Mauritius - Additional Information and Tips
In the following text I give some further information that I have made as partly positive and partly negative experiences on the island and would like to share. And there are of course a few links to some interesting websites.
Tips for a pleasant holiday in Mauritius
Protection against Mosquitos
In Mauritius, during the day and specially in the evenings as many mosquitos buzz around as at home. Thus, the same thing also applies here that is not to let the light on in the hotel room at the evenings when the balcony door is opened, as the light attracts the mosquitos, as known. The bites are a little more foercely as the ones at home, maybe because one is not used to the poison of the local mosquitos of Mauritius; While in Germany, a bite is healed after a few days, in Mauritius I partly had to mull it over for a week.
By accessing the tropical rain forests, for example at the Eureka colonial house or in the Black River Gorges National Park, one comes across to plenty of mosquitos. The Autan-spray against mosquitos did not help in my case. The only thing that realy helps is wearing long trousers, even if it is hot outside. One should simply have a look to the clothes that the local taxi and bus drivers are wearing!
But if one is still stung, one should not scratch the spot in any case (this also applies when being at home). Those who scratch the bite so that the wound bleeds, risks to get a dangerous infection. This is why a antipruritic salve should not be missing in the first-aid kit. Tea-tree oil also provides some alleviation.
Traffic Jams in Port Louis
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. Here, there is also the most important traffic junction of the island, as the main motorway goes straight across the city. During our tours we repeatedely had to get in the mornings and the evenings through the city and anytime it was a little nightmare, because the traffic jams of the capital are of a length of several kilometres; Any time, one easily looses half an hour with being on the streets of the capital.
It is indeed possible to avoid the city, but by doing this one does not save any time and the stomach won't be happy after such curvy drivings. The only thing that really helps is the passage of Port Louis in the early morning (before 08.30 a.m.), around noon time and in the late evening. During the rush hours one obligatorily stands; those who do not have any air conditioning in the car, do melt in the scorching heat and the waste gas of the standing cars and buses.
Driving Cars in Mauritius
During their dominance in Mauritius, the english people did not set the island culturally as the French did before. But the English left insofar an important mark by introducing the left-hand traffic. Thus, still today, all cars drive at the left and one sits at the right side of the steering wheel in the car. For a german tourist, this is of course an adaptation that is not very easy to handle, but some vacationers in Mauritius already know the left-hand-traffic from other countries like England or Schottland.
What is much more difficult to deal with than with the left-hand-traffic is the low number of traffic signs. In Mauritius, it is not self evident at all that at a crossover, one is told in which direction to continue. Many places/spots can be only found by knowing them or by having a big map with one in which also the smaller streets are drawed in. What is also hard to deal with are the numerus buses that simply stop on the street and suddenly resart again, and of course also the ciclists and mopeds, for which there are apparently no rules at all.
Driving on double-tracked traffic circles: if I understood it right, one has to turn immediately on the left outer track, while one can spin in the inner track. Thus, from the inner track one can take an exist from the rotary at any time having right of way against the outer track. This is anyway the way I understood and observed it.
Taxi instead of Car Rental
In order to explore the island one can of course rent a car or take part in organized tours of the the travel agencies or free providers. A good alternative also is renting a taxi. The prices for a taxi are indeed not really cheap on the island, but the taxi drivers do offer more than a fast trip from A to B. The taxi drivers are already mentalized to the fact that tourist come and want to make a half day or a full day excursion. Thus, the driver then takes over the role of the travel guide, takes one from place to place and explains a little bit.
The price if of course expensive at first, but it is a matter of negotiating! Thus, it is better to have first a detailed conversation with the driver about the route and the prize. Then one will also see if the driver is likeable; one will finally spend half a day or a full day with him. The question if the car has a working air-conditiones is also important, as without it, specially during the traffic jam in the capital, the trip can soon be converted to a descent into hell.
An alternative to the official taxi drivers are the private drivers offering their services to clearly lower prices. Such providers can be found for example on the beach. Of course, the question if the car is in a good shape and if it is completely insured and if this insurance also covers the passengers, is important. I was very lucky with such a private driver, who offered at a reasonable price a very good performance with lots of valuable tips and explanations.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz