A visit to Chamarel in Mauritius is a must. She is the jewel of the South West.
Discover Ebony Forest, the 7 Coloured Earth, waterfalls, nature walks and a rum distillery… So many attractions!
My self-guided tour is on the map at the bottom of the page. First let’s have a look at this delightful mountain hideaway.
View onto the South West lagoon from Chamarel
Cha – ma - rel, what a beautiful sounding word! It is the surname of a French aristocrat Auguste-Antoine de Chazal de Chamarel. He owned the land way back in the 18th century…
A lot has changed since then! Now there are sugarcane, pineapple and coffee plantations in Chamarel. Mauritius coffee is a tasty souvenir to take back home.
Interesting fact: Chamarel is the only mountain village in Mauritius!
Most of her 800 inhabitants are descendants of slaves from Africa. They have interesting surnames. These were given to their forefathers according to their personal qualities. Move over Mr and Mrs Smith, in Chamarel we have Mr and Mrs “L’Intelligent” which translates to “The Intelligent”.
You’ll never guess. He is the priest! Here is why …
Let’s go back to the time of slavery for a moment.
Slaves were forced to convert to the catholic faith when they arrived in Mauritius. One of the sacraments of penance is to confess one’s sins. So the priest knows all about those villager’s with bad behaviour!
All is not lost. Some villagers have resorted to go to confession with the priest who lives in another village - Case Noyale. It’s the closest village down the mountain slope.
It’s not necessary to book activities in advance. Pay entrance fees on arrival. One exception is the guided hike of the falls.
The first three attractions I have listed below share the same physical entrance:
For me, the number one attraction is a visit to the Ebony Forest.
The forest reserve is a unique conservation and eco-tourism project. The brainchild of Owen Griffiths who is a dedicated botanist. Imagine a forest of ebony trees where rare endemic birds mingle with native flowering plants.
The rare coral tree
Raised walkways, nature trails and safari jeep rides. Add magnificent views of the South West coast. You can even plant a tree, sow a seed or hike the Piton Canot.
You won’t find these raised walkways anywhere else in Mauritius. They have been built to preserve the vegetation on the ground. How clever!
The Ebony Forest with her raised walkways
You should spend a minimum of two hours exploring this unique reserve. There is a discovery tour you can join whilst there.
The proceeds from your visit will contribute towards the conservation work. There is less than 2 % of native forest left in Mauritius!
This beautiful waterfall is on the way to the 7 Coloured Earth and the Ebony Forest Reserve.
You’ll see the falls on the left side of the road. They are 100 meters in height down a vertical cliff.
The highest falls in Mauritius!
Stop at the view point to see the cascade. There is a convenient parking alongside the road.
You have 2 choices to access this private road:
Buy a ticket to the coloured earths at the entrance.
Buy a ticket to the Ebony Forest at the same entrance. You can also buy your ticket at the Ebony Forest further down the road. The security will let you in.
An interesting sight and a popular tourist attraction. It’s a small area of coloured sand dunes surrounded by vegetation.
Coloured earth in Chamarel Mauritius
There is a misconception that is still prevalent about the coloured earths. They are NOT a result of a volcanic eruption or volcanic ash. That’s not the case at all.
The bedrock is basalt which is old volcanic rock. The basalt changes its appearance and texture through a chemical process. Hence the colours.
The channels or rills are partly man-made. A result of top soil removal, rain and deforestation. There are similar occurrences in Papua New Guinea. Probably in tropical high rainfall areas with volcanic bedrock.
Reference: Journal of the African Earth Science January 2010 H.C, Sheth, C.P.Johnson and C.D.Ollier
Some tourists rave about their visit. Others are disappointed. You’ll just have to see for yourself!
Ticket prices and opening hours are shown in the photo below.
Entrance fees coloured earth Chamarel Mauritius
There are additional activities such as waterfall hike (booking required), archery … available at an additional cost.
Contact number: 483 4298
Located opposite the entrance to the coloured earth. It’s a house of illusions that offers fun entertainment for the whole family. Many interactive optical illusions. Take lots of photos.
I am now a giant ...
Opening hours: every day from 09h30 to 17h30. Last entry is at 16h15
No age or height restriction
Duration of visit about 90 minutes
That’s the place to visit to see how rum is distilled. Plus you have the opportunity to taste their delicious rum.
I recommend the vanilla liqueur and the VSOP. A full body premium rum.
By the way don’t drive if you plan to sample all the exotic rum distilled in Chamarel. Mauritius has strict laws on drinking and driving! The limit is equal to a tot of rum.
Every year on 15th August the village celebrates the Assumption of Mary. The festival takes place at the quaint Saint Anne church built in 1876.
There is a street procession with a fair organised by the villagers. Take a stroll through the laid back village and join the celebrations.
You might even be offered a curry number 2. It’s a sought after monkey curry.
Talking about food ...
A few restaurants have opened with the increase in visitors. Sample a creole lunch at the Palais de Barbizon. A humble restaurant owned by a local family.
Le Palais de Barbizon
If you are travelling by taxi, your driver might suggest other restaurants. That’s because he will receive a commission for bringing clients. Ignore his recommendations and head for Le Palais de Barbizon.
Where is Chamarel? You have a choice of 3 scenic drives to reach this beautiful mountain hideaway. All depends on where you are coming from. The drives include the coastal scenic road via Maconde and Baie du Cap.
The itineraries with map are below
Scenic drive via Baie du Cap and Maconde
Chamarel Mauritius - Scenic Drive 1
If you are in the South West (le Morne, Black River)
Drive up the mountain at Case Noyale. What a view once you arrive on top! The road winds all the way to the small village where time stands still. After your visit drive South to Baie du Cap and follow the coastal road back to Le Morne or Black River
Chamarel Mauritius - Scenic Drive 2
If you are in the South (Bel Ombre)
Drive up via Chamouny to the Black River National Park. Stop at the gorge viewpoints on the way. Visit Chamarel. Drive down to Case Noyale on the South West coast then around Le Morne peninsula. Stop at Maconde -Baie du Cap (G). Drive back to Bel Ombre.
Chamarel Mauritius - Scenic Drive 3
From elsewhere (Flic en Flac, North, East or South East).
Drive through the Black River National Park on the Plaine Champagne road.
Stop at the gorge viewpoints on the way. Visit Chamarel. Drive down the mountain to Case Noyale on the South West coast. Then around Le Morne (F) peninsula. Stop at Maconde -Baie du Cap (G) back to your accommodation.
Before reaching the Black River Gorge, you could stop at Grand Bassin (A) to have a look at our holy lake.
There are no hotels but lodges and chalets in Chamarel. Mauritius eco-tourism at its best. Ideal for nature lovers.
Keep a day free for my 'Chamarel Mauritius' self-guided discovery tour. You’ll be glad you did.
I'd love to hear from you - add your questions or comments below!