500 pieds, you should definitely make it a must to come here. The journey down can be done under 30 mins, but going back isn’t easy.
The only thing I regret is that I spent only half an hour at Cascades 500 pieds. A place so splendid requires that you spend the whole day there to experience it. & the reason why I had to rush back was that Cascades 500 pieds was only the first part of my journey. The second part was something much more ambitious…

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Oh yes, the highest peak in Mauritius – Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire.

 

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15 comments

Yashvin Awootar

Adventurous lego man is in the wild again!

junior_aspirin ®©™

Hmmmmm....

Siganus Sutor

Ti ena enn ½ mille-pattes anba laba ?

carrotmadman6

500 pattes? Non, mais ti ena sa... :)

yadhav13

Beautiful place and breathtaking photos! I learnt about the existence of this place through the post. Thank you for sharing the treasures of our island through your blog. :D

carrotmadman6

Thank you for your comment. :)

CuriousEngine

nice blog post

Siganus Sutor

Ah, mo ti a bien content koné ki so nom sa bebet-la...

carrotmadman6

Waterbug.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_water_bug

Siganus Sutor

Pa so nom local sa, mo ti ava dire...

atish29

Thank you for these awesome pictures of Mauritius I never knew ever existed. BTW I noticed you use a GPS tracker in one of your photos. I use nokia as well but cannot use my GPS fingy..Plz help if you can..Thanks

carrotmadman6

Which Nokia?

atish29

NOKIA 5800 ExpressMusic

carrotmadman6

I've googled around & found TrekBuddy, AFTrack & TrackMyJourney.

atish29

Thanks a lot..will try it out. I am thinking of going at 500 pieds but would like to sort out the GPS issue first

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