Le Morne de la Découverte, now known as Signal Mountain or Montagne des Signaux, stands at 323m (1058 ft) above Port Louis. It got its name from the French era signal-post built on the summit to guide the ships in harbour and which has now been replaced by an antenna farm.
Of all Mauritian mountains, Signal Mountain is the easiest to climb. Mainly, because it has a tarred road that goes up to the summit, which can be done on foot or in a vehicle.
So, how easy can it be?
PS. The dark version is here - Montagne des Signaux at night
To find out, 2 weeks ago, I woke up at 4 am & took the earliest bus I've ever taken to Port Louis. That was my street, early morning, pitch black.
I was at the foot of Signal Mountain at around 6.10 am, where instead of the golden light of the dawn, I got this...
Clouds! Just what was not expected after the week-long period of intense sunshine which resulted into February 2012 being one of the hottest months in history.
These photos are the reason why I'm always whining about cloudy weather. Taking photos in low-light is extremely challenging with most of the shots turning out blurred. Because it cannot gather enough light, the camera tends to increase its exposure time. Without a tripod, my unsteady hands cause too much vibration & it comes out all blurry.
That said, not all photos came bad. Like this one of Port Louis waking up on a Saturday morning.
The first part of the road goes in the opposite direction to the summit until we reach this U-turn.
The road to Montagne des Signaux is a popular walking/jogging track for local residents. There was not much of a crowd on that day but it was apparent to anyone that we were the odd ones out, tugging along our cameras & bags...
Time for a
rest panorama. Nearly 150,000 people live in Port Louis.
Back on the route, we came across a grotto, which was very dark.
The weather wasn't just cloudy, there was also some light rain in the North. Which meant that my zoomed shots looked quite dreary.
Still, could be worse. This is a borrowed Nikon P100, a promateur bridge 10MP camera with a 26x zoom. It was released in Feb 2010, a year after my camera. It should be better in every possible way than my P&S, right?
Except it isn't. The colours look they have been washed out by a washing machine…
Nikon is famed for making some of the best low-light cameras in the world. When it comes to designing compact cameras however, they seem to forget this know-how.
Only the zoom is any good. Some souvals doing the rounds at Champs de Mars.
Labourdonnais Street. In my college days, I used to travel all the way from RCPL up to here… by foot. :)
The new Civil/Jeetoo Hospital. Once the premises of the Royal College...
Walking along with the clouds still chasing us.
As we moved higher, our depth of field grew larger & larger…
Soon we caught sight of the antennas & then we came to the hairpin bend...
What a fantastic view!
The time was 7 am & it took us nearly 50 mins to get here. Normally, it's a short 30 min walk. With cameras, it took 20 min longer.
From up top, we could hear the noises of a city waking up - ships blaring their horns in the port, vehicles driving along on the roads, heavy machinery & construction works. Cars & buses that looked like toys. This was a Saturday, there wasn't going to be any traffic jam until much later.
This nice man filling us with the morning news. Actually, very few people stopped at this bend.
Given that the P100 was near useless & my friend's SX130 was on a trip to Africa, I only had my camera to take telephoto shots. To be honest, my eyes have a better "zoom" than what my camera can achieve.
Old Venus cinema.
RCPL with its new wing under construction.
The Cassis cemetery. Contains some of the oldest tombs in Mauritius.
The flyover being built at Caudan roundabout.
The Bulk Sugar Terminal. There was a container ship entering the port in the background.
The motorway to the North. You can nearly see Coin de Mire.
Still cloudy, with just a faint hint of the sun…
We continued our way upwards where there was a parking area & a few benches (which explained why everyone was coming here).
The view on the Western side of the mountain.
Fort Victoria. & next to it the satellite receivers of Mauritius Telecom. That’s where your dial-up came from…
St Louis power station.
One of the new UBS buses! Don't like those. How can anyone travel while sitting backwards!
Pointe aux Caves lighthouse. It seems there was a smudge on my lens.
The weather was definitely clearing up…
& now we come to the hardest part of our journey...
Climbing this excessively steep concrete road up to the antennas.
