|Cavadi Festival||January/February||During this Hindu festival, bodies are pierced with needles; tongues and cheeks with pins and devotees in a trance carry the ‘Cavadi’ on their shoulders as a penitence. The ‘Cavadi’ is a wooden arch, covered with flowers and with a pot of milk at each end. Penitents also fire walk across white-hot coals at Tamil Kaylasson temple.|
|Maha Shivaratri Festival||February or March||Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva.|
|Holi||March||The Festival of Colour is a festival of joy culminating in a procession where coloured powders and water are thrown up above the crowd of gatherers who wish each other good luck.|
|Independence Day Celebrations||March||On Independence Day (12th March) aerial displays and music are held at Champ de Mars racecourse.|
|Marlin World Cup||December||An annual game fishing competition, is held at Black River.|
|Chinese New Year||Spring||The Chinese New Year is celebrated each year on a different date, owing to the differences between the lunar and the solar calendars. Houses are thoroughly cleaned before the festival. No knives or scissors are used on the actual day of the festival. Red, a symbol of happiness is the main colour of the day. Food offerings are made to ensure that the following year will be plentiful and traditional ‘wax’ cakes are distributed to parents and friends. Firecrackers are set off to drive away the evil spirits.|
|Ougadi||March||The Telugu New Year and is usually celebrated in March.|
|Id-El-Fitr||varied||The Id-El-Fitr signals the end of Ramadan – the fasting period for Muslim people. Prayers are said in mosques all day long.|
|Ganest Chaturthi||August/September||Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the lunar month of August/September by Hindus in honour of the birth of Ganesha, God of Wisdom|
|Father Laval||September||Every September 9, Mauritians of all faiths go to the tomb of the Blessed Jaques Désiré Laval, the “Apostle of the Black People” at Ste-Croix, Port-Louis. The belief in Père Laval, to whom powers of healing are attributed, is similar to the Lourdes Pilgrimage in France.|
|Divali||October/November||Divali represents truth (light) defeating ignorance (darkness). It is a celebration of joy and happiness and for many Mauritians, a time for sharing.The Festival of Lights is celebrated by lighting small clay lamps on walls, balconies and yards. They are lit at sunset when their golden light guides the goddess of wealth and good fortune.|
Plugs and sockets can vary. You will find either 3 rectangular pin (as in the UK) or two round pin plug.
On Mauritius there are no scheduled domestic flight services, although helicopter tours and charters can be arranged. Air Mauritius does operate daily flights (1½ hour duration) to Rodrigues island.
With its remote Indian Ocean location, reaching Mauritius by air can be expensive (particularly in the peak holiday period). For direct flights from the UK, national carrier Air Mauritius offers the widest frequency of flights, though British Airways also offers direct flights. A cheaper option can be to fly from Paris to neighbouring Reunion Island (which makes a great twin-island combination anyway) on Air Austral, and then make the short hop across to Mauritius. Air Mauritius and Air Austral operate several flights a day between the two islands. Consider buying an Indian Ocean Air Pass, available from Air Mauritius, Air Austral or Air Seychelles, if planning to travel extensively throughout the Indian Ocean islands.
Virgin Atlantic fly daily from London Heathrow to Johannesburg with connecting flights on South African Airways to Mauritius. Flight time is a minimum of 16 hours 10 minutes depending on flight connections.
South African Airways fly daily from London Heathrow to Johannesburg with onward connection to Mauritius. Flight time approximately 17 hours 05 minutes depending on connection.
Air Mauritius operate daily direct flights from Heathrow to Mauritius. Flight time is approximately 11 hours 55 minutes.
British Airways fly direct three times a week from London Heathrow to Mauritius. Flight time is a minimum of 11 hours 40 minutes.
Air France fly daily from London Heathrow to Mauritius with a connection in Paris. Flight time is a minimum of 14 hours 45 minutes depending on flight connections.
Emirates fly daily from London Heathrow to Dubai with connecting flights onwards to Mauritius. Flight time is a minimum of 16 hours 10 minutes depending on flight connections.
Visitors should adhere to the usual etiquette of not wearing shorts, mini-skirts or sleeveless shirts when visiting religious shrines, and removing shoes (and possibly leather belts) when entering mosques and temples. Women should carry a scarf if planning to enter a mosque. Statues, carvings and religious artifacts in places of worship should not be touched. Sunbathers should note that nudism and topless sunbathing are frowned upon on public beaches. No hotel permits nude sunbathing on beaches. Topless sunbathing is sometimes tolerated by hotel pools. Tipping is not compulsory.
Mauritius has a maritime climate, hot/tropical in summer (November to April) and cooler/sub-tropical in winter (May to September). Variation between the different regions of the island is considerable. The temperature on the coastal areas varies between 22°C in winter and 34°C in summer. The sea temperature varies between 22°C and 27°C. In the central highland part of the island, the maximum daytime temperature varies from about 19°C in August to about 26°C in February. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the eastern and the southern. A green cover of vegetation is maintained over much of the land throughout the year. The cyclone season runs from December to March.
Christmas and New Year are the absolute peak periods for travel to Mauritius, so book early and expect to pay peak season supplements for travel during this period. International school holidays play an important factor – the island is often busier during the periods of French school holidays for example. Planning a visit to the island to coincide with one of the major religious festivals makes a lot of sense, providing colour, culture and an insight into the local way of life. Divers and watersports addicts may want to think twice about travelling in peak cyclone season in January and February.
To get the most out of your next adventure it makes sense to consider some of the very local factors that combine to make up what you feel is the best time to travel to a destination. Many of these factors are very personal – some people prefer to travel when the weather is not too hot, or sites too crowded – others prefer to travel when a traditional local event is taking place. Taking into account the dates of public holidays can also make sense as these may have an impact on opening times of attractions, shops and restaurants, or might affect public transport or other services. Conversely public holidays can be a time of great local festivities and celebrations providing a feast of local expressionism and culture.
Mauritius Rupee (MUR)
The Mauritian rupee (Rs) is divided into 100 cents. There are 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 Rs notes; 1, 5 and 10 Rs coins and 5, 20 and 50 cent coins.
Cash can be exchanged in banks, exhange bureaus and larger hotels. The rate at banks and exchange bureaus tends to be fairly similar, always check first. Banks are open from Monday to Thursday 0915-1515, Friday 0915-1530, Saturday 0915-1115 (some banks only).
ATMs are widely available and generally reliable in Mauritius. For more information check the Visa ATM locator, the MasterCard ATM locator or theAmerican Express ATM locator for the addresses of ATMs around the world.
Credit cards are accepted by most large restaurants, shops and hotels, always check in advance. Some establishments will charge commission of up to 3% for this service. Credit cards and debit cards should always be used with caution due to the potential for fraud and other criminal activity.
You can re-convert Rupees into hard currency at the airport, on production of exchange receipts.
The documentation and fee required for obtaining visas varies according to both your nationality and where you are applying from. It is the sole right of each country to determine who is allowed to enter.
All passports must be valid for six months and have two clear pages free.
Some countries may charge an arrival or departure tax which may or may not be included in the price of an airline ticket, or may need to be paid in cash on arrival or departure.
|Australia||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|Canada||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|Denmark||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|Ireland||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|Netherlands||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|New Zealand||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|South Africa||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|United States||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
|United Kingdom||No visa is required for stays up to 60 days.|
Other nationalities should either contact Travcour UK (see below) or their nearest embassy for up-to-date information prior to departure.
For assistance with obtaining passports and visas UK-based ‘Travcour’ have been offering travellers a comprehensive and reliable travel document service since 1985. www.travour.com