In the south of Mauritius, La Vanille Nature Park lies on 3.5 hectares of luxuriant vegetation where guests can find geckos, macaques, deer, and mongooses. This part of the island has kept a feeling of “old Mauritius,” whether it is the manner of the people, their traditions, or even the unspoiled scenery.
The founder of La Vanille Nature Park is responsible for the initiative of re-creating a sanctuary of giant tortoises from Seychelles on Rodrigues Island. In addition to the captive breeding programs in place at La Vanille for a number of threatened species, and the establishment of the François Leguat Giant Tortoise and Cave Reserve in Rodrigues, La Vanille is also involved in other conservation projects in Mauritius. In an effort to preserve some of the remaining species, La Vanille has acquired a block of 100 acres of ebony-dominated dry hardwood forest in the west of the island at Chamarel, which contains many extremely rare Mauritian plants. This conservation project will ensure that the forest is being actively managed with programs to weed out invasive alien plant species. In addition, a nursery produces native seedlings to plant in gaps in the forest.
The park is a magical place where nature and humans can meet in a truly Mauritian way. It is the largest Giant Aldabra tortoises’ center of reproduction in the world, with more than 700 tortoises of all ages roaming in liberty – an unforgettable experience among those colonies of tortoises. Visitors can also discover in complete security more than 1,500 Nile crocodiles, and admire the iguanas basking in the sun on the banks of a river, where they will also see turtles. Guests can watch the crocodiles being fed every Wednesday and Saturday at 11:30 am, meet the iguana up close and personal every day at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm, and take pictures with 6-month old baby crocs.
The Insectarium is one of the largest collections of insects in the world with more than 23,000 species. The reserve houses one of the world’s largest private collections of butterflies and other insects. Mauritius is home to 40 species of butterfly, of which 5 are endemic, and here visitors will have the opportunity to see some of these beautiful and rare butterflies. The owner and curator of this impressive collection is Jacques Siedlecki. It has taken more than 30 years to collect all of these specimens.
The Ammonites museum is the latest addition to the park and features a world-class exhibit of hundreds of ammonite fossils from Madagascar – the result of years of collecting by Owen Griffiths. The exhibit and associated artwork show the diversity, biology, and means of collecting and processing Ammonites, one of the most popular and easily recognized of all fossils.
A Jungle Adventure Playground welcomes children to this game area where they can play safely in the middle of trees and birds. And the La Vanille Aquarium offers visitors the discovery of certain species of waterfowl, among others.
The Restaurant “The Hungry Crocodile” offers its specialty which is crocodile meat cooked in various ways including the Mauritius way. Ever enjoyed fritters of crocodile? And while guests feed themselves, they can also feed the birds that come to be given pieces of bread.
“Made-in-Mauritius” gifts and souvenirs can be found at the park’s shop, and include fine goods from handcrafted bags and wallets to children books, educational items, post cards, and more. A great way for tourists to take home a park memory.
La Vanille Nature Park is open every day from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
For more information, click here.