Go wild in the south of this tropical island, with a stay in one of four innovative new eco-glamping sites set in the heart of nature. Mauritian expert Nicki Grihault explores
Families love these charming self-catering Creole-style chalets, decked out in boho-chic style, nestled on a farm in the cooler highlands of Chamarel. Saddles slung over the veranda railings give it the feel of a livery stables, and it’s one of the few places on the island to offer guided horseriding, through tropical scenery with forested mountains and rivers on calm, gentle South African horses (with boots and hats provided). It also has guided hikes, which lead past an old sugar chimney and alongside sugarcane, pineapple and bananas plantations in the fertile red-coloured earth.
Families of four can choose from elegant L’Atelier, a wooden whitewashed chalet with an L-shaped ‘wrap-around’ balcony, or more modern La Maison du Potager in the kitchen garden, with floor-to-ceiling windows, splashes of lime green in curtains and cups, and comfy sofas around a fireplace. Spacious traditional-style Le Campement, which sleeps six (with three bathrooms) has wooden shutters, tile floors, a picnic-style dining table on the veranda and one muslin-draped antique four-poster bed.
Bring earplugs (rain on the tin roofs is noisy), warm clothes and insect repellent. Kitchens have a microwave and a small shop sells groceries at supermarket prices, plus seasonal herbs, salad and fruit from the estate. But if you don’t feel like cooking, authentic Mauritian meals and picnic baskets are made to order. A kids’ corner has swings, a sandpit and mini football pitch, and communal La Cabane has free tea, coffee and wifi, and a veranda (with fireplace) to mingle with other guests.
Nearby Chamarel village has tables d’hôte (set menus) in its restaurants and a day’s worth of attractions, from geological formation The Seven Coloured Earths and a rum factory, to the Curious Corner of Chamarel, a fantastic world of optical illusions and mind games. Family-friendly hiking trails in Black River Gorges National Park and Le Morne Beach, one of the island’s finest, are a 15-minute drive, and west coast beaches can be reached by bus.
Best glamping feature: A thatched gazebo on the hilltop at La Vieille Cheminee has a lovely small pool with stunning mountain views, and a rustic bar offering sundowners.
Best bits for families: Horse-riding, and Freddie at the stables lets kids groom the horses; plus slow, simple and private family living with the birds for company (and no TV or in-room wifi), but plenty to do nearby.
The details: Two- to three-bedroom chalets a La Vieille Cheminee cost from £140-£210 per night, without meals; breakfast/dinner £5/£10pp.
Air Mauritius flies from London Heathrow direct to Mauritius. Return fares start from £785 per person including all taxes and charges but look out for special fares that the airline offers from time to time. Children under 2-11 are 75% of the adult fare. Infants under 2 not occupying a seat are charged 10% of the adult fare.
For more information:
Contact the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA)