Mauritius has a reputation for being a Francophile place, but in fact it was latterly a British colony.
One of the last telltale remnants of colonial influence tends to be the side of the road on which traffic drives: in Mauritius, on the left, as in the UK, Australia, South Africa and the rest of the world map that was once flushed with Empire pink.
One of the reasons that Port Louis traffic is so atrocious is because the main highway passes slap bang through the city centre. As a result, traffic crawls along at a snail's pace (if at all) during daylight hours, and vehicles weave in and out to try and speed their progress.
The highway (which is at least three lanes wide each way along this stretch) separates the Le Caudan Waterfront and other tourist attractions such as the Blue Penny museum from the main downtown area. Fortunately an underpass has been constructed close to Le Caudan that allows pedestrians to move safely between the two sides.
My most abiding memory of the three days we spent exploring Mauritius by car is the extraordinary number of 90 degree bends we encountered on the roads. In the middle of nowhere - and with no visible obstacle ahead - the road will unexpectedly 'dog leg' to the right or left for no apparent reason, and it's all rather bewildering for the novice driver.
Looking back, we encountered most of these right angled bends in the sugar growing areas, and I have a strong suspicion that the road network mirrors the original pattern of land distribution, with public roads being located in servitudes along the perimeters of the sugar estates so as not to disturb the crop.
From a safety point of view, it means that you have to keep your wits about you, especially if you're travelling after dark, as the roads outside settlements are unlit, and you could easily find yourself ploughing into a cane field if you let your attention lapse.
In general, we were pleasantly surprised by the condition of the roads that we encountered in Mauritius, even up in the more mountainous central area. We hired a cheapo Class A car, and had no problems whatsoever, even on unsurfaced roads.
Mauritius isn't a big island - about 65km long and 45km wide - and the road coverage is reasonable. However, the going can be slow - particularly due to narrow winding roads and a plethora of peculiar right angled bends, which make overtaking difficult - and as a rule of thumb, it takes longer to get most places than you'd expect.
The fastest road on the island is a relatively new multicarriage highway that joins the airport with Port Louis, which has a speed limit of 110km/h. Your speedy progress will be abruptly halted as you enter in stretch between Phoenix and Port Louis, which is notorious for its traffic congestion.
Other main roads have a speed limit of 80km/h, and in built up area, this reduces to 40km/h.
I would suggest that you plan your route on the assumption that you can cover 50km/h, and everyone above that will be a bonus.
We'd heard that Port Louis suffered from terrible traffic congestion: however, what we hadn't realised was that during the busier times of day, this congestion extends south eastwards along the highway from Port Louis to Rosehill and Phoenix (a distance of about 35km).
If you're planning to travel this route - and especially if you're travelling to connect with a plane - from the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport - I would recommend that you adopt a pessamistic view and allow yourself at least 45 minutes to cover this stretch.
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is all that you could hope for in your point of entry to a tourist destination: modern, clean and efficient with good facilities.
The airport has all the amenities that you might require, including cafes and some shops that offer a range of curios, reading material and some basics that you may have forgotten. Most importantly for arriving tourists, it has a couple of ATMs, and you'd be well advised to draw some cash - or exchange some money in one of the bureaux de change - as ATMs are few and far between outside the few major towns (such as Port Louis and Grande Baie).
The airport is about 50km south east of the capital Port Louis - 45 minutes to an hour's drive on a fast modern highway, depending on the time of day and the state of traffic in and around notoriously congested Port Louis.
The airport was named after Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Mauritius' first Prime Minister, who is affectionately known as 'The Father of the Nation'.
Although many visitors come to Mauritius and never set foot outside of their resort, that's a bit of a pity, as there are interesting things to see and do on the island, that can be far more affordably experienced self driving than on an organised tour (especially if there are several of you). Provided that you don't mind driving on the left hand side of the road, hiring a car is a much more flexible way to experience the island, and I'd highly recommend it, especially if you're like us, and feel the need to explore.
Here I'm endebted to fellow VT member pfsmalo, who visited Mauritius a few months before we did, and conducted a good deal of research into the car hire options. We found the company he recommended - Honey Car Rentals - both affordable and obliging, and were pleased that they were able to deliver the car directly to our hotel.
We hired a small Group A car, which was ideal for Mauritius' often narrow roads and had enough oomph to get us up the steep, twisty roads around Black River Gorges. However, this car would have been too small to transport the family plus luggage, so bear this in mind if you're intending to hire a car directly from the airport.
