Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pointe aux Caves (Albion) Lighthouse

Centenary Albion Lighthouse

The Cave Point lighthouse, near Albion. A visit to one of the most iconic landmarks of Mauritius.


The above photo was taken by one of my favourite Mauritian photographers, stuckinparadise. In my mind, this is what I expected to find on my very first trip to Pointe aux Caves.

The Albion Lighthouse Panorama

Instead, I got this! :|


Mauritius lighthouses stamp issued 1995.

The Albion lighthouse is a place that has always fascinated me ever since I saw this stamp... & when I read the Famous Five


... & when Pointe aux Caves featured in the film Baazigar (& some other films as well as some scenes!)


Also known as Belle Vue lighthouse

I'll come back to the lighthouse later, but the first thing thing we wanted to do is visit the Pointe aux Caves cliffs, which are famous for having many caves that have been carved out by the sea. It’s indeed a popular spot for rock climbing.


Naked tree.

Fishing. Like a Boss.

Just under cliffs near the lighthouse, some fishermen were hard at work trying to lure out the tired fishes. Well, if you ask me, that was very dangerous. Already, the sea was rough & the waves were crashing spectacularly against the rocks!


I don't like boats.



Albion lighthouse captured on N9 wide-angle mode.

The lighthouse, the fishermen & a boat - what a fantastic composition that would have been on any other day.



Looking away from the lighthouse, towards Port Louis, there were more cliffs.



Now, where's the hidden button?

& where the sea had carved out two natural bridges/portals.


Please don't try this at home!


Pointe aux Caves in portrait mode. Why is it called portrait anyway!?


The white foam caused by the waves crashing against the rocks. You could spend the entire day watching it.


Pieds dans l'eau pool.

Hills have eyes.

Well, if it wasn't for the smell.


I really don't know what animal that is.

& I'm not talking about the rotting carcass of this cow (because it’s not a whale), but rather of the nearby farm which I believe it has escaped from. There is a huge cattle farm nearby from which emanates an absolutely nauseous smell.

No matter where you go, there's always a fly in the ointment.


Worst Place Ever!

Nothing to see here. Just someone proposing...


The rally track next to Albion lighthouse. Seriously.

Underexposed. Or just very cloudy.

Leaving the lighthouse, we followed the path to the North, looking for a way to get down to the seaside.




Eventually, we got to a point where the cliffs sort of disappeared.


& no Sun.

That's Port Louis up there. I mean, it should appear behind those cliffs.


That's what she said.

Among the litter-infested rocky shore, we saw fishes, sponges & these tentacular plantanimals that grow engorged when disturbed.


Red = lots of iron.

Lava flow frozen in time.


The N9 is really good at those wide-angle photos.

Jumping from rock to rock, we moved towards the cliffs.


Imitation seagulls?

In every other sea cliffs in the world, you have legions of seabirds nesting. In Mauritius, however, you have pigeons…


This is low tide, I guess.


At last, we saw one of the much-talked about caves! Alright, that's hardly a cave, more like a small grotto.


The n00bs above were chucking stones below!

The two rednecks in our group ventured forward & as I had predicted had to double back because the way was blocked by the portals.


Not very good for a swim.

Fortunately we didn't have to go all the way back as there was a path to climb through the cliff. That was the view on the caves.


The Albion lighthouse as seen from very far away...

Time to go back to the lighthouse.


The entrance. Side one is for goats. Really.

Translation of excellent is panoramique.

The Pointe aux Caves lighthouse is more than century old as it was built in 1910.



God save the ships!

At the bottom of the lighthouse, there was a grotto of La Vierge du Rocher.


There was a NCG officer inside who told us to bugger off!

On the side facing the sea was a recent addition, a SMF radar. (It wasn't here in 2010 as you can see from the first photo).



While I do understand that having a nearby electricity supply is a valid point, there is no excuse for ruining the picture perfect scenery of the lighthouse. The radar tower is nothing short of an abomination!


Nice spot for barbecues.

Dear tropical weather, I hate you!

Behind the lighthouse & we have a view on the village of Albion where there were much bigger caves, which we'll definitely visit on a better day.


Red. White. Red. White.

Looking up at the lighthouse from the South.



West side.



North side.


Must have survived a few hundred cyclones.

It creaked open.

The century old door of the lighthouse.



Inside, in an annexed room, we found an old generator which is used to charge batteries.


Cool story, bro.

On the ground level, there were various posters related to the lighthouse. This one detailing the naval history of Mauritius as La clé de la mer des Indes.


I have that stamp!

Newspaper cuttings from Le Cernéen.


Not to be confused with Robert Boyle.

Sir Charles Cavendish Boyle, the governor under which the lighthouse was built.


I once went to Canonniers & kept looking for it.

The two other non-operational lighthouses of Mauritius, namely at Pointe aux Canonniers (owned by Club Med) & Ile aux Fouquets (abandoned).


Why Cave Point? Not Point of Caves?

The still operational lighthouses – Cave Point lighthouse & Flat Island lighthouse.

Technical data for Cave Point Lighthouse:

  • Also known as: Belle Vue Lighthouse
  • Nearest Village: Albion
  • Tower Height: 97 feet (30 m)
  • Height of Focal Plane: 152 feet (46.3 m)
  • Date of construction: 1910
  • Characteristics: Two white flashes every 10 seconds, visible within 29 nautical miles (53.7 km).


