A month ago, I took to the roads to visit the South-East part of Mauritius.
In the previous road trip, we had stopped at Rivière des Anguilles and gone further South towards Souillac & then drove till the West coast. This time though, we planned to go East from Rivière des Anguilles...
A brief stop at the Britannia Sugar Estate. It’s a much nicer sight at night when it's all lit up.
The church in Rivière des Anguilles. We drove through the village while the people were clearing out after the Sunday market.
Leaving Rivière des Anguilles, we encountered a side road bordered by coconut trees, which must have led to one of the numerous quad bike trails in the region.
Further ahead, we came across the village of Benares. Ignoring the sign, we figured out that the best course of action would be to turn right into this unknown sugar estate road.
Clearly, we made the right decision as we came across some law-abiding Mauritian citizens.
Despite the bad state of the road, we were urged to move forward by what looked like an old chimney at the end of it.
Out of the blue, the fields ended & we caught sight of Piton Savanne.
No wonder they weren't happy of the illegal use of the canal water as they were actually pumping it.
Sugar cane bins lined up on the side waiting for the harvest to begin.
A Caterpillar bulldozer.
A potato warehouse.
The cabin in the woods.
Signs that we were indeed deep inside a sugar estate.
& then as we reached the end of the road, we saw the chimney.
According to Defimedia, these are the ruins of an old sugar factory built in 1863 under Sir Virgil Naz.
Heavy machinery & a lonely worker.
The ruins were now being used as a store by the sugar estate.
The scenery was wonderful.
A desolate and eerily quiet place…
As we took photos of the landscape, I was intrigued by this 'To Beach' sign.
We decided to brave the mud road with the intention of discovering this secret beach.
Unfortunately, our enthusiasm was stopped short by a muddy puddle in the middle of the potato fields.
Given that this was not best time to find out if the reasonably priced car was suitable for off-roading, we had to double back. (That's the beach we missed)
Our plan was to visit this wonderful alley of palm trees we had spotted a little while ago.
A private road? Hmmm…
The view at the end of it was worth the trespass.
The alley. Such a shame, it was blocked by a no entry sign. I would have loved do some more trespassing.
As there was nothing else to do here, we went back to the village. The tiny village of Benares had one last attraction that we had to visit.
The Chateau de Benares, the old palatial summer house of Sir Virgil Naz, now converted into a primary school.
Back on the road trip, our next destination was L'Escalier.
An old house near the junction.
As we drove further East, we caught sight of yet another chimney ruin.
It was that of the old Savannah sugar mill.
These chimneys are relics of the massive sugar industry of Mauritius, which at one point in the past had 259 sugar factories.
The old and the new. Well, technically not the same kind of machinery.
Overhead irrigation. That reminds of the days when the Irrigation Authority would come to my neighbourhood, set up their pipes and irrigate the fields.
The banyan tree covering the road. Another thing which you don't see anymore these days.
We continued our journey and just before L'Escalier, we spotted an ancient steel bridge in the midst of the fields.
This isn't an ordinary steel bridge. It was built specifically for trains. Sugarcane carriers, not passenger ones.
Yes, you can still see those rails. It was sad sight to see the bridge being left to rot. I was even more surprised that thieves haven't already stolen all that steel.
A symbol of Mauritius' rich train heritage, this bridge over River du Poste was built in 1949 when the Savannah mill closed. The sugarcane was taken from La Baraque (Omnicane) sugar factory to Souillac where it would be sent to Port Louis. More about it here.
Our next stop was not Le Souffleur, since we had heard that the region wasn’t very attractive anymore. A decision which I eventually regretted after seeing these photos…
Instead, we continued on towards a similar destination - Pont Naturel. After leaving Trois Boutiques, we were forced to do some off-roading as the only access was through the sugarcane fields.
Overhead irrigation has now evolved into center-pivot irrigation, where an automated sprinkle rotates in the field, causing the crop circles seen on Google Maps. :)
One thing that hasn't changed though is the boulder marking that help identify sugarcane varieties.
Without these directions we would have easily been lost.
Finally, we arrived at Pont Naturel, where we were welcomed by the sea mists being blown inland.
We could actually taste the saltiness in the air. I should probably warn future travellers that this salty water isn't very good for your cameras.
But I was more worried about getting drenched as the incoming waves were rising well above the cliffs!
The main attraction of this location is the natural rock bridge shaped by the waves.
If you watch closely, you can make out the skull-like rocks on the ledge... :)
The 3 worst explorers in history...
Near one the cliffs, we heard an ominous sound coming from the ground. Upon investigation, it turned out to be a blowhole. The action of the waves under the cliffs forces the air through an underground cavity. Check the video below to hear it.
I apologise for the shakiness which was due to the strong winds.
Our next stop was not Ilot Brocus as we found out that it was jailed. Such a shame it’s a private property.
As lunchtime was nearing, we had to rush to Plaine Magnien before the shops closed. Hence, we had no time to visit Le Bouchon or Mon Desert Mon Tresor. Meanwhile we had to figure out the best place to have lunch…
& so ends Part 1 of this road trip as we were now on the verge to explore the East coast, which will be detailed in Part 2.
- Picasa – Benares by Freddy Meier
- Defimedia - Benares - A village worth visiting
- Flickr - Benares by Isla-Mauricia
- Flickr - Through the Banyan Tree by stuckinparadise
- Flickr - Road to farm, Mauritius by varlamov
- Preserved Steam in Mauritius
- Narrow Gauge Railway Relics in Mauritius, 2012
- Flickr - Beau Vallon steel railway bridge
- Flickr - Vestige (L'Escalier, Ile Maurice) by indeepdark
- Geocaching – Savannah Bridge
- Mauritius Photography Blog – L’Escalier river – Simply amazing!
- Côte sud de l'île Maurice: Savannah – La sourdine – L’escalier
- Côte sud : Savinia.
- Un lundi matin sur la côte sud de l'île Maurice... près du Souffleur
- Flickr – L’Escalier, Le Souffleur by Isla-Mauricia
- Flickr – Le Souffleur by GenTYann
- Flickr – Blue by stuckinparadise
- Picasa – Le Souffleur by Freddy Meier