Black River Gorges National Park

Set in the cobalt blue waters of the Indian Ocean and surrounded by coral reefs, the island of Mauritius is a slice of tropical paradise. Perfect for beach lovers, it boasts almost 180km of coastline peppered with white-sandy beaches shaded by swaying palms.

However, if you can bear to tear yourself away from the shore, you'll find one corner of Mauritius that is perhaps the most spectacular. The Black River Gorges National Park offers you the chance to see rare and protected species of plants and birds. Throw some macaque monkeys, deer, and wild boar into the mix and you've got all the ingredients for a breathtaking day out.

The history of the Black River Gorges National Park

Today, the Black River Gorges National Park is a UNESCO-protected site. Covering around 70km, it offers its inhabitants a variety of habitats from humid hilltop forests and arid valleys, to boggy marshland teeming with life. The park was founded in 1994 in recognition of its extensive range of unique and endangered flora and fauna. Botanists, entomologists and zoologists identified over 311 species of plant, 28 species of bird particular to the island, and a huge colony of giant fruit bats.

During the colonisation of the island, much of the native plant life was threatened. The park is the last enclave of some of Mauritius' forests and the birds and mammals that have made them their homes. Of particular interest to scientists were the Mauritius Kestrel, the Pink Pigeon, and the Echo Parakeet. In addition, the plant life on the island has been identified as some of the most endangered on the planet. As an intensely-managed nature reserve, the park has received recognition from both UNESCO and the International Council for Bird Preservation.

Visiting the Black River Gorges National Park

If you're a fan of the great outdoors, indulging in some Black River Gorges National Park hiking is a superb way to stretch your legs and soak up the park's natural splendour. You'll find plenty of hiking trails, although many of these are often masked by undergrowth, which can leave you a bit disorientated.

It's worth popping into one of the visitors' centres to pick up a map or, if you want to uncover the secrets the park has hidden in the undergrowth then you might want to consider hiring one of the Black River Gorges National Parks travel guides. These professional rangers know the parts of the park that remain hidden to the untrained eye and can take you on a fantastic wildlife-spotting tour.

If you're determined to go it alone, the Parakeet Trail and the Macchabée Loop are both well worth exploring.

For the best Black River Gorges National Park pictures, book your holiday to Mauritius between September and January. This is when most of the plants come into flower and you can snap blooms from rare plants such as the Dodo Tree and the Black Ebony Tree.

However, if you're more of a David Attenborough wannabe, pack your camera between the months of September and February, when you're most likely to see some spectacular species of bird, including the Mauritius cuckoo-shrikes and the colourful pink pigeons. A stunning destination at any time of year, this jaw-dropping national park is sure to be the highlight of your holiday to Mauritius.

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