Before leaving for Mauritius, we thought a lot about how to travel in Mauritius as we normally like to discover places off the beaten tracks instead of just staying at the Hotel. Though we drive in Singapore, we were a bit scared of driving in Mauritius but we are so happy to have finally made the right choice!
Our car was promptly delivered at the airport at our arrival at night on the MK flight. We were nicely greeted by Denis and delivered our car which was a SEDAN Mitsubishi Lancer. From there, we had no problem driving to the North. We spent the rest of the week driving to Port-Louis, to the West beaches, to casela, to the South and Wild East. Everyday was a different adventure for the kids and ourselves.
I think that renting the right car from the right place is very important as you don't want to run the risk of landing in a foreign country and not getting the right welcome. For this, we would rate DH CAR RENTAL 5 stars as we were so relieved to see a familiar face at our arrival. Also, no problem whatsoever with the car as it was almost NEW and was very comfortable to drive. DH CAR RENTAL can be found on Google and the website is www.dhcarrental.com . We wish to all travelers to Mauritius all the best and for us, the beauty of that island lies in its nature, its people and its culture!
We just came back to Mauritius and even though we've been there many times already we always feel the need to have our own car to be able to travel around.
We have always booked with DH CAR RENTAL MAURITIUS as their prices are unbeatable and most important, they are an official car rental agency and their cars are either NEW or in great condition!
We love to travel all around the island and re-visit the same places again and again, not only the nice beaches with different characters be it North, West, South or East but also the inland sceneries. We love the area around Chamarel or simply just drive along the coast.
To come back to the car rental agency, you can find them on www.dhcarrental.com and email them as they will always personally reply to you and greet you at your arrival. Thanks again DH CAR RENTAL for making our trip so special!
After much Internet research and e-mails, we finally found this agency that had vehicles to rent for 6 people. We negociated down to 1500 roupies (about 40 roupies to the € ) per day for periods of 4 days and upwards. We chose this solution to be free of the vehicle for half of the month. They make a small charge for dropping the vehicle and picking it up again, same price for coming to Flic en Flac or the airport which is over 50 kms further. The drivers were always on time for the drop- or pick ups and the vehicle itself, apart from the fact it had a problem pulling all our weight up the inclines around Curepipe, we had no problems at all.
Just a hint : The Mauritian drivers are really something, so you don't really need a sports car. There is a sign on the motorway (that's a joke in itself) that says it all "This is a motorway, not a runway !!". Just keep your eyes wide, wide open.
From Amsterdam to Mauritius there are no direct flights. There are several flights a day via other cities. I flew via Paris (France). To and from Mauritius I flew in the night. So, I booked business class. Which was really great!! You could 'lay' down with your seat. It was such a great experience to me. And the staff was really friendly (ofcourse they had to in business class.....), but still.
I always take the same taxifahrer, I would like recommend him also to you.
He drives slowly, save and he is always puntually
mobile ( 00230 ) 77 11 738
Airporttransfer 1600 rs
Excursions - prices on his website : www.mauritius-taxi.de
We booked a rented car through www.carhire.mu and had the best online rates around - Booking was a simple process. The car was delivered at the airport and picked up too. Their Staff was very friendly, helpful and reliable. The car was new and we really enjoyed our stay in Mauritius. We would recommend ROYAL CAR MAURITIUS to anyone else.
In the Well-Wishers' Hall, the restaurant Embalao offers both fast-food and "menus à la carte" to passengers and visitors.
After immigration, departing passengers can eat either at Le Village, a self-service restaurant or at Voyage à la Carte, or else they can have a drink at Le Bar du Voyageur.
Embalaba, in the Welcomers' Hall, caters for the general public and passengers.
Two duty free shops, Mauritius World Duty Free located in the departure lounge and in the arrival lounge, offer a wide range of perfumes, spirits, tobacco, chocolates and other refined products.
Made in Mauritius, in the departure lounge sells exclusive duty-free local products like clothes, accessories and spices.
On arrival, you will find banking facilities just before the exit of the Tour Operators' Hall.
At departure, banks and money changers operate in the check-in hall. However, there are no banking facilities after immigration and passport control.
In both the departure and the arrival halls, services are offered by the following: Barclays, State Bank, The Mauritius Commercial Bank , Shibani Finance and Thomas Cook. Furthermore, Barclays, Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, State Bank, and The Mauritius Commercial Bank provide ATM services outside the arrival hall.
Get a map and rent a car to get around the island. It's a small island and it's fairly easy to drive around. Getting lost once or twice can be an adventure. Driving is on the left side. Your own local license is accepted.
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