Arrived back in the Uk early this morning and wanted to thank everyone here for their advice and suggestions.
I'll be submitting seperate reviews of the hotels I stayed in, Emeraude and 20o South.
Weather: I knew it was coming into the winter, and that the East Coast would be windy. A few days were quite overcast and too windy for the beach, so these were the days I visited other parts of the island. However, it was generally warm and sunny, a few odd showers on the east coast, and the evenings were mild enough to forgo a cardigan/jumper.
Getting around: Some people at my hotel booked trips via their travel company and paid a very hefty premium for doing so. It is about half the price to hire a driver for the day, and then dictate just how long you want to stay in any one place.
Following the advice on this forum, I divided trips into days spent either north, south, or through central Mauritius. Although the island is relatively small, I didn't want to spend all day in a car, so covering just one area at a time, made for a good day out without getting up at the crack of dawn. At this time of year, I found it was dusk by about 4 :30 , and so limiting how far I wanted to travel.
Typical costs for a taxi and driver ranged from 1400 to 2100 MRP, depending on distance and the length of the day trip.The average day trip was from about 9:30 to 17:00 from start to finish. Entry fee's were additional. It was easy to negotiate a price, but by the end of the holiday, I became quite firm that this was not a shopping trip, so I didn't want to "pop in" to factory/carpet shops en route. I found the taxi drivers very happy to chat and make suggestions, or provide answers to my myriad of questions.
Places to see: Again due to research and questions in this forum, I seemed to have packed in a fair amount of sights, while still enjoying some beach/pool time!
Flac Sunday Market: Loved this.... a covered market jam packed with fruit/veg, household goods, wonderful pashmina's, colourful baskets /bags etc. Although very crowded, no one pushed and shoved, and stall holders were keen to engage in some gentle bargaining! I bought a lovely pashmina for 200 MRP, and a zipped basket for 300 MRP... the stall holder obligingly snipped off the dodo logo, and a passing elderly gent said he'd take it home to cook for his dinner! In the local supermarket I bought loads of packed spices, and some yummy cakes... all very reasonably priced.
Volcano: Hmm, it was along drive to see a hole on the ground.
Tea Plantation: What a lovely suprise! A good little museum, set in wonderful parkland/gardens, and the tea tasting was set in a stunning pavillion giving some astonishing views across the hills. Definately a photo opportunity, and no hard sell to buy the tea. Entry fee 250 MRP, includes the museum and tea tasting. Worth it, allow about 90 mins, but no one rushes you.
Grand Baisin ( Hindu temple and lake)... so quiet and serene, and a lovely spot to just sit and people watch. The lake is vast and has walkways around it. Free and worth lingering over.
Black River Gorge National Park. WOW... it was a relief to escape the relentless mono culture of sugar plantations..I raved about this when I got back to my hotel... take a picnic, try the different graded walks, view different waterfalls (Alexander Waterfall was an easy walk) and enjoy the huge variety of trees. glades and pathways, birds. Free and I could have happily spent hours here.. but other places beckoned.
Chameral... now some people didn't like this, but I thought it was facinating. An easy trip for all levels of mobility, beautifully tended gardens.. clean loo's, covered area for tea/coffee/cakes and very good informations guides. The waterfall here was spectacular, and there are two staging posts to take you to higher paths for better views. Cost, if I remember was about 175 MRP . Can be done in an hour, but again if you want to take your time, you could spend longer.
Port Louis... Well, cities are not for me, it was a hot day, and I just wanted to get back to some peace and quiet..
Pamplemousse Gardens.. sorry for the spelling! I thoroughly enjoyed this garden and the entertaining guides. These gentemen know how to tell a good story. This was one of my "must do's" and I was not disappointed. Lily ponds of course, but also lotus ponds, a deer enclosure ( with some new born "bambi's) a turtle enclosure, lovely shaded winding paths, as well as more formal tree lined avenues, all very well tended, with excellent description signs.Entry 100 MRP, guide 50 MRP. I could have happily spent a few hours, but this can be done in a hour or so if pushed for time.
Beaches.... Ahh, Bell Mare.. ok, probably not the best time to visit, but when the winds died down and the sun came out... sheer bliss. I loved the sound of the waves breaking on the reef, the few beach vendors were never a nuisance, and the horizon just seemed to stretch for ever! Many a happy hour was spent under my favourite beach umbrella, cool drink in hand, just staring out to sea.
Pereybere. Now that was a lovely golden small beach, set in a very pretty bay with crystal clear water. Definately worth a visit, especially if the day is dull on the east coast.
Flat Island....beats all superlatives! Just go and find out for yourself..
Lasting impressions. This stunning little island is best discovered by doing some research and getting out there. Travelling around takes much longer than I had expected.There was much that I didn't see or do, as there just wasn't enough time.
The people of Mauritus were wonderful hosts, and I shall miss their warmth and humour, which was one of the best part of my holiday.