Twenty-eight miniature wind-sculpted mountains – the remnants of an ancient volcano – form the backdrop to beaches in Mauritius and offer spectacular views. A guide is recommended for most climbs as trails can be poorly marked and slippery; they can also explain endemic flora and fauna, and weave in history, myths and legend.
“The thumb” of Le Pouce (812m) protrudes from the 20km-long Moka Mountains which cradle Port Louis. The popular and easy three-hour hike signposted from Le Dauget Village, near Eureka, gives the best views of the capital. With a precarious boulder balanced on top, nearby Pieter Both (820m), named after the first Dutch governor of the East Indies shipwrecked in Mauritius in the seventeenth century, with sheer drops at the summit, is a long technical climb but worth it for the views.
Looming over the central plateau, Corps de Garde (780m), whose name comes from a French military post which captured runaway slaves, is a spectacular yet moderate three-hour return climb, with views over the west coast. Mauritius’s highest mountain, Piton de la Petite Rivière/Black River Peak (828m), is also a surprisingly easy three-hour return hike along forested paths from a start point on Plaine Champagne (744m).
For great views over the historic southeast, Lion Mountain (480m), in the shape of a reclining feline, is a rewarding two-hour return climb. Across on Mauritius’s southwestern tip, slaves once flung themselves to their deaths trying to escape capture from the bare-faced Le Morne Brabant (556m); the moderate three-hour guided climb here, on private property, is one of the island’s best, with views over the forest and coral gardens.