If you just have one day out with the family in Mauritius, La Vanille Nature Reserve should be high on your list. It has more than enough to keep all ages happy for a day and well worth the admission price. Set in an atmospheric rain forest valley, the big attraction here are the 2,000 Nile crocodiles which are bred here. Children can get close up (but not too close) to these incredible prehistoric looking creatures and watch their lightening strikes as keepers dangle great chunks of chicken over the side of their enclosures. Kids will learn fascinating facts. Did you know that the temperature crocodile eggs are incubated at determines the sex? (26-30 degrees for females and 30-33 degrees for males). This place is hands on and kids can hold a six-month-old crocodile feeling how soft its underbelly is. Its jaws are bound with a band as they are born with 68 teeth. Although they are a protected species, as they are bred in the park, you can head for lunch at The Hungry Crocodile Restaurant and tuck into crocodile burger which tastes a bit like chicken.
The other key attraction here are the Aldabra tortoises. This is also a breeding programme for redistribution back into the wild across Mauritius, Rodrigues and Madagascar. Families will encounter all ages of these incredible creatures from tiny babies to enormous beasts which can live over 100 years. Domino is aged 61 and weighs 275kg. La Vanille has just introduced a new activity where families can go into an enclosure of 5-year-old tortoises with buckets of carrot leaves and feed them. It’s quite a site to have thirty tortoises heading towards you with beaks ready to chomp on your veg. Kids also get the chance to hold a baby.
And don’t miss a look in the Insectarium where you can’t fail to be wowed by the collection of 25,000 species of butterfly and beetle from around the world. Any children interested in the natural world will be over awed simply by the colours and shapes of these incredible insects.
Little kids will love the petting farm with ponies, donkeys, rabbits, pigs, wild boar, peacocks and ducks.