Crrr... cr... alo, alo!

Mayday! Mayday!

& that is an antique radio transmitter/receiver.


It's quite scary if you're bulky.

As it creaks & groans.

Just under the extremely narrow stairs!



On the first level, we had a poster explaining the various levels.


We need more lighthouses!

A short history of Pointe aux Caves lighthouse.

Initially, kerosene was used to power the lighthouse, fed via a pump operated hydraulic system. The lens clockwork assembly was rotated using a system of counterweights (which spanned across the height of the tower). The counterweights sounded a gong every 4 hours which signalled the lighthouse keeper to rewind the counterweights system.
In 1952, batteries replaced kerosene & a 500W lamp was used. In 1973, the lighthouse was connected to the CEB grid. The current lamp is rated 1500W.


Time Switch Control. Hmmm...

The aforementioned control panel.



No, just very dirty windows.

Looking out of the windows.


Dual lamps.


On the 2nd level, we have the subsidiary light which is used to guide the ships to port. By aligning themselves with the red-filtered light, the ships could navigate to the entry of the port.


That thing down below is the pressure pump.

Kerosene tanks.


Old cupboard which hides a secret passageway.

On the 3rd level, an old cupboard used to store spare parts.



See, what did I tell you. That's the air vent of the passageway.

More windows & the stairs.


Built in 1931.

Bourdon Tube Pressure Gauge. Patent troll.

On the 4th level, more kerosene tanks.


Another secret passageway.


Another cupboard & the beam used for the counterweights system.


Very steeeep ladder!


The stairs giving access to the lantern room.


If you can't build a single lens, break it in pieces. - Fresnel


In the lantern room, we finally discover the rotating Fresnel lenses assembly which is used to amplify the light. While the lamp always remains on, the rotation of the lenses create a flashing effect.


Ying yang.

The two 1500W lamps, one of them looks burnt.



Like clockwork.

Who are those people behind!?

The rotating gearing assembly & motors.


Because you don't want to concentrate sunlight on a single point...

The lenses are draped in a white sheet to protect them from the sun.


Sadly, there's no key to lock everyone else out.

I'm very good at deciphering. Or Googling.

The door to the outside & the inscription on it.

Chance Brothers and Co Limited
Lighthouse Engineers and Constructors
near Birmingham


See those goats?

Apparently, there was to be a coal plant here.

& finally… the view outside.



Don't blame me for including 2 very similar looking photos.

Looking towards Port Louis.


That's Tourelle du Tamarin & Le Morne I think.

Actually, we were afraid to go there after 6.

Notice those goats.

The village of Albion & the cliffs.


Mandated by the UN.

Camouflage fail!

The SMF radar.


Prevents cyclones from destroying it.

So that when it breaks, it's easier to replace.

The dome on the lantern room alternates between rhombus-shaped glass & metal sheet.


I kept holding the rail.

Masala. That was written on the floor.

I’ll be honest. If you are afraid of heights, please don’t go there. The small ledge & the high winds will utterly terrorise you!


Just trying my macro mode. Composition fail!

I had to go through feet first as it's so small!

With no sunset to watch, there was nothing more we could do. & for once I did not shoot any panoramas because the light level was too low. But before leaving, there was one more thing…


The video.


Not HDR. Just faux-blending with selective exposure tweaking.

So that was the Pointe aux Caves lighthouse. It was nearly 18:00 when we left the lighthouse, but what a walk through history we’ve had! Built more than 100 years ago & still working. A priceless part of Mauritian history that should be conserved, but is instead being neglected & disfigured by building radar towers next to it. It’s a pity they don’t build such lighthouses anymore.

My only regret? The damn stupid weather that followed us from Corps de Garde! Our camera sensors were really struggling to capture all those photons! Well, at least it didn’t rain. Until the next time I come back here on a sunny day, just content yourselves with those wonderful photos I’ve linked to.










Nice post! The last photo is epic. :)


Thanks. :)

Yashvin Awootar

After this virtual visit, one need no more to go there physically :P

A short story on my last visit there : The guy who guards the lighthouse (or I dont know what he does there) insisted that I needed to pay him to visit.
I shot him (on camera of course) and was phoning the police when he told me "Aller, faire 1 lizaze r zotte, zotte cpv rentrer".For the whole visit, he has been the most polite person ever :P


A little short story of my own. The lighthouse keeper told us that we would need a permit from MPA to get in. Luckily, one of the people there was the neighbour of one my friends & he let us in.

Yashvin Awootar

lol. Ene chance pas ti bisin courtier maritim sinon to ti pu bisin rode ene!


No, I don't mean permit, I mean a pass! Similar to the one you need to enter the Port Zone I guess. :p


The rally track and a few pictures after it, especially showing the sea and rocky fronts are well shot! Too bad the sky was grey-ish that day. You'd have gotten nice light effects otherwise.

Siganus Sutor

You are right: that SMF thing is just an abomination. And why do they need to paint their wagon with that ugly camouflage pattern? It just adds insult to injury.

Lighthouse Queen

Really enjoyed this blog--almost felt like I was there. Thanks for posting. Elinor DeWire

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