By the time we reached to the top, the one thing which I had been waiting for all morning finally came out - the sun.
Port Louis bathed in the magnificent sunrise.
Take a look at this photo from 1966… (from this post on Martian Spoken Here). You'll be surprise at how much land has been reclaimed from the sea. What was once Tonnelier Island is now a coal/fuel deposit.
Skyscrapers in 1960s? None. Not that these buildings can be qualified as skyscrapers by international standards…
Les Casernes was still here though & the Victoria bus station.
& here's another panorama of the port at full telephoto.
None of us had the balls to go beyond the antennas, so we didn't go there.
Next to the concrete electric poles, there was also this ancient steel pole. It actually had rungs in it!
The long way down.
It was at this moment that an alarm sounded near the TV antennas. The man who was lurking around promptly sped away, having triggered the motion detectors. We took that as a cue for us to leave before we were wrongly mistaken for being the offenders (the security van came up quite some time later).
Grand River North West & Cité Vallijee. & in the 1960s.
The current bridge, the old bridge & the aqueduct. Well, you’ll have to squint to notice them…
Back to the bend.
The West Leo, a Ghanaian drilling vessel that had been stationed in the port for a week.
This is what I had come to shoot. Sadly though, as it has been the case with most of my recent trips, it was ruined by the weather.
On the way down, we had an opportunity to notice the little things we missed on the way up.
Such as this fleur de lis on the road. Present on the coat of arms of Port Louis.
Keep knocked? Huh?
But the most impressive of all were these... Piquant Loulous, i.e. Acacias.
If you ever thought of ditching the road & going for a climb in the wild (we did consider that shortcut for a moment), please drop the idea because the terrain is infested with these deadly trees.
Flowers on the road.
Ok… nice view.
The Champs de Mars, where the Independence Day celebrations will take place in a few days…
& its tiny Ferris Wheel.
The Citadelle. Should make a trip there as well.
Bird! Taken by the P100, which was slightly better with the sun out.
The road wouldn’t end.
So which one is the tallest? I believe it isn't on this photo.
The iconic Thien Thane pagoda, built in 1950.
The long way down was by far the hardest part of our journey. Because it was hot, very hot under the 9 am sun. Well, it's Port Louis! To make matters worse, we were on a tarred road with hardly any wind.
Finally, the parking area! Again, it took us nearly 50 min to get down. I entirely blame the cameras.
So that was Montagne des Signaux, one of the most accessible places to get one of the best scenic views of Mauritius. Unfortunately for us, the clouds & the rainy weather spoiled our photos. Which means there'll be a next time. One that'll probably be at sunset... :)
In the meantime, check out the video.
- A-l-i-n-e - La Montagne des Signaux
- Yashvinblogs - Le soleil était au rendez-vous… [Timelapse]
- Martian Spoken Here - Port-Louis (1), Port-Louis (2)
- Carine-Olivia – Reminiscence
- Blackhorns.net - View on Port-Louis / Panorama Photography
- Maurice-direct.com - Randonnée sur la Montagne des Signaux
- Mauriplage.com – Signal Mountain
- Picasa - Signal mt by REy
- Flickr - Sunrise over Port-Louis & Sunrise over Port-Louis from the Montagne des Signaux by Kro31
- Flickr – Port Louis harbour by Rubared
- Flickr – Montagne Signaux by Yashvin
- Flickr - Port louis by dawn, Port Louis at dawn, View from Signal Mountain by Grigri234
- Flickr – Signal mountain by stevenlam_1985
- Flickr - Montagne des Signaux 334, 335, 341, 344, 346, 349 by Jean-Michel LEON-FOUN-LIN
- Flickr - Port Louis evening by Peter Kuchar
- Flickr - City of Port Louis by zingbean
- Flickr – Rainbow mountain by wacks
- YouTube - View of Port Louis from Signal Mountain by MauritiusFilm
- YouTube – The Mauritian Mountaintop by zfg87
- YouTube - View City Of Port-Louis by TheBurlington11
- YouTube - Sunrise - Time Lapse Video by yashvinawootar
- Panoramio - Port Louis from Signal Mountain
- Panoramio – Signal Mountain