Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mauritius Cultural Travel: Add Spice to Your Romantic Beach Vacation

By Andrew Muigai

Mauritius Island is one of Africa's most famous travel destination for luxury beach vacations. Yet, besides its spectacular tropical beauty, the Island has a rich culture that many visitors often overlook. This culture is a unique combination of the cultures, traditions and religion of many immigrant populations that came to the island at different stages in the history of Mauritius.

Europeans, Africans, Chinese, and Indians are just some of the populations that have shaped culture in Mauritius. Most of these communities have had religious and cultural customs and festivals as old as four centuries or even more.

Diverse cultures co-exist in perfect harmony in Mauritius, making the island an interesting cultural travel destination. It is not unusual for example to find a Chinese pagoda next to a mosque, or churches and Hindu temples in very close proximity.

The rich cultural heritage of Mauritius is also manifested in the country's cuisine, which is a mixture of oriental cuisine brought in by Indian and Chinese migrants, and traditional western cuisine from the island's colonial past. There are also several foods unique to Mauritius, some of which combine the finest flavors of the west and the east to suit the Mauritius' distinct taste.

Mauritian folklore is also a living tribute to the variety and depth of Mauritius culture. This is illustrated by the many different folkloric dances that are unique to the people of Mauritius. There are also numerous chances of watching sophisticated Indian dances if not the Chinese lion and dragon ones.

Mauritius has a fair share of wildlife and bird species, including some brightly colored birds. The game parks are a great place to see most of these. Other places worth visiting for relaxation include the capital city - Port Louis, and the neighboring Mahebourg town. Adventure travel enthusiasts will also find it worthwhile visiting Rodrigues for diving, Caverne Patate for caving, Mount Limon and Mount Malartic for trekking expeditions, and the area around Port Mathurin for coastal hiking.

All travelers to the island require a visa to get there, with the exception of USA, EU, and Japan passport holders, and citizens of commonwealth countries. Before traveling to Mauritius it is advisable to check the most up-to-date visa requirements information. A number of international airlines and shipping companies can get you to the Island. You can obtain comprehensive information on the shipping services between Reunion and Mauritius Islands from the Mauritius Shipping Corporation based in Port Louis.

Mauritius' national airline - Air Mauritius - operates scheduled flights to Rodrigues Island. Within the island, you can travel by bus and taxi or you can hire a rental car. Taxi fares are high especially at night, and you have to negotiate the fares before starting your trip. At some tourist hotspots, boats for hire are available.

The best time to take a Mauritius holiday trip is from July to September when humidity and heat are lower. Tropical rains are likely from January to April and this is the appropriate time to visit Mauritius if you are looking to have romance indoors.

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